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  • How To Measure The Success Of An Email Campaign

    Last week in Email Campaign Terminology Explained I explained the various key phrases and words that are used when discussing email campaigns. This week I will look at email campaigns at a more personal level and as a result the way to measure the success of any campaign.

    There are a variety of schools of thought as to what constitutes a successful campaign: some will measure it by the open rate (this will vary based on the nature of the eShot you sent), some will measure it based on click through rate (this will vary based on the time the recipient has at the moment of receiving your eShot – furthermore some users are savvy enough not to click on a link within an eShot as they assume they will be tracked), some will measure it based on the Return On Investment (ROI) that the eShot generates (this is harder to track but in effect does give you an absolute monetary value for how successful a campaign has been). Personally, whilst all these are good measures of an email campaign I prefer to treat eShots as a way of keeping your client/potential customer informed. In my opinion it should not be treated as a selling exercise, as in my experience few eShots, in the Business To Business (B2B) arena, have yielded immediate sales. Even when major players in the Business To Consumer (B2C) send out their emails notifying customers, it is with the aim of keeping people up-to-date: should their interest be aroused, then all the better.

    We have one client that unbeknown to us, whilst we had been sending him eShot after eShot, had been storing them in a folder on his computer. After a period of time of watching the stats it soon became clear, as someone was accessing graphics and content for an eShot that was months old. Then came a phone call: the gentleman, who is now a good client, had been watching our email campaigns and had had his interest aroused by the content of the very first one he had ever received, however as he had received it during the peak season of his business, was unable to action anything. Half a year later he made the phone and as they say, the rest is history. Email campaigns should be treated as awareness campaigns.

    Society is changing and so are the mediums that we use to keep in contact. People are running as fast as they can in an effort to keep still, therefore you need to employ a medium which is not too invasive*. People do not necessary have the time to talk on the phone and sometimes when you call a potential customer (stress on the word potential) the first thought that will go through that person’s mind is “how did they get hold of my details” causing them to adopt an antagonistic, oppositional stance before the conversation has even started.

    So how do you measure the success of an email campaign: the answer is it is all very relative. You should aim for about a 20% open rate: some may be able to achieve as much as 30%, whilst some as little as 10%-15%. However, just because someone opens your email does not mean they will buy. So maybe measure it by the amount of traffic generated as a result of an eShot going out: the eShot I always advocate our clients sending is when they have their website redesigned. The cliché “curiosity killed the cat” is incredibly appropriate as people will visit the site just to see what has changed. However, just because they visited your site to see what is new does not mean they will buy. The one thing you can guarantee though, whether they have visited your site or just opened the eShot, as long as the message is clear, they will be aware.

    *Email can be one of the most invasive mediums there is, as discussed in How To Write A Striking, Captivating, Enticing Email Campaign Subject Line. Be aware of this and be careful: people will quickly become turned off and irritated. If the frequency of your emails are too much people will start off by reading the content and deleting your email, they will then very quickly resort to just reading the subject line and deleting your email, and then finally they will read the senders name and delete it straight away without having read any of the message what so ever. The one worse step would be for them to add you to their ‘Blocklist’: I terms this as being worse than allowing the email to land in their inbox and then delete it straight after reading the senders name because at least if it does land in their inbox they have to acknowledge who the eShot is from before deciding what to do. Sometimes people will delete everything that is in the ‘Junk Mail’ folder without even checking. With it arriving in their inbox they are still aware of your existence.

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  • Email Campaign Terminology Explained

    Before you can begin to interpret whether an email campaign has been successful or not it is necessary to understand what terms like "Hard Bounce", "Soft Bounce", "Opt In", "Opt Out" etc mean.

    The A-Z Glossary Of Email Campaign

    Blocklist
    A list of IP addresses suspected of sending SPAM

    Bounces
    Emails that are returned to you, as a result of an error such as the email address not being valid, the recipient’s inbox being full etc.

    Click Through Rate (CTR)
    This indicates how many times a link on an email has been clicked.

    Double Opt-In
    This is a process where a user signs up for a service and then, having received an email etc, is then required to confirm their subscription.

    Hard Bounce
    This is when an email is returned to you without it ever reaching the recipient. In cases like this is important to read the return message, as it will be returned with a message like "user unknown" or "host unknown". A hard bounce most often occurs because there is a problem with the recipient’s email address (misspelled etc.). You should unsubscribe hard bounces unless the error is obvious or easily corrected.

    Open Rate
    This indicates how many people have opened the email. The open rate will vary depending on the nature of the email and often the subject line, as discussed last week in How To Write A Striking, Captivating, Enticing Email Campaign Subject Line.

    Opt-In
    This is an action undertaken by the recipient where they choose to receive emails from you: they choose to add their email address to your email list for future campaigns.

    Opt-Out
    This is an action undertaken by the recipient where they choose to remove their email address from your email list, therefore unsubscribing from future campaigns.

    Permission-Based
    This is when people give their permission to be kept informed and to receive information from you. This happens as the result of recipients choosing to opt-in and being included in future campaigns.

    Phishing
    Something to beware of - this is where you receive an email which appears to be from a genuine trusted source but actually is someone trying to obtain sensitive confidential details from you.  Usually the scenario is somethign similar to the following:

    • You receive an email claiming to be from your bank, for example
    • It leads you to a page which looks identical to your banks website
    • You are then asked to disclose pin numbers, account numbers etc
      • Banks have a policy where they will not ask you for all your secuirty details in one go.  They will ask for the 1st 2nd and 4th number of say a 6 digit number to make it as hard as possible for anybody to obtain the whole 6 digit number.

