Beginner guide to_email_marketing


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Email marketing remains the most inexpensive and potent tool in a marketer's digital toolbox today. This guide will walk you through best practices, provide tips and suggestions, and give you confidence to master your email marketing efforts.


Email Marketing Basics
Choosing an Email Marketing Provider
Rules of the Road
Creating Your Email Marketing Plan
Building Your List
Anatomy of a Good Email
Metrics and Measurement
Avoiding SPAM Filters
Automated Email Messaging
Segmentation & Personalization
Mobile Optimization

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Beginner guide to_email_marketing

  2. 2. Email Marketing Basics Email Marketing BasicsTried and true, but still undeniably be customized for individual customers.effective, email marketing remains the This makes email a great way to fostermost inexpensive and potent tool in a customer loyalty and repeat business.marketers digital toolbox today. Thebang for the buck it offers compared to To harness the full power of emailtraditional advertising and direct mail is effectively, most businesses use onlineindisputable. 1 software for their list management, HTML template designs, and legallyEmail marketing also allows you to required email marketing features, likereach more customers than social unsubscribe, as there remain more users onemail than on all forms of social media Using an email marketing servicecombined. 2 And while social media is makes it much easier for your businessstill predominantly social, email means to remain compliant with the law. It alsobusiness. According to the Direct helps ensure high-volume deliverabilityMarketing Association, email and better results for your marketingoutperforms social media 3-to-1 in sales dollar.per dollar spent. 3Email also offers unparalleledopportunities for personalization, aseven automated email messages can1
  3. 3. Choosing an Email Marketing ProviderMany companies can help you manage the email marketing basics. Butit’s important to seek out a provider with a track record of high email deliverabilityand an easy-to-use interface that puts all the tools of the trade at your fingertips.Your email marketing service should... Provide ready-made template designs At first, you probably won’t want to have to build your own email marketing templates from scratch using CSS and HTML. Instead, look for a partner that offers an array of fine-looking email newsletter template designs. This will make it easy for you to get a professional look that suits your brand. Allow you to customize email templates As your email marketing gets more sophisticated, you may want to execute full creative control over your emails. Your email marketing provider should allow you to customize its ready-to-use templates and to create and upload templates of your own. Offer mobile-optimized template designs Eight of 10 smartphone users check and send email with their device. 4 Your provider must offer responsive email templates that scale so that customers can read emails easily on a smartphone or tablet. Allow for personalization tags in all email messages Your email provider should support the ability to personalize messages to the individual recipient. With personalization or “merge” tags, you can tailor messages to include a customer’s first name, date of last purchase, favorite menu item, and more. You should have the ability to insert any information thats uploaded and labeled in your database into your messages for a more direct relationship with your customer.4
  4. 4. Provide tracking information and statistics for each emailAfter you hit “send,” youll want to track your success by analyzing emaildelivery and open rates, click-throughs, unsubscribes and forwards. Youremail marketing provider should present this information in a clear formatso you can quickly assess your performance and monitor trends.Support automated messages such as drip campaignsYou should have the ability to create timed, “set and forget” messagingwhen customers join your list, have a birthday or reach other milestones.Support list segmentation based on user attributesConsumers demand marketing messages relevant to their interests andpurchase history. You should be able to upload customer data, createcustom segments, and control the audience for each communication byincluding and excluding various segments.Allow contacts to update their subscription preferencesYour customers should be able to control which types of emails theyreceive from you by subscribing to selected lists. And you should havethe ability to control the opt-out process by prompting subscribers toupdate their preferences in addition to opting out of your marketing lists.Support the ability to create a text-only version of your emailCreating and including a text-only version of your email is a good habit.This allows customers to view your emails with images off (as manypeople do on mobile devices). It also tells spam filters you’re a reputablesender, since most spammers don’t bother to include a plain-text versionof their email.
