Smart Business Email Marketing

Today email marketing is one of the primary ways that businesses stay in touch with customers and partners. However, managing your own email marketing can be cumbersome and time consuming. Trying to stay on top of the constant changes in an email marketing address list can be a full time job. Then there are the challenges involved in composing and sending out effective emails. How do you ensure that people will read it? How do you get them to respond? How do you know how many recipients have responded? Fortunately you don’t have to do all of this alone. A cloud-based firm that specializes in business to business communications can make your job a lot easier – and your campaigns a lot more effective.

Elements of a Successful Email:

Subject Line: This may seem like only a small part of your email marketing project, but it’s one of the most important. 40% of a recipient’s decision to open a given piece of email is based on the subject and send-from address. If they don’t open the email, it’s not going to do you much good. So, it’s important to spend some time on the subject line and make sure it’s effective and accurate.

Call to Action: Another 40% of the response to your email marketing campaign is driven by how interesting and compelling recipients find your call to action. A call to action is an offer you’re making to the recipient – or an opportunity for them to respond in some way. It might be a white paper or the chance to register for a free webinar. Or it might be “please call me at…” or “please email me at….” Or “register for our conference at….” However, the best calls to action in email marketing are the ones with links right in the email. This allows you to automatically track the response to the email and see how well your call to action works.

Content: The text and images in your email need to be informative and useful to your recipients. The email marketing texts must be well-written and concise. While recipients expect an emailed newsletter to be fairly long, they would expect other kinds of emails to get to the point quickly. If the email marketing piece is too long, your reader will simply stop reading – maybe before getting to the important information.

Visual Appeal: Any pictures you include in your email marketing piece might seem like a non-essential element, but they are a vital component of making your email visually interesting. And, captions of pictures are one of the first things people read in an email, so they pack a lot of punch. You also want your emails to be well-laid out, visually appealing, and attractive. You need to be able to create beautiful emails in either html or plain text – since some recipients will only accept emails in one format or another. Good email marketing companies will have templates and tools to help you create beautiful emails.

Avoid Spam: If your email marketing piece is flagged as spam, it won’t make it to your recipient. Even worse, it could be in violation of CAN-SPAM regs. In order to avoid being caught in the spam filter or sent to the spam folder, make sure your header and subject line are accurate. Include a valid opt-out method. Certain words are more likely to trigger a spam designation; you should know what they are so you can avoid them. Spam designations can damage your business’s reputation and the acceptance rate of future campaigns.

Elements of a Successful Email Marketing Campaign:

So you’ve created a visually pleasing, compelling, and effective email that you want to send out to your email marketing list. Now what? You could take the time and effort to send it out yourself. Or, you could hire a company to do it for you. Such businesses simplify the process considerably. They will maintain your list of subscribers, deleting invalid addresses or unsubscribe requests. They will provide easy-to-use templates that will help you create attractive email pieces. They will track responses to your email campaign – even recording which recipients opened the emails. They can monitor the results of your campaign so that you can make the next email marketing campaign even more effective.

Subscriber Management: If you’re always sending emails to invalid addresses and aren’t honoring unsubscribe requests, it can damage your reputation – and the deliverability of your emails. An email marketing service should automatically remove invalid addresses and un-subscriptions – along with any contacts that should be globally banned. But, you also want a service that will look at emails that bounce back and figure out why. Sometimes technical problems can be addressed so that the email marketing message can be re-sent successfully.

Collecting Addresses: Since you probably already have a list of email marketing addresses, you want a service that will allow you to seamlessly import your list into their service. The email marketing service should also be able to create a database with information about those addresses. They should provide simple methods for interested parties to add their email addresses to your list – for instance, by using a lead capture form linked from your website.

Recipient Targeting: If you’re sending out a reminder email, you usually send it to everyone who was on the first list. But, what if you could just send it to the people who didn’t respond to the previous email? That way you don’t need to bug the people who have already responded! Or what if you could send emails just to those people who visited your website recently? Don’t you want a service that can provide this level of targeting? If you monitor your recipients’ behavior and tailor your email marketing campaign accordingly, you will greatly enhance the chances of success.

Reporting: Each campaign constitutes an opportunity to learn more about your customer base. But you won’t learn if you don’t gather the information. Look for an email marketing solution that will create in-depth reports for you. You want to know how many recipients responded to your email’s call to action, how many people opened your email, how many unsubscribed, how many bounced back, and if any got caught in the spam filter. You want reports with the flexibility to show you data for weeks, months, or other time periods. This information is invaluable in planning your marketing strategy and refining your next email marketing campaign.

Design: You want a service that will help you design attractive, effective messages. Look for one with templates for newsletters and other kinds of emails that can be customized for your business. Or, if you want to design in another program, you need an email marketing service that will allow you to seamlessly paste emails created in MS Word, Frontpage, or other html editors. Look for a service that is intuitive and easy to use and that offers what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing. So you know that what you see on screen is exactly what your recipients will receive.

Spam: You want a service that adheres to all the CAN-SPAM regulations and observes all best practices. Choose a service that will evaluate all elements of your email – html coding, header, links, tags – for spam triggers. You want a service that can score the likelihood of a spam label and will suggest necessary changes. A good email marketing service can also record instances of messages being caught in spam filters and help you avoid that fate in the future.