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The basics of email marketing

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 9:48am | by Helen Hoart

Email marketing continues to be a profitable way for businesses to reach prospects.  But as inboxes become more and more crowded it’s important for marketers to remember the basic concepts that lead to a successful campaign.

Here are the elements that contribute to success:

Lists:  You can’t have an email campaign unless you have email addresses.  Lists can come from a variety of places—customers, prospects you’ve signed up from an email sign up box on your homepage, from partnerships with complementary businesses, or you can rent lists (but only lists where consumer have given their consent to have email sent). Always remember, however, that your email marketing must comply with the Can Spam Act. You must include a physical address in your email and let the recipient know how to opt out of your emails.  (For other requirements, click here.)

Offer: Be clear about what you want the prospect to do--whether it’s to buy something, sign up for a trial, or donate to a cause.  Keep the offer simple.  Don’t ask people to decide about more than one thing.

Subject line: Keep the subject line under 40 characters. Make it about the prospect. Put the most compelling information at the beginning. Use urgency. But don’t use specific dates.

From line:  It’s important to make sure your prospects can recognize the name of the sender. Use your business or brand name not your own name (unless you’re really famous!).

Design:  Include images but only to make the message more compelling. Images may be turned off when the email is delivered so you want your words not the image to deliver your message. 

Put the most important points at the beginning of the email. That, in most cases, is your offer. Check how your email renders with the preview pane off and with it on.   Also check how it looks in various email clients (Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, etc.)

Your message shouldn’t be more than 640 pixel width.

Copy:  Write short paragraphs. Use fonts like Arial or Verdana for you message. Use bulleted lists.  Most people will be scanning your email rather than reading it word for word. Put important points in bold.

Call to action:  If you want the prospect to do something than tell them what you want.  Put your call to action in a bold button or direct language like Shop Now.

Analyze the results:   After all is said and done make sure you analyze your open and click through rates.  Keep tabs on the number of people who request to unsubscribe from your list.  If it’s high it’s an indication that email was not relevant or you may be over mailing.  And track your conversions—how many people took the action you wanted.


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