Marketing Best Practices - Top 10 tips

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1 Marketing Best Practices - Top 10 tips Contents 1. Make a good first impression Above the fold Keep it short and to the point Send what your customer wants not what you want to sell Can t see images? Plain Text Version Device Responsive Design Understand how Spam Filters work Don t pay too much attention to Open Rates Test, test and test again (and pay attention to the results!)

2 1. Make a good first impression In , as in life, it s important to make a good first impression. You have just a few seconds to make that first impression, and for the recipient to decide whether to open your or not. There are three ways to help create this good impression: i. From Address / Friendly From The address should match up to your company / brand. It should be an address that people can reply to ( is a conversation, not a monologue) and it should be monitored. Your Friendly From is a short name that appears instead of the address in the inbox. It should be immediately recognisable as your company / brand. It should not be something like Newsletter. Depending on your business however, you may want to test out using a person s name as the Friendly From, an Account Manager whom the recipients know, for example. But this doesn t work everywhere. Subject Line Use the methodology. The first 2, is the 2 seconds that your recipient will spend reading your subject line. The second 2 is for the first two words these are the most important, use them well. The final 2 is for today why does this matter today? Create some urgency! Your subject line should be enticing but honest. Never, ever mislead your recipient about what s in your . Your open rates may fly up, but so will your unsubscribe rates (while your click through rate will plummet!). Preheader (or snippet) The preheader is an underused asset. On most mobile phones, and some web clients, the first bit of text in the appears in the inbox preview. Far too many companies have this as something along the lines of not displaying properly? or Trouble viewing this ? What a great negative first impression! Use the preheader by adding in a piece of text before your view in browser link to supplement your subject line. With a bit of coding wizardry, you can even make this text disappear on the itself. 2

3 2. Above the fold I hate the phrase above the fold when it comes to . There is no fold!! However, a better term has not been invented yet (and for the youngsters, who have never seen what is being depicted by the save icon ), it comes from newspapers, making sure the headlines appeared when they were folded in half and stacked. After your initial four seconds are up, and your recipient has actually opened your , you again have a short space of time to really grab them. You need to make sure your vitally important information is visible in the preview window, whether it s on a desktop or on a mobile device. This is generally the top left hand corner 300px by 300px. Try not to waste that space with a generic, stock photo image. Your logo should be there, an initial headline and most importantly, a CTA. Which doesn t have to be an actual button, but something that tells the recipient what it is that they are supposed to be doing it might be the headline. 3. Keep it short and to the point. Except for Newsletters, you should aim to stick to one clear Call to Action (CTA) in your . Before you start putting your together, ask yourself What is the purpose of this ? and really check that you re answering that question accurately. Your initial reaction might be To tell our clients about this great event we re hosting, when actually the real answer is To try and sell tickets to our event. When you re clear about your purpose strip out anything that might distract away from your end goal. If you have some other really exciting news, create another don t muddle up your messages in one. For Newsletters, you really don t want more than about five articles or stories. When was the last time you read all the way to the bottom of a newsletter (that wasn t your own when you were proofing it?). Generally people don t get past the third story but using reporting you should be able to check your click rates and see where interest drops off. For any , keep your copy short and to the point. If there s a lot to say, put it in your website and point traffic there. One of the main aims of your should be to get people onto your site, don t keep them hostage reading your War & Peace ! Also don t make your more than 600px wide. Any more and it won t be viewable on some clients. 4. Send what your customer wants not what you want to sell I know, I know. I just said to make sure everything in your is about what you want to sell, but you still have to think about what s in it for your subscriber. So the aim of your is to sell tickets to your event, there are ways of phrasing this show the benefits to your client, what they ll get out of it. Every now and then, send something that isn t selling an interesting news story, an invite to a fee event, a discount for something that you know they buy. Make sure your s aren t one big sell after another. 3

4 5. Can t see images? A lot of clients don t download images automatically, and you shouldn t assume that everyone will have adjusted their settings so that they do. The first thing you want to do is make sure you have a link to view an online version of the . But this is not the whole answer, not by far! i. Alt text Sometimes incorrectly called Alt tags, Alt text is a little piece of code that you should add to every image, which has a short piece of text that will display when images are blocked. It will also be read out if a recipient uses a screen reader. It should be descriptive of what is in the image, e.g. for your Brand Logo it should say the company name, not Logo. Also, if you have images like divider lines where you don t need descriptive text, you should still put an empty alt text e.g., alt=. iv. Stylised Alt text You can add styles to your image tags (in the same way that you style normal text), so that the text that appears has a particular font and colour. Can look great instead of a Logo, where you can use a similar look to the original image. (NB Does not work in all clients) Background colours Really simple, but you can use background colours on your table cells to make a stunning even with images off. Pizza Express is a great example of this, you don t have to go to this extreme, but can be a nice way of making your still look good. Bullet Proof Buttons If your CTAs are images, no one can click them if the image is not downloaded. Bullet Proof buttons are a clever mix of text and background image that works beautifully across all mail clients (in one form or another). Failing that just using a single cell, with a background colour works perfectly. v. Mozify I couldn t write this section without pointing out the new wonder tool from on Acid. Check it out, it s amazing! 6. Plain Text Version Some people don t receive html s their settings, or device (yes you, Blackberry) prevents it. You should therefore create a Plain Text version of your . This should include all of the copy that s in the HTML version and all of the different links. Sending the Plain Text version also helps get your through Spam Filters (more on this below) 4

