The effectiveness of your e-mail is tied closely to the value it provides the recipient. It’s important to ask, “Will the target find the content interesting or useful?”
It’s easy to see why ongoing e-mail campaigns are becoming enormously popular marketing tools. They are cost-effective, easy to handle and they work. But developing a successful online campaign is more than clicking the send button. Here are some key points to consider as you take aim at your customer’s inbox.
Monthly or quarterly electronic newsletters and e-postcards that focus on noteworthy projects have become a mainstay with many companies. But the effectiveness of the marketing tool is tied closely to the value it provides the recipient. News about what your company is doing—and the partners and customers you’re working with—is an excellent way to provide informative content. It’s important to ask, “Will the target find the content interesting or useful?” If your content focuses too heavily on a promotional message, readers can lose interest and quickly transfer your message into the recycle bin.
The appearance of your e-mails should be professional and representative of your brand identity. Content should be brief, clutter-free and easy to read. HTML coding allows messages to display eye-catching images that enhance the appearance. Because many recipients choose not to receive HTML e-mails directly, it is important to include an optional link that allows them to view the message in the form of a Web page. In addition, creating a text-only version of the message is important for those whose browser or security settings prohibit receiving or viewing HTML.
Don’t be a Spammer
The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act of 2003 was put in place to help reduce the insidious amount of unwanted correspondence that shows up in everyone’s inbox each day. A prudent approach is to follow permission-based policies for all electronic marketing programs. This means ensuring that anyone who receives an e-mail from you has provided permission.
For example, they may have subscribed by filling out a form on your Web site or completing an “offline” form indicating consent to be contacted by e-mail. Other potential contacts could include customers who have purchased a product or service within the past two years, and someone who handed you a business card at a recent meeting or trade show. In the latter case, it is best to inform the person that you will be in contact.
In all cases, the legislation requires businesses to stop sending e-mails to those who request to be removed from a list. This requires a functioning reply address or unsubscribe system that operates for at least 30 days after the last mass e-mailing.
Tracking tools have become a staple with all broadcast e-mail services and the degree of statistical tracking has hit an all-time high. Easy-to-read reports list the number of recipients who open the e-mail and the items they found interesting enough to click on. The tracking can also record “bounces” (e-mails that did not reach the intended recipient) and those who unsubscribed from future mailings. The average open rate for broadcast
e-mails varies among industries and audiences. For example, campaigns conducted in the manufacturing industry have reported an open rate of around 30 percent, and a click-through rate of around 23 percent.
Timing is Everything
Ever have one of those days when you can’t find the time to read your e-mail? You’re not alone. Scheduling your broadcast e-mail to arrive at optimal times can significantly impact your open and click-through rates. In general, avoid Fridays and most days that fall before and after major holidays. Consistency is also important, so if you establish the first Tuesday of the month for launching your monthly e-newsletter, be sure to stick with it.