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Posted by Claire Cahill on 30 June 2015

Our guide to creating an effective email campaign

In this age of social media some people view email marketing as having had its day. However, as these stats show it’s still a great way to reach people - particularly on mobile devices. It is also reasonably cheap, and therefore shouldn't be ignored as a component of your digital marketing strategy. 

Here’s our guide to creating an effective email campaign that can deliver a good return on your investment.

Start with a good quality mailing list

The quality of your mailing list will have a bearing on how effective your emails are, so it’s important to build a list of people who are engaged with your brand and happy to receive emails from you.

This will lead to better deliverability, increased open/click rates and ultimately a higher ROI.

Creating a good quality list isn’t as hard as you think. Customers often seek out updates for their favourite brands - not only for offers and sales but also to keep up to date and see the latest products, particularly if they feel they have some kind of exclusive access such as previews and advance sales. Put a sign-up form on your website at the appropriate point in their journey when they are engaged enough to want more - such as after reading blog article or after a purchase.

This example shows how B&Q tempts users to hand over their email addresses with the B&Q Club.

B&Q tempt users to 'Join the B&Q Club for exclusive personalised offers and communications'

Set goals

Think about what you want to achieve. More sales, higher attendance at events? Then establish how you can track this over time - whether this be through Google Analytics stats, number of calls to a specific phone number or number of tickets sold.

Work on your content 

The best thing to do is put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think about what they want to hear about, more than what you particularly want to push to them. Look at why they signed up to receive emails in the first place and make sure you deliver it - or risk losing subscribers.

As on web pages - keep it short and easy to digest. People are unlikely to read every word so have clear call to actions that are easy to scan.

Be human!

Your content will be more engaging if you talk to your customer as one person rather than a crowd. Talk to them as if they were face to face rather than thinking too much about ‘marketing’ to them.

Use a real email address that is recognisable to the customer and which can receive emails if anyone clicks ‘reply’ - and make sure this email is checked.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think ‘would I open this?’.

Create a schedule

It’s easier to create good content if you work to a structured schedule. Work out how often you want to send out emails, and also how often you can gather enough good quality content. Don’t send for the sake of it - it’s better to wait a bit longer than get a lot of unsubscribes because you’re sending padded out content too often.

Often with an email template you’ll have sections to fill each time - such as offers, news, upcoming events - which will make gathering content easier to manage.

Send targeted emails

Not every email is going to apply to every customer - and by making them too generic can risk being not particularly appealing to anyone. 

Most email service providers allow you to segment your list to make it even more targeted and therefore hopefully more relevant and more effective.

Make sure your emails are readable

Not all email clients show images by default, so it’s better to put your key messages in text better than images. It’s also important to make sure your email is responsive and works on mobiles - according to stats from Adestra, 45% of email opens now occur on mobile, compared to 36% on desktop and 19% in a webmail client (March 2015). The example here shows an email from AT&T which adapts well to smaller screens (image frommarketingland.com).

Side by side comparision of AT&T website on desktop and mobile

No Spam

First make sure you aren’t sending spam, and that you have permission to email your customers. It’s good to remind them why you’re emailing them in case they’ve forgotten - e.g. because you signed up on our website.  If someone has unsubscribed already, respect their wishes and don’t send to them again.

Next, avoid words and phrases that might mean your email would end up in a spam folder. Mailchimp have a very good guide How to Avoid Spam Filters if you’d like to read more about this.

Check in different email clients/browsers

Email clients can vary widely in how they display emails, so it’s always worth checking your final email before sending it out. We use a really helpful tool called Litmus which shows screenshots of many different email clients and browsers. Below shows Litmus in action:

Screengrab of a Litmus email test


Check the whole journey

Make sure you have a good quality, clear landing page for any links in the email. It’s a shame to waste a click through only for the customer to bounce off the landing page. It should be recognisable as the same brand, with a clear call to action and ideally responsive too.

Manage unsubscribes

Every email should have an easy to find unsubscribe link. If people want to go - let them, it’s better to broadcast to people who want to listen! Plus, if they can’t find an unsubscribe link there’s a danger they’ll mark the email as spam instead - and too many of these and you may find yourself blacklisted by your email provider and unable to send any more emails.

You could offer a break from emails for a while, or the option to reduce the frequency of emails/category of emails that are sent.  The example below is from secretescapes.com who allow you to take a break from emails - a clever way to stop you unsubscribing.

Secret Escapes website allows you to set a break duration from none to 6 months.

A further example shown below is by Groupon who allow you to change what kind of emails you receive, which may help if you are unsubscribing because of the amount of emails you receive but do actually still wish to receive some content.

Groupon allows you to set which kind of emails you receive

Check stats and iterate

Once your email has sent, you can check the reports to see how well it performed. 

As well as checking open rates, click rates and number of unsubscribes, you can also track website traffic, attendance at events, number of sales etc. to assess how successful your email was.

Look at the stats to see what people liked and where they clicked to see what worked and then how to tailor the next one to perform even better.

If you’d like to discuss email marketing and whether it could work for you, please do get in touch - we are always happy to have a chat!


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