Choosing the right email program

email

by Wasim Ismail on January 31, 2013

Once you have captured email address via your website or through any other source that you use, you want to send out marketing emails to these emails addresses. What is the best way to do this so that you get maximum benefit.

Some companies still prefer to use Outlook (yes outlook to send out marketing emails) – okay not quite the best tool for email marketing but i guess it does the job, but you are very limited to what you can do after you have hit the send button. Also you have the risk of blocking up your SMTP while all of these emails go out, and as far as i remember there was also a limit to how many emails address you can send to at once. So I would cross out outlook for marketing emails.

Before I list out some of the tools that I would recommend, lets look at why would you want to send out mass emails?

Well what do you do when you receive a marketing email? If its not picked up by the spam filters I generally hit the delete button, sometimes without even opening it. So if you are going to invest any time in constructing a marketing campaign, you need to ensure that your recipients would actually open up these emails. Right?

Why send a marketing email?

Cost: You may think why should I invest my time and effort in email marketing, the bottom line is, if its constructed well, it can prove to be very efficient and cost effective. You do not need a huge budget to carry out email marketing, and spend time learning how to do it, and if you have been capturing emails (with users consent) half of your work is done, as you already have a database of users, you just need to put together a targeted marketing campaign.

Personalised: The email that gets sent out can be personalised to the individual, which helps build that trust factor and the recipient is more likely to open and maybe even respond and take action. Personalization does not just mean with the users name and email, but based on the users history and previous interactions with your company you can personalize that email to show certain things such as:

– Purchase history
– Other products that they may be interested in
– Location based information

Depending on your companies products and services you can target your marketing email accordingly. For example just recently BT has launched a marketing campaign where a user received a marketing email which shows the current broadband speed that they are getting, and if they upgrade what speed they are likely to get.

Information: Some customer prefer to be kept upto date with latest news, trends and information from a certain industry, you could link your email marketing campaign to your blog, so in the newsletter email you could put snippets of your blog, and of course at the same time put some soft offers and promotions that you may be running.

Targeted: Your marketing email can be targeted to certain groups and users. Depending on their activity and interest you can send certain emails to certain individuals. If you have a database of 1000 email address and half of them are interested in a certain product, and the other half in another product, why not split the the list and send two separate emails, both with similar goals and but targeting and showing the user what they may be interested in. Doing this you will get a better response. Rather than painting everyone with the same color brush.

What to consider when sending out an email

The reason you are sending an email, is to get some response and build your awareness. You not just sending an email just for the sake of spamming inboxes, that would be a total waste of time.

So before you hit the send button we need to tick of some boxes, these points are not set in stone, everyone has their own ideas and points when it comes to email marketing. Some may work for you and some may work for others. But the below will give you a good overview of what the look into when you send out emails.

Presentation: Yes I’m always going on about design 🙂 – but to be honest thats the first thing that your recipient will see when they open up your email. If it looks like another boring email than you are very unlikely to get a response, on the other hand if you overdo it with design, it could be too much and again you may not get any response.

I would recommend a settle straight to the point design, with certain loud elements which would be your call of actions. When constructing your newsletter design, similar to your website, have a goal in mind, what are you looking to achieve from this recipient, whether its a sale, a lead, inform them of something or even get them to like you on Facebook.

Newsletter Example

Images: When designing your email, do not assume that your full design will be shown, some email clients do not show images straight away, unless the user allows them, when the recipient has to click on “Show Images” which then shows your full design in a presentable way. You can go around this at times by displaying the images on your server and embedding them into your newsletter, but again it does not work on all email clients.

Overall the look of your email should be user friendly and easy to digest, people do not like to think, so do not complicate things or over do things. Break up your content using headings and maybe even a two column design.

So this is important when designing your newsletter, as you don’t want the whole newsletter to be one big image, which shows up as a blank page in your recipient’s inbox. Always have a mixture of images, and text, which will show even if the user does not click on “show images”.

Newsletter Images

Plain Text: Before you send out your newsletter, have a plain text version of the same newsletter. Some of your recipients may be accessing the emails from different devices such as mobiles (even though most new smartphones allow rich text) but you get the odd few that will not allow rich text. So to cater for these its best to have a plain text version of your newsletter. Which is very simply a basic email format, like shown below. Most email marketing programs have this option.

Newsletter Plain Text

Unsubscribe option: One of the most annoying thing is when you can’t stop emails, I’m sure we have all experienced this, we signed up to something a while ago, and now we get bombarded with emails, and no option to unsubscribe, at the end the user has to flag your mails up as spam, which means any important emails that you send out will end up in their spam folder.

Always have the option to unsubscribe, do not hide it somewhere, and blend the font in with your background, it will defeats its purpose. Give your recipients clear option if they would like to unsubscribe from your mailing list. Overall you want individuals that are interested in your services and products.

Greeting: When you call out someone with their name, it sticks out, everyone will notice their name, doesn’t matter how crowded your newsletter looks, if you have your recipient’s name in their, it will be noticed, what they do after with the email is another story. So the point is, where possible address your receipt with their personal name. It gives a more personal touch to the email, and the recipient is more likely to take interest. Compared to Hi, or Dear Sir or Madam… that just flags up as spam, why should I take my time out to read this when you don’t even know who I am.

Subject Line: This is what prompts the users to open up your email, its like putting together a constructive blog post heading. Same rules apply. The newsletter subject line should be encouraging for the user to open up the email. General rule is to keep the subject line 50 characters or less. Avoid using the same subject line over and over again as it becomes a norm to the user and it will not stand out as much.

Email Subjects

Time and Day: Yes it plays a part in the response you get, the time and day you send your marketing emails. I’m sure you have come across the sayings such as “Do not send emails on Monday, as your recipients are rushed off their feet” and “Do not send emails on weekend as they just want respond”, and “Do not send emails after hours”. I would recommend to carry out your own personal tests within your own industry to see what responses you get at different times and days as every industry has its own demands and requirements. For example for a clothing eCommerce site you may want to to send out emails of your email in the evenings when your recipients are at home and relaxed.

Testing: Before you send the email, read it yourself couple of times (many forget to do this) and also send test messages to your self first to crease out any errors you may find in the text, design, and overall message.

Email Marketing Tools

Below are some of the email marketing tools that I have used and would recommend.
When choosing a marketing tool look for one that has below features:

– Allows Rich Image / HTML templates
– Allows the option for simple text
– Tracks users responses and activity
– Automated process of subscribers adding / removing for the list
– Reports

Programs:

Aweber and Mailchimp
Aweber Mailchimp

Sendblaster

Sendblaster also has an eBook that you can download
http://www.sendblaster.com/email-marketing-ebook-free

Image by Keith Ramsey (flickr)

Thank You For Reading

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Internet Marketing

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