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  • 1. Email BestPracticesMay 2012Erin KingManager, Email MarketingVacation.com
  • 2. Why Email? Because almost everyone your business needs to reach reads it■ 147 million people across the country use email, most use it every day■ 91% of Internet users between the ages of 18 and 64 send or read email■ 46% of email users say they’re “hooked”■ 51% check email 4 or more times a day■ 50% check email while on vacation(Sources: eMarketer, AOL Email Survey)
  • 3. What Can Email Do for Your Business? 93% of U.S. Internet users consider email to be their top online activity■ Highly targeted, inexpensive way to reach consumers■ Promote identity awareness■ Stay “top-of-mind” with visitors and subscribers
  • 4. Why Commercial Email is Different■ Different environment■ More sophisticated tools■ Customers are less forgiving of errors■ Regulatory authorities have a say in how you conduct your business
  • 5. The Three Keys to aSuccessful Email Program:Connect, Inform, and Grow
  • 6. Key 1: ConnectBuilding a Quality Email List
  • 7. Collecting Information & Permission■ Include your logo and brand identity■ Describe your email content and how often you’ll be sending■ Ask about your customers’ interests to stay relevant■ Ask for additional information when necessary
  • 8. Maintaining Your Lists Maintaining valid, up-to-date recipient email addresses is critical■ People frequently switch email addresses■ Sending emails to “bad” email addresses negatively affects deliverability■ Make sure your message is getting to your customers’ inboxes
  • 9. Maintaining Your Lists Stay on top of these common list issues:■ Hard bounce: Invalid email address ■ remove from list immediately■ Soft bounce: Technical problem prohibits delivery ■ remove from list if happens continuously■ If you haven’t emailed a recipient in 6 months, re-solicit opt-in permission
  • 10. Key 2: Inform Creating Engaging Email Content Content has to meet your objectives■ Who is the target of your email?■ Why will they want to open it?■ What do you want them to do next?
  • 11. Tips for Creating an Effective Strategy■ Define your target audience■ Develop a “proven” email design to communicate your offer■ Create a carefully regulated mailing schedule to avoid reader fatigue
  • 12. Target Your Audience Effectively ■ Who are the people on your list(s)? ■ How much knowledge do they have about your agency & topic? ■ Do they have any special needs? ■ What information does this audience need? Want? Expect? ■ What “tone” should the content take to this audience?
  • 13. Timely ContentExamples: ■ Address seasonal or event- driven needs ■ Use “purchase life cycle” messages to match content to a customer’s stage of decision making: ■ Gathering information ■ Considering options ■ Ready to buy
  • 14. Define Your Email’s Goal “I want to…” ■ Inform ■ Provide info for potential visitors/customers ■ Differentiate my business ■ Promote ■ Motivate purchases ■ Increase event attendance ■ Relate ■ Increase loyalty ■ Encourage more referrals
  • 15. Determine Appropriate Format Newsletters (Informative) Frequency: Regular, i.e. monthly/ weekly ■ Lots of educational content (typically non-promotional) ■ Use bullets, summarize information, be concise
  • 16. Determine Appropriate FormatPromotions / Invitations / Surveys (Promotional)Frequency: Depends on your business and sales cycle ■ Focus on promotion / limited content ■ Use content to invite click-through or other action
  • 17. Determine Appropriate Format Announcements (Relational) Frequency: Event-driven ■ Press releases, holiday greetings, thank you cards ■ Use content to build deeper relationships
  • 18. Getting Email Opened The “Subject” Line■ Keep it short and simple■ Include your agency name■ 30-40 characters including spaces (5-8 words)■ Identify the immediate benefit of opening the email■ Avoid “spam” techniques
  • 19. Getting Email Opened The “From” Line■ Use a name your audience recognizes ■ Include your organization name or brand ■ Refer to your business in the same way your audience does■ Be consistent
  • 20. Formatting Your Emails■ Call to action should be viewable without scrolling■ Accommodate “scanning”■ General guidelines: ■ Words: 6 characters or less ■ Sentences: 1.5 – 2 lines ■ Paragraphs: no more than 4 lines ■ Use bullets ■ Keep overall design succinct
  • 21. CAN-SPAM – What Is It?■ The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 establishes requirements and penalties for those who send commercial emails■ Gives consumers the right to ask emailers to stop “spamming” them■ Enforced by The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • 22. Complying with CAN-SPAM■ Subject line pertains to the offer inside the email■ “From” field accurately identifies the person or agency that initiated the email■ Agency’s physical postal address included■ Working “unsubscribe” link More info: http://www.ftc.gov/spam/ Note: This is a discussion of common practices, not legal advice.
  • 23. Bypassing Spam Filters■ Image to Text ratio: ■ Emails dominated by images are often blocked by spam filters ■ Good text to image ratio = about 70/30■ Be a “trusted sender”: Ask recipients to add your email address to their address books■ Avoid: Large font size EXCESSIVE CAPITALIZATION Free, Free, Free !!!!!!
  • 24. Important Content Goes HereTypical Preview Pane ■ Short paragraphs ■ Good bullet use ■ Short copy length ■ Short word length
  • 25. Key 3: Grow Analyzing Response Rates to Target Your Marketing Reporting Definitions■ Open Rate: The number of times recipients open an email■ Click-through Rate: The number of times recipients click on links in an email■ Unsubscribed: The number of people who unsubscribe from an email (aka “Opt-out”)
  • 26. Analyzing Open Rates Use open tracking to spot trends■ Open rates trending down ■ Fewer subscribers are enabling images ■ Re-evaluate list targeting■ Steady open rates ■ Assume email is being received ■ Check your ESP’s average delivery rate
  • 27. Capitalizing on Clicks Use click tracking to determine:■ Audience interests ■ Clicks tell you what topics were interesting ■ Save clickers in an “interest list” for targeted follow up■ Goal achievement ■ Use links to drive traffic toward conversion ■ Compare clicks to conversions and improve
  • 28. Email Resources■ View this presentation: http://vacation.agentnet.com/aac/ > Live Training Events > Conference■ Vacation.com Email Best Practices Handbook: http://vacation.agentnet.com/aac/ > Marketing > Consumer Direct■ Marketing Experiments: http://www.marketingexperiments.com■ Marketing Sherpa: http://www.marketingsherpa.com
  • 29. Questions?Erin Kingeking@vacation-corp.com