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Email Composition Best Practices

AUDIENCE: 
OBJECTIVES:

Email Best Practices

  • Most recipients use the From Header to determine whether to open your email
  • Your GOAL is to have the email opened, which will increase your email open rate
  • You want to be recognized so you are not reported as SPAM
  • Ask yourself how your audience is most likely to recognize you and then craft your from line to include that information.

For example:

  • Your Name (Only use if your audience is familiar with you)
    • Your Business Name
    • Your Name and Business Name (Michelle – Act-On Software)
  • Create an email From address that identifies who you are and what you’re sending:
    • Newsletter: newsletter@companyname.com
    • Coupons: coupons@companyname.com
    • Event Invitation: event_invite@companyname.com
    • Announcement: announcement@companyname.com
  • A Subject line gives your audience a hint at the content of your email
  • Over 30% of people use the Subject line to determine whether or not to open an email.
  • The goal of a Subject line is to prompt your audience to open the message to look for specific information.
  • Clearly and accurately describe the content of the email - Relevancy is key.
  • Highlight the immediate benefit of opening the email
  • Create a sense of urgency with a specific statement
  • Include Personalization - Using a name or user name in a subject line will improve open rates as users typically assume that this email has come from a trusted source.
  • Using a name or user name within the content of the email itself improves conversion rates and has the added benefit of creating brand loyalty with the user.
  • Excessive punctuation !!#@$??
  • Symbols such as $$$$ or *****
  • WORDS IN ALL CAPITALS
  • Using RE:
  • Vague subject lines:
    • Hey you
    • Check this out!
  • Test Subject lines with A/B testing to determine the most effective ones (i.e., those resulting in the most opens)
  • Most email programs display only the first 30-50 characters in the - Keep subject lines to 50 characters or less.
  • Subject line (20-30 for mobile devices), so keep subject lines short
  • Avoid busy background images that make your text hard to read
  • Use small images and link them to larger images on your Web site so interested people can view your images in more detail
  • Make sure your images support the text in your email instead of including generic image
  • Limit your image use to one image per article or offer
  • Use alternative text for your images

Keep your emails around 600 pixels wide at its maximum width (messages designed in the new composer will default to 600px). This will allow your emails to display properly within most email clients.

  • Allows people whose ESP automatically blocks images (i.e., Gmail) to know what images are in an email, so they are more apt to download the images
  • Reading devices read alt text so a visually impaired person knows what images are in the email
  • Some people set their email to render text only, so alt text will allow them to know what images are associated to the text content
<img src="http://cdnci38.actonsoftware.com/acton/attachment/5277/f-000c/1/-/-/-/-/image.png" alt="This is the text that goes with the image">

Email How-To's

  1. Plan your email marketing campaigns

    For each email campaign that you create, you should create a simple plan that specifies: the target buyer, what your email will offer recipients, the delivery date(s), and key objectives.

  2. Develop your email list

    Before you can create and send a marketing email, you need to have a list of people who have signed up to receive email from you. There are a number of list-building techniques you can use such as asking people to subscribe to your newsletter, or offering content they want enough to fill out a form to get it. Be wary of buying lists; if they’re not scrupulously maintained, they may contain spam traps or other types of bad addresses that can jeopardize your email sending reputation.

  3. Identify a target buyer and segment your database

    The most successful marketing emails target a specific type of buyer with a specific offer that is highly relevant. Identify the target buyer, then segment your database accordingly. This will allow you to develop an appropriate recipient list for the email.

  4. Create a compelling offer for the email

    The offer is the most important part of your email. It’s what you offer your prospects so that they’ll open your email and visit your landing page. Offers that are really valuable to prospects convert at a high rate. Offers that are not valuable waste the recipient’s time and could cause them to unsubscribe.

  5. Write your copy and design your email

    Email copy should describe your offer and its benefits. Keep your copy simple and specific. Your subject line should create an expectation that your copy and call-to-action fulfill. The design of your email should make it easy for recipients to digest its contents and should highlight the call-to-action to click through to your landing page. Make sure someone with fresh eyes reviews your copy so typos don’t slip through.

  6. Send your email

    After you’ve created your email, you can send it to the target list. There are a number of best practices on the best times to send emails detailed later in the course. It’s also important to adhere to deliverability best practices so that your email is delivered to people’s inboxes and not relegated to the spam folder.

