31 Aug Four simple steps to email marketing success
I have a confession to make – up until the last two years or so, I had very little understanding of how an email makes it to your inbox. I’m not talking about the science of the cloud and all of those 1s and 0s, I’m talking about how the programs I use to send email marketing campaigns work with spam filters and email providers to ensure that only quality emails end up in your inbox. I’d imagine a lot of other people working in marketing wouldn’t understand all of the finer details of that process either.
As many of our followers are office workers responsible for not just running but marketing a business, I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt since joining MEA and updating our email marketing systems. It’s been a bumpy ride, but we’ve made leaps and bounds in 2016 to make sure you’re only getting content that’s relevant to you – here’s how email clients play a part in that relationship.
So, how to email clients impact your marketing messages?
As technology has evolved for the better, giving us new and exciting ways to market our business and build engaged communities online, companies the world over have found a million new ways to succeed in business. At the same time however, email providers such as Outlook and Google have been working hard to improve their service to their customers, which might mean your amazing email campaign ends up in a junk folder.
They’ve developed a system of signals that identifies to them whether your email is of value or not. Actions by a reader such as an open, a reply, an address book add, or a move-to-folder action signify to the email provider that your piece contains good information. Actions such as a move to junk, or a delete without open signify that the recipient did not want to see your email. This signal system allows email providers to give your business a rating that will then determine whether or not your email makes it through next time you send.
How do you work with this system?
The key to that question is how you work WITH the system, not how you work AROUND the system. There’s some ways you can ensure that you’re not waving a big red flag at the people at Gmail that can help you get the elusive green light from them.
Step 1: Improve your email list
It’s time to cleanse that data. If you have an old list, invest some time in looking at recent open rates. Anyone who hasn’t engaged with your business in the last six months should be moved to a new list to target in a different campaign (such as a “We haven’t heard from you in a while” special offer to encourage them to return to your business).
Once you’ve cleaned your current list, look at the ways you enter data. Do you simply enter every person who contacts your business or gives you a business card? This can have a negative impact on your email list, as these people may not want to be receiving your emails. Set up an email subscription on your website and share it on social media, but make sure you allow people to opt-in to your emails instead of just subscribing them yourself.
Want more tips on building a list? Check out this guide to building an email list from Campaign Monitor, a free email client for business.
Step 2: Authenticate your emails
If you’re using an email marketing software such as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, you’ll be able to authenticate your emails so that they’re being sent from your own domain instead of the generic domains that they maintain. Email providers like Gmail and Outlook take an authenticated domain as a sign that you’re a legitimate business, and this can help them identify that your email should be going directly to the inbox. Each email marketing provider has a different way to authenticate emails; check in the settings section of yours for tips.
Step 3: Use a from name that your recipients will recognise
You may have noticed that every time you receive an email from us, it will contain “MEA” or “Master Electricians Australia” somewhere in the from name. As tempting as it can be to just include your actual name, using the business identifier can help to increase your open rates. Firstly, it’s another signal to email providers that you’re a legitimate business. Secondly, your business name is generally more recognisable to customers than your actual name.
Step 4: Only send relevant and engaging content
There’s nothing worse than seeing an email from someone and opening it, only to find that it’s full of nonsense, or doesn’t have a call to action. This is generally a sign that someone is sending an email for the sake of making contact, rather than to offer their recipient a valuable item. It’s also one of the sure-fire ways to encourage your recipients to mark you as spam or move your email to the junk folder, so it should be avoided at all times. If you don’t have anything of value to add, then don’t send that email.
At the end of the day, you’re not the trouble maker that’s causing email providers to tighten their hold on inboxes – it’s the billions of dodgy spam emails being sent on a daily basis. Regardless, email marketing is becoming a lot less content-focused (although content is still VERY important) and a lot more depenedent on the will of email providers. So a quick data cleanse, and a few simple steps when setting up that email can go a long way to get on their good side. Once you’re there, you’ll soon see the benefits of higher deliverability and open rates, and hopefully a greater return on investment for your marketing campaigns.
This post was written by MEA’s Marketing Projects Advisor, Rachelle Forbes. If you have a story to submit, please email us today.