Special Section: Best Practices for Email Marketing Success
Despite all the buzz around social media, mobile apps, tablets and "the cloud," email is arguably the king of the online marketing mountain. Since around 1993, email has demonstrated a unique ability to connect with both new and current customers in a way no other channel can. In fact, according to ExactTarget, more than 93 percent of online consumers have provided their email address to at least one company or brand. Unfortunately, all email marketing isn't the same. Some companies do email marketing right, while others do it miserably wrong. When planning your next email marketing program, incorporate these three best practices to do it right:
1. Honor your subscribers’ unique preferences. An email preference center is the hub of subscriber personalization and an important means to improve your deliverability and return on investment. Each customer or prospect provides their preferred email address, frequency, content type and mode of delivery in the preference center. It's a place where users can opt in, opt out, opt down or take a break from receiving your emails. A preference center is the best learning tool available to you to deliver relevant information and support subscriber engagement. After susbscribers give you their preferences, make sure to honor those preferences and never waiver.
2. Focus on design. Design your emails according to how your audience is going to be viewing them (e.g., desktop vs. mobile vs. tablets, etc.) and with the purpose of the email (e.g., newsletter, offer, alert, etc.) in mind. Test the design across multiple email clients and devices to ensure it renders correctly. Include high-value content above the fold to ensure it's seen in the preview pane, particularly for devices with smaller resolutions. Be sure images support copy and not the other way around (i.e., don't replace copy, but make sure it's succinct). Finally, avoid spam triggers in text such as misspelled words, repetitive copy, attachments and forms.
3. Integrate your email program across marketing channels. Email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS and other marketing initiatives must work together seamlessly. Keep the message consistent and leverage appropriate channels per audience. Including a "share" button or "follow us" link doesn't make your campaign integrated. Content is still key for mindshare.
By following these three best practices, your email marketing program will be optimized for both your subscribers and your bottom line.