  7. Manage your subscribers

    While the goal of your email is to get recipients to take an action that moves them closer to a purchase, some subscribers will want to unsubscribe completely, or control how much email they receive from you. Make sure you provide subscribers with an opportunity to do this.

  8. Measure and optimize your email’s performance

    You can measure your campaign’s performance by tracking four primary metrics. You should track the number of people who receive your email, open your email, click through to your landing page, and complete the form on that landing page.

  9. Understand the technology that will support your email campaign

    If you’re acquiring a system, detail your email marketing requirements and then identify the technology you’ll need to meet those requirements. If you’re using a technology already in place, make sure to familiarize yourself with it thoroughly

10 Steps to Building Your Email List

  1. Establish a list-building target

    Building an email list is a numbers game. Establish a monthly target for the number of emails you’d like to collect each month, and increase this number each month.

  2. Identify your target prospect

    As a marketer, you have a target buyer in mind. It’s important to focus your list-building efforts on this target so that when you run email marketing campaigns, you see conversion rates that allow you to hit your lead generation and revenue targets.

  3. Specify the data you need to collect

    When building your email list, one of the most important things you can do is specify the data that you need to collect. The data you collect depends on your business and target market. Some marketers collect only a small amount of information like the person’s name and email address. Others collect additional information such as company name and title. Whatever data you choose to collect, remember that the email address is most important and that any additional information you collect will likely reduce the sign-up conversion rate.

  4. Decide where you’ll store your data

    You’ll need to determine where to store your data. There are many good options; you don’t need to be a database expert to manage your email list. Just make sure that the technology you use is capable of storing the data you collect and will allow you to view the data by different factors, and segment it into smaller lists according to some factor, without changing the master list.

  5. Leverage existing email addresses

    If you’re an established business, you likely already have some prospect and customer email addresses. These may exist in your email account, a CRM system, or a CSV file somewhere. In many cases, you can use these email addresses to seed your email database.

  6. Create offers that will incent people to give you their email

    Most people won’t just give you their email address without a reason. You’ll need to offer them something in return. The most commonly used offer when building a list is to give people access to your newsletter. Other common offer types include white papers and online events. If you’re selling a product, you can offer follow-up support or warranty information.

  7. Establish your opt-in policy

    The opt-in is a critical part of email marketing. While it’s important to get prospects to opt-in to receive emails to avoid running afoul of spam laws, the opt-in is also an essential part of making prospects feel like you are creating a relationship with them. You’ll need to decide whether you’ll use a single or double opt-in. A single opt-in simply requires a prospect to provide their email address. The prospect will then start receiving email from you. A double opt-in requires the prospect to enter their email address, causing a confirmation email to be sent. The prospect must then click on a link in the confirmation email to confirm that they signed up.

  8. Create and publish your sign-up forms

    There are a variety of different forms you can use to gather email addresses. One common type is a sign-up form that runs in the right rail of your website asking people to sign up for something, such as your newsletter. Another common type is a lightbox form that pops up when someone is visiting a page on your website.

  9. Thank and welcome your new subscribers

    A simple best practice when building your list is to send a thank you or welcome email to prospects after they sign up. Create a trigger email so this happens quickly and automatically. This allows you to start building a relationship with the prospect right away and sets the tone for future emails that they will receive from you.

  10. Measure and optimize the sign-up process

    Building an email list is a never-ending process that can always be improved. Make sure you track conversion rates for the sign-up forms you use. Test different offers, copy, and form designs to see if you can improve the number of email addresses you’re able to collect in a given week or month.

  1. Review the key targets in your email marketing plan

    To target and segment your database, you’ll need to review the target prospect for your campaign. Remember that email marketing campaigns almost always perform better when they target a specific type of prospect or buyer.

  2. Access your database

    You’ll need access to the database that contains information about your prospects. In some cases, this is simply a spreadsheet or CSV file. In other cases, this data may reside in your CRM system. Some companies have standalone databases that contain prospect data. Whatever the case, make sure you get access to this data.

  3. Understand what’s in your database

    Before you being your segmentation efforts, determine what fields are in the database. Examples of common fields include: first name, last name, company name, email address, phone number, role, and number of employees.