  5. 5. Rules of the RoadThe laws that govern email marketing are designed to protect consumersfrom unwanted marketing messages and predatory solicitation. To stay incompliance and avoid fines, follow these basic rules:Include a proper sender name and “reply-to” email addressYou cannot use a misleading sender name or email address. Your headerinformation must accurately reflect that you are the sending party.Include an unsubscribe link in every message and process opt-outspromptlyYou must include a link in each message allowing consumers to opt outof receiving future emails from you. It should go to a simple unsubscribeform, and you should process opt-outs in a timely manner.Include the physical address of the senderEvery email you send must include a valid physical mailing address foryou or your business. If you don’t wish to display a sensitive mailingaddress, you can use a P.O. box.Match your subject line to the contentDon’t use deceptive subject lines. The phrasing you choose to grabrecipients’ attention must align with the content of the email message.
  6. 6. Creating Your Email Marketing PlanDefine your goalsEmail marketing can communicate just about anything, fromorganizational news to daily deals. A successful email marketing planstarts with defining your marketing goals.What do you want customers to do after reading your email? Make apurchase? RSVP to an event? Not all email marketing is about sellingsomething. For example, you may want to: • Fundraise for a nonprofit • Distribute coupons • Publish a written series • Distribute community news • Showcase volunteer opportunities • Promote upcoming events • Offer background on a product or service • Drive traffic to your blog • Survey customersSecondary goals, such as getting customers to forward an email or shareinformation on Pinterest or LinkedIn, can accompany each primarymarketing goal.
  7. 7. Determine your contentThe content of your email should focus only on your top-level and secondarygoals and on calls to action that help meet them.Don’t include extraneous information, as it makes emails unnecessarily lengthyand detracts from content that drives results.Configure your basic email layoutYour content and goals will also inform your emails basic layout. Emailnewsletters are constructed with the following elements: • Banner • Headline • Divider • Image (with or without captions) • Paragraph text • Footer • Social links (if desired)These basic building blocks can be arranged in varying configurations. Startwith your lead story — your most important call to action.Determine your frequencyDecide how often you’ll send out your marketing messages. The idealmessage frequency can vary depending on your industry, your email content,and how often your subscribers can act on or use the information in youremails.No matter what kind of email schedule you decide on, communicate theintended frequency to your customers when they opt in to your list, then stickto it. Any abrupt changes in frequency may result in opt-outs.
  8. 8. Building Your ListTo build an email marketing list, each subscriber must give you explicitpermission to contact them via email with marketing messages. While there arehundreds of ways to build your list, here are a few tried-and-true approaches: • Place signup forms at the sales counter, or a fishbowl for a business card drop • Embed an email signup tab in your Facebook page • Embed an email signup form on your website • Collect email addresses via SMS • Add a “subscribe” checkbox to your web signup and order forms • Add a link in your employees’ email signaturesWhen it comes to the mechanics of adding subscribers, you have two options:Single opt-inA person signs up to your email list, but their email address is not verified witha confirmation email. They are automatically added to your list once their emailaddress is captured. Bypassing the confirmation step increases retention soyou can grow your list faster, but can compromise list integrity.Double opt-inSubscribers are not added to your email list until they click a link in aconfirmation email confirming their subscription. While this creates anadditional step in the email subscription process, it’s the recommended way tobuild a quality list and sustain higher overall open rates.
  9. 9. Anatomy of a Good EmailWhat will your ideal email campaign look like? Let’s look at some of theimportant components that separate the email winners from the duds. A compelling subject line Your email subject line should be interesting, but not misleading. Subject lines are short, generally 50 characters or less. Provide a quick teaser of the email content that entices the recipient to read on. Good from and reply-to fields Your from and reply-to fields must also accurately represent your email’s origin. But they don’t have to be 100% literal. For instance, you might want a fundraising letter to come from your board president or a well-known supporter (with their permission, of course). This strategic approach can be quite effective in increasing open rates. Company branding Somewhere in your email, usually at the top, you should include your company name and logo. You may also incorporate elements of your websites design, including its colors and navigation and footer elements.