5 7. Device Responsive Design s should be designed and coded as Device responsive as default now. By this, I mean one which will change format in any number of different ways, dependent on the device (mobile / tablet/ small screen / large screen etc.) that it is being viewed on at any given moment. You can have the same open on your large screen computer at the same time as on a smartphone and it can look very different. This is done to make the user experience the best it can be on any given device. You want to make it as easy as possible to read your , and to be able to access the call to action. Some points to consider: i. Think responsive before you start. It s much easier to make an work responsively if you think about it at the point of design, rather than later on trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. iv. Consider your top navigation bar. It takes up valuable screen space on a small screen, so you might want to resize it radically, move it to the bottom, or maybe just scrap it entirely. Make your font sizes bigger on the mobile version. People don t want to zoom. The font size recommendations are 14px for copy, and 20-22px for titles. Make sure links & buttons are fat-finger friendly on the mobile version. The average adult finger takes up 45 pixels, so make them big, and/or leave a lot of space from other links around them. v. Be wary of colour combinations. Screens may be dimmed to conserve battery, so the contrast between the font and the background colour is important. vi. Make your width fit to the size of a mobile. People don t want to horizontally scroll. While this may mean converting the desktop two column design to one column, it is doable. 8. Understand how Spam Filters work For years we ve talked about Spam trigger words, avoiding them like the plague. Not putting Free or Win into the subject line. Not writing things ALL IN CAPS. Working under the assumption that if we avoid all of these pitfalls that our will not be flagged as Spam, and will end up fairly and squarely in every recipient s Inbox. Right? Wrong! Content only accounts for 17% 1 of what ll get your flagged as Spam Sender Reputation counts for 77%, and is obviously far more important to worry about. 1 Source Return Path 2012 Study 5

6 So what affects sender reputation? i. Spam Complaints If people mark your as spam, it has a huge effect, and if enough people do it, you ll end up getting blacklisted! Obviously make sure everyone on your list has opted in to receiving your s, make your unsubscribe link easy to find, and make the actual process easy. An unsubscribe is better than a Spam Complaint! iv. List Hygiene Again, ensure everyone s opted in and that your list up to date and valid. Remove bounces and unsubscribes, and also remove anyone who hasn t interacted with your s for a period of time. As well as finding them in purchased lists, Spam Traps can be created from old, unused s addresses. Infrastructure This is about authentication the sender domain that you claim the is from must be related to the IP address that it s actually sent from. This is shown when you have those s that appear to be from a bank, but end up in your junk folder. IP Permanence The longer you ve been using your IP address, the better your reputation will be. Spammers get blocked, and so have to keep changing IP address. v. Code Quality Spammers are lazy. They code badly, they use lots of big images to avoid writing lots of code. Or they just have text with no images, again to avoid having to write lots of code. They write in large fonts to catch your attention. So, make sure your code is valid and of good quality. Keep a good image to text ratio, use alt text and use sensible sized fonts. vi. Engagement This is kind of the new kid on the block. The way ISPs used to work, was that they just set out to catch all of the spam. And it worked. Mostly. But like when fishermen use a net with holes that are too small and catch dolphins accidently along with the tuna, along with genuine spam getting blocked, legitimate s were getting stopped as well. Now, not only are they looking for ways to punish the bad, but they re looking to reward the good as well. It s bringing some balance back in, and it can make a huge difference. 9. Don t pay too much attention to Open Rates I have a pet hate (I have more than one to be fair) of people quoting Open rates when it comes to reporting. Open rates tell you nothing! They can have false positives as well as false negatives. Opens are triggered when either the s images are downloaded, or a link is clicked within it. So, if an is downloaded, but images are downloaded, it won t count as an open and if an is read in Plain Text it won t count either. Alternatively, if an client automatically downloads images, it can count as an open even when it hasn t been looked at. Your click rate is a much more accurate portrayal of how the has performed as is unsubscribe rate and your actual conversions. However, open rates do have a use. If you have an that goes out regularly, like a newsletter, to a fairly consistent list, you can see the trend. Looking at any particular one-off send won t tell you anything but seeing the rise and fall over time, will give you an indication if anything s going dramatically right or wrong. 6

7 10. Test, test and test again (and pay attention to the results!) People all over Twitter and the rest of the internet claim to know the best day and the best time to send your to guarantee best results. They also claim to know the perfect colour for your CTA button, and what style to write your copy. They don t. The only way for you to know all of these things is to try them out, test them, and then pay attention to the results. AB Testing - For anyone who doesn t know how this works, you take a small percentage of your list (usually about 20%), and send one version of your to half of them, and another version with one small change to the other half. You monitor the performance over 48 hours, and then send the winning version to the other 80% of the lists. This way, 90% of recipients are receiving the better version of the . 7

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