  4. Map your data to your buyer personas

    You should also determine whether you have the data you need to segment the database around the personas that you think are important to the business. Most marketers have enough data to get started with some simple segmentation or can start with no segmentation at all. But in some cases, you will want to add some additional data to your prospect database.

  5. Choose how you will segment your database

    With an understanding of the data that’s available to you, there are a number of different segmentation techniques you can use. Some are demographic in nature and involve segmenting around attributes lsuch as industry, role, or geography. Others are behavioral and segment around past behavior such as whether the prospect filled out a particular form, visited a specific web page, or attended a webinar.

  6. Start with simple segmentation

    Start with a single target that’s based on one simple piece of data. For example, you might choose to only send this email to prospects in a certain geographical area. You might also send the email to prospects in a certain industry. You can move on to more advanced segmentation techniques later, but for now, stick to one target based on one piece of data.

  7. Move on to more advanced segmentation

    Once you have the hang of some of the simple techniques available, you can move on to more advanced forms. You can segment based on a prospect’s previous behavior. For example, if the person hasn’t opened an email in more than 12 months, you might send them an email that contains a valuable offer. You can also combine variables such as demographic and behavioral characteristics. For example, you might send a welcome email to prospects from the retail industry that have recently signed up on your site. The email would include retail-specific messaging and reference existing customers of yours from the retail industry.

  8. Start thinking about an offer related to the target segment

    Now that you have a target segment created, it’s time to start thinking about what you can offer them to drive the highest conversion rates possible. Remember that you want the recipients of your email to open the message, read it, click through to your landing page, and fill out the form on that page. Having an offer that’s relevant to the target segment is critical to achieving high conversion rates across all these areas.

  1. Conduct a brainstorming session on the offer

    What will you offer recipients of your email? Remember that your offer isn’t necessarily your product. Common email offers include newsletters, white papers, online events, pricing discounts, and free trials of your product.

  2. Remember your target audience

    When you’re creating your offer, refer back to the target list of recipients who will receive the email. Who are they? What do they want? What are their priorities right now? Answering these questions will help you develop an offer that converts at a high rate.

  3. Determine how valuable the offer is to the prospect

    Make sure that the offer delivers sufficient value to entice the prospect to click through to the landing page and provide you with the information you’re asking for on that page. Your offer is usually the key determinant of whether your email campaign will drive enough opens, click-throughs, and landing page form submissions. Each of these conversions is critical to the success of your campaign.

  4. Map the offer to where the prospect is in the purchasing process

    Some offers target buyers when they are just starting their buying cycle. Other offers sit deeper in the funnel and are designed to push the buyer to a final purchasing decision.

  5. Make sure the offer moves prospects closer to the point of purchase

    Strong offers not only convert at a high rate; they also move prospects further down the funnel and closer to purchasing your product. Offers that move a prospect from awareness to consideration to purchase are the most powerful of all.

  6. Make sure that prospects will understand the offer

    The offer should be understandable in three seconds or less. In the world of email marketing, you have limited real estate to work with and little time to capture interest, which means you need to make sure that your email subject line and headline capture the essence of the offer and associated benefits. You want prospects to be able to understand the offer just by reading the email subject line.

  7. If the offer doesn’t already exist, you’ll need to create it

    When first starting out, you should use an offer that doesn’t require a lot of work. Offers in the form of content such as a newsletter, white paper, or online event are usually the easiest to create. Other offers like trial versions of the product often require product development work and may take longer to create.

  8. Make sure that you can deliver the offer to the prospect

    Make sure that you can deliver the offer to the prospect once they’ve filled out the landing page form. For example, if the offer is a newsletter, you’ll need a mechanism to add the prospect’s email address to your newsletter database and email the prospect the newsletter whenever it’s published.

  1. Review the offer, its benefits, and key messages

    Remember that your primary objective when writing copy is to describe the benefits of the offer in such a way that recipients of your email will open it, visit your landing page, and complete the landing page form. As such, your copy needs to describe the offer and the benefits it will deliver.

  2. Identify the elements of your email that will require copy

    Some common elements that require copy include: your email’s subject line, the first sentence, a description of the offer, specific bullet points, the call-to-action, and social proof points such as customer testimonials.

  3. Whenever possible, use your customers to help you with copywriting

    Creating copy that uses the voice of the customer is one of the most powerful copywriting techniques available. Ask yourself, how would my customers describe this offer? You can find lots of great copy in existing customer testimonials or by running a quick survey to collect customer quotes.

