email marketing campaigns

Are you considering an email marketing campaign?

by: Rachel Lord 07/08/2015 Categories: marketing

We are regularly asked to design and build emailers for one off/recurring campaigns or templates to use within online email systems. From the start there are considerations to be made and planning is essential, content for instance - will this be a newsletter or sales campaign? What will your killer subject line be? Are you going to include social media? Will you provide a mobile friendly version?

As more and more people are using smart devices to catch up with news or promotions it is now unusual for emailer’s to be unresponsive to their needs.

What does this mean exactly, responsive?
Why shouldn't an email newsletter work on a mobile device automatically?
Its just an email... isn't it?

Well in reality, emails do work automatically on mobile devices. Whether they look any good and are user friendly is entirely another matter. When an email designed purely for a conventional PC or laptop is viewed on a smaller screen such as a mobile device, the result more often than not is that the visual contents are squeeze down proportionally, often resulting in: small unreadable text, tiny images, narrow columns.

Trying to click links that are smaller than your little finger or constantly pinching in and out can become incredibly frustrating, leading the reader to throw the email in the trash unimpressed and less likely look at your next campaign.

So what exactly goes into making an emailer responsive?

As with websites, email campaigns can have several style sheets to make the email look good on all devices. Adding styles, moving structure and hiding unnecessary content all help in the fight for space on the smaller screens.

At present html emails are made in the old fashioned way of using tables... for those of you who are lost at this point, think about the construction of an email as a jigsaw puzzle with rows and columns stacked on top and next to each other and all containing their own information. Each column and row has styles to to control their look and position making them all fit together to create the physical shapes and the intended complete message.

Lots of email campaigns are a one column layout (similar to a conventional letter) and for good reason. It's straightforward to create and less likely to break into odd pieces if a particular email programme doesn't understand or takes offence to a line of code, but the downside to this layout is it can be visually unappealing or inappropriate to the message. Although a single column is a great easy simple method, if the design or message is hindered by the construction then the result will be an unsuccessful campaign through a lack of user interest. Simply put, people don't respond well to 'boring!'. hence the use of a greater amount of visual layout, which negates the possibilities of being hindered by the single column format, but with this comes complexity which carries its own problems and time frames in construction but more importantly a large increase in 'testing time' on the different email applications and the different devices which the message may be viewed on.

Is there anything I need to have in my email campaign?

In a nutshell yes, there are several ‘must haves’ and some ‘should haves’.

Company details
You must, without question, have your complete company details including: company address, contact details and company number. It’s always good practice to have a phone number, email address and web address but not essential to have all three.

Unsubscribe details
There must be unsubscribe details and/or link. Always keep this information clear, simple and easy to find. If the reader wishes to unsubscribe, do not let them get frustrated by trying to find the unsubscribe details, which in turn could lead to a complaint. This does not do well for your reputation and you could find your emails thrown into spam.

Receiving statement
It’s not essential but it is viewed as ‘best practice’ to include a polite small sentence to state why the reader is receiving the email. It could be for a number of legitimate reasons, such as:

“You are receiving this email because you are a valued *your company* client”

or perhaps,

"You are receiving this email because you signed up to our e-newsletter through our website"

Usually this sentence is in the footer along side the unsubscribe details.

Forward to a friend
It is also ‘best practice’ to add a ‘Forward to a friend’ link, to make it easier for readers to share your information. In some cases ‘Forwarding on’ using the internal email programme link can give some formatting issues, which makes your fabulous email look odd and disconnected, but if you have the ability to add this feature in an online programme then this issue rarely exists as it would normally send a fresh email to your friend.

View Online
Viewing your email in a desktop programme doesn't always fit the bill. Perhaps the reader may have set their email programe with unforeseen settings such as overly large text size or they may have disabled images from being viewed, so adding a ‘view online’ link lets the viewer have the option of seeing your email in a web browser as visually intended and fully functional.

Social Media links
Adding social media links in your email campaigns can be a real plus. It gives the reader an accessible link to all the up to date information. Using links with articles can give you a direct link to being liked or tweeted about in an instant.

What about other considerations?

It is very rare to send an email campaign without the use of images, keeping the text to image ratio balanced in favour of text will help your campaign through spam filters but also will help readers see most of your message before downloading any images. Creating images needs to be done with care, quality vs compression vs size is always a fine balance.

Table of contents
If your email is going to cover a few topics and becomes quite long, it is ‘good practice’ to add a table of contents towards the top of the email. This would allow a reader to see early on what your email contains. If a reader only sees the first article or an introduction they may not scroll down to find out if you have more to say on different subjects.

Probably the biggest consideration is whether the content you have written will get past the infamous ‘Spam filters’. If you plan on sending out an email campaign on how to finance your next rolex watch purchase then be prepared that your email however legitimate will probably end up in the spam box!!

As you can see there is huge amount of considerations that goes into creating an engaging and informative email, which can also be seen across the largest amount of devices. In some situations or scenarios this could be accomplished by the use of your normal email program but in reality for 99% of the time, the construction design and deployment of a email campaign will need to be done via a more professional approach.