Previously, I went through the fundamentals of creating and delivering an effective email marketing campaign. Contrary to what many think, it’s not dead at all. The landscape has merely changed and there is a goldmine of opportunities out there for those who do it the right way. This month, I finish the two-part feature by covering what goes into creating the emails themselves and the key rules you should stick to when producing your content.
One of anything is rarely enough so plan a campaign narrative.
It is relatively common for me to hear people say, of various types of marketing, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” Email marketing is not a one-off activity. You are trying to build on your audience’s knowledge of your brand proposition, to get their interest and eventually turn them into a sale; you will rarely achieve this the first time to make contact with them. My advice is that a good email campaign will comprise no less than 6 emails, one being sent out per month, with a simple and personal (but automated) follow-up after each is sent out.
Focus on a central brand message with supporting strands, or reasons why that you can drip feed from one to the next. Your aim is for your central brand message to be consistent and reinforced every time – for example, “We are the friendliest, most pragmatic firm of accountants in Milton Keynes and we will do all the hard work for you.” You will then choose a tenet of that proposition statement to focus on with each email, or choose a part of your service to focus on – for example, “Tax Management: We help you to minimise your tax liabilities and guarantee your returns will always be filed on time.” This ties in with the main message and builds on the reasons why clients should choose your service.
Build on your story month-to-month; you will be surprised how many people remember your emails and tell you it was the third or fourth that got their attention, or that simply landed in their inbox at the right time! It’s all about consistency and timing.
Your biggest hurdle to get past is not looking like spam.
Everyone’s inbox is their personal and private space. Think about the emails you receive on a daily basis; like most people, you will probably be naturally averse to anything unsolicited and feel the hairs on your neck stand up the second you see anything that is “spam”. This is what you are up against, people like you, and you need to find a way around it and into their good books. Now, assuming you made it to their inbox, the first thing your prospect will see will be a summary like this:
Excel Accountancy (you, the sender)
Our Services (subject of the email)
We are accountants based in Milton Keynes and…
Emails are regarded as unopened if they go straight to junk mail or if the recipient clicks the summary and deletes it without opening it and reading it. You therefore want to avoid your summary looking like spam and to have an opening snippet that draws in the recipient to open and read the full message.
Here’s a much better alternative to above:
Hi Jennifer, I believe we can save you money by…
You would probably be much more likely to click and open the second message because it’s from a real person, it has an interesting subject line and the message snippet is intriguing – tell me how you can save me money! The answer in the email is by reducing your tax liabilities through a better quality, more involved and proactive accountancy service, rather than simply doing the bare basics needed to file your return.
Get this right and you’ve got their attention!
Conciseness and clarity are your friends, don’t talk yourself into the trash.
Keep in mind how important the previous stage was. The last thing you now want to do is to prove to the recipient that they should not have opened your email. The content of your email will be either purely text-based or more designed in the form of an HTML email (a graphic email like a web page). I mentioned previously, and do so again this month, that you want to have a mixture of both. The fact is, visual emails are less likely to get past every single spam filter to the recipient’s inbox and, when they do, they will feel more like spam to the recipient. However, they are much more memorable when used correctly. Use them as your opportunity to project a strong brand image and keep your content very simple with a strong call to action.
Your format should be like this:
Sub header that expands on the headline and draws them in.
EYE-CATCHING IMAGE AND OVERALL DESIGN
No more than two paragraphs of body text, explaining in simple terms what you are offering and why they should be interested.
A closing summary 1-2 lines with an open-ended question and/or call to action (e.g. reply to this email, call this number, click this button).
Your logo and sign off details.
People’s attention span, especially with emails they are not expecting to receive, is a matter of seconds. What most people will do is read the first part, then read the last part and decide if they want to read the part in the middle. This is why you must have a really strong opening line and a strong close that solicits them to read more and to respond.
If you are creating a visual, HTML email make sure your design is impeccable.
Never send out a poorly designed email. Just do not do it at all. A bad email design will, at best, expedite its way into the trash and, at worst, get your email address blocked even faster. This is your opportunity to set out your stall so either pay a creative agency like TFA to design it for you or invest in the tools that will enable you to create a sharp design. There are both cloud-based tools like MailChimp and desktop-based tools like Mail Designer that will help you to create strong emails from starter templates but none of them will turn you into a graphic designer. If you are going to do the creative yourself, take the time to get it right and use things like Google Web Fonts to spruce it up rather than sticking with bog-standard fonts like Arial. There’s no substitute for a professional but, if you create a really strong design, recipients will remember it and some will even keep it in reference folder for the future as they would with a brochure in a filing cabinet.
The last piece of advice I will give you is to make sure you do not use too many images and that you keep the image sizes as small as possible; JPEGs compressed to about 50-60% are the perfect balance between file size and email image quality. A larger ratio of images and HTML content to actual, readable text content will increase your spam score and chances of ending up in the junk folder. Keeping this under control means it will also open much faster so you will get the impact you want.
That concludes my crash course on effective email marketing. Have a fantastic Christmas and put into practice the principles I have shared over the course of 2019. If you do, I am pretty sure you will have an even more prosperous 2020 than you expected.
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Written for, and featured in Pulse Magazine