  4. Create a consistent voice for your emails

    You will likely send multiple emails to your prospect list so it’s important to develop a consistent voice and tone for your email copy. When developing this voice, try to find the intersection between your brand and what your prospects want. It could be fun, but it could also be authoritative. It’s really up to you. Use this voice when writing your email copy so that your subscribers become familiar with your emails.

  5. When writing your email copy, use power words

    Power words include words such as “you,” “free,” “new,” and “instant.” Use these words to describe the value your offer will deliver to the prospect.

  6. Use plain language to describe the offer

    When copywriting your email, you should use plain language. Remember that a recipient needs to understand what you’re offering by glancing at the email (and the subject line before they even open the email) in three seconds or less. Keep sentences short, and active.

  7. Keep email copy short and sweet

    People want to be able to read emails quickly so keep your email copy short. A great trick to keep email copy short is to create a first draft and then set a goal of reducing the number of words by 50% for the final draft.

  8. Pay close attention to the email subject line

    Create an email subject line that details the compelling benefits the recipient will receive if they open the email. Your email subject line is the key determinant of your campaign’s performance (if no one opens your email, conversions such as click-through and form submission rates will be irrelevant). Make sure you draft at least three subject lines for each email you create and ask co-workers which one they find most compelling.

  9. Write the first sentence of your email

    Once a prospect has opened your email, the opening sentence becomes critically important. It determines whether a recipient will spend more time reading the email or simply discard it.

  10. Write one to three short paragraphs

    Try to keep your email copy to three short paragraphs or less. A good starting point is to describe the offer at a high level in the first paragraph, provide offer details in the second paragraph (preferably via bullet points), and ask the reader to take an action in the third paragraph. These paragraphs need to be short and easy to understand. Keep the reading level low, sentences short, and use active sentences and verbs as opposed to passive ones.

  11. Use bullets to list specific benefits of the offer

    People like to consume content in list form, so develop three bullets that provide prospects with an understanding of three benefits they will receive via your offer. Incorporate these bullet points into the main body of the email.

  12. Write the copy for your email call-to-action button

    Your email call-to-action asks the recipient of the email to click a button that will take them to your landing page. Button copy can have a significant impact on conversion rates, so pay close attention to it. Avoid using the word “submit” in the button and instead use copy like “Download Your Content Now.”

  13. Write copy for other email elements

    There are a number of other elements that will require copy including the greeting (personalize this using the first name of the recipient), the sender address (send your emails from a personal address if possible), and the signature (again, the email should be signed by a real person).

  14. Develop a copy-centric mockup of the email

    Develop a simple, copy-centric mockup of the landing page so that you can see how the copy will look when laid out on the page. Don’t worry too much about visual design, but do pay attention to relative placement on the page and font treatments.

  15. Conduct a quick review of the copy

    Have a handful of your co-workers review the copy to make sure that it articulates a clear benefit, uses plain language, provides specifics, and contains no mistakes. Pay close attention to how easy the content is to read.

  1. Create and manage an email marketing calendar

    The first step to sending emails is to create a calendar that governs when you send emails. It should include every email that you plan to send to your list, including emails about newsletters, white papers, events, and special promotions. Try to schedule at least the next 30 days of email sends mapped out in your calendar.

  2. Use an experienced email service provider (ESP)

    Sending emails is a technology-intensive endeavor, so make sure you use a proven ESP. While you need technology to manage many different elements of email marketing, one of the most important areas of functionality is the actual sending of emails. A good technology provider can help manage key metrics like deliverability.

  3. Target a specific type of prospect with each email you send

    Most of the emails you send should target a specific type of prospect in your database. Look to target prospects based on demographic traits such as industry or title. You can also target based on past behaviors such as whether they’ve attended a recent event or not. For more information on targeting, see the section on targeting and segmenting your database.

  4. Send emails at a consistent frequency

    You should establish a frequency that sets expectations with prospects around how frequently they will receive email from you. A good starting frequency is to send prospects and email once per week. For example, over a month-long period, you might send your monthly newsletter in week one, a webinar announcement in week two, a white paper announcement in week three, and a special promotion at the end of the month.

