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Email Marketing Best Practices: How to Create a Campaign from Scratch
By Amanda DiSilvestro
Even with the rise of social media and other online platforms, email is still one of the most important ways to communicate online. When you are in the process of developing an email marketing campaign, there are best practices (and worthwhile products) to keep in mind. According to the experts at Marketing Cloud, a number of marketers are still sending bulk emails to their lists without properly segmenting. This is a sign of a larger issue: many marketers may not truly understand all the best practices for creating email campaigns. Email marketing is a top priority for companies, so it's important to know how to build a campaign from the very first step.
10 Steps to Email Marketing Success
Jar Creative, an agency specialising in online marketing, outlines 10 important steps for building an email marketing campaign from the ground up. Each key aspect is highly involved, but integral to success in email marketing. Consider referencing these steps every time you launch a new campaign.
- Create a clear goal
- Segment your audience
- Create a compelling headline
- Pay attention to timing
- Optimise for your brand
- Focus on design and compatibility
- Create a clear call to action
- Create an effective landing page
- Set up tracking
- Test, test, and test again
Lay the Foundation for a Solid Campaign
Decide on the Goal of the Campaign
The first thing to do before launching an email campaign is to decide what the goal will be. What, exactly, are you trying to accomplish? Why is email the best way to achieve it? Once you answer these questions you can strategise.
Establish Your Email List
When you first build your email list, you must have permission to email your customers and subscribers. Initially, there are many ways to get people on your list, you can offer a discount on a first purchase, advertise your newsletter subscription, offer a free eBooks but in any scenario, you need to be sure you have a very strong call to action (CTA).
According to Kissmetrics, you need to ask the following questions. They'll help you get into the shoes of your prospective customers so you can create something appealing to get those addresses:
- Why should I give you my email address?
- What is the benefit?
- Is this going to be a bunch of spam?
- How frequent are the emails?
- Will I get discounts?
- Will you send me relevant offers or junk?
Being able to answer these specific questions will be the key to getting subscribers. Simply asking for someone's email is not enough.
Segment and Personalise Each Email
To be successful in email marketing, you need to segment and personalise your campaigns for those on your email list. Certain members may want to subscribe for offers while others want to read every update you send, even if it's a few times a week. You must give options.
- Personalisation at Sign Up: Give people options for what kind of emails they want to receive, and be very clear about how often they will be receiving them. Allow the user to specify these preferences during sign up. This helps the user understand what exactly they are agreeing to. In addition have an option to update their settings or unsubscribe.
- Attempt to Unsubscribe: If someone tries to unsubscribe, it may be because they receive too many emails from you. Give people the opportunity to personalise their experience and select the type of emails that they want to receive. This can potentially halt that unsubscribe. You can learn more about optimising your unsubscribe process here.
Segmentation is the practice of splitting your email list into more targeted groups. This can be extremely helpful when it comes to analytics and post-campaign reflection. It will be clear which groups benefit the most from your emails.
The following are ways to segment a large email list by the kind of subscription people receive:
- Customers-only list
- Product updates (in comparison to a customer list)
- Daily email list (in comparison to weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.)
- HTML (some people prefer the option for text-only emails)
One way to master segmentation is by using your CRM to build and segment email lists, as well as import leads for sales. Pair your CRM with your marketing automation software to manage and analyse customer interactions and data throughout your relationship with subscribers.
Create an Effective Email
Once you establish your email list, create properly segmented campaigns, and personalise user experience, it is time to construct the email for your campaign. Here are some important things to remember when creating the email:
Subject line tips
You want to keep your content fresh. While people may be very interested in the beginning, you need to keep them interested over time. If the reader can't tell what the email is about from the subject line, they may not open it.
Keep your subject line to 40 characters. People want to know what your email is about before they open it, but they want to get it in a concise, effective format.
Use promotional emails effectively: You do not want to overwhelm your email list, but you want every email you send to be used effectively. For example, you can promote contests and giveaways in your campaigns in order to reconnect with inactive subscribers, or send subscribers a poll or survey to find out what type of content they're most interested in.
Another important feature of effective email marketing is responsive design. Email marketing campaigns should always include mobile users. Responsive design, and design in general, is a big topic, so check out this guide and infographic for building a responsive email design in your next marketing campaign.
Clear Call to Action
When you design your campaign email, use a clear call-to-action button embedded in the format. This way people can easily access your site or take the action that you want. They should never have to copy/paste an HTML link or search for your site.
For help in building your emails, and to consider all the personalisation options, look into Marketing Cloud, which specialises in email marketing automation. It also allows you to engage with messaging, social platforms, and advertisements in a unique way.
Analyse Your Post-Campaign Data
After you launch your email marketing campaign, use the fresh, incoming data to help create more successful campaigns in the future. Check the reports both standard and those you customise to your needs to analyse these numbers.
How many people opened your email? If this rate is low you need to revise your plan to get through people's spam filters. Try adjusting your subject line. Your open rate is critical: only when the recipient opens your email will they ultimately be able to follow the CTA of your campaign.
There are two kinds of bounces: Hard bounces are when the email is no longer active or is in some way invalid. For example, someone may have changed their email, or the email was not recorded accurately and doesn't exist. Soft bounces happen when someone's email box may be full temporarily, or something else prevents the email from getting through. To combat bounces, include a short paragraph on each of your emails letting customers know that if they change their email address, they should let you know so you can update your contact list. You also want to make sure you record emails accurately in the first place.
Your click-through rate (CTR) shows the percentage of people who received your email and followed through with the call to action you suggested. This metric can provide valuable insights for reformatting and planning future campaigns. You can also compare email campaigns to see if one did better than another.
The data you receive from each campaign can help you with future lead generation. Figure out and gauge the success of how users have segmented themselves and personalised their experiences. This information can help you launch forward with future campaigns.
Of course, there are many more ways to get more advanced with email marketing. The steps and information in this article are meant to give you a good foundation to build on. As you grow your email marketing, you'll figure things out and learn what best practices work for your audience and which metrics are most important for your company's bottom line.