Email Marketing Tactics #10: Professional Layout

It’s important for email campaigns to look professional.  Most recipients will not read emails that arrive in an unprofessionally cluttered format.  The information needs to be clearly laid out in a clean design.  When creating an email campaign there are basically two layout options.  A custom design or a email service provider template.

A custom layout that supports the organization’s brand is ideal. This ensures that your email campaign won’t be confused with any other company’s messaging.  It can also be tailored to provide an ideal fit for your email content.

Email service provider templates can be a lower-tech solution.  Two criteria need to be met to ensure it will work for your email campaign:

  1. The layout allows customization to adhere to your email content needs (i.e. if you need two columns you have the ability to set them up while maintaining some company-specific customization).
  2. The layout isn’t widely used.  Some stock designs become popular and quickly saturate the market.  Credibility diminishes if recipients receive an email that has the same design as another campaign.  Swapping out the logo is not sufficient to make a template yours, so do some legwork to ensure you aren’t implementing a design that is identified with other organizations.

In either custom or template layouts, make sure the layout is flexible so that it can be consistent.  Meaning, the campaign should have a consistent design so that it is recognizable on sight to recipients.  However, it should easily allow for different content to be applied so that different messages can use the same design.  This facilitates recipients receiving unique messages while recognizing it as a piece of the entire campaign.

People will judge your email campaign by it’s cover.  Make sure the design reflects the professionalism of your organization.

Email Marketing Tactics #9: Adhere to Legal Requirements

It should go without saying that your email campaigns should be legal.  However, many people that get started with email marketing are unaware of the legal requirements.  Here is a list of the base legal requirements:

  • Authenticate return address
  • Include a valid physical address
  • Provide a one-click unsubscribe feature
  • Prohibit importing lists of purchased addresses that may not have given valid permission

I won’t cover details of these requirements in depth but this guide is a good resource for all the particulars.  Most people now use an email marketing provider that provides list upload, templates, and email sending from their servers.  These typically combine for built in features that guarantee your email communications are CAN-SPAM compliant.

If you are self publishing email campaigns it is essential that you follow these email marketing send rules.  Nothing can be as damaging as sending out email that is rightly designated as SPAM.  The damage to reputation is bad enough but adding litigation into the mix is disastrous.

The only tricky requirement on the list is the last one.  Chances are that the email marketing service provider covers the first three.  Self publishers should build in systems to ensure all email marketing communications comply with the first three.  However there is no way to automate assurances that the email list is valid

Opting in for receiving email marketing communications is technically a legal requirement.  Refer to Email Marketing Tip #4 for guidance on opt- in list building.

Email Marketing Tactics #8: Don’t Over-Advertise

Email marketing does not work like regular advertising.  Regular ads are sent out to the general population.  The hope is that it will engage a small subset who will take action.  Subscribers typically opt-in for specific content or topics, not ads.  They might appreciate advertising that features products or services they have expressed interest in. They are often excited for exclusive offers.  Overt advertising is rarely well recieved it neglects your email campaigns value proposition for blatant promotion.

Sign ups for email campaigns that will send random ads don’t get subscribers.  Email marketing is about solidifying a relationship with the audience by sending communications that are relevant to the subscriber.  In informational email campaigns, ads can be interspersed but should never be the primary focus.  If subscribers have requested updates on certain products or services, they shouldn’t be haphazardly solicited for other items.

A good rule of thumb for both is the 1/3 minimum.  One in three communications can be advertising focused.  So for informational campaigns 2 content related communications need to go out for every 1 advertising centric communication.  For product or service offer specific promotions, 2 specific offers can go out for every one that tries to cross-promote or cross-sell other items.  Remember this is a 1/3 ratio minimum rule.  It’s OK to intermix advertising less frequently but increases run a real risk of subscriber fallout.

Don’t over-advertise.  Subscribers provide a great marketing opportunity by opting in to hear from you or your organization.  Respect what they have signed up for.  More often than not, the content and product/service specific offers convert much better than strait advertising.