We recently received a comment on one of our posts asking some advice regarding email marketing:
“We are just planning to do a new email campaign and any info is useful. What do we need to know exactly so the emails don’t end up in spam?”
Here’s what you need to know, not just about avoiding the spam filter, but about making sure your recipients get the point, and are motivated to act…
Starting the Race: Getting Email to the InBox
There are certain triggers that may result in your emails being sent to spam folders. These may include the way the email has been formatted, or certain words within the content of the email. Here are a few triggers to keep in mind:
- Only send emails to people who actually signed up for your opt-in list by filling out your newsletter opt-in lead gen box, or to those who purchased something on your site.
- Clean your lists regularly to keep your bounce rate from out-of-date addresses to a minimum.
- Use only a reliable internet service provider (ISP).
- The titles of your emails may lead to your newsletters being tagged as spam, so don’t use words that are commonly known to cause some issues. Here are a few examples of words that send up red flags: “Big money”, “Free”, “Credit”, “Cash bonus”, or any other keywords you’d find in typical sales pitches.
- Avoid capitalization of words within subject lines and titles.
- Avoid using logos, and punctuation such as exclamation points and currency signs.
Keeping Pace: Displaying Email Elements For Easy Reading and Action
Getting around spam filters and into the inbox of your target audience is only about one quarter of the journey for your emails. Next you have to make sure that the email displays properly when opened, is easy to read and scan for important key elements, and that calls to action are clearly visible. This can be a big challenge given all the variety of browsers, email providers, and personal settings your audience is likely to be using. So keep in mind some of these ground rules for content and organization:
- Assume that your prospects are viewing your emails with images blocked. There needs to be substance to your emails beyond the images you feature. To take this a step further, don’t get caught up on the design of the newsletter.
- Feature a strong primary call to action and make sure it stands out effectively even when images are blocked. Read more about how to accomplish this in Brendan’s post about this monumental mistake.
- Feature strong headlines by using persuasive language, larger font size and color.
- Feature clean formatting, and make it easy to read with bullet points, effective bolding and text links.
- Your email needs to send visitors to a landing page that connects the scent from the email to the site.
- Don’t try to cover too much in a single newsletter. Remember that this isn’t an opportunity for you to cover all your bases and get everything in a single email. The more you try and cover in an email, the more likely you are to lose the reader’s interest. The email should speak to one main aspect of your reader’s interest. What do they want? Make it short, simple, straight forward and speak to the needs of the reader.
- If you can, try to create segments within your database so that you can customize your approach for each segment’s specific needs. Perhaps you need to create three different newsletters for three very different segments of readers.
Crossing the Finish Line: Convincing Readers to Take Action
Now, keep in mind we’ve never claimed to be email marketing gurus, but our Persuasion Architecture methodology and OnTarget conversion rate optimization subscriptions go beyond making your website better, and can be applied to any marketing tactic, including email campaigns and their landing pages. When creating your email marketing pieces, improve the chances that recipients will open your emails and click thru to your site by asking yourselves the three key questions at the foundation of all good persuasive marketing:
- Who is my audience? In this case, we mean the people to whom you intend to send this email. Be as specific as possible… where did you get their names? how much do they likely know about your company and offerings? But don’t stop there. Make sure you understand your customers well enough to identify the personas that represent them as well as what their intent is at each stage of their buying process. You can get step-by-step instructions for our process for uncovering those in Mj’s last post.
- What action do I want them to take? Be clear about what you want the recipients to do. In many cases the goal is to get them to click thru from your email to your website and buy something or signup for something. But sometimes it can be something like viewing a video or downloading content that will help move them forward in their buying process, or even helping them connect with the company mindset via a newsletter.
- What will engage them and persuade them to take the actions I want them to take? Think about what you want your recipients to do, and what questions they are likely to need answered before they are willing to do that thing. Think about the things that typically motivate them to take action, and how those motivations might be tied to what you want them to do.
We know it isn’t as easy as it sounds. But give it a shot, see what you get for your first go-’round, and focus on improving subsequent efforts based on what you see and learn. And if it’s still too much for you to wrap your head around, contact us to find out how we can help you bring all the pieces together.