The Complexity of Simplicity in Email Marketing

Email marketing isn’t rocket science. There is no complex algorithm or specific formula in existence that will lead to a successful email marketing campaign. So why is it that people make a mountain out of a molehill? Why not just keep it simple?

As long as you abide by 5 basic “rules” or “guidelines,” you can be rest assured that your email marketing campaign will perform the way that you intended and will prove to be the most cost-effective means to stay connected with your most valued customers on a continual basis.

1. Subject Line

Your subject line is your first interaction with either your current or perspective consumer. That being said, it must be so irresistible that readers can’t help but open your email. Given that you are fighting for attention in the inbox, your goal lies in creating something that will pique the interest of the consumer enough to open and view your advertisement.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind in this process is keeping your subject lines short and sweet. With the average attention span of online consumers decreasing by the day, your message must be no longer than 7 words in length. If you can’t say it in 7 words or less, don’t say it at all.

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Here is a list of Email Marketing Subject Lines You Never Want to Use

2. HTML Email Creative

Once you have compelled your viewers to open your email, your next objective is to have an enticing call to action with an attention-grabbing email creative with good, relevant content.

We are all too familiar with poorly designed email newsletters that are no more than a waste of our time, just to click the delete button. This consists of email messages that are not relevant to your customers interests, those that try to sell questionable products or services, or those that appear to be downright spam. With email marketing, what works is a value exchange of information.

Optimize your next email marketing campaign using a strong content marketing approach with eye-catching graphics and a direct call to action in your email creative.

3. HTML Coding

An often overlooked piece of the puzzle is the coding within your email creative. Graphic designers often get carried away by adding unnecessary code. The problem with this is that your email creative will not appear properly in all web-based or email clients. For example, the use of CSS, JavaScript, in line styles and background images will not show up properly in Outlook, which has 31% of the corporate email market share.

If you abide by the HTML specifications below, you can be certain that your email will appear consistently across all web-based clients, Outlook and the majority of browsers out there.

EMAIL CREATIVE HTML SPECIFICATIONS:

Following the html guidelines below will provide for the best results:

  • Include html, head, title, body, table, tr, td tags. (No tbody tags)
  • Include all direct tracking and image links. Please use full URL paths.
  • Fill out all tags, such as image width, height, border, and alt tags – do not leave any tags empty!
  • Do NOT include Image Ready, Fireworks or any unnecessary code.
  • Do NOT include CSS or Javascript, nor link to a CSS or Javascript file.
  • Do NOT use in-line styles
  • Do NOT use background images or colors
  • Do NOT include video or Flash files.
  • It is suggested that the total width of email should not exceed 600 pixels wide.
  • The creative should be centered.
  • It is suggested that the total file size of all the images do not exceed 60K.
  • It is suggested you include a separate text only version along with your html creative.

4. Landing Page

Your landing page should be designed to entice a person to do one of the following – make a purchase, fill out a lead form, or pick up the phone and call about a certain product or service that you are offering. Similar to your email creative, it must have a direct call to action and give the consumer a reason to buy your products over those of your competitors. This is where your leads become your customers, so don’t jeopardize your conversions because of a poorly designed landing page.

5. Deliverability

You can have the most enticing subject line, a crafty HTML email creative, and a relevant landing page that instantly captures the viewer’s interest. However, if you do not have good deliverability, you have nothing. Don’t think you can just load up 1,000 emails in your Outlook “contacts” folder and hit send without getting an extraordinary bounce rate or worse, getting shut down completely. You must work with a quality ESP (Email Service Provider) that specializes in delivering your message to the inbox. Also, cleaning and validating your email list is a great tool to maximize deliverability by purging your email database of invalid, undeliverable email addresses. When you consider that an email address can be live one moment and be dead the next, don’t underestimate the importance of cleansing your data on a quarterly basis.

We can’t expect to become experts in email marketing overnight, but once you get a firm understanding of the topic, it’s really quite simple.

Discuss This Article

Comments: 2

  • Jim Morton says:

    Meredith, I agree with most of this, but I’m not sure about “Do NOT use in-line styles.” Some email browsers (such as Gmail and Outlook) throw out external and embedded style sheets, and in-line styles are the only way to get the results you want. Could you explain your reasoning a bit more?

  • Jim – I appreciate your comment. We try to simplify the HTML specs that we send to our clients as much as possible to avoid any coding issues when we test their email in our system. That is why we specifically say, “Do NOT use in-line styles.” The truth is, if in-line styles are coded properly, the email will appear consistently across all web-based or email clients. However, we have come across numerous clients that are not coding experts, and we go through many trials and tribulations to try and help them get it right. Below is an informative article that I found that discusses coding in further detail. Let me know if this is helpful. http://groundwire.org/labs/email-publishing/using-css-and-html-in-email-newsletters

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