Zoe-lee Skelton
Zoe-lee Skelton 13 May 2014
Categories Content, Email & eCRM

The Venerable Do's & Dont's of Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of your most powerful digital marketing tools because it connects you directly with your audience

Email marketing has been around for a long time, which may account for the common misconception that it’s an outdated medium. But let’s be clear from the outset; email marketing has evolved – and will continue to evolve – and as a result it’s one of your most powerful assets.


When used in conjunction with a robust content marketing strategy, email marketing can become a powerful promotional tool that can increase brand recognition, brand loyalty and also offer a solid return on investment.


Why do I love email?

Well, it’s because an email address is a direct line of communication with your prospects, offering businesses and service providers the opportunity to deliver highly customised, targeted content straight into the inbox of every person on their mailing list. As we all know, targeting and customisation of content is one of the first fundamental steps in moving down the sales funnel.


Constructing the perfect email marketing campaign is an art, so here’s a practical list of dos and don’ts to help you build a solid strategy. 


Do personalise emails

Everybody wants to feel loved. And brands should be looking to build relationships with each and every customer in their email list, to make them feel valued as a customer.


Here’s where personalisation counts; sending a Liverpool FC superfan the chance to win the latest Everton kit isn’t going to be well received.


Failing to customise content and appearing to miss the mark when it comes to online consumers’ preferences and interests will result in a big black mark against your brand’s name. A survey by Janrain and Harris Interactive revealed that:


“Nearly three-fourths (74%) of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content (e.g. offers, ads, promotions) appears that has nothing to do with their interests”


If you want to keep your open rates high and your email out of the trash bin, then personalisation is the key. In fact, personalised subject lines result in 22.2% higher open rate.


Here are some great tips for personalisation:



The first step in targeting is the segmentation of your email database list – this can be achieved by creating groups based upon demographics.


Get Personal

Once you’ve successfully segmented your lists. Create highly customised content that addresses the needs and preferences of each segment.


Crucially, targeting the right kind of content to each recipient on your mailing list will also keep subscribers engaged and more likely to keep opening your emails.


Do use automated lead intelligence

Automated follow-up emails are a great way to keep customers engaged and encourages return visits to your website.


Anyone can do this with the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Using CRM, you can collate information about your customers’ preferences and needs.


eCommerce websites use this tactic a lot, especially when a customer abandons a purchase. Even if a sale isn’t made, you can follow up the website visit with promotional offers relating to the products or services your customer was browsing.


This isn’t limited to eCommerce site. Businesses often send follow up emails to new newsletter subscribers or when a visitor downloaded something from their website. For example, when I recently downloaded an eBook from call tracking software company, Mediahawk. They sent through a follow up email about related blog content.


Do go mobile friendly

Browsing and reading emails via mobile devices is rapidly increasing. Today over half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, according to a recent litmus report.


At Receptional, over a quarter of our recipients are using mobile to open and read our emails.


With so many users opting for mobile, you need to make sure that your email campaigns translate well to smart phones and tablets; else you’ll be alienating a large chunk of your market.


Do track emails

So many marketers forget to track elements of their email campaigns. Tracking the metrics of your email campaigns such as open rates, bounce rates and unsubscribes can provide vital information about the success of your emails.

A good email marketing software platform will show you all of this information within the interface.


But the tracking doesn’t stop with open and click-through rates. You want to find out what email subscribers are doing on your website. The easiest way to do this is to link your email software with Google Analytics. Again, your email marketing software should enable this.


Once your tracking codes are in place, you can measure different metrics under the campaign tab in Google Analytics, including:


  • The number of enquires you’ve had as a result of each campaign you’re running
  • The number of website visits generated by each email campaign you’re running
  • The device used to read the email campaign you sent

This valuable data will help you to craft future campaigns, in terms of when is the best time of day to send email campaigns, the type of subject lines that achieve the best open-rates, and how to best arrange your content on the page to boost click-through rates.


Do not use spammy subject lines

There are certain words in email subject lines that will trigger the spam filter.

Popular email clients like Gmail, Hotmail and Outlook have in-built spam filters that have varying tolerance levels of certain words that tend to appear in spammy mail. Here’s a run-down of some of the most common words that will spur spambots


Using any of these spammy terms for a hard sell is an outdated marketing method that will make your brand appear to be untrustworthy.

Instead, it’s preferable to be succinct but enticing – consider mobile users and stick to less than 50 characters.


Do not forget about new tech: use videos in emails

Video content tends to be more enticing to users than any other type of content. So the fact that video is now easy to include in your email content is good news! Video is supported in most web app environments and as such, its use in email marketing is on the increase.


As with the use of images in your email, you should always have a text-based contingency for your video emails as there’s no telling how some email clients may filter your content.


A back-up image is one solution if your video fails to play, as employed by Nike’s “Run” campaign (see image at the bottom of the screen).


Do not over egg features and forget about benefits

If you’re selling a product or service, you want consumers to know how it will make their lives better or easier. So harping on about different features and forgetting to market the benefits is a definite no-no.


Do not forget the power of social media

Consumers should be considered as marketing medium entities themselves. That’s why you should never forget to include social media buttons in your email campaigns.


A social button also acts as a nudge to your subscribers, reminding them to engage with your brand on other platforms. This cross-platform engagement creates many more product placement opportunities with direct links to your website or product landing pages.


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