09 February 2008

Eight Tips to Effective Email Marketing

The signs of a successful relationship with your email readers are high open rates, click-throughs that convert into actions, low unsubscribe and complaint rates, and active feedback from your readers. Take the time to read through these tips and, if you apply them, you will find success in your email marketing campaign or newsletter writing ventures.

Tip 1: Test the design of the email in multiple email clients (ie Hotmail, MS Outlook Express, etc)
You may spend hours writing the content and designing the layout, only to have it show up in the Inbox of your customer looking very bad. The email clients can, and often do, automatically disable images, and ruin the code you’ve included.

Microsoft recently announced that Outlook 2007 will use the Word HTML rendering engine. The more advanced CSS and HTML is now limited, leaving you with the need to use more basic designs and tables. Try to limit your use of images and stick with simplicity of design. Focus more on the content.

Once you have written the email or newsletter, test, test, test. Try viewing your creation in as many email clients as you can, especially the most common ones.

Here is a list:

Internet Based


Desktop Email Clients

Outlook 2003
Outlook 2007
Outlook Express
Apple Mail
Lotus Note

You can also use tools, such as Site Vista, can make the task of testing new designs easier.

Tip 2: Check Your Email or Newsletter for Spam-like Indicators

Messages containing very high ratios of images or HTML will often trigger spam filtersr. The use of too many capital letters and excessive punctuation (!!!). Certain keywords can also trigger spam filters-words such as free, trial, money, as seen on tv, viagra, and a growing list of other words.

Services such as SpamCheck can be used to quickly score your emails, and can help to guide you towards better word selection.

Tip 3: Unsubscribing

You are legally required to give the recipient the ability to unsubscribe, however you can make it ‘less than easy’ to do so.

If you’re concerned about losing members of your reading audience, here are some simple suggestions:

Give them the ability to opt for a different ratio or type of newsletter. Maybe they do not want to hear about special offers, but would be happy to read interesting articles.

Offer them an option of changing the email address.

Perhaps they no longer want to receive emails, but would like an RSS feed or option to bookmark your site.

Tip 4: Maintain the list of email addresses of your customers

There are a variety of email marketing campaign programs and sites available, such as:


These email delivery or email broadcast systems usually would detect soft and hard bounces and will deal with these addresses automatically. (Hard bounces are categorically invalid addresses, such as a closed mailbox, while soft bounces may respond with the, “Mailbox over size limit” or “Mailbox currently unavailable”, types of messages).

Although email addresses that are no longer functioning will not affect your customers, the list should be maintained for your own benefit. By keeping an accurate list of email addresses you are providing yourself with information as to how many recipients you have receiving your newsletter. If there are only a handful of people actually receiving and reading your newsletter, then perhaps you need to work on getting more readers into the mix, or, sad to say, consider abandoning the campaign for now.

Also, if you are sending emails to large numbers of recipients, it is important to stager the emails, especially if many are going to the same domain, such as AOL. Otherwise, your recipient Internet Service Providers could blacklist you for sending to too many invalid addresses or for sending too many emails in general.

Tip 5: Notify your ISP about your email marketing campaign

Make sure you notify your ISP or web host before beginning an email marketing campaign. The last thing you would want is for your own ISP or web host to block your emails, especially if they are time sensitive.

Tip 6: Send interesting, relevant content

Make sure you are satisfied with the content of the email or newsletter. Feel free to ask your readers what they would like to read. After all, they are the ones that matter.

You should ask yourself before sending:

Is the design interesting and fresh?
Will the information in the newsletter attract them to the site?
Does the newsletter accurately reflect the quality of the site?
Should I include coupons or other offers?
Did I spell-check the content of the newsletter?

Tip 7: When should I send it?

The basic rule of thumb:
* If your newsletter is of vocational interest and read at work, send it on Wednesday or Thursday.
* If your newsletter is primarily read at home and focuses on spare-time activities, send it on Sunday.

Tip 8: Always have permission before sending emails

Make sure you do not sink to the level of a spammer. There is no quicker way to turn off your customer than to ’spam’ their inbox.

All in all, writing newsletters and conducting an email marketing campaign is a learning process. There is no sure-fire way of doing it, since every situation is different. You concern should be toward your readers. If they are happy, you should be happy.

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