If you own a small business and are interested in getting into email marketing, you probably already know that when done well, this type of marketing is very successful. But you also probably wonder exactly what makes an email marketing campaign effective.
While email marketing campaigns differ according to the type of business and core demographic, there are a few important factors that are common to most successful email campaigns, including how you time your campaign. Here are five important components of your email marketing campaign.
1. Writing an Enticing Subject Line
Your email recipients probably have multiple windows open in addition to their email inbox, so your message has to compete effectively for attention. Your email’s subject line usually determines whether the message gets opened or not. Subject lines should not just be an afterthought once you’ve written the “meat” of the email. Says Lindsay McMurdo, Marketing VP of Topica.com, “Start thinking about those precious 50-60 characters as soon as you start putting together the content and HTML of your message.”
2. Using Images Wisely
Images can help your email marketing campaign, but there are some limitations you should keep in mind. First, some email programs compress large images, possibly degrading image quality. Also, if your recipient doesn’t have your email address in his or her address book, their email program most likely turns off images unless the user specifically requests for them to be shown. So you can’t assume that your images will be seen, even if the recipient reads the rest of the email.
Ensure that all images in your marketing email have descriptive alt text tags that work as a call to action. For example, if you sell pet products, don’t tag your picture of dog shampoo with “bottle of dog shampoo.” Rather, choose something like “20% off dog shampoo” instead. Tags should encompass the purpose of the image.
You can monitor image effectiveness too. David Daniels of ClickZ.com says, “Most [email service providers] offer a click-overlay heat map that visually shows you where users are clicking most. Test different images with dynamic content approaches.”
3. Finding the Ideal Email Length
Prescribing email length is problematic, because it depends upon what your business does and who your target demographic is. For the most part, however, you should aim to make the content of your message straight to the point, while preserving a bit of mystery. Think about what your goal is. If the goal of your email message is to get readers to subscribe to your newsletter, you shouldn’t give away all the newsletter information in your email, because then they have no reason to subscribe.
4. Testing and Learning from Mistakes
If you have a successful email marketing campaign that didn’t require a lot of forethought or effort, you may be happy to continue with the same strategy indefinitely. This is short-sighted. Tastes and trends change, and you should regularly test the components of your email campaign. So-called A/B testing splits your subscribers into two groups, with one group receiving the “normal” email and the other receiving an email with different image placement, colors, calls to action, or subject lines. Don’t change everything at once, however. Test changes one at a time. Otherwise, you won’t know exactly which factor captured your readers’ attention (or failed to capture it).
5. Making Great Content Easy to Share
There is no substitute for high-quality content. You should include sharing links that make it easy for your readers to share your content by forwarding it, or sharing it on Facebook or Twitter. You can even arrange for those who share your content to receive a simple thank you gift, such as a coupon code.
When you have great content, showcase it using tried-and-true design principles. For example, did you know that more people click orange Call to Action buttons than buttons of other colors? According to Oli Gardner of Unbounce.com, “That BOB – the Big Orange Button – is an overtly clickable button color.”
There’s every reason use an email marketing campaign for your business. They’re inexpensive and relatively easy to set up, use, and test. Plan out your strategy carefully, pay attention to those subject lines, and prepare for more customers and subscribers.
Photo Credit: Wcizmowski