The most critical considerations when planning your email campaign are the source of your prospects or mailing list and the nature and quality of your communications.
Your marketing list
Usually, the most effective option is to build your marketing list using a well crafted and attractive opt-in offer which allows you to capture the details of interested people directly via your website. Optimising your site for the right kind of traffic in advance will help you determine whether you have generated a strong level of interest and opt-ins. Building your own list also means that everyone on it has chosen to hear from you - their search, resultiing in them landing on your website, was targeted to what you offer. So you have already taken the first step towards answering their question and demonstrating your credibility as a potential trusted supplier.
But this process takes time.
If you don't have time to build a marketing list organically, you must buy one. There are a large number of list brokers of varying quality and the response rate from a bought list will typically be far lower than from your own opt-in list. But it can be a good place to start if you are building a customer-base.
Email marketing system options
Options available include:
- Email clients such as Outlook
- Hosted email marketing solutions
- Desktop email marketing solutions
- Email marketing directly integrated with your website
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Fully managed email solutions
Emails are sent as plain text (no images) or HTML (website style images and formatting). HTML can look very good but it may present fomatting difficulties, so it is important that you design your email template with care. Email design (although HTML) works slightly differently to website design and if you get it wrong the display of your HTML email can be disastrous.
The MIME Multipart format includes both text and HTML, and is smart enough to recognise which type of email the recipient wants - anddeliver it.
The best emails are written to encourage the recipient to return to your website. It is important that the email is not too long and contains an offer that is appropriate and compelling to the recpieint. Ideally, it will correspond closely to what the recipient originally subscribed for, so you are continung to deliver, and over-deliver what they wanted in the first place.
Other useful considerations in copywriting are to use names so you can address recipients personally. This can make a remarkable difference to the successs rate of your campaign.
Other email marketing terms
Autoresponders - a system that automatically responds to your users at pre-defined intervals, saving you work and implementing the mechanics of your campaign even when you are doing other things.
List hygiene - the process of keeping your list accurate and up to date. If your campaigns send to a large number of non-addresses, not only are you clogging up your own and everyone else's servers with useless traffic, but you can also be marked up as a spammer.
Deliverability - with spam being a major problem, a variety of systems have evolved to trap and prevent it. It is inevitable that a proportion of legitimate messages also get trapped by the spam filters, so it is essential that your campaign is structured to provide maximum deliverability. When you use a hosted solution this is taken care of by the provider, but should you implement your own system, then you will need to consider either "whitelisting" or "accreditation", or simply accept that a proportion of your messages will fail to make it through to your target recipient.
Integration - the pre-requisite of success
The most important aspect of an email campaign is that it integrates well into the rest of your online marketing effort. The process begins when a person types one of your target search phrases into their search engine and ends with a successful long term customer relationship.
Email marketing needs to be a seamless part of this process, and at Channel Digital we aim to help you implement and use the appropriate system to your level of skills, your market, the size of your list, your technical infrastructure and your budget.