The who, where, what, why and when of email marketing

There so many ways to reach existing and potential customers via digital marketing channels including social media. But email marketing is still a very effective way of engaging your customers and should be part of your digital marketing strategy.

Follow my five email marketing tips for beginners below to get you started delivering successful email marketing campaigns.

1. Who to send emails to?

The most important thing to remember is that your emailing list should contain email addresses of customers who have given you permission to send them emails.

Letterbox with a "no junk mail" sticker

Permission can be given in two ways:

  1. By customers who have explicitly signed-up to receive emails
  2. By customers who have supplied their email address when buying a product or service from you. In this case ask them to opt-in to receive emails from you.

In both cases and explain what you’ll be emailing them. For example product or service news, sales promotions, or competitions. Always make it easy for customers to update their personal details and to opt-out of receiving email marketing.

2. Where will you send the emails from?

Now that you have your emailing list you’ll need to choose a service that you can use to compose and send the emails. You could use the email client that you usually use but email marketing best practice recommends that you choose an email marketing service provider so that you can measure the effectiveness of your emails.

These services offer dashboards that show how many:

  • Customers opened an email (open rates)
  • Customers were engaged by the email (click through rates – CTR)
  • Customers forwarded an email
  • emails bounced
  • customers unsubscribed

Email marketing service providers also offer dashboards so that you can test the effectiveness of different elements of your email which I’ll talk about in the next email marketing tip.

3. What to say in the emails?

The three elements to consider in an email marketing message are the subject line, from name and content.

  1. Subject line – This is what makes or breaks your email marketing campaign. Get this wrong and no one will open your email! As mentioned above, email marketing service providers can help you improve your subject lines by allowing you to test different versions on a sample of your emailing list before you decide on the most effective one. Here’s a snapshot of MailChimp’s email marketing AB Testing help page:MailChimp’s email marketing AB Testing help pageAaron Baeshel’s 8 subject line formulas to get your emails opened are a good starting point for ideas about types of email marketing subject lines. One thing I’d add is that it could be useful to test subject line length since in 2015 45% of emails were opened on mobile devices compared to 36% on desktop (according to Leighann Morris’s 15 essential mobile email marketing statistics 2015).
  2. From name – this should never say “donotreply” especially as this is a useful additional visible identifier in email apps on mobile devices.
  3. Content
    • Think mobile – The email should display well on mobile devices. Email marketing service providers should have templates that are tried and tested on different devices and also offer guidance for your html email development team if you’ll be creating a custom version.
    • Keep it simple – Write in plain English remembering to follow your organisation’s editorial style guide.
    • Remember that content isn’t just text – it can be images, video, audio or a poll.
    • Include opt-out and personal information update links. Email marketing service providers usually offer a mechanism to manage these links.
    • Landing pages – when an email marketing campaign’s content links through to your website make sure it goes to a page related to the content in the email (not just to the homepage). The content could exist already or you could create a landing page specifically for that particular email marketing campaign that links to more content in the site.

4. Why are you sending the emails?

When you’re designing your campaign try to think about your expected outcome. What do you hope to achieve by sending out the email? When the email marketing campaign has run, check the results against your expectations. Were they exceeded? Not met? Why? Use your results to learn and improve. You could also consider using your email marketing service to run A/B tests with different content to samples of your emailing list to see which content is most effective.

5. When will you send the emails?

Are you the only person running email marketing campaigns in your organisation? If not consider creating an online shared company-wide email marketing campaign calendar. This means that everyone can see what’s scheduled and avoid spamming your customers or sending out similar or conflicting emails.



Resistance is futile

I’ve resisted creating my own blog site because I remember from a course I attended in an actual classroom years ago that blogging is for people who have something to say. I’m not doing this voluntarily…

As part of your work as a digital leader, it’s important that you experiment with different tools and technologies. So, your Module 4 project includes writing your own blog. This will be used over the following four weeks to capture your thoughts, intentions and progress towards completing your project.

I suppose I am volunteering indirectly because I decided to study for a Diploma in Digital Business Leadership at the ADBL and as a consequence I’m being press-ganged into this!

…add an entry here saying which platform you are using and giving a valid URL so that the course team and your peers can access it.

Look here I am writing my first post!

In this fourth module (of six) we’re covering digital marketing and at the end I’ll be armed with a bunch of new words, phrases,knowledge and techniques that I can use to improve customer engagement with our services via our digital channels.

I think that’s enough for now.

Resistance is futile