How to use email marketing effectively


1.Get your processes sorted before you start emailing marketing campaigns

Collect email addresses systematically e.g. those you sell to, send brochures to, or those who visit your website.Collect business cards in relevant situations, but be sure to ask for the person’s email address if they want to receive your newsletter.

Assess the best route for sending the emails, as sending from your PC is only practical in small numbers.If you send email marketing from your web server, the load can affect the performance of your website. So send mailings from a separate server which is white listed with leading ISPs to prevent mailings being wrongly identified as SPAM. 

Set up a system to handle email marketing bounces.  If you send from your pc or website, decide how to handle each email that bounces -  use a third party with the software to handle them automatically.

Put a suitable reply address on your emailing so the right person in your organisation handles replies from interested customers.

2. Email marketing needs good design

Design an email template using your corporate colours and logo - this can be used for all future emailings at no extra cost.  Always include an unsubscribe option in the template.

If you include images in your emailings, remember not everybody can see them due to limitations in their own email system.  So include a link at the top of the emailing, to the full content including images on a web page. “If you cannot see the images in this mailing, please click here”. Some providers can test your emailing in all the main browsers and to check how it is likely to look.

Always develop a text only version of your emailings for those who can only receive text.  This needs to include the full url of all links including your unsubscribe option.

NCS can offer extensive web design support.

3.Link your email marketing to your website content and promotion

One of the main purposes of emailing marketing should be to get recipients to visit your website, so always link to your website in your mailing - you can link from images as well as from text.  If you include an image of a product, link the image to that product
on your website.  If you mention a product, link the text to that product page on your website.

It is a good idea to add any new information (e.g. re a new product) to your website before sending a mailing on the subject.  This way, the emailing can include a link to the more full information on the website.

Some people include their entire website navigation bar in every emailing – this makes it very easy for recipients to click through to the correct section of the website

Avoid making your emailing look like SPAM to the SPAM filters.  Using multicoloured text is generally a bad idea as is using only images.  We can guide you on the many things to avoid.  Some providers can test your mailing in all the main browsers and Spam filters to check how it is likely to fare.

NCS Internet Strategy Services can help you to co-ordinate your email and your website promotion.

4.Good email marketing needs appealing emails

Make the subject line of your email interesting – if not, the recipient may not even open it.  Action words and compelling, up to the minute subjects should be included e.g. enter our free competition, see our new product.

Try to include salutations (e.g. Dear Michael) in your mailings if you know the people involved.  But be sure to get their names right!However, if you have purchased an opt in emailing list from a third party, adding the name may appear unnatural  - some recipients might regard the emailing as SPAM.

 5. Check the results of your email marketing

Set up an M/I system to check which emails bounced, which were opened / unopened and who clicked on which links.

What was your open rate?  This is a measure of your overall relationship with your audience.  Around 30% is OK.  Less than 20% and you aren’t really engaging your readers.  Remember that open rates always tail off rapidly if people send too many emailings in a short space of time.  On the other hand a string of well constructed “teasers” can be very effective.

How many SPAM complaints did you get?  If your emailing list is made up of proper subscriberswho expect to hear from you, you should expect no SPAM complaints at all.  If you are getting more than 0.1% you are doing something to cause a negative reaction with your readers.  Find out what it is and stop doing it.

Who clicked on which links? Good software (such as that which NCS uses) will show you the email address of everybody who clicked on each link in your mailing.  Consider sending follow up emails to those who clicked certain important links (e.g. the link to your new product)

Refine your email marketing by comparing the statistics of campaigns sent at various different times to find when it’s best reach your target audience.

The NCS Email Marketing Service draws on extensive experience in reviewing email programmes. 

6.For effective email marketing, manage your email list properly

Manage your emailing list so that those who unsubscribe hear from you no more;you resend mailings which bounce with a soft bounce (i.e. something like mail box full) – you
may get through next time; you stop sending emails to addresses which have a hard bounce (e.g. no such email address, no such domain).

It is a good idea to archive your mailings on your website.  They add to the richness of the content which can help with your search engine rankings.

7. Good email marketing needs good timing

When is the best time to send emailings? Email marketing experience tells us that for classic newsletters, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings generally give the best results. 
However, with Blackberries and other 3G mobile phones on the increase, we are now finding emailings at 6pm are often opened and read much more quickly than previously  -  we assume this is by people on their way home from work)

Choose the best times of year for your emailings.  This will vary according to your business, but the run up to Christmas is a classic time to send an emailing to remind your target audience that you will be ready meet their needs at this time.   And of course many people now send Seasons Greetings by email, much cheaper and just as welcome as a card.

Florists will add Valentines Day, Mothering Sunday and Easter to the list of important dates whilst just before the start of the season is a good time for seasonal businesses (e.g. selling sports kit or summer holidays)

Remember, a good email marketing company can help you with every aspect of email marketing set out above, including email design, website content alignment, campaign monitoring and selecting the optimal timing for your campaigns.

Malcolm Tebbutt 
Director, Net Commerce Solutions

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