  10. 10. Beautiful imageryEmail is a visual medium. Even if you’re not promoting photo-driven content, it can help to include images with yournewsletter text to promote click-throughs and illustrate contentfor recipients who are quickly scanning for information.Short, clear headlinesMany of your subscribers will only scan your email quickly forrelevant information. Reach them with short headlines thatidentify the content accurately and compel them to read more.Clear calls to action (primary and secondary)Make sure that each email you send has a clear purpose andthat your headlines, photos and copy drive users to take theactions you want. Your primary call to action may be inciting apurchase, while your secondary calls to action might focus onsharing the email or posting content to social networks.Social linksEmail is a fantastic place to promote your social mediapresence, so don’t forget to include links to your organizationssocial accounts. Social links work best as icons users canrecognize and click quickly.FooterYour footer contains your contact information (physicaladdress) and your unsubscribe link. But you can also includeadditional links in your email footer similar to what you mightinclude on your website, such as direct links to your shop, or toan About Us or a Contact Us page.
  11. 11. Metrics and MeasurementOnce you create your campaign and send it to your list, you’ll want to pay closeattention to several metrics. These will help you measure your success, andguide you in making tweaks over time that continually improve how manysubscribers read — and act upon — your communications.Open rateYour open rate is your first indicator of individual email campaign performance.It measures the percentage of people on your list who opened your email.The open rate is determined by the total number of emails opened against thetotal numbers of emails sent, minus those that bounced (we’ll get to what thatmeans in a second). Standard open rates vary greatly from industry to industry.But as a general rule: 70-100% Miracle 50-69% You must be some kind of marketing genius 40-49% Stellar 30-39% Really great. You’ve got an enthusiastic crowd there! 20-29% Pretty good. Keep it up! 10-19% You’ve got some work to do 0-9% Yikes, are you sure everyone on your list opted in?A note about email opens: They are tracked through a small snippet of code inevery outbound email. This code is a transparent tracking image that onlyregisters as viewed if your subscriber enables images or interacts with theemail by clicking on it. So while your open rates are fairly accurate, they dontinclude subscribers who view your email with images off and dont click onanything.
  12. 12. Bounce rateYour bounce rate indicates the percentage of people on your list who didnot receive your email because it “bounced” from their inbox. There are twotypes of bounces:A hard bounce occurs when an email is returned because it wasnt acceptedby the recipient’s server. Hard bounces usually occur when an email accountno longer exists.A soft bounce occurs when an email is returned after being accepted by therecipient’s server. This means the email address exists, but the server mightbe over quota or temporarily unavailable. (A common case would be aninbox that’s over capacity.)Click-through rateYour click-through rate (CTR) indicates the percentage of people whoclicked on a link in your email. The CTR is determined by the number ofclicks divided by the number of recipients. Clicks are counted only once perrecipient for each individual link, so if a person clicks several times on onelink, it is counted as one click.UnsubscribesUnsubscribes happen when recipients click the unsubscribe link in youremail newsletter and remove themselves from your mailing list. You’re likelyto see some unsubscribes each time you send an email. But you shouldtrack your typical unsubscribe rate to assess whether any emails you sendgenerate higher-than-average unsubscribe numbers.Some reasons you might see a dramatic uptick in unsubscribes: • Your email’s content isn’t resonating with your audience • You sent to the wrong list, or didn’t segment correctly • You increased your campaign frequency • You haven’t contacted your list in quite a while • You recently added many subscribers who just received their first email from you
  13. 13. ForwardsMost email marketing software allows you to insert a “forward to a friend” link inthe body of your email. Forwards track the number of subscribers who click onthat link to forward a copy of your email to another email address. This stat doesnot include the number of people who forwarded your email directly from theirinbox, or those who clicked the link but did not follow through in forwarding theemail.Google Analytics integrationIf the bulk of your email content contains links to your own website or blog, andyou’re tracking traffic to your online destinations with Google Analytics, you canalso track specific email campaigns as a traffic source by integrating GoogleAnalytics campaign tracking with each email.Several email marketing platforms automate Google Analytics integration foryou, appending your URLs with Google campaign tagging. This way, you onlyhave to identify the campaign source and medium name and your marketingsoftware will do the rest for you. Then, on the back end, you’ll be able to drilldown on traffic resulting from any of your tagged email blasts.
