Even the savviest online marketer can get caught in the pitfalls of email marketing. With so many opportunities for failure in this particular medium, it is important to have a firm grasp on what it takes to create messages that are both linguistically and aesthetically pleasing by paying attention to design, layout and other essential elements that work in harmony to complement your targeted marketing text. Think hard when creating these vital tools for customer interaction to better engage your customers and prospective customers, increase your ratio for opened emails, clicked links and ultimately, conversions, sales and revenue improvement.
Cut the Fat!
Each and every mailer you send out should contain content that is informative and relevant, but it should also push the reader to act - inspire the reader to interact in some way either by reading, clicking, purchasing or sharing. One way to ensure that your mailers are designed for success is through the use of click heat maps. A click heat map is a tool that will help you to realize where and when your customers are clicking on the message - either on links, to scroll or to read the text. This will help you to improve your layout and increase the response to your call to action by removing all non-essential links, text and elements from the page. By removing these distractions you will keep the focus on what really counts and will improve your conversion ratio. If you really get into it, you can track what time of day your email is read and what day of the week is King, and schedule your mailing to coincide with these results – because to some degree we each serve a different demographic.
Imagine and Build a Strong Design
When you create your mailer you need to make sure to design a strong presence for your brand. A good rule of thumb is to leave an appropriate amount of white space, use color as an accent (not as a background or text color) and utilize strong borders to set the tone. This will help to keep your readers' eyeballs glued to the screen without distracting them with loud colors, designs or "too much information" crammed into a single section or area within the mailer. You want to avoid the cluttered look and you want your mailer to be organized and structured for easier reading.
Don't Forget Mobile!
It is important to ensure that your mobile subscribers will be able to read your mailer just as easily as your email subscribers. Make sure to use all the W3C (www.w3.org) compliant features for your project development including alt tags, and keep your email less than 600 pixels in width. For easier navigation, make sure to include any key messaging in the upper left-hand corner. Turn to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for self-adjusting image sizes and text that will allow you to optimize your mailings for smartphones and other mobile devices.
Navigation Must Be Easy
Further to the tips above, touch screen tablets are another issue that have created new challenges for email marketers. Thinking ahead about the placement of the hyperlinks within your mailer - making sure they aren't too close to one another for fingertip navigation - is always a good idea. Using clickable blocks of content that are well-spaced from one another is usually a smart way to design for this demographic.
Study Proper Text-Image Ratio
Many of today's spam filters will automatically block a message that has a low text to image ratio, preventing many of your customers from receiving your mailer to see your latest promotion. There are some marketing platform programs available that can help you to score your mailer for spam - alerting you if your text to image ratio is off. In a best case scenario you should have approximately 3200 bytes of text, giving you a text to image ratio of 30:70. Make sure to optimize your images to ensure that they are as small as possible to help you to achieve this optimum ratio.
Observe Caution with Video
Video can be a major asset, but overdoing it on video can ruin even the best planned mailer campaign. There are a lot of creative ways to highlight your video content via tutorials and demos of products. However, many email clients block users from receiving video via email, so you need to think outside the box. You can include a player image that will link to a video on your website and perform a traffic test to determine whether or not your readers are clicking through to watch the video. It is important to test this carefully to see if your readers are interacting with it or if it is just a wasted link.
The Pre-Header Text
If you utilize the pre-header text feature you can make sure that all users - including Smart Phone users - will see the text that you want them to see and not the default "View as Web Page" text. You can use this spot as a brief promotional area or as a header to state the purpose of your mailer to recipients. This will help someone that is receiving your mailer via their mobile device to quickly see what you are offering as a complement to your subject line text.
Add Some User-Generated Content
People love to read real reviews written by real consumers - it really helps them to make a more confident decision on a purchase than just going on the product description or sales hype. By including user-generated content that has been posted by your other customers, you will draw your readers into your social media pages, encourage them to interact with the website and products, and will increase your conversions in the process. User-generated posts, comments and reviews will give your products - and your website - a lot more credibility. Avoid short cuts and faking this – it’s more obvious than you think and you’ll lose credibility…
Innovate Including Social Networking
Speaking of social media and user-generated content, it's a good idea to integrate your social media pages such as Facebook and Twitter into your mailer. You can do this quickly and easily just by placing a social icon into your mailer - or you can add action text such as "like us on Facebook" or "follow us on Twitter" into your promotional text. Just make sure to test the results of your social media integration in your mailers to find out if icons, text or placement of these links works better one way over another.
Don't Forget to Add an Unsubscribe Link ;-D
Nothing generates user frustration more than not being able to unsubscribe from an email program. Making your "unsubscribe" link or button clear and obvious also gives your readers confidence in your business and will help to decrease the number of spam complaints that you receive. Make sure to place the link in the same spot in every mailer - preferably at the bottom of the email near your contact information. You should also consider adding links such as "change e-mail address" for those who don't want to unsubscribe but need to change where the emails are sent, and an "update preferences" link that will allow your readers to change the frequency of the mailers they receive.
Now once again, get busy!