Best practices for e-mail marketing
Business use of email has increased dramatically past 2 years, with many workers checking their email constantly throughout day. A study from Gartner Group showed that 42% of users check their business e-mail even while on vacation, and 23% check it on weekends. During workweek, 32% check their e-mail constantly throughout day, and 53% check their e-mail six or more times a day. This is good news.
The bad news is estimates that by 2005 average e-mail recipient will receive 1,600 commercial e-mail messages, as well as 4,000 other e-mails in their inbox. How do marketers cut through clutter?
Permission boosts response rates. Give client perception that they are in control of messages they are receiving.
Target your messages
Not only do you generate better response for initial mailing, it builds credibility with clients so that they will read future e-mail. The main point is to avoid e-mail fatigue.
Whether sending content or promotional info, donít send fluff. Make sure your copy is well written.
Where possible segment your list and personalize according to your clientís profile, to add personalization beyond simply addressing them by name. For example, if you have five types of clients, use "dynamic personalization" to customize your feature/benefit points to client (e.g. Law Librarians vs. Legal Secretaries).
Monitor and limit quantity and frequency of mailings
General guide for frequency is one email message a month to stay in clientís mind, and max once every two weeks. This guideline is only for marketing email, and doesnít include other customer service or confirmation emails you might be sending. Other factors impact your clientís tolerance, such as level of relationship they have with you, how many other marketing communications they receive through mail, advertising, etc. If you canít control other messages, at least be aware of risk of email fatigue, and keep those messages targeted!
Fitting E-Mail into your Marketing Mix
Speed, ease of response, and cheap production costs make e-mail ideal for:
customer relationship communications (e.g. a newsletter) testing offers relationship-building customer service e-mails product/service updates It can also really boost response when used in conjunction with your other communication vehicles, such as PR, advertising, postal mail, or telemarketing. Email excels in offering levels of personalization and segmentation that can be cost-prohibitive with print.
Comparison of E-Mail vs. Postal Direct Mail
Strengths of e-mail:
Speed of response - find out how your campaign is doing within hours instead of weeks Reduced production time Increased testing capabilities Personalization opportunities Potentially more cost-effective than print Ability to track every single action and tie it back to a single user Ability to increase campaign reach through forwarded email (tell-a-friend or viral marketing) Can create dialogue with your customer Easiest and quickest way to get customers to come to your site to fill in your database (vs. collecting paper forms and business reply cards).
Weaknesses or Differences:
Up to 50-80% of response is generated within 48 hours and up to 90% within a week. Compare to postal campaigns where it can take two months to receive 85% of response, with peak response typically in week three and four. However, some marketers are finding customers hanging on to their emails, especially newsletters, and generating up to 20% of their responses two to four months later.
Like postal mail, a targeted, opt-in list is key to response, but seems even more important with email. Whereas postal campaigns one can argue importance of list, offer and creativity is balanced, with email it is still weighted to your list and offer. With increase of spam, expect your customers and subscribers to demand better creativity to cut through clutter. Bad creativity can kill response. Read on for details.
Planning your email campaign
Just as important as actual email and offer itself, you need to plan following:
Where do you want recipients to go when they get your email? Do you need to design a landing page?
If you are designing a specific campaign, then, yes, you want to create a landing page for them that reinforce offer and encourage them to close an appointment. Coordinate your landing page with your email, i.e. use same design, wording, etc. Continue copy started in your email. Repeat promotion and your call to action.
Where will replies be sent? Who will respond to them? What questions could be answered in email instead of making clients ask for information?
Is there any information in email that could not be forwarded to a recipient - e.g. a special offer only for that group of clients? If so, be sure any specifics are covered in email.
Bouncebacks and Undeliverables
Every email campaign generates undeliverable mail. A soft bounce is when address is good, but is getting bounced back by recipientís mail server because it is too busy or mailbox is full. If you are using a service provider to send email campaign, they usually allow for four tries over 48 hours and then consider email undeliverable.
A hard bounce is when recipientís mail server responds that user is no longer at that address or is unknown at that domain.
A service provider will flag these addresses as undeliverable and not mail them (so you do not incur mailing fees). A download of these addresses should be taken to update internal database. If client warrants cost, a call out or postcard requesting an updated email address can be sent.
Do not miss an opportunity to test an element of your campaign in order to understand how your customers respond to email. Donít base results only on clickthroughs (unless itís just an awareness campaign). Base your results on final actions, which are usually sales.
These are just some of things you can test:
List Offer Subject line Creative: tone, content, copy length, layout HTML vs. Text Landing pages - layout, copy Time of day/week - for B2B generally this has proven to be Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10am-11am. For consumers you may find a spike in evenings and if you email Fridays or on weekends. Test email vs. print, email in conjunction with print. Email as part of initial sales cycle instead of phone or print. Find out when a customer needs to talk to a human being.