According to a recent Forbes article, citing a study conducted by Ascend2, email marketing was ranked, by marketers, as one of the most effective marketing tactics. Email marketing works, when done the right way. For businesses in New Haven, Hartford and Fairfield Counties, email marketing can be an excellent way to reach a local audience. And for larger businesses across CT and NY, and nationwide, there are no limitations to geography.
Like any other marketing initiative, email marketing needs to be executed properly. The following guidelines will help give your email blasts the best chance of reaching their intended recipients, and will help you craft more effective email messages.
CHOOSING YOUR EMAIL MARKETING PROVIDER
Large, well-known providers such as MailChimp and Constant Contact are always safe bets. When you’re evaluating an email marketing provider pay close attention to critical features such as spam avoidance and usability. Email ends up in spam boxes as a result of several criteria. Some are the responsibility of the provider, however most are the responsibility of the sender.
We’ve chosen to take a close look at the critical features that MailChimp provides. If you prefer another provider you can use the following as a guide for optimal features.
MailChimp, and most other well-known providers, have a delivery rate of 96% - 99% when using best practices to avoid spam filters.
IP Address Ranges
MailChimp use hundreds of IP addresses that are grouped into different reputation levels. As a result, if you maintain a good reputation for using best practices, your account stays within the IP of like accounts. This way spam offenders are not damaging the reputation of your group IP and more emails will get through.
Sender Email Authentication
ISP’s will often consider email addresses as spam if they have not been “verified.” MailChimp automatically verifies your email address using three verification methods.
Inbox Inspector works by highlighting, prior to sending, spam keywords and the other elements within an email that spam filters look for. You can then go back and make adjustments accordingly.
The option to select "Plain Text Content" before sending the email
This reverts the text to non-HTML for those computers that are set to send all HTML emails to junk mail.
Spam Filter Diagnosis
This feature works by providing a report that breaks down the reasons certain emails are ending up in the spam box. Email can then be adjusted to eliminate those spam triggers.
- The ability for recipients to opt in and out of email.
- The option to send the message to a friend.
- The ability to add an email sign-up tab to your Facebook page.
BEST PRACTICES FOR AVOIDING THE SPAM BOX
Today’s email marketing providers are fairly well equipped at keeping your email out of spam boxes, however the structure of the email itself must be properly built. Following are the practices that BT Marketing & Design employs to help emails avoid ending up in spam.
- Monitor spam rate on a regular basis and evaluate reasons for spam.
- Avoid using URL shorteners.
- Balance the use of copy and images - heavy use of imagery can be perceived as spam.
- Use a valid email address for replies. Addresses such as “Relpy to@...” can be perceived as spam.
EMAIL LIST CLEANUP
It’s always a good idea to keep your company email list free of expired email addresses. If too many email addresses get bounced the provider can suspend your account. Email lists can be verified through a variety of providers.
EMAIL SUBJECT LINES
Using the right email subject lines can help increase the chances of emails being opened. Using the wrong keywords can trigger spam filters. The following are criteria that BT Marketing & Design uses when writing email subject lines.
Methods to Avoid Spam
- Avoid words such as “guarantee”, “free”, “call now”, “urgent” and “order now.
- Keep the subject under 40 characters (including spaces.)
- Avoid requests for help.
- Avoid use of first names.
- Set your subscribers’ expectations and clearly state what’s inside the email.
- Include company, brand name or specific services.
- Frame the subject line as a question.
- Make it memorable, funny, intriguing and/or actionable.
- Include localization key words such as town, landmarks, etc.
Content is king with email marketing. This is a medium that should be designed to engage, entertain, inform and appeal to the recipient. Content should be useful, engaging and appealing. As a result it is important that you’re not using email solely for promotional purposes. You’ll want to stay in front of your recipients on a regular basis with information that is relevant to them. It is recommended that only about 20% of your email messages be promotional.
SOCIAL MEDIA & EMAIL
Email marketing is a good way to promote social media. Icons to “Like” Facebook and other social platforms should be included in emails. Furthermore, specific emails can be dedicated to driving traffic to social platforms.
METRICS FOR MEASURING EFFECTIVENESS
Tracking the progress of your email marketing campaign is important. Most of the top providers have built in metrics reporting that is easy to use. Metrics are invaluable for educating you on what’s working and what’s not working with specific content. The following can be tracked:
- Spam Report
- Deliverability (rate at which your contacts actually received your message.)
- Open rate (rate at which your contacts actually open/view your message.)
- Click through rate (rate at which your contacts click on links/calls to action in your message.)
- Conversion rate (rate at which your contacts become leads/customers after getting to your website from your message.
These tactics, when used together, will help you achieve the most effective email marketing campaign. By using this tactic the right way you will avoid spam boxes and be sure to get the attention of your target audience.