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Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2011 at 9:12 am

Do’s & Don’ts For Your Email Campaigns

By Melissa Burdon
April 20th, 2011

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Clean your lists regularly to keep your bounce rate from out-of-date addresses to a minimum.
  3. Use only a reliable internet service provider (ISP).
  4. 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.
  5. Avoid capitalization of words within subject lines and titles.
  6. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Feature strong headlines by using persuasive language, larger font size and color.
  4. Feature clean formatting, and make it easy to read with bullet points, effective bolding and text links.
  5. Your email needs to send visitors to a landing page that connects the scent from the email to the site.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Add Your Comments

Comments (17)

  1. Email campaigns are one of the trickiest because of the stigma associated with bulk mail sending which can constitute as spam. Before embarking on one, be sure to consult with experts to ensure that your email is within the CAN-SPAM act rules which includes things like displaying your company address in the footer of the email and providing unsubscribe links that should be valid for a period of time. A mismanagement of an email campaign can lead to furious customers. So, pay attention to the detail if this is your first time and this article is a great start.

  2. I read this one pretty fast, but it seems to be good one. Still Melissa you forgot one of the most important thing: to make sure it’s easy to un-subscribe newsletter. There must be un-subscribe link on every single newsletter you send.

  3. Melissa Burdon I totally agree with ahat all is in the post. However there are certain visitors who join the opt-in list just to download the free e-book etc but after that they unsubscribe. What can be done with such visitors. Thanks and cheers

  4. Nicely covered. I think that – by far – the single most important component of email marketing is targeting the appropriate audience. Regardless of what is offered or how it is presented, there must be a reasonable potential for interest and action on the part of the recipient.

  5. Spam e-mail marketing is dead from long ago. Irritating people is only thing they do.
    There are much better weapons to use in marketing battle

  6. @Barney – unsubscribe them.

  7. What are those weapons Neil?
    I hired a guy for my internet marketing campaign. He gave me a good looking plan. There was majorly email marketing.
    At the end of the day I ended up at nothing, now I understand why it happened.
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful article

  8. No doubt!E-mail Campaign is the best way to reach the readers,but also the fear of constitute as spam.

  9. These days people are much more cautious of spam emails, even when they’re on a list. If you can build trust early on then you’ll be successful. Sending out emails with quality information and a useful purpose is a must.

  10. Of course building trust and sending campaigns to opt-in clients is best. But I’ve adopted a new trick of tokenizing my advertising emails. It helps to get more email through the spam filters.

  11. Hey i liked your content especially the one regarding convincing readers.i Had a problem in choosing a good and affordable autoresponder can you please help me out?

  12. Hey Melissa,
    I’m completely agree with your point. Email campaigns gives great result.. But most of emails goes to spam.
    Can you suggest me anything for this problem?

    How to reach inbox, not in spam or something else.


  13. Great Article Melissa. I had to be careful about using too many images in my email campaigns in the past. I found a lot of emails getting put in people’s spam folders as a result.

  14. Thanks for the additions. Any advice on how to run campaigns if you don’t use a campaign provider that provides feedback on open rates, bouncebacks etc. Are there any ways to measure this stuff without them? thanks

  15. @JonnyB

    I’d switch to a campaign provider that does :)

    Campaign analytics are a common feature now and if you can’t see them its going to be hard to test and increase roi.

  16. A good coverage of the most important facts to consider when running an e-mail campaign Meliisa.
    One very important issue wich will help you with getting some higher conversions is monitor your campaigns. Who reads/clicks what, this way you know in what stuff/articles this person is interested in so the next time you can make some better personalisation.

  17. [...] [...]

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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