Mastering the basics of email marketing

Most of us are fully aware of the fundamentals of email marketing, and can execute an effective campaign pretty well. And when things are going smoothly, many of us stop thinking about how to improve our processes–you know, the old, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.

But improving your current skills and processes can be the difference between good campaigns and great ones: campaigns that win you lots of new subscribers and even new customers.

One size fits all? Not when it comes to email marketing.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve been talking about the first R: Reputation and why it’s important to build a good one (you can check those posts out here and here). Today, we’re going to focus on the next “R”: Relevancy.

You might be sending out well-written, beautifully designed emails every week, but are they resonating with your customers? Are you sending generic, one-size-fits-all emails, or are you segmenting your list and sending specific, relevant messages to each group?

You can probably guess which of the above choices is going to get you the best results.

Stay Away From a Bad Reputation!

Today we’re introducing a new blog series: Friday Fundamentals.

In these weekly posts, we’ll be going back to the basics of email marketing. We want to help folks new to the email marketing game hit the ground running – and encourage more experienced email marketers to revisit their best practices.

With that said, let’s begin with the four “R”s.  In a white paper presented at the 2013 Email Evolution Conference in Miami, Karen Talavera, owner of Synchronicity Marketing, states that there are four essential “R’s” to good email marketing. Today we’re going to explore R #1 – Reputation.

Are you aware of how your customers and prospects perceive you and your email communication efforts? Have they consciously chosen to receive messages from you, or did you automatically sign them up via a pre-checked box?

Thoughts on HTML Email Design, Segmentation and Best Practices

In a recent HTML overview presentation I led, an interesting question came up. While I was knee-deep in indicating the various challenges faced in HTML email design because of the many platforms that email can be read on, someone had essentially asked if we needed to bother ourselves with those difficulties anymore. Given that we have the email marketing tools to segment our mailing lists based on a number of criteria, could it be theoretically possible to eschew the many platform dependent limitations that HTML email often has? Couldn’t we just set up targets based on email client and send mailings that were tailored for that?

At first blush, I would have to say that this is a great idea. Why? Because designing for email is pretty annoying. As a web designer, you have to keep up with changes in browser technology, design conventions and updates to the very code we use to make our web creations. That’s just standard practice. However, despite the fact that we may be producing assets in 2013, when it comes to email, unfortunately, you find yourself having to code things as if it were 1997.

Winner of Best Email Design Contest 2012!

Your email template designs were judged by our panel of email experts and now it’s finally time to announce who this year’s contest winner is! However, before we announce the winner, let’s recap:

The Net Atlantic Best Email Design of 2012 Contest was open only to existing customers of Net Atlantic and Atlantic Web Host. Submissions were judged on criteria based on aesthetic appeal, content, as well as how well they follow industry standard best practices as set forth for email marketing. See full contest rules here.

Our winning template stood out and grabbed our judges’ attention because of its clean design and layout. This communication demonstrated a good balance of text and graphics as well as clear call-to-actions.

Now, without further delay, our chosen winning template design is…

Best Practices in Action: A Look at Our Contest Entries

Our Best Email Design of 2012 contest saw so many more entries than we had anticipated. Our panel of email expert judges had to square away some serious time and focused attention to properly evaluate them and give them all a fair shake. By February 1st, some really impressive submissions made it to our contest inbox and, in looking things over, it has become apparent that the entire pool of submissions we received provided a very insightful look into how you all out there were doing in regard to email marketing best practices. Because, let’s face it—it’s one thing to be aware of what constitutes recommended and proven methods with regard to email. It’s another thing entirely to see them in action.

Here are a couple great things we saw you email-sending folks out there do:

Make a Splash: Surfing Etiquette for your Email Marketing

Make A Splash: Surfing Etiquette For Your Email MarketingWhat does surfing have to do with email marketing? Well, both disciplines require a strategy, timing, preparation, and best practices, or what we surfers call surfing etiquette, to make a memorable surfing session.

Speaking of surfing; that’s a photo of me at one of my favorite hometown breaks in New Hampshire. I know what you’re thinking; surfing in New Hampshire… do they even have beaches there? The answer is yes, we sure do! But lets get back to email marketing.

Audit your email marketing strategy

Email Marketing Audit

“Audit” – not everybody loves to hear that word, but it can also be your best friend.

If you send regular email campaigns, it’s a good idea to check out the soundness of your strategy every once in awhile. A complete audit of your email sending tactics and practices will help identify problems with your lists, your content, your segmentation, your schedule, and your campaigns.

It’s also a good idea to run an email marketing audit if you notice your response rates dropping, such as opens and clicks, or if you see a rise in unsubscribes and bounces. The audit can reveal where the problems might be.

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