We all hate spam. And as developers and content marketers, we probably hate spam more than Average Joe only because the web is where we make our home. We understand better than anyone how aggravating spam is and why it interferes with the purest purpose of the Internet: the sharing of useful, informative and/or entertaining content. If you are hesitant to build a list, or market your software to your existing list because you don’t want to be a spammer, don’t be!
Email marketing is not spamming if you do it properly, and when used it effectively it is an invaluable tool for you to create real relationships with your leads, attract new leads and create sales more quickly and economically than many other marketing efforts.
If you want to leverage the power of your email list without spamming your potential customers, follow these nine best practices / guidelines to get the most ROI for every email you send while avoiding being added your subscriber’s spam folder.
1. Provide valuable content.
The biggest mistake you can do is to fail to include nothing of value in your emails, or worse fail to deliver what you promised. Whether it’s content that is purely entertaining or informational, tips and tricks for solving a problem, money-saving coupons, deals or promotions, your message must include something that the reader values and wants.
Try diversifying your content while staying on topic. Don’t stray too far off of the subject matter your readers are used to because this may confuse and even irritate your subscribers. But for example, if email subject matter includes weight-loss tips, consider a top-ten list, a weekly roundup of great online weight-loss tools or a series of protein shake reviews.
2. Make sure you include a clear call to action.
Your readers need to know what they are supposed to do next. And in many cases, if you don’t tell them, they won’t know. Think about your email before you write it. Is your goal to get them to go to your website? Follow you on Twitter or “Like” you on Facebook? Then ask for it.
Don’t hard-sell your subscribers in every email. Sometimes simply providing a link at the bottom of your email is okay. Try sending one hard-sell email per every three content-rich email and see how your audience responds. Ask for feedback either by email or direct your readers to your Facebook page. You may be pleasantly surprised by how people respond when they know there is a real person behind the emails, and not a robot.
3. Be conscious of when you send your emails, and how often.
Email is not like Twitter. Inundating a person’s inbox with daily messages is a great way to be ignored, deleted or sent to the spam box. Ironically, if you forget about your list a long time and then start emailing them again out of the blue, you’re likely to get the same response. A good rule of thumb is to email your list at least a few times per year, and no more than 2-3 times per week. But it really depends on your market and how hungry your subscribers are for content. Again, don’t be afraid to ask your list what they think about how often they receive emails from you.
4. Use a consistent format.
Why? In a nutshell, using a consistent format will establish a look and feel to your brand and marketing efforts, users will get used to your emails and know what to expect from them, and creating and editing your email campaigns will be easier if you establish guidelines for yourself and/or your writers.
When creating your email format, make sure it is professional and easy to read. Avoid large blocks of copy; break them up with bulleted lists or simple paragraph breaks.
5. Offer both plain text and HTML emails.
HTML emails are more visually appealing, but not all email clients support them. Extend your reach by giving your subscribers a choice.
6. Make sure your emails are readable even with images disabled.
Many email clients disable images as a default. You want people to be able to “get the message” even if they can’t see the images in the email body.
7. Optimize your subject lines.
The subject lines are your emails’ headlines. It needs to entice your audience to open the email. Think about what would get you to open an email. We’ve found words like “Free,” “Deal” and “50% Off” work well for hard-sell emails.
For subject lines like these to work, it’s better if you have already established a relationship with your reader based on trust and perceived value. When you’re sending a content-rich email, try subject lines the pique a readers curiosity by creating an open-ended loop. For example, instead of “Increase Sales 80% by Making More Sales Calls,” a better subject line would be, “Increase Sales by 80% in Just 15 Minutes a Day.”
9. Test, test, test.
Test every link before the email campaign is launched. Make sure the landing pages to which you are linking are optimized for sales/opt-ins. Test your subject lines to see which ones work at getting people to open them. Test your CTAs, campaign themes, greetings and closings, day and time you send your emails, and email templates.
Do you have a new piece of software you want the world to know about? Let us know on Twitter @DemoFlick or by posting to our Facebook wall at Facebook.com/demoflick.