Anyone can send an email. The trick to effective email marketing is making sure the email reaches its target – and that it’s read. Warren Moss, founder of the South African Consumer Initiative, which owns an email list totaling 3,5 million South Africans, shares the top three things to always think about when using email marketing in your advertising arsenal.
1. Timing is everything
As an email marketer, the timing of the email is as important as the information it contains. Consider the product or service you are offering, and determine who would need this offering, and when they are most likely to be receptive to it.
For example, a pizza restaurant offering a buy-one get-one free pizza special will be more likely to reach its target audience in the third week of the month than straight after payday. Similarly, a supermarket will have a greater impact straight after payday, when most people are doing their monthly shopping.
2. Your email subject line is critical
There are two factors to consider here. The first is spam. If your email ends up in the junk folder, your targeted audience is unlikely to even read your message, let alone act on it. Google scores subject lines. The higher the spam score, the more likely it is that your mailer will get junked. Writing in caps is your first no-no, as people don’t typically write in caps. Words like win, free, competition and click here also have high spam scores. To avoid using the wrong words in your subject line, you should regularly Google ‘spam trigger words’ for updated lists of words and phrases that will kill your email. A text to image ratio also weighs a spam score. A good ratio is 60% text and 40% images. Any more images than that and the email is in danger of becoming spam.
The next important point to remember is that subject lines can actually trump trust. Getting past a spam filter does not guarantee an email will be read. People typically open emails from people they know and trust, or that have subject lines that speak directly to them.
This makes using the right subject line about much more than avoiding spam filters. You need to speak to your targeted audience. Don’t send emails out to everyone on every email list you have access to. Choose your audience based on what you are selling, and then speak directly to that demographic.
3. Follow the design triad
Email adverts should be divided into three distinct thirds. The first third immediately presents your selling point. It tells the reader exactly what you are offering them. The second third has a call to action. It should stand out from the page, like a big red button, and it should require the reader to do something (click here to win!). Finally, the bottom third should contain contact details, T&Cs and any secondary information.
Direct email marketing can be a powerful and cost-effective tool – if used correctly. Just because you can reach anyone who owns an email account doesn’t mean you should however. Target your clientele, speak directly to them, and enjoy the benefits of this integral aspect of any online strategy.
According to Cordell Brewer, marketing director at TouchbasePro, an sms and email marketing provider, the average Internet user is sent 68 spam messages per day. “The McAfee Quarterly Threat Report says that 130 billion spam messages are broadcast daily,” he says. “The reason users don’t see them in their inboxes is thanks to advanced spam filtering and blocking technologies active on their ISPs (Internet service providers) or company mail servers.”
The new Consumer Protection Act and the Protection of Personal Information Bill are designed to assist companies in following good practice. “It’s understandable that the direct marketing industry may seem under threat because of these regulations, but if we take spam stats into account, following these new laws will actually help the industry,” says Brewer. “Laws like the CPA and PPI result in increased success levels for companies employing best practices. The regulation and discouragement of spam practices that are unwanted or unsolicited commercial mailing increases the success rates of email marketing by reducing clutter and consumer annoyance.”