Email remains one of the best ways to promote your products and services and nurture your prospective customers. All too often I see customers creating emails—or I get them myself—with some basic mistakes that may lead to big performance issues. Here are a handful of important things to keep your eye on when creating your next email campaign.
(1) Create a Bulletproof Email Design
When designing the layout of an email I think of two major things: keep the message simple and on target and regularly test your designs in different email clients. Just because your design and layout comes through as intended in Outlook doesn’t mean it will look okay in gmail or another email client. Whether it is just a simple email with one offer and call to action or a newsletter, here are some tips for a bullet-proof email design:
Maintain a balance between content and images. There is no specific rule or guideline, but I like to set a limit of 3-4 images. An important thing to remember is that images won’t typically be visible to all readers when they get your email. Stay focused on your content and let images be an enhancer. Having an image not show and the description reading something like “.img0593204” will do no good to the reader so always set a descriptive alt text so if the image isn’t viewable, your copy will be.
Which brings me to my next tip – always offer a text version of your email. Not all devices or programs will support an HTML email design. A text version will ensure that more recipients will be able to view your email.
Email should always contain a clear call-to-action. One compelling offer will help drive qualified traffic to your website or particular landing page. One exception might be newsletters but it’s appropriate since newsletters are usually pretty packed anyway and don’t come out as often.
(2) Proofread and Proofread Some More
Broken links and spelling/grammatical errors in an email of any form can be deadly. My suggestion is to proofread and proofread some more. Over editing never hurts.
“Dear <First Name>”…Nothing could be worse than receiving an email that starts with this as a greeting rather than the recipient’s actual name. Make sure that you check your greetings, that the correct values are set and TEST, TEST, TEST!!!
If you have an email list that may be missing some information such as your lead or contact’s first name, create a back-up, secondary greeting such as, “Greetings!” or “To our awesome customers,”. Again, send multiple test emails to double and triple check that your greeting is set up correctly since you’ll want to start out your email engagement on the correct footing!
URLs in your emails are obviously important. Along with content, they are the driving force to send the reader to your website or landing page to take action. That said, test all of your links multiple times. And always be sure to create unique tracking URLs to help determine the effectiveness of your email campaigns!
Typos – not so cool for professional emails where you’re trying to be taken seriously. Avoid typos and spelling errors by taking your time proofreading. Sometimes I just walk away from it for a time and then relook at my content with fresh eyes. Speed reading through your email can almost guarantee errors. Here are some tips to help avoid spelling and grammatical errors:
Do not rely on spellcheck; words like “there” “their” and “they’re” will not be noticed!
Read your email out loud, hearing something that doesn’t sound right will help you catch grammatical errors.
Lastly, when you think you’ve corrected all spelling and grammar errors, take a small break from it and give your mind a rest. Clearing your head will help you catch any remaining errors.
(3) Keep it Focused
When creating the content of your email, stay focused on the main message/offer you are trying to get across and without being too pushy, boring, or narrow-minded. Don’t just email for the sake of emailing. Have a valid purpose and only bug your database assets when you have valuable content to share. Customers often ask “how often should I email people?” My reply is always “when you have great content they will find useful.”
Constantly pushing an obvious sales pitch can get old fast and turn off your readers. Try something different by telling a related story that’s personalized, talk about industry related topics giving your viewpoint, share recent blog articles or announce upcoming events to keep things as interesting as possible.
Simple and easy - keep it focused, interesting and to the point.
(4) Avoid Spam Filters
All email marketers inevitably run into spam-filter issues, making some of your emails lost somewhere in cyberspace. Given varying company spam filter/security settings and multiple platforms, there is no guaranteed way to avoid your email from being junked but there are some helpful tips you can follow to minimize it:
Never use all CAPS in a subject line
Avoid spelling errors in your subject line at all costs
Avoid using words like FREE, Click Here, Apply Now…Often, your email creation tool will provide lists of words to avoid. Pay attention to them
Creating an HTML email that is just one big image with little to no text
Use a spam checker before sending out your email – these are available in most email apps.