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Acquiring customers via email campaigns is a marketing science that has evolved significantly in recent years. It calls for an entirely fresh approach to creative design and best practices for email marketing as a whole.
Gone are the days where simple trigger words or excessive punctuation are the only red flags that doom a creative to complete failure. Both ISPs and end users have become a lot more sophisticated, and it’s time for every marketer to adapt to the new inbox landscape.
The below best practice guidelines have been developed from the collaboration of several teams within InfoUSA, pooling their knowledge and expertise to help make our client’s campaigns a success. The specific rules continually evolve, but these helpful suggestions will get any marketer on the right track.
Ideally, the offer should be exclusive to your company. If it is an offer that has already saturated the marketplace, there is a reduced chance of success. A unique offer will also reduce the chance of your email being blocked by filters – if another company is offering the same thing, your email may appear to the filter as being associated with that company.
Advertisers should review the demographic, geographic and lifestyle characteristics of their good customers and look to reach an audience of similar prospects. If an advertiser is not clear on how their customers are represented, InfoUSA has a team of data analysts and several product offerings that will help sort this out. Knowing this beforehand will greatly improve your odds of success.
The audience you’re emailing should match the message content and images. If there are several distinct audience segments being mailed to, consider having multiple versions of a message so that the images and content speak to each audience segment.
Irrelevance now has even greater risks than poor response. ISPs are becoming increasingly choosy over which message gets to land in the inbox. If a message does not have universal appeal but is deployed to an untargeted, mass audience, there will be an increase in opt outs, complaints and overall deletes, which will have a negative impact on an advertiser’s sending reputation. This is difficult and costly to overcome. Remember that InfoUSA can provide email design and delivery services for you to help overcome this risk. Even better, the targeted email addresses we can provide are already opt-in, permission-based addresses.
InfoUSA has access to a lot of tools which can contribute to a successful campaign when time allows.
We highly suggest that every sender run these checks before any sizeable blast. It has saved many email campaigns from disaster, and may help you too. At a minimum, running at least one email campaign through our pre-flight check will help you understand where your strengths and weaknesses are as an email marketer. You can then use what you learn to improve all your future campaigns.
User Engagement is not just a marketing buzz word. User Engagement has become the key factor that most major ISPs are using to decide which marketer’s message will land in a user’s inbox. The basic methodology behind this is that the more people who engage with an advertiser (as noted by open/click/response activity), the more that marketer will be able to send and deliver to an inbox at both the ISP level and at the user level. If a marketer becomes associated with too many emails delivering to an uninterested audience, that marketer stands the chance of being diverted straight to the bulk spam folder, or even worse, blocked entirely. Below represents InfoUSA’s tips on how to boost a user’s engagement:
Just because a recipient does not open your email, they are still able to view your from line (brand name) and your offer in the subject line. This often adds up to a favorable impression of your company when crafted carefully.
Each method of response you provide should have a tracking method in place. If the phone number is included as a means to respond, your call center should log each call, and if possible, preferably through the use of a distinct offer code. If that isn’t possible, asking how callers or visitors heard about you and logging it is a good habit to instill in all your customer-facing employees (and that means you too!). Once you know that you know that a particular email offer is working, it can and should transform your marketing strategy – divert dollars to that particular campaign and broadcast it as widely as the incoming revenue affords. With strong tracking, and the flexibility to respond to it, a good email campaign can take your company to the next level.
In many cases, a person will receive an email and may make a purchase through a shopping portal or visit the site at a later date. Many companies will match this activity back to see who also received an email and give some “credit” to the email campaign. When was the last time you received a catalog and made sure to log the key code into the online purchase screen? If no specific offer or discount code is used, another way to achieve this is by running a list of customers against your email campaign list names. Where there is crossover, give credit to the email campaign.
If your company can support it, include a coupon or discount code that can be shared and used by anybody. Your recipient may not be in the market for your offer, but may very well know a friend who is.
Use HTML software such as Dreamweaver, FrontPage or Adobe GoLive to create the HTML. Do not use word processors or publishing software that isn’t specifically created for website or email production. ImageReady or Fireworks can be used in some instances, along with HTML software, if used properly.
Use basic HTML tags for the coding. If your HTML software uses CSS for formatting, adjust the preferences to apply formatting as basic HTML tags only. If absolutely necessary, inline style sheets are an acceptable substitute for CSS.
Do not use comments in the HTML code of your email as they can potentially trigger spam flagging.
Provide a hyperlink to a related website or at least an email address that the recipient can contact if there is not a website available.
Keep the width of the HTML message under 650 pixels to ensure the design is not cut off in the recipient’s preview panel. This eliminates the need for scrolling horizontally to see the whole design.
Keep the message size under 50KB for consumer emails and under 75KB for business emails to optimize download time and deliverability.
InfoUSA also offers a “pre-flight check” service to ensure that your emails will be seen as you hope they will be. For this service, on up to complete email design and delivery, please call 888.297.0899.