E-mail has been around since before the dawn of the internet. That’s right, in the early 1970’s, the Federal Government was sending messages through the United States Department of Defense network, which handled over 30 million messages per month.
As we began to move more onto the information super-highway, services like Compuserve, Prodigy, and America On-Line began to proliferate, making it incredibly easy for everyone to have an e-mail address. In fact, at the height of AOL’s dominance, they had over 30 million members worldwide (they only serve about 2.9 million subscribers, as of October 2012). In contrast, Facebook has over 1 billion members, as of September 2012.
What made e-mail so “social” was the ease at which your messages could be forwarded to your entire address book. If you wanted to share with friends and family, all you had to do was hit the “forward” button, and they were all able to participate in the discussion.
Fast forward to today, and most businesses are marketing through e-mail, but that doesn’t mean that they are “doing it right.” Just using this “social network” isn’t enough. We need to ensure that our e-mail marketing is accomplishing its goals of increased business, increased lead generation, and increased market share. The big question, then, is what are some best practices in e-mail marketing?
1. Write compelling Subject Lines
Keep it short and simple and incorporate the benefit of opening the e-mail.
2. Set your objective and then choose the appropriate frequency
Are you trying to promote, inform, or relate to your audience?
3. Call your audience to action
You are sending the e-mail for a reason. Make sure they know it.
4. Make sure they recognize the “From” address
They may know your company name, but not yours. Make sure the email comes from someone they “know.”
5. Keep your main message and call to action “above the fold”
This is “news speak” for making sure that the important information is seen without scrolling the message.
6. Be mindful of mobile devices
Statistics say that 38% of email is opened on a mobile device and only 33% is opened on a desktop, so make sure the fonts and images will look good on your recipients mobile devices.
7. Make sure to use alt-text for your logo and pictures
This is text that describes the pictures and logos should images be turned-off on your web browser, smart phone or e-mail client. That way your recipient knows what should be in the image’s place.
In addition to the tips above, always make sure that you are abiding by the “Can-Spam Act”, which requires the following:
- Don’t use false or misleading header information;
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines;
- Tell recipients where you are located;
- Honor opt-out requests;
- There needs to be a relationship between the sender and receiver.
If you follow these best practices and requirements, then your e-mail marketing is on the right track to continuing the social nature of e-mail marketing.
What subject lines to you find work the best? The worst? Do you feel that you get too much e-mail? Sound off in the comments below.