Designing Effective Email Marketing Campaigns Posted by: Alan on 30/05/2013

Responsive Email Image1

Email is a form of marketing we would recommend to almost all of our clients. It’s relatively cheap, simple, quick to implement, easy to track and, done right, can produce excellent results.

It’s important to choose the right system to base your activity on, as standard email clients such as Outlook don’t offer the functionality to design great looking HTML emails, never mind targeting and personalising your content and tracking your results. At Screenmedia we base our own email marketing platform, Screenmedia mail, on a system called Campaign Monitor, which is extremely user-friendly and intuitive and has numerous handy features that help you achieve excellent results.

The most important things to consider when embarking on this type of activity can be summarised as follows:

Planning
Have a good think and document who your target audience is, what your objectives are, what your budget is, what kind of content and messages you will have to deliver in the short, medium and long term and who’s going to be responsible for delivery. This information will help to inform what system you should use, what structure the design of your template needs to take, and will allow you to put an issue content skeleton together (for example, an advance plan that roughly details how often you will send campaigns, what you want to say and to whom).

Design
Make sure you have a beautifully designed and well structured template that’s on brand and allows you to effectively deliver the messages you want to get across. Most good email templates consist of various sections that allow you to edit the imagery, content and calls to action for each campaign you send. A bespoke email template design will help you stand out from the crowd and provides focus where you need it, whilst making it quick and easy for users to engage and interact with. You may even require a range of templates tailored to deliver different types of content to different target audiences.

Content
It almost goes without saying, but make sure you have something interesting to say from the outset – if you don’t, your recipients will automatically switch off. If this happens it can be difficult to climb out of that hole, as users will come to recognise your emails and straight off delete them if there’s no perceived value there (Groupon for example?).

Keep it short and sweet
The whole point is to give users a taste of what you want them to engage with and encourage them to click through to your website for more information (this is where you can really go to town). If you give it all away up front there’s no point in them taking the next step. Too much info can also become unwieldy and difficult to skim through.

Make sure you use a clear, concise and engaging subject line 
This is the first thing a recipient will see before deciding whether to open or delete your email, so it has to be good! Make sure it accurately describes what’s in the email and don’t use the same generic “Our Company’s Monthly newsletter – April 2013” for every campaign.

Delivery
Once you’ve written your content and uploaded it in your email system template, make sure you test it thoroughly and get a second and third opinion from colleagues. Be certain that there are no typos, that everything looks as it should and most importantly that all links work. Many systems, such as Campaign Monitor, have a design and spam testing feature that’s especially useful for ensuring that your email displays correctly in multiple browsers (it may look right to you in Outlook, but what about hotmail, gmail, Apple Mail etc?).

You should also consider who is interested in the particular message you want to deliver in each campaign. Not everyone wants to read everything you have to say, so segmenting your send lists into associated, targeted groups of people you think will click through to read more on particular topics will deliver much better results than sending all things to all people.

Analysis and improvement
Learn from the results you get from your campaigns and tweak your approach accordingly – would you benefit from more personalisation? Are you targeting/segmenting your content accurately enough? Have you tried A/B testing on subject lines, images or introductions? Look at the statistics, pick out trends where possible and keep improving.

Most good systems will allow you to hook up your email marketing with your Google Analytics, which can also deliver interesting information. Through your email marketing system you can see who’s opening your emails, what they’re clicking on etc etc. If you integrate this with your analytics you can then analyse traffic generated specifically from your email campaigns and investigate if these visits have any more value than standard visits through search engines. For example, this is extremely useful for ecommerce, where you can compare spend per visit between standard visits and visits generated through email campaigns. The same can be done for time on site, pages visited and many other useful metrics.

Mobile responsive email design
On a final note, with the rise of responsive web design it has become increasingly important to consider implementing mobile responsive email templates. According to an interesting article published by Econsultancy on mobile email, there are a host of reports and statistics that indicate up to 67% of smartphone users access emails through their mobile device. Current trends indicate that this is only set to increase, so responsive email templates are definitely something to consider when looking to maximise the results and potential impact of your email marketing campaigns. We have already started using our own responsive email design here at Screenmedia. This helped us achieve excellent results and you can view our first campaign here - try reducing the size of your browser window to see how the design responds accordingly.

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