Tuesday, November 10, 2009


E-Mail Campaigns:

Don’t End Up in the Trash Bin

E-mail marketing is a fundamental element of online promotion. E-mails can be personalized, targeted, automated and even gussied up with template-based backgrounds and animated images. All good.

So, why do so many e-mail campaigns fall short of expectations? And, what can you do to enhance the success of your next e-mail series?

Manage Your Subscribers

Not all subscribers are alike. Some are opt-ins who look forward to your updates on new product listings and sale items. Some are previous customers. And some of those e-mail addresses ended up in your database simply because a visitor clicked on an in-bound link but bounced off the landing page. “Ooops, I clicked the wrong button.”

Managing this list of potential e-mail newsletter recipients is critical to the success of your next e-mail campaign. Most recipients are going to relegate your e-mail to the trash bin if you don’t target everything from the subject line text to the call to action.

Create Different Subject Line Text for Different Groups of Recipients

Create subject lines for each category of recipient. Opt-ins want to read what’s new so the prominent positioning of your company name is often enough to entice these eager readers. Sample subject lines:

BugsnSuch.com: Here’s this month’s issue of Ant Farming for Profit

BugsnSuch.com: The Latest News for Beekeepers

BugsnSuch.com: Huge Tarantula Sale Just for You

These’ll work for opt-ins who are into bugs ‘n’ such dot com.

Previous customers know you and, if they’ve had a good online buying experience with you, they might take a look to see what’s new. They may not open every e-mail you send but it’s reasonable to expect them to open some – if they aren’t buried under an avalanche of promos from your e-business.

If these previous buyers didn’t have a good buying experience (it happens, though you should make sure it doesn’t happen often) there’s little you can do to turn around this dissatisfied buying segment. There are simply too many other options to your site.

Sample subject lines for previous buyers:

bugsnsuch.com The arachnids miss you!

bugsnsuch.com Special sale for our best customers

bugsnsuch.com FREE gift for our valued regulars

Notice that the company name still takes the most prominent position in the subject line box. However, the following text is a little more specific – targeted at individuals in your database who have made a previous purchase.

Finally, for those recipients for whom you have little or no information, use the subject line to introduce your company.

bugsnsuch.com We want you to go buggy with us

bugsnsuch.com Make easy money as a worm farmer

bugsnsuch.com 50% off your first bug purchase

The Main Body

Keep it short and friendly, regardless of which group the recipient falls into. Even your most ardent customers aren’t going to sift through pages of hype so go with a soft sell approach and, again, keep it short.

Avoid long paragraphs. Break up the text into little, bite-sized pieces of actual information – a new product description, the terms of the special sale or an explanation of how to use the special sale code to save 50% at the checkout. Short and sweet. Don’t assume the reader has a long attention span. Most of us don’t these days.

Be sure to include a link. If it’s a general e-mail to unknown recipients, the link should be to your site’s home page. If the e-mail is introducing a new product, the link should take the reader to that product’s landing page within your site. In other words, don’t make the reader search for what you’re selling. You want them on the right page with a single click. That’s how you boost conversion ratios.

Provide contact information including a telephone number and a street address, as well. Potential buyers take comfort in knowing that you’re a real business and that they can call in case of problems.

Finally, close with a friendly call to action. Now, most site owners (and a lot of copywriters) think of a call to action as a strong sales pitch. It shouldn’t be. A good call to action should advise the reader what s/he should do next – to take action. Should they click, call, save the e-mail – what should they do right now? What is the expected action they should take? Answer those questions in your call to action and you’ll see a much better return on your e-mail efforts.

Track Results

Using basic site metrics analysis software and e-mail coding, you’ll be able to tell which e-mail pulls the best with the different categories of recipients. Obviously if one e-mail pulls 8% (that’s pretty good) keep using it rather than the text that only pulled 0.5% (not so good).

Build on a good thing. Once you’ve got an example of an e-mail that pulls well, analyze it from the customers point of view. What appealed to the reader to make that call or click that link? Low prices? Quality goods? What, in the e-mail, brands you as a worthwhile source of products and information?

Refine the strong points through revision. A single, product description may result in a major jump in sales. Okay, use that information to refine your e-mail and site text following that model of success.

Be Judicious

No one wants to see junk e-mail day after day, even from a preferred retailer. We see marketing in the newspaper, on TV and billboards, we hear the same jingle over and over on the radio – we’ve become numb to marketing. Thank goodness for the TV remote. Channel surfing has become an art thanks to promotion overload. How many times can you sit through the same commercial?

Undertake every e-mail campaign with care. Don’t be a pest. Send personalized, follow up e-mails to respondents, not the automated, “do not reply” type of e-mail. You want the reader to reply again and again.

However, also note that respondents are more approachable and therefore more open to frequent e-mails. Non-respondents may just become annoyed at the “all-too-frequent” appearance of your company name in their inboxes, so these prospective buyers should receive e-mails less frequently than those who do respond to previous e-mails.

It’s a matter of degree. Even too much of a good thing is still too much. E-mail campaigns can be extremely effective when targeted at different categories of buyers, and the e-mail itself actually has something to offer in the way of information or purchase savings.

If you keep sending them hard-sell hype, they’re going to keep sending your e-mails to the trash bin. Remember, it only takes a click to read your e-mail. It also only takes a click to send it to the trash bin.

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