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Email marketing explained.

There’s no doubt that email marketing is an effective channel. Our personal email inbox is the original newsfeed, the grandfather of the Facebook ‘wall’. But email marketing is about more than just gathering yourself the biggest mailing list you can and hitting send (read: spray and pray) as often as possible.

There are a few techniques that will make your email marketing efforts more compelling. These should never stagnate; they constantly need to evolve, as your target consumers’ behaviour changes.

So gather round and take a look at these essential tips and not-so-obvious factors that you need to think about when planning your email campaign.

Like in football and in life; have goals.

Firstly, the most important question you need to answer before you set off down the direct marketing road is: what’s your goal?

Do you want to increase sales? Are you trying to grow your brand? Are you pushing a product or an idea? It’s important that you find out what’s most important to your brand or business and hone in on that with the content you produce.

Many of you will suggest that you want to do all of the above, and why not? Aim high, right? The issue that arises here is that this approach can actually be counter-productive.

You’re better off streamlining your efforts into one easily measurable goal, and then evolving it as your business needs develop after that.

Where are you sending it from?

Another important element, and one that is too often overlooked, is where your content is coming from.

Make sure you have your own dedicated IP address, so you can ensure that your campaign isn’t lumped in with spammers or trigger-happy email marketing firms.

If not, the content you’ve spent weeks crafting and shaping into email form may automatically trigger the recipients’ spam alarm and find itself lying dormant in the junk folder only to be deleted later on. Don’t let your email down like that.

Next, and this can be hard to adhere to; less is more.

Do not inundate your mailing list with email after email. Lose the drivel and ensure the content you are putting in front of them is something they will genuinely want to read. Avoid ‘salesy’ spiel and focus on streamlining your content so it contains short useful nuggets of valuable information.

Your instinct will be to include all the information possible, but large amounts of information will put people off. First you need to provide them with something that they want, and then once hooked, guide them to organically discover how your product/service/idea can improve/help them.

Oh yeah, and caps locked subject lines reek of desperation. Don’t.

Keep it fresh.

They’re not wrong when they* say content is king. Make sure to keep it lively, interesting and avoid rehashing the last email content you sent. If you don’t, you’ll soon see your numbers drop off as people begin to associate your brand with unoriginal seen-before content.

Visual imagery is key to keeping it fresh; make sure it’s relevant to the content and enticing enough to gain their interest. Knowing your audience is even more important. It allows you to strike the right tone; because too in your face and people will turn away, too patronising and people will be offended and move on. There’s a fine balance, but once you find it, your campaign will soar.

*every author on the subject of content marketing in the last 12 months

Send when YOU feel it is right.

In this ever connected world, timing is no longer as important as it once was. Rather than trying to be in the right place at the right time (which is what everyone else will be doing), focus on being positively disruptive, take a tact that will make people look up and take notice.

Only you will know the behaviour and the interests of your target market, trust your instincts and send when you think it will have optimum effect and include what you know will pique their interest. Nine times out of ten you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

If you want to know more about email marketing, contact Paul at paul@westhill.co.uk.