thinking outside the inbox: email marketing best practices

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A presentation I gave at IBC that provided a background on email marketing, as well as industry tips and best practices.

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New Media and Crisis Communications

1

Agenda

Overview of email marketingEmail design best practicesExamplesGuidelinesEmail copy & contentDeveloping contentWords to avoidSubject linesSubject line writingWords to avoidSubject line activityTestingImportanceAn IBC exampleBenchmarkingList hygiene & maintenance

To get you PUMPED about the potential that email marketing offers for us to communicate to our brokers, customers, and prospective members effectively!

2

Email marketing

The use of email in marketing communicationsDirect promotional emails to acquire new customersRetention for existing customersEmails sent to encourage customer loyaltyEmail to enhance customer relationshipNewslettersExclusive offersElectronic equivalent of direct mail, print newsletter, or advertisementMuch cheaperLarger ROIMeasurable

3

Email marketing works because

of trust between the sender and recipient.it enables you to send targeted messages and see instant, measurable results.it allows you to send your customers what they want, when they want it.you are reaching customers who have opted in and you know they are interested in what you have to say.there is viral potential.you can prove that it does.

4

Email design BPs

Email is the black sheep of web designReaders dont always know what to expectUtilize your spacePreview panesSpace above-the-foldSubject linesCode like its 1999

5

What makes a good email design?

Legally required detailsPhysical street address, prominent unsubscribe link, viewing options, permission reminderSimple HTMLDifferent from web designSimple or no CSSMaintains visual connection to the brandWebpage extends a print brandSubscribers make a connectionA clear call-to-actionShort URLs

6

Building the email

Use very basic codeEmail clients have limited support for modern HTML and CSSUse basic HTML tables to display contentKeep designs to a single or two-column layoutMost important content should always be above-the-foldTop left is where most look first

7

Single column email

Header containing logo or link to parent site

Body content with links to longer stories or articles

Footer which includes links, physical address, unsubcribe link, permissions, deliverability instructions

8

2-column email

Header containing logo or link to parent site

Narrow side column to house other features, links, call-to-action, etc.

Body content with links to longer stories or articles

Footer which includes links, physical address, unsubcribe link, permissions, deliverability instructions

9

Taste Our Penne Alfredo with Chicken & Peas Tonight

10

Discover Special Offers For One Last Summer Escape

11

MoneyWhys: Putting your finances in perspective

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Increase Your ROI with Customized Marketing Efforts

13

FREE SHIPPING on Select Lenox Bridal Gifts!

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FREE SHIPPING on Select Lenox Bridal Gifts!

15

Test your design

Set up various test accountsTest to multiple email clients to identify problemsGmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, AOL, HotmailTest in multiple browsersIE, FirefoxAvoid JavaScriptAvoid Background imagesHost all of your own imagesSet fixed heights and widths for all tables and imagesMake sure all links open in new windowAvoid large images above-the-foldMake sure image looks decent w/ images turned off

16

Email content & copy

Developing contentMake sure content is relevant to audienceKeep a content folder to avoid pressing deadlinesEveryone in organization should contribute ideasDevelop reserve content that wont lose its relevancyWatch your numbersUse those reports to learn about your readers interestsExamine your websites reportsWhat sections are most popular?Sign up for competitor newsletters and newsletters you likeTalk to sales repsCustomer interests, issues, questions in the context of your products and servicesAsk readers what theyre interested in

17

Email content & copy

Spam words to avoidBeware ofExclamation pointsQuotation marksDollar signsPercentage signsCAPSNumbers in subject linesBlue Sky Factory recommendsKeep the naughty list close by when writing emailsTest your emails to various ISPs; make changes and retestUse a spam checker!When in doubt, rewrite it

18

Checklist

Once you are comfortable with the design and content, go through one last checklistDoes the From address display properly?Is the contact info correct and visibly obvious?Does the top of the email provide alternative display options?Does the email explain why the recipient is receiving it and give them the chance to opt-out?Does the email contain text asking readers to add your From address to their email address book?

19

Email subject lines

The best subject lines:Are shortAre descriptiveProvide readers w/ reasons to explore message further

Remember:Attempts to stand out via cheesy phrases will not workProvide valuable, relevant, necessary information50 characters or lessAvoid the three worst words: help, percent, reminder

20

Email subject lines

Personalization and localization helpsMix up subjects for newslettersNewsletter half-lifeKeep subject content freshDescribe what is insideOnly go above 50 characters for extremely targeted audiences and specific circumstancesWork in tandem with From addressCommunicate who you are as a senderTry framing subject as a question

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Guess that open rate!

Subject line

Open rate

Reason

Dont let 2006 slip away without a tax deductible donation to children and families ofOmire

11.6%

Too long; uses donation

Help Baylor create the ideal college experience

2.5%

Uses help

Updated time zones & login information

79.1%

Required information; use of ampersand

Your April website stats

92.6%

Timely, relevant, and useful information

Free hosting for 30 days when we build your website

73.5%

Free can actually be powerful in a B2B email in which the sender is a trusted named (HP in this case)

22

23

Ibxpress survey test

Survey delivered in July 2009 to 5,764 new portal usersTested two subject lines using a sampled campaign1,510 recipients received subject Have your say and a chance to win1,472 recipients received subject IBC is looking for customer feedback2,782 remaining recipients received email with the winning subject line

Ibxpress survey test

Recipients

1,510

Bounces

266

Delivered

1,242

Opened

258 (20.77%)

Clicks to survey

57 (.42%avgCT rate)

Recipients

1,472

Bounces

255

Delivered

1,215

Opened

292 (24.03%)

Clicks to survey

95 (.57%avgCT rate)

Have your say and a chance to win

IBC is looking for customer feedback

Ibxpress survey test

Winning subject sent to remaining 2,782 recipients24.64% open rate149 clicks to survey301 completed survey from initial sends

Reminder sent to those who did NOT complete survey21.48% open rate240 clicks to survey

541 total survey respondents = 9.4% conversion rate

Email testing

Other things you can test:TargetingWhich segments perform best?Promotions20% off vs. free shipping30% off bs. Multiple purchase discountsDesignLength of content, images, links, layout, etc.Landing pages

Types:A/B splitMultivariate

Email reporting

Reporting shows youWho your email was sent toWho opened your emailWho opted-out of your listWho forwarded your emailHow many inboxes your email bounced fromWho clicked on what linksWhat time recipients opened, clicked, etc.What templates/campaigns/messages performed betterWhat you should do next time to improve

Individual HMO reporting

Benchmarking

Benchmarking

Recent studies show that benchmarks are going out the windowYou know your customers bestYou are in controlWhen you send, how often, how long your messages are, what format, etc.Every campaign is a test for next timeSocial media changing email marketingBecnhmark yourself!

List building and hygiene

Never purchase or rent a listBuild your own house listSlower, but pays offBigger responseCo-register with partner site or company and share listsGrow your permission-based email list:Place signup form on homepageLink to form throughout siteInclude opt-in link in your email signatureAdd link to your company invoicesOffer incentives for signing upAsk clients and friends to opt-inAdd opt-in checkbox to any Contact Us forms

Goals for our emktg efforts

Reduce our bounce ratesBe mindful of timingStay relevantTest more thoroughlyPerform more subject, design, content testsThink more analyticallyWork closely with web teamResearch and stay informedMarketingSherpa Benchmark GuideImprove campaigns and apply for awards

Thoughts? Questions?