I was honored to be asked to come down to San Diego and speak to a room full of friendly college administrators, marketers, and professionals about email marketing campaigns. Everyone was plugged in and seemed to really enjoy the whole process, which made it that much more fun for me. My Google Docs presentation is below along with a few other resources, posts on my blog, and links to other sites that can help you make the most our of email marketing. A big thanks to EMAS Pro enrollment management software for giving me this opportunity!
As a quick aside… it was great to really delve in on this topic and collect resources that people could use. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “build list, send stuff,” completely ignoring what could be a powerful asset for any company. If you take your time, have an actual strategy, and remember who is on the other end of that email, you can create a strong, engaged list that will stick with you for a long time. If you just harvest names and emails and send them the first thing that comes to mind, you put your domain at risk and throw away something potentially very valuable.
Download/view the presentation
0) The Basics
- Deliverability - getting the email to the recipient is just the first part of your job - Success rate/performance - the number of times your goals were achieved - Spam - unwanted or unrequested email of any kind - Template - the HTML and CSS email code - List - the group of people you send to; can be segmented or grouped into categories - Analytics - the numbers, can be checked
- Open/open rate/unique opens - opened the email in their email box - Click/click rate/unique clicks - clicked on a link in the email - Unsubscribe - requested not to receive emails going forward - Bounce - can be hard or soft, email did not reach the recipient - Sent - tootle number of emails released, not the number received
1) The Strategy
- Who is this going to? - the audience
- Segmenting - categories within lists used to target your content, design, and calls-to-action - Previous sends - learning from past behavior - Future sends - making sure future emails have a purpose
- What are you sending? - categorize specific sends to improve performance
- Information - Request - Urgency - Promotional - Content
- What is your goal with this campaign? - overall, what is the desired outcome?
- Lead-up - introduce yourself to your list - Multiple/single action - build the campaign to support multiple actions - Temporary/ongoing - does your campaign have an expiration date? Is it recurring?
- What is your goal with this email? - the most important thing
- Primary goal - have a single primary goal to improve decision making later - Secondary goal(s) - keep these to a minimum; having 10 secondary goals means less actions per goal
2) The List
- Who are you contacting? - personas
- New contacts (prospective students) - Existing customers (current students) - Previous customers (alumni)
- Where did the email addresses come from?
- Purchased - low quality = low performance; don't do it - Auto-sign-up - opt-in as part of another form - Manual sign-up - indicated they want to receive information from you
- How are you managing it?
- Unsubscribe option - do you have it? - Profile changes - is it obvious? - Clean-out - dump bounces and unresponsive recipients
- How healthy is this list?
- Frequency - delicate balance - Unsubscribes - lower is better but expect a steady stream - Spam reports - you want this at ZERO - Opens/clicks - bigger = better but watch the trend rather than the number
3) The Email
- What is in it?
- Content - it truly is king
- Subject line - short, informative, watch marketing words and CAPS - Main headline - may be a few headlines but make them obvious and helpful - Table of contents - good idea for long emails - Goal-orientated - don't forget your primary goal!
- Action links - "sign up" or "apply now" or "buy this" - Linked images - use images and link them to the relevant place - Balance - clear but don't overdo it
- Campaign tracking - outgoing links should be tagged with campaign information (UTM in Google Analytics) - Landing page analytics - track incoming visits and what they do
- How is it designed?
- Designed for the goal - primary first
- Matches landing page - design the email to match the page people reach when they click - Clear steps forward - the less the better - Enough information to make a decision - but not so much that you bore them
- Designed for the list - target, target, target
- Audience - remember these folks? - Email capabilities - design for the LCD - Email savvy - if you can't determine this, use LCD
- Designed for the format - email is tricky
- Text-based - concentrate on the content, the rest will follow - Clear goals and info hierarchy - make it obvious - Content is broken up - use headlines, bullets, images, etc.
- Text & images - guess which one is more important?
- Concentrate on text - everyone on every device can see this so make sure it's up to snuff - No image-only emails - bad idea - Images are likely to not be displayed - images are very often blocked
- How is it built?
- Universal email HTML/CSS - Valid code - W3C validator - Checked for spam content - content, image/text ratio, specific words - Recipient-centric features - design it for the people getting it
- Unsubscribe - clear, not hidden, bottom is fine - View in browser - right near the top, nice and clear - Contact information - required by law - Reason they're receiving it - nice little addition for specific segments/lists - Change profile - remove from segment but keep on the list
- When/how is it sent? - experiment
- White-listed servers - important and pretty standard - Time and day - "Tuesday - Thursday in the morning" is the rote answer but might not be true for your list; split - In smaller batches - 5K at a time, if possible - Frequency - don't pester them but don't let them completely forget about you
4) The Post-Game
- (1) What happened? - analytics
- Open % - look at the trend - Click % - same - Primary goal completed - look at site analytics as well - Secondary goal completed - same
- (2) What did you learn?
- List - insights into your audience
- Segment again - based on opens, engagement, goals achieved - Non-Respondents - targeted campaign? dump them?
- Strategy - living up to the plan
- Compare to other emails - did it do better or worse? why? - Compare to other campaigns - may or may not provide insight
- Email - template performance
- Content - was it effective? why or why not? - Date/time - are certain times/days working better?
- (3) Who needs more attention?
- People who opened - People who clicked - People who acted Bringing it altogether
- Construct a coherent strategy, make changes along the way, track your progress and success - Build and maintain a healthy list of engaged recipients - Write, design, build, and sent your templates based on your audience, accepted standards, and what you've learned - Iterate and get better!
Posts on email marketing
- Confessions from an accidental spammer
- 6 key ways to improve your email communication
- Tooting my own horn – Email marketing presentation
- 3 MORE Important Questions to Ask Before Sending Company Email Marketing
- 3 Important Questions to Ask Before Sending an Email Campaign
- Spam: what is it? what does it do? why am I sending it? who cares?
- W3C Schools (via JCH) Beginner’s Course in HTML for Emails
- HTML emails: the last word (until everything changes again)
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Jun 21, 2011