Posts Tagged ‘what not to do’

How hard is email marketing really? I mean, you get a list of people, take a blank email and load it up with pictures and words about your products and services, link to your website and send the email out right?

Um…. only if you have the intent to send really terrible emails that will harm your deliverability, and create a bad perception of your brand for your subscribers.  Email is still one of the most effective marketing channels out there and it can do amazing things for conversions, sales, ROI… if you put just a bit of time and effort into it.

However sadly most people take the ‘slap it together’ approach and this only serves to work against you long term. So seeing as I am always writing about best practice techniques and how to do email marketing better…. I thought I would do the complete opposite and list the ways you can do email really terribly to make my point…

aintnobodygottimeforthat

 

Below I list all the ways that are guaranteed to ensure your email marketing program dies a slow painful death:

Purchase lists and upload them and blast your emails out to everyone – they all want what you have, they just don’t know it yet!
Don’t bother having a mobile version of your email or incorporting a responsive design
Don’t bother including alt text on images to tell people what they are about, people should just download the images
Don’t include an unsubscribe link – these people obviously need to be receiving the information you are sending
Sender score? What’s a sender score? If you don’t know about it, it doesn’t exist, therefore don’t worry about it
Include merge fields and don’t check them – people don’t mind if the email says ‘dear first name’
Don’t worry about testing, it’s enough you lay the email up and make it look good, shouldn’t it just work?
Don’t bother doing any analysis – just a lot of numbers and mumbo-jumbo – just watch the unsubscribes
Getting someone’s business card gives permission to email them so collect, collect collect, and send send send!
Send emails without a call to action – the awesome information in your email is enough
Preference centre – what’s a preference centre? Just have one type of email and one list of people and they all get to receive what you send….
Don’t take the time to identify inactive subscribers – just keep sending them emails, they are probably just busy, they’ll open them eventually
Save out a previously sent email to create a new email, which increases your chances of you sending the email out without updating the links
Keep content boring and be sure to avoid anything interactive, engaging, fun or surprising, just stick to sending those limited time offers
Ask for your customers preferences and then disregard the data  - isn’t the point to ask people what they want, you don’t actually have to do anything about it?
Take all that stuff off the footer – it just takes up extra space and people can Google that stuff anyway
Don’t test in Litmus – it’s not important to see how the email displays in different email clients and mobile devices – I’ll just test to my email address and its good to go
Don’t bother checking any of the links in your email campaign, they’ll be fine…
Send a plain text auto responder welcome email with something bland such as ‘thanks for subscribing’ with no branding or important information
Personalise each and every email subject line and greeting with the persons name just because you have it – subscribers love that
Don’t include a pre-header link – just jump straight into the email itself – it just takes up space, why is it there anyway?
It is all about your marketing goals so remain completely centered on promoting your company and don’t worry about what the subscriber wants
Send as many emails as possible – if in doubt of the most appropriate sending frequency, just email away
Don’t bother including dynamic content (Dynamic content, what’s that?) Just send the same information out to everyone, too complicated to figure out  any form of personalisation or targeting
Include important information and links below the fold (The fold? What’s that?) so that people have to scroll down to the bottom…  people love scrolling
Don’t make it easy for your subscriber to click through to your landing pages or website, or find what they want, and don’t include an obvious call to action, and remove any helpful navigation. (Customer journey? What’s that?)
Make links really small and close together and make it really annoying especially for mobile users who are reading your email on the go. People love a challenge.
Use 14 point font, make some font bold, some italic, even comic sans and non web-safe fonts, and use lots of different colours to really make it stand out, the more attention getting the better
Strip out any recognizable logo’s and be very inconsistent in the look, functionality and branding of your emails from one to the next. Better still don’t use a template or use branding at all!
Even better, just stick an image into a blank email and send it out. No alt text, no template, no branding, nothing. Emailing your PDF flier out as one big JPG is a great idea!
Use a from name that you know who it is but is not obvious to your subscribers, like Barbara Smeath @idaily.co.nz, if you keep them guessing they will have to open your email
Best thing ever – to stop people unsubscribing, link them to a login page so they need to login to the account they made 10 years ago and have forgotten about to unsubscribe. It becomes so hard they don’t unsubscribe! Win!
In addition to that, forgo signing up for feedback loops or ignore the unsubscribe requests for as long as possible and send them more emails in the meantime in case they change their mind

After you have done all of this, be sure to include links to your social profiles so people can connect with you on there and share their terrible experience – just be sure to ignore them and bury those comments…

OK now we have had a walk down bad-practice lane, it’s honesty time folks – do any of the above points sound anything like your email marketing practices? Are you ready to step it up? Email the experts to see how you can dramatically improve your email program, improve your deliverability and make all your subscribers really happy!

Following on from our post about how your From Name and Subject Line act as the gatekeepers to your email campaigns, (Click here to read) we are now going to tell you the formula for creating the ultimate subject line so you can increase your chances of your campaign standing out, getting opened, and getting read.

As we’ve said before, prompting the open by getting past the first ‘gatekeepers’ is the primary goal, because you can’t count clickthroughs – much less sell something -  if no-one opens your email.

So with so many people receiving many emails, deleting and filtering, how do you get your subscribers attention? A great subject line gets your email opened.