  5. Send emails at a consistent time

    You should also send emails at a consistent time. While there’s no right or wrong answer here, research suggests that sending emails when people are arriving at work or returning from lunch increases open rates. Regardless of the exact time you pick, sending email at a consistent time will help set an expectation with prospects around when they can expect your emails. This consistency helps increase conversion rates. Test once in a while to make sure the timing is still right.

  6. Avoid email overload

    One of the biggest complaints among email recipients is that they receive too many emails. There are two factors that contribute to the email overload problem: First, you need to make sure that you don’t send too frequently. A weekly frequency is a good middle ground for marketers and email recipients. Second, make sure that you don’t send same email over and over. If you do need to promote the same offer more than once via email, invest a little bit of time to change copy and creative.

  7. Use lead nurturing

    Thanks to marketing automation and lead nurturing, you can now specify the sequence of emails that a prospect will receive over a period of time. For example, after someone downloads a white paper on your site, you might define a lead nurturing flow that sends them a follow up email asking if they’d like to connect 7, 14, and 21 days after the download. Some marketers find lead nurturing to be complicated, but there are some simple nurturing flows you can start with and it’s a very powerful marketing technique.

  8. Remember that deliverability is critical

    Email deliverability is critical to the success of your email marketing efforts. That’s because if your email isn’t delivered to the prospect’s inbox, not much else can happen. Make sure that you use a technology provider who can ensure high deliverability rates for you.

  9. Practice good deliverability housekeeping

    There are two important best practices you can use to make sure your emails are delivered to recipients’ inboxes. First, make sure you are sending emails to people who signed up to receive emails from you. Second, make sure that your emails and offers are engaging. There are other, more technical considerations to be aware of when it comes to deliverability. Your technology provider should help you manage the more technical factors like spam traps and blacklists.

  10. Track performance carefully

    Always track the performance of your email sends. There are numerous metrics that will tell you whether your most recent send was a success or now. For more information on this, see the section on metrics and optimization.

  1. Map the subscriber lifecycle

    The first step in managing your subscribers is to understand the complete subscriber lifecycle. The best way to do this is to list the specific steps that a subscriber experiences when they opt-in to your email list. You should map common steps like: initial sign up, welcome/thank you email, marketing emails that the subscriber will receive, and the unsubscribe step. Some marketers like to create visual representations of the lifecycle, but a simple list will suffice in most cases.

  2. Optimize how someone becomes a subscriber

    The subscriber lifecycle starts when someone opts in to receiving emails from you. It’s important that you create a sign-up experience that converts lots of visitors to your website to subscribers. You should use compelling offers, well-designed forms, and a solid opt-in policy to drive a large number of new subscribers each month. These practices are discussed in more detail in the section on building your email list.

  3. Identify who the subscriber is

    It’s also important to understand the types of people that are subscribing to your emails. There’s little value in signing up a bunch of people who don’t fit one of your target buyer personas. Spend some time doing a qualitative analysis of new subscribers to determine whether your products and services will be of value to them.

  4. Send subscribers valuable offers

    One of the most important factors in managing your subscribers is to make sure that the emails you send are valuable to them. Before you send an email, ask yourself if your subscribers will find this valuable. Value-add content that helps a prospect do their job better is an example of providing real value to your subscribers via email.

  5. Determine the frequency with which you’ll send emails

    You’ll need to decide how often you will send emails as part of your subscriber management efforts. Remember that blasting your prospects with too many emails is a surefire way to have a lot of people unsubscribe from your list. Sending one email per week is often a good place to start.

  6. Tailor upcoming emails based on past behavior

    You should track your subscribers’ activities and tailor upcoming emails based on them. For example, some of your prospects might find a white paper on a certain topic particularly interesting. In an effort to improve engagement, you could them an email that invites them to an upcoming webinar on the same topic.

  7. Manage inactive subscribers proactively

    Many of your subscribers won’t do anything in response to the emails you send to them. These are called inactive subscribers and you need to manage them proactively. For example, if after a year, a subscriber hasn’t even opened one of your emails, you should try to reactivate them by sending a compelling offer. If they still don’t take action, send them one final email notifying them that you are unsubscribing them from your emails unless they tell you not to.

  8. Let prospects manage their subscription

    Prospects should be able to manage their subscription with you through what’s often called the subscription center. There are usually two parts to this. First, they need to be able to decide what kinds of content they want to receive from you. For example, some subscribers may only want to receive your newsletter and not special promotions. Second, they need to be able to manage the frequency with which they receive emails from you. Many prospects don’t want to receive an email from you every day, but would like to receive an email once a week.

  9. Allow prospects to unsubscribe

    People will unsubscribe from your email list. In fact, it’s not uncommon for 30% of subscribers to opt out of a list in any given year. You should make it easy for people to unsubscribe through a link in the footer of the emails that you send to them, as well as one in the subscription center.

  10. Pay attention to legal issues

    Every country has laws and regulations affecting email. In the United States, the CAN-SPAM Act sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. Read the CAN-SPAM Compliance Guide. Other countries’ laws vary. Make sure you know what they are and abide by them. Consult your legal counsel for specifics or questions.

  11. Track metrics to identify performance issues.

    There are a number of metrics to track to determine how well you’re managing your subscribers. First, track the number of new sign-ups you receive to make sure you’re actually growing your list.. Second, track your deliverability rate. Third, measure both open rates and click-through rates to evaluate how your subscribers value the emails you send them.. Finally, track the unsubscribe rate to see the pace at which you’re losing subscribers.

  1.  Identify the campaign your email will support

    Your marketing emails can support different marketing and sales campaigns. These might be getting prospects to download a white paper, sign up for an event, or contact sales. Regardless of the specific campaign, the objective is almost always to turn the recipient of your email into a lead.

  2. Specify your operational metrics

    Operational metrics gaugeemail marketing campaign performance. Commonly tracked metrics include: the number of emails sent, the number of emails actually delivered, the bounce rate, the open rate, the click-through rate, and the unsubscribe rate. Each of these metrics is important for its own reason, but you should pay particular attention to the number of emails delivered, open rates, and click-through rates. It’s important to set targets for these metrics and try to meet them.

  3. Specify your strategic metrics

    Strategic metrics tell you how your emails are impacting business factors such as pipeline size and revenue. Start by tracking the number of leads generated by each marketing email you send; later move on to more advanced metrics like the total pipeline opportunity created. Again, set targets for these metrics and optimize your emails until you’re meeting them.

  4. Collect and analyze data for a “control” email

    With a set of operational and strategic metrics defined, you can start collecting data that tells you how your email is performing. When it comes to tracking performance, the first version of your email is called your “control”, or “A”, page. As you create new, optimized versions of the email, the control is the baseline that you’ll use for comparisons. Refer back to your original targets and make sure that you are in the right ballpark. If not, it may be time to revisit some email fundamentals such as the subject line and offer.

  5. Develop a second version of the email

    With some data from your control email, you can now create a second email. This second, or “B”, email is critical to understanding which of your emails best meets your target metrics. Your B email should change one specific element that you think will improve the performance of your email. High-impact changes you can make include modifying the subject line, the first sentence of the email, and color of the call-to-action button.

  6. Run an A/B test that compares the two emails

    Now you can start tracking the performance of the B email. You’ll want to compare its performance against the performance of the A email. Make sure you can understand the relative performance of each email across open rates and click-through rates in particular.

  7. Choose an A/B test winner

    Testing an A and B version of an email is designed to allow you to identify the highest performing email. Once you’ve identified the best performing one, make that your new control email.

  8. Continue optimizing your email with new A/B tests

    Now that you have a new control email, you should develop a new, B email that you can use to run another A/B test. It’s essentially the same exercise – you’re going to test new subject lines, calls-to-action, and offers. You can also test colors, placement, images, copy length, etc.

  9. Never stop optimizing your marketing emails

    You should never stop optimizing the performance of your emails. Email marketing is a metrics-driven field that requires you to constantly collect metrics and test new optimizations.

  1. Create marketing assets for your offer

    Before you create your email, think about the offer and make sure that the relevant content is either uploaded to Act-On (such as a datasheet, whitepaper, or case study) or has been created (such a landing page and form for webinar registration). This will allow you to incorporate that marketing asset into your email campaign. Learn more about creating forms or landing pages.

  2. Segmentation for higher email success

    Once you have decided on your email topic, determine your target audience and use segmentation to group individuals with those attributes . In some cases, the email will be sent to multiple lists and/or segments.

  3. Select how you want to compose your email message

    Decide if you want to create the contents of your email message from scratch, use a copy from a draft, a template, or a previously sent message, or upload your own HTML code.

  4. Determine the overall outline for the email

    Decide on the From and Reply To addresses. Names of people are more personal and more effective than a company name. Select the stationery, logo, font and font size and any padding for your email content. Make sure to include an appropriate subject line for your email message. To automatically suppress the appropriate group based on subscription management, select your Subscription Category, if applicable. Finally, determine which header and footer to use.

  5. Composing the email

    In Step 1, use the Smart Content Blocks to create your offer, keeping in mind the copywriting essentials. Make sure to link to your marketing assets for tracking purposes. For details about creating emails in Act-On, click here.

  6. Testing the email

    Send out a test message and review it thoroughly to make sure images are being rendered, links are working correctly, and if applicable, form submissions are being collected in the right areas (either within Act-On only or inside your CRM also). Consider sending iyour test email to multiple people and to multiple email clients. Sending a test email can be done in either Step 1 or Step 4 of the Act-On Message Builder.

  7. Addressing the email

    In Step 2, select the lists/segments/individuals you want to send the email to. In the same step, you can also select suppression lists.

  8. Reviewing the email

    Take advantage of all the options available in Step 3 of the message builder. Run a validation check to make sure all key elements are included in your email. The validation process also helps to make sure your email is CAN-SPAM compliant. Check for any personalization errors. Use the Preview feature to see the email the way the recipient will see it. Check your email against Spam Assassin’s spam filter validations. Consider making edits if any infractions are listed. Lastly, make sure to check your account limits.

  9. Sending the email

    Step 4 of the message builder allows you to determine when you want to send out the email.

    Note on A/B testing: If you want to test the effectiveness of your copy, consider using the A/B Testing feature. After your email has been sent, make sure to review the message reports, analyze the data, and determine a course of action for a subsequent follow-up email.

List Management/Database Best Practices

Create segments in your lists that reflect specific behaviors i.e. downloaded white paper, lead score greater than xx value. The idea is to create more specific email content relevant to the segment created in order to yield increased open and clickthrough rates.

Example: You could create a segment of a list specifically for all those customers that have visited your pricing page on your website in the last 14 days.
Example: Create a segment of all those prospects in a certain list with a behavior score greater than 30 that also  downloaded the application .pdf in your media library in the last 14 days.

Clean Your Lists

Keep your lists clean. Keep them free of duplicate addresses bounces and opt-outs.

Build Opt-in lists

Focus on building your own lists via an opt-in campaign. Building your own list protects your reputation and gives you control over your list management procedures.

When emailing to a rented or purchased list, one of your main objectives should be to encourage those contacts to subscribe to your list. These lists usually have less than a one percent conversion rate, but if you offer the recipients an easy way to opt-in to your list you can identify and capture targeted leads even if they don’t want to take advantage of your current offer.

Example: You could create a link for subscription preference in your footer where it launches to a form that they can fill out and select which campaign they wouldn’t mind receiving emails on in the future.

 

Mobile Email Best Practices

Fonts should be set larger than in traditional emails. iOS (apple) has a minimum size of 13pixels font size and will automatically adjust anything under. Body text should be at least 14pixles and headlines should be approx. 22px.

iOS will zoom to automatically scale to fit your message where most other mobile platforms will not and will require the user to scroll left to right to view the message. Width should be between 320px-550px wide.

Put the call to action front and center and don’t be afraid to make the button big. It should be obvious and tappable with a minimum size of 44x44px.

Less can be more in mobile marketing. Screen real estate on mobile devices is rare so consider simplifying complex pre-headers; navigation bars social sharing and calls to action to keep design clean and simple.

Image blocking happens in mobile marketing just like regular email marketing. The only mobile platform that doesn’t block is iOS (apple); in other platforms there will be a prompt to turn images on. Use images carefully and be sure they are balanced by plenty of html text.

While newsletters are presented in 2 or 3 column format, mobile emails should use a 1-column format. This “skinny” approach accommodates smaller screens and can help increase legibility.

Buttons don’t offer “hover” states so you need to find creative ways to visually indicate that links and buttons are clickable. You can try outlines, subtle shadows and other effects.

Make sure to increase font sizes, line spacing, buttons sizes and white space to give your design breathing room and allow for fat-finger errors.

Mobile users usually hold their device in one hand and use their thumb to navigate. Since reaching across the screen can be difficult keep important buttons, images and other linkables within easy reach.

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