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Absolute Design
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Top tips for email marketing

Posted by: Clare Rose

Regular email newsletters are an effective way to build and maintain relationships, and keep your business at the forefront of your clients’ minds. We regularly speak to clients who recognise the importance of this form of marketing but struggle to find the time to go through the process of writing the content, designing the newsletter and managing distribution.

For example, one client was spending a whole day every month choosing three newsletter stories, sorting out accompanying images, writing the copy and tweaking the layout. We quickly realised that this was a common problem for many businesses, so we developed a module for our content management system (CMS) that takes the pain out of email newsletters.

The module works by allowing users to harvest content from elsewhere in the CMS and import it to the newsletter, formatted through templates created by our designers. The result is that creating an engaging and professional email newsletter goes from a several-hour job to one that can be completed in literally a few minutes.

Our module integrates with the popular MailChimp email service, which takes care of the nuts and bolts – sending your email, maintaining your mailing lists and generating reports on the effectiveness of your campaign.

Here are Absolute’s top tips for creating and managing an effective email newsletter:

1. Consider your templates – most clients find that two templates are sufficient: one for a newsletter-style email and another for one-off announcements, such as a special promotion or event.

2. Think carefully about your subject line – choosing a good subject line is important, as this will directly affect how many recipients open your email. Avoid words like ‘free’ as these could see your email relegated to the spam folder. Aim for fewer than 50 characters – it’s often useful to test how the subject line looks by sending an email to yourself. Make sure it’s engaging but, above all, be descriptive about the contents. For more subject line hints and tips, check out this great MailChimp article.

3. Test the email –
 while you can see a preview of how the email newsletter will look in your browser, there’s no substitute for seeing it in the context of your email software. The templates we create are tested with all of the popular email clients, including Outlook, Gmail, and the mail apps on iPhone and Android devices. Therefore, if you’re using our module, you don’t need to worry about how the email will render on different platforms.

4. Send to the right people –
 you may want to consider having multiple lists or ‘segments’ so that you’re communicating to the right audience. For example, you may want to have a different newsletter that you send to customers and one specifically aimed at prospects. Our module allows you to select from previously defined lists in MailChimp so you can easily make sure you’re saying the right things to the right people.

 Personalise the content – research has shown that people respond better to emails that are addressed to them personally. Our module allows you to do this easily by pulling through the recipient’s name from your MailChimp list.

6. Review your report –
 this is where using a service like MailChimp really comes into its own. Immediately after sending your email newsletter, MailChimp generates a live report, which automatically updates as people receive and open your newsletter. The report allows you to track how many people have opened your email, forwarded it to a friend/colleague and clicked through to your website. The average click-through rate will vary depending on your sector and the nature of the email, but it’s a great way of assessing effectiveness.

7. Learn and improve –
 by looking at your reports, you’ll be able to see the factors that affect the success of your campaigns. Factors to look at include:
When you send it – for consumer promotions, Friday afternoon works best (when people are winding down for the weekend and looking for distractions!), for B2C, try early afternoon on Tuesday or Thursday.
Subject line – MailChimp allows you to run split tests – sending a different version of a subject line to half of your list. This helps you see the kinds of lines that get results.
Frequency – there’s a balance to strike between staying top-of-mind and spamming people. Send too often and you’ll risk the recipient unsubscribing or becoming immune to your messages.