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Archive for March, 2010

Email Marketing Tactics #16: Use Landing Pages

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Landing pages are essential for a successful email marketing campaign. Web and email users have an expectation for immediacy.  Landing pages instantly link recipients to the offer the email promised with no need to navigate.  When recipients don’t have any trouble finding what they want, there is less friction in completing the action.  Obviously as email marketers, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for recipients to take action on our offers.

If you are asking what a landing page is I’ll provide a short explanation.  A landing page is a webpage set up specifically for an email communication.  When recipients click a link in the email they arrive at the webpage which speaks directly to what the email referenced.  So they “land” on this page from an email.

Landing pages are important because there is no way of knowing how committed a recipient will be to your email offer.  Offering a landing page removes the hassle of navigating to what they want.  It also provides an immediate opportunity to build on their interaction by speaking about the offer that caught their interest.

Examples of landing pages would be:

  • An Offer to Attend an Event – The landing page should have all the logistic info and a more in depth look at what the topic will be.  A next step to register or get more information (likely a form) is critical.  Speaker bios are often appropriate as well.
  • Product or Service Promo – More information and feature/benefit about the product or service and a next step (likely a form) to take advantage of the offer.

Of course this is a simplistic overview of landing pages but it gets at the core of what they should contain.  Basically landing pages should support the email with more information and provide a next step, which is almost always an online form.

If you are sending recipients to your homepage or not providing a clear next step for them, then you are providing incentive for them to leave.  It’s amazing how easily online users will get frustrated and move on.  In most cases, if a recipient lands on a page from a marketing email and can’t find what they are looking for in 3 seconds, they move on.  Make sure they are getting what they want right off the bat and that’s 2 seconds more than you’ll need.

Email Marketing Tactics #15: Use the Subject Line Effectively

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

The subject line in an email marketing campaign is the front line. It’s the first thing a recipient sees and forms their judgment about whether the email should be opened or deleted as SPAM. It can make or break a communication. Make sure the subject line honestly and succinctly states what the email is about.

Brevity is the soul of wit. This has never been truer than with a marketing email’s subject line. It serves the same function as a headline for an ad. It needs to give a sense of what the message is while drawing the recipient in.

A typical guideline is to keep subject lines to 50 characters or less. A shorter message allows a recipient to digest the information easily and let’ the full subject appear in most email programs preview pane.

The email subject should always honestly state what the email is about. If it is a series of informational emails, state which email it is in the series and the topic discussed. If it is an ad, state the primary benefit being offered. If it’s an event, state what the event is and if space allows, when and where it will take place.

It’s advisable to avoid gimmicks like “GET THIS FREE” or “ACT NOW!!!” Basically the worst of what infomercials have to offer should not be in your subject line for two reasons.

The first is that conversion is typically poor. Due to all the SPAM people receive they are skeptical of offers via email. When an offer is combined with gimmicks most recipients don’t view it as credible.

The second reason is that SPAM filters will scrub many of these tactics. For example the word “free”, anything in all capital letters, or excessive punctuation/symbols will usually count as a knock against the email in SPAM filters. One on its own likely won’t get the email sent to a SPAM folder but combining them raises the possibility.

Spend time writing effective email subjects. The best subject lines are short, get to the point, and provide a reason for recipients to open the marketing email.

Email Marketing Tactics #14: Use Appropriate Technology

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

There are a lot of options for sending email marketing campaigns.  Some are good, some are bad, and some are ugly.  Whatever solution you decide on should be specific to email marketing.  Using a patchwork of technologies to run an email marketing campaign wastes time, usually causes technical problems, and adds risk to violating legal guidelines.  Use a technology that is designed for email marketing and suitable for streamlining the process.

The most common inappropriate technology is using an internal database with form or bulk email capabilities.  Another common error is using an email program, like Outlook, to do bulk sends from a contact list. 

If you are blasting emails out from a database or contact list but there are no settings specifically for email marketing, then there is a risk involved.  Typically these scenarios involve a lot of manual manipulation.  The risk is that unsubscribes slip through the cracks or CAN-SPAM requirements are forgotten.  Missing even one of these instances can result in complaints or legal issues.  Furthermore there is no tracking of data to gauge whether the technology is delivering the emails and whether it is effective or not.

Email marketing has its challenges; don’t create more by using inappropriate technology.   Your email marketing technology should at minimum provide:

  • Some kind of list management
  • Send features that regulate CAN- SPAM laws
  • Reporting features

These three items are critical.  If your email marketing technology provides segmentation further drill downs, or HTML features, it’s a bonus.  If your email marketing technology lacks any of these, it’s in inappropriate technology and a new system needs to be implemented.

Email Marketing Tactics #13: Maintain Privacy

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Maintaining privacy is essential when running an email marketing campaign. Subscribers have signed up to receive communications from your organization, nothing more, nothing less.  Don’t betray that trust.  Maintain subscriber information privacy.

There are two common ways that email marketers violate subscriber privacy:

  • Cross promoting with other organizations
  • Selling their list to other organizations

Cross promoting can be a tricky issue.  In some cases it does make sense to highlight another organization because it syncs up nicely with the topic the email marketing campaign covers.

An example might be a business partner that is holding an event.  The business partner might ask you to send their invite to your list.  Assuming the business partner’s event closely aligns with the subject of the email campaign, it’s likely that the subscribers would be interested in the information.

However, simply sending the invite for the business partner or worse yet handing over your email subscriber list would likely violate subscriber policy.  They didn’t sign up for communications from your business partner, only from you.  There is likely going to be some resentment or confusion as to why they are receiving a promotion from the business partner.

A work-around for this situation would be to feature the event in a newsletter or upcoming events email.  If it is included in normal communications and maintains consistency with other emails, then it likely does not violate privacy.  It simply highlights a related event that they have the choice to get more information about.  We are still providing value by doing data collection for our subscribers.

The other privacy violation is selling the subscriber list.  The course of action here is simple: don’t do it.

There is no excuse for selling off your email list.  Subscribers represent a valuable resource in prospects and clients that are interested in hearing from your company.  Treat it as the asset it is.

Post a privacy policy on your site for subscribers to see when they opt-in.  Then follow the policy by protecting subscriber privacy and they will likely reward you with an ongoing relationship.  The ongoing contact will improve awareness about your organization and likely lead to leads or sales over time.