Email Marketing 101

By Bob West

Many companies have embraced email marketing as a key component of their direct marketing tactics, and most of the efforts that we see are very successfully. However, some companies make some costly mistakes that hinder the performance of their effort, so we want to share our thoughts on best practices for marketing email-based marketing, or what we term eDirects.

Email marketing has exploded in popularity, and for obvious reasons, including:

  • Speed to market – If necessary, a message can be crafted, creative developed and the email sent in as little as 48 to 72 hours.
  • Metrics – Measuring traditional direct mail challenges most companies, especially those selling through distribution. But metrics on email marketing are immediately available, helping companies evaluate an effort’s effectiveness and hone future messages.
  • Targeted approach – Whether using your own list or renting a third-party list, the send can (and often should be!) very targeted based on any number of demographics.
  • Cost efficiency – The absence of print and postage expenses leaves more money for the list, thereby allowing email efforts to reach a broader audience than traditional direct mail.

Meister Media sends eDirects on behalf multiple clients every day, which has helped us learn what works and what doesn’t work regarding creative. For starters, you will generally have options for timing your send. Opinions vary on the importance here, although we recommend sending as early in the workday as possible and avoiding Friday afternoon, if possible.

Also, put some real thought into the subject line – it really matters, and the goal of the subject line is simply to get the audience to open the email. So make sure it speaks to their hot buttons. Mentions of new products, productivity solutions and the like work particularly well.

If you want recipients to click through from the email to your website, we recommend the following:

  • Multiple calls to action – More reasons to click usually equals more clicks. And make the calls to action obvious – larger text, attention-getting boxes, and clear direction. If you don’t tell the recipient to click and why they should click, they won’t do it.
  • Compelling content – Product information generally attracts attention, but not always. Our audiences want ideas and solutions, so position your information accordingly. But don’t put so much information in the eDirect that the recipient doesn’t need to click through to learn anything more!
  • The right URLs – Companies will send out an eDirect that promotes a very specific product, but then the eDirect links to the company’s home page that doesn’t feature any information about the product (or whatever was promoted in the eDirect). Make it easy for your customers to find more information – link directly to the page(s) containing the information they’ll want after reading the eDirect.
  • Lastly, all images should link, including the header – You would be surprised at the number of people who click on images.

Lastly, plan on evaluating your effort. This means collecting and analyzing metrics. The following numbers merit attention.

  • Delivered vs. Sent – Not every email will get through due to dead accounts, full in boxes, etc. But anything less than 95% deliverability is cause for concern.
  • Open rate – What percent of the audience opened the effort? We sent nearly 200 eDirects in 2012, and they typically generated open rates between 15 and 20%, depending on the industry. Benchmark against that. This speaks to the quality of the list as well as the attractiveness of the subject line.
  • Click-through rate – What percent of those who opened the message clicked on at least one URL? Our benchmark from 2012 was 8 to 12%, which is considered high in B2B circles.
  • Clicks on each URL – These numbers matter if you use multiple URLs or calls to action as this tells you what information the audience values, thereby helping you focus future email efforts. Give them more of the information they want!

The author is Director of Interactive Sales for Meister Media, and he can be reached at 440-602-9129 or bwest@meistermedia.com. Feel free to contact him or your Meister Media sales rep to further discuss adding email marketing to your plan.

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