email campaign do's and don'ts

If you ever want to view some telling statistics, check out the stats about website conversions by traffic source. A recent study, for example, revealed that 2/3 of website conversions come from email – and they account of half of the average eCommerce site’s shopping cart traffic. Pretty crazy, eh? The reason behind this is perfectly logical: email campaigns are opt-in, meaning you can already target previous or interested customers. So start emailing!

Wait…don’t. Don’t just start emailing. Just because you’re targeting a sympathetic audience doesn’t mean you can slack on your email campaign strategy. Before you hit the “send” button, follow a few simple “do’s” and “don’ts.” And yes, this list is skewed in favor of the “do’s.” That’s because Negative Nancying is not allowed here. To read the "Dont's," check out the follow-up blog post. 

When Designing an Email Campaign, Do:

  •  Have a clear call to action. Every single email should have a purpose: enticing a customer with a sale, getting a customer to check out a cool new product or feature, asking a stakeholder to get the word out about a new initiative, whatever. Make sure your target understands what you’re asking them to do by using a straightforward, visible call-to-action. 
  • Make it opt-in. Want to play a game? Count how many iterations of “make it opt-in” appear on this list. I repeat myself because I care. 
  •  Brand your emails as you would your website. This includes using brand colors, your logo, and the same font family as the rest of your marketing collateral. 
  • Add links to your website. Make it as easy as possible for people to visit your website after they finish the newsletter. 
  • Measure open rates. Email marketing campaigns are insanely easy to measure, which means you can really go wild with testing if you want. Try out different headlines and topics, for example, and use the email open rate as a way to dictate what people want most out of your product or service. 
  • Offer an HTML or plain text option. These are the only email formatting options you need. Offer both, and don’t try to get fancy with anything else; complicated code won’t be supported in the email browser. 
  • Have an unsubscribe option. This isn’t just for the sake of your customers; it’s actually the law. Like buckling your seat belt and not lighting things on fire. 
  • Match your landing pages to your campaign. Don’t just send people to your home page; make your landing pages as relevant as possible
  • Educate. Use your newsletter to address common questions or provide solutions to a common problem. 
  • Create a content calendar. Do it even if you think you don’t need one. It will help you stay much more organized and focused, and it will help you remember important holiday promotions and other milestones. 
  • Use a template. It’s easier, better for branding, and your readers will grow familiar with it. 
  • Keep it brief and simple. Don’t try to cram in everything. Choose one topic at a time, and say just a few powerful about it. Pending an asteroid colliding with the earth, there will be plenty more weeks to cover your other topics. 
  • Mobile optimize. Tons of people check their emails from their mobile phones. So if you want yours to get read, mobile optimize it. 
  • Add social buttons. They’re easy and unobtrusive! 
  • Segment your market. If you target a lot of different demographics or serve different needs, then don’t send out a single email blast. I used to work at a youth-focused nonprofit, and we sent out separate email campaigns to our volunteers, our donors, and our students. They were three very different groups and required very different communication styles. 
  • Personalize. Set up your email campaigns so they can automatically fill in the name of each recipient. It increases the open rate. 
  • Use the top left corner well. Because, you know, we read left to right. 
  • Keep the email width under 650 pixels. In addition to not overloading your browser, the 650 pixel max means the email will display correctly in Outlook’s vertical preview pane. 
  • Ask why people unsubscribe. Don’t let a good “unsubscribe” go to waste – perform some quick market research before they go! 
  • Ask users to add you to their contact list. People will forget to do it automatically, but if they don’t, you risk ending up in their spam filter.
And don't...forget to check out our list of email don'ts! Let Clarity know if you need any help with your email marketing campaign. 

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