 

SUBJECT LINE MYTHS

Spam filters can be triggered by a variety of reasons, rarely will specific words like ‘sale’ or ‘free’ get you a one way ticket into the spam folder – filters are changing and it takes a combination of things to really mark your email as spam. So don’t be afraid to put in the odd exclamation mark, you can use all caps, even the word free or sale is fine.

The key is to use these words sparingly. Spam filters assign points to ‘spam’ words, and if the points exceed a certain threshold then the email is considered spam.  However if you just use one or two of these words and symbols throughout your email or even just in the subject line, they won’t automatically mark your email as spam – you may have heard us say before that while content filtering is important, there are now other factors like your sender reputation and engagement metrics that are much more important.

WHAT WORKS

You may have heard a lot of talk about geo-location lately – well collecting and using geo-location data to create more relevant and personal emails and subject lines can increase open rates.  For example, the same email content can come to life when the subject line suggests it’s especially relevant for you.  American retailer Urban Outfitters does this well with subject lines often calling out to me ‘Hey New Zealand – here’s our best sale yet’  or ‘We ship for free to Kiwis every day!’.  Extrapolate that out to your regional customers and – well you see our point.

Subject lines framed as questions have often performed better in tests. Of course you won’t be asking just any old random question – consider your audience, their interests, what your campaign is about, and frame a question around that which will pique their interest and even better if they can respond in some way you can increase engagement.  ‘How many ways can you wear this scarf?’  ‘What’s the best way to show the world you care?’.

Email marketing company MailerMailer found that longer subject lines had lower open rates and click through rates than those emails with shorter subject lines.  They found emails with 28-39 characters in the subject line had the highest open and click through rates. Considering that is about how many characters of a subject line smartphones display, that is no surprise. So the golden rule of thumb is keep it shorter than 50 characters, or at least make your point early in the sentence!

STRATEGIES WITH A CAVEAT

✓ There has been a craze of sorts lately with people using ✶symbols✶ in clever ways in an effort to stand out in the inbox. If used appropriately and cleverly, ✈ symbols may get you more opens, but too many symbols might start driving people crazy so again use sparingly ☂ and only if relevant ☀.  You can read our article about using symbols here.

We’ve heard recently that contrary to previous advice, using the recipient’s name in the subject line does not significantly improve open rates. If it clearly looks like a mail merge then it’s not very personalised at all and will probably have no effect, however if you use their name cleverly and in a relevant way, it may increase opens. In their July 2012 study, MailerMailer saw significantly lower click through and open rates for personalised subject lines compared to non personalised ones.   We have many clients who use this technique every time and it works very well – the answer for you is TEST it!

GET THE OPENS

Keep it useful – why would your recipient want to open your email?  Tell them.

Keep it short – remember the golden rule of 50 characters.

Keep it specific – make sure it is relevant and valuable to the recipient.

Keep it timely – with everything being instant now there really is no place for old news, old jokes, or old memes – keep it fresh.

Always have a call to action – people will respond when you tell them to do something. So ask yourself why are you emailing them? What do you want them to do?  Make your CTA’s easy and ensure they make sense.

Test test test – use the A/B split test send function and test out different subject lines and learn what works for your audience.

Set expectations – clearly state what’s inside the email, and why the recipient should read it.

This advice along with the previous post on From Names and Subject lines will give you some things to work on, and we’re here if you want to talk about what works for you, what doesn’t work and how you might grow your response rates, and deliver great emails to happy customers!

When the DMA and the EEC sent an email to talk about their upcoming conference this morning we were a little taken aback with what we received.

We might be all the way down here in New Zealand but after 12 years we know our way around email design best practice… and this wasn’t that.

Turns out there was some kind of error somewhere, so we thought we’d try to help and jump in and make it look a bit more like email marketers would expect to see from their guiding lights.

Check out the before and after shots below (you need to click to enlarge them to full size) and please let us know what you think in the comments below or via @JerichoCrew on Twitter:

BEFORE:

Click the image to see the full version

Overall, the original design was quite disorganised. The main focus in terms of imagery seemed to be around the location of the conference, rather than the content. And we’re unsure what re-purposing the classic ‘Got Milk?’ advertising campaign adds to the communication.

The images used are quite rough and, in places, have been stretched disproportionately to fit a gap. The headshots used for the speakers are of varying sizes (which again makes the design look rough/messy) and are laid-out in a way that means they aren’t associated with their corresponding text (profiles on the left).

The various logos aren’t given space, making the composition quite cramped. The main call-to-action for this communication should be to register, but although it features at the top of the email, it doesn’t really stand out and is given no more prominence than the other calls-to-action.

 

AFTER:

 

Click the image to see the full version

We looked to simplify the layout and make it easier to follow. The conference name and date are given prominence, with supporting imagery which ties in with the content of the event, rather than the location.

We used a short blurb to explain what the event was about, followed by the call-to-action, in orange, so that it stands out. We placed the speakers’ images with their profiles and gave their logos space to breathe. The speaker section is followed by the same call-to-action. The reason for this, is that we don’t want recipients to have to scroll back to the top to take action – we’re making it easy for them to do what we want them to.

Our secondary calls-to-action (Join EEC and Join DMA) then follow this and are treated in a way that they are still obviously clickable, but they don’t detract from our primary CTA.

What do you think?  We hope they use it, or at least let us have another try at a design they will use.  Watch this space.