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Email

5 things you really must do to make email marketing work for you

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” ~ Albert Einstein

David Graham
David Graham's passion is business-to-business digital marketing with a specific focus on value networking and inbound marketing. He consults on business-to-business digital marketing strategy and execution, with... More

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If what Albert Einstein said is true, then why do so many people trying to market through email persist in sending unwanted, irrelevant communication to thousands of people on a daily basis which is blocked by Internet Service Providers and company firewalls, sent to individuals’ junk folders or deleted without being read?

For the sake of this article I want to differentiate between email marketers that are merely doing it wrong and the real spam merchants who send unsolicited adverts for the likes of Viagra to millions of email accounts.

Here are five tips for email marketers which will substantially increase the chances of their email content being read.

1. Obey the law
Protection of Personal Information (POPI) legislation – which will be enforced in South Africa very soon – clearly stipulates that subscribers have to opt-in to receive email correspondence BEFORE you may communicate with them.

Email marketers are at liberty to flout this law temporarily but time is running out swiftly. Anyone contravening POPI legislation will face steep fines and/or imprisonment. Companies need to understand that there will be an accountable person at a senior level who will face prosecution.

2. Keep your communication relevant
I was sent an unsolicited email from one of our competitors selling human capital solutions, which my employer also happens to provide. This is a classic example of an organisation that is “spraying and praying” and is not sending targeted communication to a known subscriber list.

The more relevant the content, the higher the propensity for individuals to read it. Spend time analysing your subscriber lists and categorise your subscribers accordingly. Your conversion rates will increases exponentially if you get this right.

3. Use a reputable Email Service Provider (ESP)
There is one specific thing that ESPs are really good at and that is getting your email into the inbox of your intended audience. There is an art and science to get this right which ESPs have perfected over many years.

Sending emails to multiple people from your email account or from your CRM system does not produce the desired results. ESPs also provide advice in terms of how to word your content so you are not blocked by spam filters. More importantly, they provide you with good analytics so you can analyse how well your email campaigns are doing and to identify your loyal subscribers.

4. Get your heading right
If you have managed to bypass the Internet Service Provider, the company firewall and an individual’s junk mail folder, make sure that your heading or subject line will encourage the recipient to open your email.

The subject line should be similar to a newspaper headline and should inform but not trick them. Keep the subject short (under 45 characters). A reader should open the email knowing what they are about to learn. An example of a subject line that has worked for me is “Using analytics to identify employees who are planning to leave”.

5. Make sure your content is easy to consume
If the email has been opened, ensure that the content is easy to read and the reader is drawn into the body of the email. Start with a short introduction that sets the scene, follow with numbered or headed points that are short and to the point and can be scanned. End with a conclusion that summarises all the points.

Never present the reader with a wall of text. This is the quickest way to lose them. Most decision makers do not have much time on their hands so keep it short and simple. Produce content that educates, informs and helps them do their job better and they will consume your content.

To conclude, if you want to radically improve your email marketing, ensure your subscribers have opted in to receive communication from you before you contact them, know your subscribers and categorise them, send communication that is relevant to the recipient, use a reputable Email Service Provider and get your subject line and email content right.

Image: sophie & cie via Flickr.