We always use a road map when driving to a desired destination, so that we do not get lost. E-mail marketing is no different. Having a well planned roadmap not only directs your efforts in the right direction but also helps you to setup the right infrastructure for capitalising on any planned future results. E-mail marketing too has evolved greatly as the web has become more interactive. Marketers are using rich media e-mails to make the content come ‘alive’, another set of marketers are linking e-mail campaigns with offline initiatives like contests, live events etc.
Hence at the e-mail marketing strategy stage you need to:
1. Analyse the key marketing challenge/ customer needs
2. Do a competitive analysis and even subscribe to competitions mailing lists to see the ‘pattern’ their e-mail campaigns follow
3. Measure available e-mail marketing options (technology) and the budgets allocated
4. Devise a campaign plan: different kinds of target audience (customers, prospects, opinion leaders, press etc), messaging themes for different sets of target audience at different time periods (what to offer, when to offer and to whom), the periodicity of mails, the day of the week to send e-mails, the best time to send the e-mails( morning, afternoon, evening), the technology platforms to be used, the in-sourcing vs. outsourcing decision for running the campaign, the response mechanism (telephone, e-mail, web chat) and response scripts for different kinds of queries.
5. Deciding on the best means of acquiring the e-mail database: incentives to be used on the website to build a ‘opt-in’ list (where people voluntarily opt to receive your e-mailers) or to use a rented/purchased list.
Executing the e-mail marketing campaign
Effective e-mails need to be relevant and memorable to be able to stand out in the clutter that floods our e-mail inboxes regularly. It not only has to have ‘out-of-the-box’ content and design but also should be compatible with all major Internet technologies. To be successful, e-mailers have to regularly achieve ‘inbox-cut-through’, i.e. unique appeal that compels readers to perform the desired action. To do this the e-mail creative (design templates) and calls-to-action (content) have to be designed to routinely achieve AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire & Action) in the brief time that viewers have for reading the e-mails. You could follow the following best practices to achieve this:
- For writing the copy, it is 50% more important to keep in mind whom you are marketing to, rather than the other relevant questions i.e. where, when, what. After all if the target audience cannot understand you and you happen to hurt their sensibilities, you have lost your reader. Then when proceeding with the copy you have to weave in the offer, affinity (product/corporate), any brand collaborations and prevailing/expected behavioural patterns to drive home the relevance of the e-mail. Remember that often people do not read full sentences, so have crisp bulleted copy.
- It is great to have the first few bullets/ words convey the key message / information that you want to deliver. You need to ‘hook’ readers right at the start or you could easily lose them.
- Use pleasing browser friendly graphics/ layout to guide readers’ eyes. You need to visualise what they will see first and where you would like them to go from there. Do remember that there are two kinds of readers: the first is the five-to-ten-second ‘quick glance’ type and the second is someone who wants to read/click further to read your message in depth. Create templates that cater to both varieties i.e. have ‘main points’ /call-to-action content islands and content that leads readers to elaborate landing pages on your website (you could even incentivise this).
- As most e-mail service providers and software today provide users with a preview pane, it is important to have a crisp, compelling subject line and the first few lines of the content that conveys the main theme/ USP of your offer.