Recap: Email Marketing — It’s Not Spam
October 25, 2011 Kevin Donnigan
For our October 5 event, Chris Kenworthy discussed what he's learned from sending over 2 million emails each month. If you were unable to attend or need a refresher, we've got you covered:
Please note …Everytime you spam, god kills a kitten. It's true …
The primary goals of an e-mail marketing campaign are to:
- attract interest
- generate sales
- increase engagement
- build brand relationships and brand awareness
- Transactional, which include confirmations, alerts and notifications, billing changes, subscriptions, and goods.
- Promotional, that include newsletters, special offers, coupons, promotions, content, and RSS Feeds.
The Essentials of Making A Successful E-mail
List Building (Permission Based): This step is essential. You need people to read your e-mail, right? Well, there are four list building types:
- Single Opt-In - This is good.
- Confirmation Opt-In: Meh, okay…
- Double Opt-In: This is better, but extra steps cause less sign-ups
- Double Opt-In: Sweet! Now we're talkin.' People must really want to be a part of what you've got going on. You guessed it; this means higher open rates :-)
DO NOT buy or rent e-mail lists. It's a waste of your money, it is filled with fake e-mail addresses, and you will get less open rates. DO NOT trick or deceive your subscribers or people about to sign-up for your e-mails. Also, be smart and don't violate privacy policies and include an unsubscribe link that is easily accessible.
Create the e-mail campaign through templates A couple of the most popular 3rd party e-mail newsletter companies are MailChimp and Constant Contact. More on design/development below.
Send the e-mail … and cross your fingers. Who are you sending the e-mail to? Um… the people on your list. Which contains one or both of the two audience types: Existing and Potential Customers
Measure and track The e-mail has been sent, your fingers are crossed, and you are sitting there waiting to see how things pan out, right? You should be… You should also be measuring the success (or failure) of your e-mail and tracking the amount of opens, clicks, and various other statistics to optimize for future compaigns. You can't improve if you don't know. A good e-mail marketeer should be conducting A/B Test as well! Was it mentioned that if you spam, God kills a kitten?
Open rates vary by industry and are tracked by an image that is a pixel in height and width that sends a call back to the server that says "Hey, I'm open!." An average open rate for a list of 600 addresses is about 45%. An average click through rate is 3.74%. An average opt-out unsubscribe rate is 0.27%. What are your statistics?
E-mail Design Rules of Thumb
- Keep it simple, using HTML and text.
- Keep CSS to a minimum. It's a good idea to stay away from anexternal style sheet. You want inline styles (gasp!). But seriously, inline styles please.
- Use tables and keep the wrapper at a maximum of 600px (the px means pixels, but you knew that, right?)
- All images need to utilize the Alt & Title attributes. When your images don't show up, these will display in place of your images. You'll want to style these attributes carefully, using the font-size selector. Look at Chris's slides for an uber scary example of an e-mail with horrible styling on this. It's pretty bad. Also, don't put Alt or Title tags on bullet/spacer types of images.
- Encode characters!
- Avoid spam words. Most 3rd party e-mail companies have a groovy tool to test your e-mail for spam words. If it doesn't, upgrade yourself to one that does or check out Spam Assassin.
A Note About Subject Lines
Subject lines work best when they describe what's in the e-mail. Here's a look at a few that work best.
- [Company Name] Newsletter - Month Year
- [Company Name] - Month News & Specials
- 30% Off at [Company Name] This Weekend
The Best Delivery Times
- B2B - Tuesday and Thursday sometime after lunch or in the morning.
- B2C - Thursday, Friday, or weekends between 9am and 12pm.
Common Challenges (25,000+)
Chris sends a lot of e-mail. By a lot, I mean somewhere in the millions. He's hardcore. Common challenges he's run into over the coarse of his e-mailing career have been:
- Throttling/daily limits
- IP/Domain reputations
- Hung-up sends and double sending (oops)
- Delivery speed
- Dirty lists (high bounce rate)
- Poor delivery rate/Blacklisted (booo that)
Bounce Management & Honey
There are two types of bounces when sending e-mails. They are:
- Soft Bounce - When hands can't shake to make the transaction happen
- Hard Bounce - E-mail address doesn't exist
ISP's know when e-mails get bounced. Meaning, they know that you aren't doing a good job of keeping your list clean. If you do it too much, you will get blacklisted. You don't want that. M'mkay.
Honey Pots are used to detect spam. ISP's keep them for when spammers get these e-mail addresses, they know who to block. Check out this Wikipedia article for more info.
Blacklists are tied to your IP/Domain. Use this tool to see where you are blacklisted. You can try and get off the list for free, but some cost money.
A Few Best Practices
Build a high quality list and use high quality content. The better the list, the better the performance of the e-mail. Also, send on a regular basis, such as bi-weekly or monthly. NO SPAM!
If You're The Stalker Type…
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