Posts tagged: email

10 Things To Do For Your E-mail Campaigns

If you have (or are thinking about) an on-going program of communicating with your customers via e-mail, here are some guidelines that you can use to shape your program and evaluate if you are accomplishing your goals.

1) Set some intelligent baselines. This is the way you can tell if you are doing “better” or “worse”.

Some typical stats that are measured are:

  • size of your e-mail list
  • bounce rate (measures quality of the list)
  • open rate (the first Holy Grail of E-mail Marketing)
  • aggregate click through rate (or you can look at this on a per-link basis) (the second Holy Grail of E-mail Marketing). Make sure that you web site can track the source of where visitors came from and that your e-mails are a part of this. It helps to check what your e-mail provider says is your click-through rate vs what you web site says is your click through rate.
  • unsubscribe rate
  • conversion rate (how many recipients bought something)
  • generated revenue (the third Holy Grail of E-mail Marketing)

E-mails typically have a “life” of two days. If you measure and finalize stats for the first 7 days after you send the e-mail, you’ll capture most of what you need. Keep these stats and records of your e-mails in a clip book for learning and measurement. And remember — don’t waste time measuring something if you can not (or are not willing to) take action on it.

2) Try and set strategic goals for e-mail that are measured by stats. Do you want to drive traffic into your store or to your site? Do you want to just inform? Do you want to gather or solicit opinions?

3) Set up a few items to test that effect your baseline stats. For example:

  • test different subject lines
  • test different visual formats
  • test different delivery dates
  • test different delivery times

Take one of these items and test it by splitting your list into two and measuring the results. This requires setting up a control and testing against it. The goal is to try and beat the control. Again, don’t test something you can’t or are not willing to change.

4) Set up an approval list. Use this list to send the e-mail for final approval. Since e-mails are interactive (active links, images loaded from servers etc), don’t expect approval from a PDF mock-up or a Word Document.

Make sure that you test the email (and your template) in a number of e-mail clients (e.g. Yahoo mail, Outlook, Gmail etc). Test all the links before you send the final copy of your e-mail. After the e-mail is approved, send it to the big list. (E-mailers loose sleep over the fear of sending an e-mail to 11,000 people with links that don’t work, images that don’t appear or spelling errors that were missed. Good testing usually leads to better sleep!).

5) When people subscribe, look at what information you are gathering. First name, last name (allows for personalization) and e-mail address are good. Gathering zip codes is good so that you don’t sent irrelevant information about events to people outside local retail area. Zip codes also allow you to segment the lists so you can experiment with delivery times. The rule is… if you ask for it, have a good reason to use it (e.g. don’t ask for telephone numbers or gender unless you have a real solid reason).

6) Never send an e-mail without reviewing the results to gain expertise. At the review meeting, you should look at three e-mails:

  • the most recent e-mail you sent
  • the e-mail that will be sent next
  • the e-mail that will be sent after the next e-mail

Evaluate test results and see if additional tests need to be done. Every e-mail is an opportunity to test. Take advantage of it!

7) Selling in an e-mail is perfectly OK — as long as the information is relevant. What people don’t like is information that has no relevancy to them (… why are they sending me this??). Sellling is about meeting needs (perceived or otherwise) and solving problems — these are things that people are happy to read.

8) If your e-mail is text heavy (or is an e-zine), consider a table of contents with links directly to the articles. It helps people do the “skim thing” and focus on what they think is important (you can test this). Also remember that images are key. An image communicates ideas quicker than a paragraph.

You can also use the Web as the back end to contain the remainder of long articles. That way, the main e-mail can contain a summary so that the e-mail can be kept to a reasonable size. This also works if you have a multiple images related to an article that are not practical to include in an e-mail (e.g. click here for a more detailed views of the product).

9) Don’t forget can-spam rules that require an unsubscribe or opt-out link on every e-mail. If you can get feedback with an unsubscribe (or with an e-mail) that is valuable knowledge. Always have a “FTAF” (forward to a friend) link in the e-mail. It’s a way to expand your list. Make sure that every e-mail (and your website and your retail store and events) has a subscribe link so that you can always expand your address list. Are you asking your retail customers to subscribe when they are making a purchase?

10) Subscribe to and read the e-mails of people you compete with. They contain great ideas that can be tested to see if you can adapt them.