No e-mail marketing campaign will be successful if no one actually reads your e-mails. There are various rules of thumb that you can follow that will encourage people to actually open your e-mails and to improve their readability.
First and foremost, your e-mail newsletters must be compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act. Otherwise, you are breaking the law.
Make sure that the “title” and “from” fields in your e-mail are as specific as possible. Don’t make the mistake of having the “from” field read “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Have it read your business name. And make the “title” field specific. If you are offering a two-for-one special on a product, say that in the title field. If you are launching a new product, mention that. Customers need an incentive to click on your e-mail and go to your site. If your customers are like most people on the Web, they get a lot of e-mail — much of it spam. You need to remind your readers quickly that your e-mail is not spam and is worth opening.
Don’t make e-mail recipients wade through too much text to get to the point of your message. You need to balance providing valuable content with being concise. Remember, your customers do not have a lot of time on their hands. Chances are they know something about your company if they have volunteered their e-mail address. As a result, you do not need to repeat every little tidbit about the company’s vision and mission. And avoid superlatives. Instead, give readers a clear perspective of what you are offering and why it is better than what your competition is offering.
You need to give your readers a clear call to action. What do you want to achieve from your campaign? Do you want people to sign up for a catalog? Buy something? Take advantage of a special deal? If so, make sure that’s clear in your message. And make sure that the links in your e-mail take customers to a landing page specifically geared toward that particular call to action. If you deposit customers on a general page or your home page, they are not going to find what they want and you will lose them quickly.
If you find that you need more capabilities and features than you can provide yourself, consider using an e-mail service provider (ESP). ESPs can, among other things, deliver your e-mails for you, personalize the content, host images, and generate custom reports. In addition, they can provide considerable help making sure your e-mail campaigns are CAN-SPAM-compliant.
Weigh the features from popular ESPs such as Topica, Silverpop, ExactTarget, Epsilon Interactive, e-Dialog, and Yesmail. You may not need a robust ESP, so shop around to make sure you find the features you need at the price that’s right for your growing business.
One advantage of the e-mail medium in general and using an ESP in particular is that it allows you to do a lot of testing to see what works for your business and your customers. Try out a different subject line with a small percentage of your mailing list and see which is more popular. Test different layouts and colors. Try out personalizing e-mails, tracking previous purchases, or following up with customers after they have made a purchase.
A combination of savvy marketing skills and technology know-how can result in a successful e-mail campaign that can take your business from an Internet also-ran to a prime contender.