Exceptional email marketing campaigns need to be cleverly written and executed to attract attention in today’s overflowing inboxes. At our client forum this year, our digital marketing team talked about the recipe to successfully executing emails in order to achieve this. While there is no “one-size-fits all” for standing out from the rest, there are several ingredients that make up a strong email marketing campaign.
Before you can start cooking up your email campaign, there’s some ingredient prep that should take place first.
Prepping the ingredients.
Marketing Calendar: The most effective campaigns are those that are aligned across all of your marketing channels. So we recommend creating a holistic marketing calendar that not only outlines your email marketing efforts, but your social media, web content needs, PPC, and any other channel that you need to plan for. This will enable you to create consistency within each campaign regardless of where your audience will encounter your brand. There are numerous tools out there to help you achieve this, such as SmartSheet, Percolate, CoSchedule, and more. The key is to make sure that whatever you’re using is shareable and updated in real time to make sure anyone who is accessing it sees the most current information.
But since we’re talking about email specifically right now, what will you need to plan for this channel on your calendar? First of all, establish your timeframes. How long will the campaign run for? Are you running a week long sale? Or are you promoting a conference you’ll be attending at the end of the month? Your timeframe will help guide how many messages you will need to send during the lifetime of the campaign. For example, there will typically be the initial announcement, follow-up message(s), and a final notice. Outline your send dates and times, and determine where your email needs to link to (where do you need to send them?).
If you’ve followed our advice and have compiled all your channels into one marketing calendar, then it’s a good idea to outline who’s responsible for what on your marketing team (if you have multiple staff members), as well as the status. This simply helps keep you organized and on schedule. We also suggest including subject lines / key content to help keep your messaging consistent across all channels.
Goals: What do you hope to achieve by sending the email you are about to create for this campaign? This is your goal. All your marketing efforts should have goals associated with them so you can track your success. The metric that tracks success is known as your key performance indicator, or KPI. Some common goals and associated KPI’s include:
Goal= Increase Conversions > KPI = Number of Visits to Sale
Goal= Increase Avg. Order Size > KPI = Avg. Revenue per Email
Goal= Establish Trust > KPI = Open Rate, Click-Thru Rate, Depth of Visits, Subscriber Retention Rate
Segments: Who will want to receive the email? There are numerous segments to consider, but the information you have captured about your subscribers will determine your options. For example, perhaps you have marketing tools that are integrated with your email client and you can see which subscribers are in the different stages of your sales funnel. You could then send emails that are geared towards each stage. A few others to consider are:
Time since last purchase
Email engagement (i.e. opened email, but did not click)
Topics of interest
Ingredient #1 – Pre-Header Text
The very first ingredient to consider in your email campaign is the pre-header text. Aside from your subject line, this is the first text your readers will see. It is a summary that follows the subject line when an email is viewed in the inbox. Make sure that this text is short but enticing – pique the reader’s interest. Remember, this is an extension of your subject line, so you can build off of it, but don’t repeat it. Bonus points for including a call-to-action here.
Ingredient #2 – Web Version Link
This small, simple ingredient is essentially the “insurance policy” of your email. We’re all aware of the common rendering issues and image blocking that occur across countless email service providers. The web version link allows your subscribers to always have access to the email message through their web browsers so they can see your campaign in all its glory.
Ingredient #3 – Logo + Branding
There should be no question about who your email is from. The look and feel of your email should be easily recognized. So flaunt your brand. Include your logo, tagline, and company colors. Many organizations match their website header to create consistency. If your subscribers frequently visit your website then this will certainly tie the experience together.
Ingredient #4 – Catchy Header + Message
Here is your chance to make a good first impression. Your subscriber has given you a chance by opening your email – don’t let them down. Clearly communicate the purpose of the email with engaging content. Similar to your subject line and pre-header text, you should continue to pique their interest. Whenever possible, try to incorporate live text. Because image blocking is a common issue with many email clients, this will ensure that there’s something immediately to see upon opening the email.
Ingredient #5 – Call-To-Action
The call-to-action is the ultimate goal of your campaign. What do you want the reader to do? Make this part of the email actionable and unique, but also short and to the point. Use HTML format to create a button that is large in size with contrasting colors. This should draw the reader’s eye.
Ingredient #6 – Personalization
Personalization is a big buzz-word for marketers today. And it’s no wonder – studies have shown emails that include a first name in the subject line typically have higher open rates. Your subscribers like to be recognized, so incorporate their names into the message and offer them content based on any information you know you about them.
Ingredient #7 – Text / Image Ratio
Imagery is critical for users consuming content online. After all, humans respond more to visual aids and information. Be sure that relevant imagery is found within your email. However, as we’ve mentioned previously, many ESP’s will block your images by default. So it’s very important to make sure that there is some live text in the email as well so your readers aren’t starving for content.
Ingredient #8 – Contact Info
As we near the end of the email message, let your users know how they can contact you. You should even encourage it to make your brand seem more personable. Make sure your address, email, phone, and social media icons are included here. The social media icons will help those subscribers who haven’t engaged with you on social do so.
Ingredient #9 – Opt-Out Link
Last, but certainly not least, is the dreaded opt-out link. We hope our subscribers never click it, but we are required to include this link by law. You can certainly try to deter them from opting out by included language about why they are receiving the email in the first place. Additionally, offer an option for them to manage their preferences, so they don’t completely disengage with you. They may like some of your emails, but maybe they are being contacted more than they anticipated.
Serve up the campaign.
Once you’ve put all your ingredients together, you’re ready to serve up the email. Remember to link to a relevant landing page – don’t just send your subscribers to your homepage. Think of your homepage as giant department store, or a Wal-Mart. It has to meet the needs of a larger, more generic audience. For users coming to browse, this setup works just fine. But when your user opens your email for a particular campaign, you’ve created a specific need. You need to build them a custom end cap (or relevant landing page) that gives them exactly what they came to your site for.
With these tactics and ingredients, you can serve up delicious campaigns that will keep your subscribers wanting more from your brand. Are there any special ingredients you’ve incorporated into your own campaigns? If they’re not part of a “secret recipe,” let us know in the comments!