If you run a small business, then you probably already know that one of the most successful, cost-effective marketing strategies available today is email marketing. Email campaigns are great for small businesses because they are typically inexpensive, very targeted, and the results are measurable, allowing you to track things like click-thru rates, opens, bounces, and resulting web traffic patterns. But like most other marketing initiatives, there are some basic strategies you can use to improve your chances of success. To make your email campaign as effective as possible, try to follow these best practices:
1. Make sure your e-mail looks related to your other marketing materials, especially your web site. Always include your logo, and keep the same “look and feel” so that your email campaign matches not only your web site, but all of your other corporate branding and marketing materials as well.
2. Design for the “Preview Pane” first. The “preview pane” is the area in an email tool (such as Outlook) that displays even if a user doesn’t actually open the email. Most preview panes are between two and four inches tall, so use this space wisely. Be sure your company name is clearly displayed, and include an interesting, benefits-oriented headline that encourages the reader to actually open the email and take some type of action.
3. Use links to drive traffic to your web site. One of the advantages of email marketing is that you can add links that take your readers directly to more information, to an online ordering page, or to another targeted page on your web site. These links can also help you determine reader interest in certain topics or information.
4. Don’t overload your email with photos and graphics. Many people have the images turned off in their email programs anyway, and email security filters may block the email from even reaching your customer’s inbox. Instead use good, clean html formatting and use fonts, headlines, colors, and other layout elements to make your email piece attractive.
5. Use columns in your email layout to improve readability and organization. Because columns have shorter lines, the text is more easily read and understood by most recipients. Columns also allow you to fit more content into a space than just plain margin-to-margin text, which gives you more options for organizing the information as well.
6. Always use a professional ListServ service to deliver your email campaigns. These services ensure that your list management functions (like opt-in/opt-out, sp@m compliance, etc. ) are handled appropriately, and also provide you with the ability to track and measure campaign results.
Lauren Hobson is the Editor of Biz Talk Newsletter, a free monthly publication designed to provide small businesses and non-profits with tips and techniques to help them make the most of their web sites and marketing efforts without spending a lot of money. Biz Talk is published by Five Sparrows, LLC.