Business promotional or product and service marketing emails sent to your email list is now a game of cat and mouse. Why? Well, many countries around the world are implementing Anti-Spam legislation.
ISP’s and businesses are installing incredibly harsh ant-spam rules and email filtering software at the front door of their email applications so getting your email delivered to your email list is hard work.
How do you know if your email is been delivered, opened & read? Email Performance Measurement is now a vital component of the ROI process of email marketing campaigns and is easily accessible when you utilise the appropriate systems to send your email, namely Email Service Providers (ESP). ESP’s like Mobilize Mail specialize in getting your Marketing email campaigns delivered and provide you with the statistics on how the email campaign performed.
To increase your email campaign success rate consider adopting the following 10 tips.
- Opt-in or Opt-out? ‘Opt in’ is the term for permission based emails. When a person has given you permission to send emails of a promotional or commercial nature it is said that they have “opted in” to receive emails.When a person has not given you permission it is called “opt-out” and therefore the email is unsolicited and can be viewed as SPAM.
- Unsubscribe. ‘Un-subscribe’ – present this word in all your marketing emails with the removal process instructions provided to allow the email recipient to halt future receipt of emails on that topic or from that sender.
- Provide Relevant Non-Sales Content in Your Emails. Studies have shown that on average a person will subscribe to regular email communication from up to 10 providers on a given topic of interest. Therefore your email communication is fighting for attention every month.Presenting relevant non-sales content like news and interesting articles in your emails will set you a part from your competitors and reduce the ‘unsubscribe’ rate.
- Work on your Subject Line. On average people will spend a second scanning the subject line of each new email they receive. Therefore your email has a second to spark some kind of recognition with the reader!Ensure your subject line contains a familiar word to get recognised. The aim of the subject line is to get the recipient to open your email message.Analysis of data from our client base suggests that subject lines of less than 50 characters achieve higher open rates than those of 50 or more characters and if you have a large of amount of AOL subscribers reduce the length of your subject line to 40 characters to meet their email client requirements.
- Watch your HTML. Every time you email a newsletter or promotional message out to your email list remind yourself that not everyone has the same email client. Here are some examples of different email clients – Lotus Notes, Thunderbird, Outlook Express, Outlook, and Eudora. Some people use web based email clients such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! AOL has an email client which is notorious for being very controlling on email presentation.Sending HTML emails is the norm these days and most people like to receive well formatted and presentable HTML emails. However! HTML is displayed differently with each email client. For example what looks great in Outlook or Outlook Express may not even be readable in Lotus Notes depending on how your newsletter or promotional email is presented.This is quite a technical subject and if you are interested in more information please contact me and my team can give you the nerdy details. But from a business viewpoint my most important tip is never write your content in Microsoft applications like Word and then send it to your email subscribers.
What Microsoft applications do is add a whole lot of ugly Microsoft formatting under the covers that you may not see but your subscribers email clients will. It is risky insomuch as some email clients can not handle the format and strip it out which then destroys your HTML content and email presentation.
Our recommendation is if you are going to send out HTML emails then create the HTML using applications that generate well structured HTML.
- Watch your Content! To understand how important this tip is you need to be aware of SPAM filters. These filters are sometimes added to mail servers and personal email accounts. The filters look at each email that arrives and applies certain rules to the email. Points are awarded to a score card that the filter keeps to ascertain if your email is SPAM. Your email will be marked as SPAM when it reaches the limit of points and either will be added to the junk email folder or refused delivery to the subscriber’s mail box.The rules used by most major SPAM filters look not only at the source of the email but the content. Here is an example of how SpamAssassin (http://spamassassin.apache.org) works at a high level. SpamAssassin is one of the major SPAM filters on the market today.SpamAssassin has a score card that has a watermark of 5 points by default. That means if your email gets awarded 5 or more points your email will be classed as SPAM. The watermark can be configurable but normally 5 points is used.
Tips for your email content:
- Refrain from adding too many images to your email
- Spam-like words – Free, guarantee, credit card, no money down, financially independent or free etc…
- Watch your subject heading
- Red text – Get the red out. Red is a loud color and can be hard to read. It is also a spam tactic that may trip an email filter.
- All capital letters
- Excessive punctuation
- Excessive use of “click here” especially in all capital letters
- Excessive use of $$, and other symbols
- Misleading (or missing) subject line
- Process your Bounces. A bounce is a special email that a mail server sends back if the person cannot be found, or the persons email mail box is full or other events that caused the email not to be delivered to the recipient.When you receive a bounce email my tip is to process that bounce. Open the bounce email and look for keys words such as “recipient unknown”, “no user located”, “mail box full”, “denied”, “no user known by that name” etc…Once you get an understanding of the bounce reason and if its related to anything about the “recipient is not known” or “the user does not exist” or any clue that the user is not around anymore this means that the email address you have is now dead – it is useless. This means you need to remove it from your mailing list. If you do not and you keep sending emails to that mail server and it keeps telling you via bounces that the person doesn’t exist in time you may be blacklisted. If you are blacklisted then your emails will not reach anyone within that business or ISP.
- Test. Before you send your email campaign make sure you test the formatting and layout first by sending yourself and your friends the email. Look at the subject heading – does it entice you to open it? Ask your friends if they the subject enticed them? What about your email content? Your friends will more than likely have different email clients so what did your email look like in their email client?
- Add Links in Your Email. If the purpose of your email is to get the subscriber to end up on your web site then you need to add lots of links within your email.Instead of providing the full article within your email why not provide the first paragraph then a link to the complete article back on your website?
- Watch your Frequency. Always keep an eye on your unsubscribe rates if you change the frequency from what your subscribers expect. Even better if you want to increase the email campaign frequency from monthly to fortnightly first create a separate mailing list then invite your existing subscribers to join that mailing list as well. That means you get to keep the subscribers who are quite happy with once a month and you can satisfy the more hardcore ones who can’t get enough of you!
If you view email campaigns as one of your marketing channels then you really need to understand the risk you pose to your business by not adopting best practices when sending email.
Being blacklisted is not nice and almost impossible to remove yourself from. There are thousands of blacklists in the world and many ISP’s and business first check to see if you are on a blacklist before sending your email through to their clients and staff automatically.
Imagine if you become blacklisted with Xtra. That means every email that comes from your mail servers will never each a customer or prospect with an Xtra.co.nz email address.
These days because of the complexity associated with sending commercial emails and the risk of being blacklisted businesses are moving to Email Service Providers (ESP). An ESP is a company which understands all the complexities of sending email and provides the necessary functions and features to make sure your email campaign gets delivered successfully.
An ESP will send your email campaigns on your behalf using advance technology required for sending emails. The ESP will provide statistics on the success of your campaign such as who opened your email, what links were clicked within the email and by whom, who forwarded the email to someone, who unsubscribed and the reason why etc…