  14. 14. Avoiding SPAM FiltersEven reputable senders risk never having their emails seen by some of theirloyal subscribers thanks to spam filters, the bane of the email marketer’sexistence! Spam filters operate like robots, looking for clues that an emailmessage may not be relevant or from a reputable source.In some cases, there’s nothing you can do to avoid a spam filter. But there is ashort checklist of things you can do to ensure the highest delivery rates possible.Adhering to these practices will help robot filters know you’re a legitimatesender — so you end up in the inbox instead of the junk folder. • Avoid using ALL CAPS in your email subject line. • Don’t use exclamation points or dollar signs in your subject line • Include alternate text for images • Include a text-only version of your email • Don’t use spammy words like free, clearance, prize, vacation, giveaway and act now. (If it sounds like an infomercial, lose it!) • Use spell check and avoid misspellings • Avoid red-colored textIn addition to this pre-flight anti-spam checklist, you can also: • Ask your subscribers to add your email address to their contacts • Use a consistent sender name to ensure that subscribers recognize you in their inbox each time you send
  15. 15. Automated Email MessagingWelcome messagesMarketers often make the mistake of treating the confirmation message — theemail subscribers receive confirming their subscription in a double opt-in — likea welcome email. But a confirmation message is usually a stripped-down emailthat essentially says, “Yep, we got it. Thanks!”A welcome email is different. It’s an optional triggered message that, with mostemail marketing platforms, is associated with a particular list. You can choose totrigger it to be sent to new subscribers within a few moments of opt-in.Typical welcome emails can vary by industry — or you can choose to not useone at all. But if you do, here are some tips for making this first communicationwith customers count: • Keep it short • Ask subscribers to add you to their contacts • Offer an immediate coupon • Include your social links • Give a little background about your company • Explain the frequency of your messagingRe-engagement emailsThe re-engagement email is another tool marketers can use to create a touchpoint with subscribers. This is especially effective for SaaS marketers, retailers
  16. 16. and other businesses that use email to drive sales or subscriptions for aproduct or service. The re-engagement email is a form of automated marketingtriggered when a subscriber hasn’t yet taken the desired steps(or has lapsed) in engaging with your product. Some popular themes in re-engagement emails include: • We miss you • You didn’t activate your account • 20% off your first orderDrip campaignsDrip campaigns are series of timed message that start their flow, or “drip,” oncea subscriber opts in to a list. Some drip campaigns, like birthday clubs,anniversary messages and reminders, are triggered to send on specific datesbased on subscriber attributes like their birthday or date of last purchase.Drip campaigns allow you to “set and forget” a marketing campaign thatautomatically goes out to individual subscribers based on your selectedtimelines. While your marketing platform handles the deployment of thesemessages, you should still periodically review them for accuracy and relevance.Drip campaigns can be set up as a series of welcome messages, educationaltips or renewal reminders. They can also send automated coupons orpromotions based on the length of a subscriber’s relationship with you.
  17. 17. Segmentation & PersonalizationMerge tagsEmail marketers can use merge tags to personalize communicationsbased on data they’ve collected, tagged and stored in the EMS database.They use a bit of code to populate blank fields when an email is openedby an individual subscriber, displaying information personalized for thatuser.Examples: Hello {{first_name}}, Hello Chuck, Thanks for signing up for {{event}} on {{date}}. Thanks for signing up for Beginning Sign Language on January 21.Merge tags can be used in the body of an email, or in the subject line.Advanced segmentationCustomers increasingly expect to receive only information that’s relevantto them. You can use advanced segmentation to target your emails tocertain groups based on age, gender, geography, purchase history or anybit of data you’ve collected and stored in a .csv file and shared with yourESP.
  18. 18. Mobile OptimizationMobile email open rates continue to climb, and are set to eclipse desktopopen rates by the end of 2013. It’s therefore imperative that your email displayon mobile devices.Here are several ways to ensure your communications are optimized for userschecking email on their phones:Use responsive or scalable designBe sure to select a mobile-optimized template. Your provider usually specifiesthis in the template description, or you can use a web-based application likeLitmus to see if your email displays optimally on a mobile device.Include mobile-friendly calls to actionMake sure your main calls to action are tasks that can be performed on amobile device as well as from a desktop computer.Link to mobile-optimized landing pagesOutbound links should connect to web pages that can be viewed from amobile device, either on a responsive website or a mobile-optimized landingpage.Keep content short and simplePeople reading on mobile phones are unlikely to scroll down a long email ordigest lengthy information. Limit your mobile-friendly emails to a single call toaction, and avoid extraneous text and links.