By Jack LaRue
E-mail is one of the most widely used marketing tools, and with good reason. It's inexpensive, easily targeted, and you can include a wide variety of content.
But with so many marketing e-mails out there, it takes skill and practice to cut through the clutter. Here are a dozen tips that will help you do just that:
1. Build a solid list of prospects. Use a quality list and keep it clean. It's much better to build your own opt in e-mail list than to buy a canned list.
2. Take the time to write a great subject line. Your subject line is the single most important part of your e-mail. If it isn't compelling, your e-mail will go straight to the recycle bin. Keep your subject line short (thirty to fifty characters tops) and make sure it gives the reader a reason to open the e-mail. Make sure you avoid SPAM trigger words, such as "free" and "sale", as well as special characters, such as dollar signs and exclamation points.
3. Include a clear call to action. What do you want readers to do after they read your e-mail? Spell it out and make it easy.
4. Spell out your offer. Why should your audience respond to your e-mail? What's in it for them? Will they get a discount? A free white paper? A free consultation? Make sure your e-mail includes a clear and compelling reason to act.
5. Keep it consistent. Make sure your e-mails have a consistent look and tone. And make sure your e-mails complement your other marketing and branding efforts.
6. Make it compatible with a variety of formats. Most people get HTML e-mail these days, but a few still prefer text-only format. So it's a good idea to send your e-mail in both formats. Your e-mail marketing software can help you do this. It's also important to consider how your e-mail will look on mobile devices.
7. Time your e-mails carefully. You can boost your open rate by carefully choosing the best day and time to send your e-mail. This varies according to your message, but generally, Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are not the best times to e-mail a business audience.
8. Proof your e-mails. Put fresh eyes on your e-mail and proof it carefully. Test the links to make sure they work.
9. Track your results. One of the great things about e-mail is that there are many ways to track its results. You can track open rate, click-through rate, conversion, or sell-through rate. Your e-mail marketing software should provide multiple ways to track and archive results and to benchmark your performance to that of other businesses.
10. Test, test, test. It's easy to hone your e-mail messaging with A/B testing. Split off a portion of your audience and change one variable in your e-mail – maybe the subject line, maybe the offer, maybe your send date. See which message works better and adjust accordingly.
11. Enable recipients to unsubscribe. CAN-SPAM laws require you to include an unsubscribe link in your e-mails. So make sure there's an easy way for recipients to opt out and honor unsubscribe requests as quickly as possible.
12. Include yourself in your list. Make sure that you're e-mailing to yourself. How long do your e-mails take to arrive in your inbox? Are they formatted correctly? Do they get caught in your SPAM filter?
Read more marketing articles by Jack LaRue.
About the author:
Jack LaRue is the senior vice president of myPay Solutions at Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting.