Email Marketing Basics


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“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.” – Benjamin Franklin

Email marketing is a direct marketing message sent by electronic means. It can be a transaction confirmation, promotion, business request or solicitation of sale. It is a great tool that marketers use to build loyalty and increase retention of the customers.

Do I need email marketing?

YES! Email marketing is not dead and far from it. Social media took over some of the interactions but it will never replace personalised, targeted and adequate message that email can deliver. So wrap up your sleeves and start sending emails.

Build up the list

When selling online, ask your customers for their email address and save them in your mailing software. When selling offline, create an online loyalty programme, ask for email address in exchange of free stuff, money off or other promotions.

Remember of legal requirements (UK):

More info on Information Commissioner’s Office website

  1. You must ask for a permission before you send any email marketing communication. This does not apply when you acquire an email address during a transaction and send offers with similar products or services later.
  2. Your customers must opt-in, which mean they will have an option to tick a box that they agree to be contacted via electronic means. The box can be automatically ticked and customer might untick if they do not want to receive any communication or the box is unticked and your customers must tick themselves. The second option is advisable.
  3. The commercial message must be clear to the recipient from the outset.
  4. You must not disguise or conceal the origin of the message.
  5. You must give a valid unsubscribe address or provide means to do so.
  6. You cannot treat competitions as opt-in strategy, you need to ask for a permission and competition participants must specifically say that they are opting in to receive further promotional emails.
  7. You must provide evidence to an opt-in. If you purchase lists from a third party it is your responsibility to check the source of the list and confirm the permissions.
  8. If you ask your customers to share your email, make sure that you specifically mention that those friends should agree to receive it. It is your responsibility for that chain.

Set your email objectives and plan

Your objectives can be financial – increase sale, increase repeat sale, reduce sale cycle, lower your advertising costs; or time-bases – automate tasks, reduce admin, interact efficiently.

Use subject lines effectively

Saying something in a small space is difficult. Moreover, email clients will truncate the subject lines to only few words so you have even less space to display the message. Here are few do’s and don’ts. Just remember what works for others might not necessary work for you so our advice is to test, test and once again test.

Do’s Don’ts
  • Test your subject lines
  • Use timed promotions
  • Be personal
  • Use free delivery as an incentive
  • Offer incentive on orders over X
  • Talk about new things
  • Include brand name in your subject line
  • Be wary of “Free”, only something that is actually free and has no string attached should be called “free”.
  • Use superlatives
  • Keep it simple
  • Assume your campaign results are final and something will never work in the future
  • Use too much words: claim, spend, grab, continue
  • Use the same phrases and offers all the time (see do’s)
  • Include the first name or first part of email address in your subject line
  • Run a sale whole year round
  • Forget of proper punctuation and grammar!
  • Use CAPS
  • Use currency signs

Use Calls To Action (CTA)

Make sure your email has a call to action. It can be a clickable button or just a word, phrase or a picture with a link but not the link itself. If you have many offers or products within the same email, make sure all the links go directly to that offer or product. Using one link for all might not give the expected results and might only confuse the customers (I click on the link with an offer but the home page is display – so where is that offer?). Use tracking links – the simpler way is to use UTM codes within your Google Analytics URL builder. It’s very simple and you can create different campaigns and keywords to track the clicks from the email.

Segment your database

To run a successful email campaign it is recommended that you will segment your recipients and send them only targeted offers. You can segment by gender, age, previous purchases or any other way you think it might be appropriate. Avoid sending blanket email to all unless it is relevant.

Send Newsletters

Weekly, monthly or quarterly email message that would update your customers of any changes, new blog posts, relevant information or offers is a good idea. Send it only if you have something to say. Think if you would like to receive it if you were the customer. Don’t send emails too often as it will make look like a spam and your recipients are more likely to unsubscribe. Daily offers are only appropriate if your recipients agree to them! (Think Groupon, Wowcher etc.)

Test!

Test subject lines, headers, body text, images, CTAs, colours used and everything else. A/B or A/X testing is a popular feature and available in most email software (See here). The basic principle of A/B testing is to send two kinds of emails with one different element and see which email performs better.

Automate to reduce time and resources

Use automated “Thank you” emails, reminders, abandoned shopping basket emails, unfinished registrations and delivery confirmations.

Worst blunders

Picture this — you’ve created your best email yet, has good pictures and your hard work also mean your recipient list is up to scratch. So you click ‘send’. You proudly see it go out and arrive in your own inbox—only to realize moments later that your edits didn’t save and your email is riddled with typos.

  • Incorrect personalisation – Hi [first name], or worst, a wrong name!
  • Irrelevant information – do you really want to sell that pregnancy bra to the man who last bought sexy lingerie to his lady?
  • Failing to proofread your email – I strongly believe it is impossible to proofread yourself. Always ask someone else to check your email for you, you’ve been looking at it for hundreds of times and now might overlook a simple mistake. Check links, subjects, banners (images), etc.; make sure your images have ALT tags so they will show when images are not displayed/blocked by email client
  • Email will not display correctly in certain email clients or on mobile (email should be responsive and look correctly in all clients and devices)
  • Sending too many emails. Full stop.

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