    Soft Bounce
    This is when an email you sent reaches its recipient as a result of it being forwarded by a systems administrator, redirecting all 'wrongly' delivered emails.

    Spoofing
    This is where the sender changes the display name of their email address so that it looks like it came from someone else: for example in the Phishing example above, the scammer sending out the original email, intended to trap the receipient, would 'spoof' by changing the disply name to the name of a bank.

    Unique Opens
    This is different to the open rate as it is disregards someone opening an email if their have already being registered as having opened it.  This gives you a greater indication as to how many individual people have opened your email as opposed to the open rate which tells you how many times your email has been opened regardless of who carried out the action.

    Whitelist
    A 'Whitelist' or safe sender list is a list of addresses that a user has deemed as being allowed to send him/her emails. Sometimes emails get branded as SPAM and delivered into 'Junk Mail' folders as a result of the content of the email, as discussed three weeks ago in How To Deal With Email SPAM Filters.  This can be prevented by adding the sender's email address to your 'Whitelist', safe sender list.

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  • How To Write A Striking, Captivating, Enticing Email Campaign Subject Line

    The majority of any preparation time, in terms of an email campaign, is often spent on the content and message of the email itself, yet people forget that the first thing that is read is actually the subject line: the subject line needs to strike a blow, to captivate the recipient, to entice them to read further. The subject line can literally make or break the success of your campaign.

    So what is the magic formula? Well unfortunately there isn't one. There are, however, a handful of tips to bear in mind.

    First The Tips

    There are a variety of approaches your subject line can adopt:

    • The subject line can be treated like a news headline – "'Product X’ is now available with new features and benefits for users"
    • You can be mysterious (not too mysterious mind) enough to arouse a persons curiosity – "Find out the secrets behind a successful email campaign"
    • Alternatively make it clear to the reader what benefits they will receive by reading the rest of the email, not just the subject line – "See how to design a successful email campaign with the perfect subject line"

    Once you have decided the approach that is appropriate for you then start to think what would make you open an email. Think about the emails that are received on a daily basis:

    • "Make money during these hard times"
    • "Check this out!"
    • "You’ve just won a prize"

    Would you open any of them?

    Pay Attention

    In this day and age where everyone is running around trying to secure their future, attention spans are severely limited: if you don’t grab someone immediately then the chance that they will read on is doubtful. When designing a subject line you should look to have the most important elements of it within the first 50-75 characters.

    You Are Human & So Is Your Recipient

    ALWAYS put yourself in the shoes of your intended recipient. Ask yourself how you would receive the email that you are about to send:

    • Would you read on?
    • Do you see any benefit from reading on?
      • Any indication as to what you may learn?
    • Are you selling or educating?
      • Bear in mind that email is very invasive and therefore people will not always appreciate being sold to

    Test the subject line on colleagues: ask them what the first thing that is triggered in their minds.

    Baton Down The Hatches – Incoming SPAM Email Attack

    An email address is like your home address: imagine the amount of SPAM coming through your letterbox. Furthermore, people are personally attached to their email addresses. An invasion of your 'Inbox' provokes the same kind of emotion as an invasion of your home with various direct mail messages. Therefore, proceed with caution. Email by nature is very invasive: it is pretty much immediate and pretty much 'in your face'. As a result you need to provoke a positive, rather than a negative emotion. One way of doing this is seeking to educate the recipient, to be thought provoking, to strike a chord with the recipient rather than being pushy and trying aggressively to sell to the recipient. Email is already pushy and invasive enough. The idea of educating and communicating with the recipient as opposed to selling to the recipient should never be overlooked.

    Our Friends The SPAM Filters

    Probably the most annoying, as discussed in the blog post of two weeks ago, is the consideration you should extend to SPAM filters. Always be aware of SPAM filters. It could be the difference between your email being read or simply being permanently deleted along with the rest of the contents of a persons 'Junk Mail' folder. Always keep in mind that certain phrases both within the subject line of any email as well as the body of it can trigger a SPAM filter.

    The Final Word - TEST

    Once again, as I have stress in my previous blog posts, it is imperative to test: fail to plan, plan to fail. If you don't test you can never be sure how they are being received, if they are being received at all: whilst you can get an overview by viewing various statistics immediately after a campaign has been sent, at that point it is too late. The campaign has already been sent and if it doesn't have the desired effect, consider that strike one. You will be granted very few strikes before a user, by default, deletes any email coming from you which they considers to be marketing.

    Remember the first, well maybe the second element of your email campaign that any recipient sees and reads is the subject line.

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  • How To Design An Email Marketing Campaign

    On opening up your email today, how many email advertisments did you just discard without opening up? Quite a lot...

    In today’s current climate of SPAM, eShotting or mass emailing has become an art and a science. It has also become a controversial battleground. Previously you were able to send out eShots and people would open them regardless; now because of viruses, worms, Trojans etc. people have lost trust and therefore the task of marketing your services and offerings via email has almost become an up-hill battle. Furthermore, invasive techniques, in other words eShots that try and aggressively sell to the end user are pretty much deleted straight away. The eShot that is more readily received is one that is informative; one that masquerades the sale of a product in the form of a newsletter or press release for example. Here people feel that they are being educated rather than being ‘violently pulled out of crowd by a sales representative and told you must buy this’.

    One of the main issues regards acceptance of eShots is the design. Please do not belittle eShot design; it may look simple but creating the right effect is definitely anything but. Sending out eShots that have been created in anything but a ‘web design’ package (an eShot is nothing more than an email-able web page), a couple of images and some text will not work. It will be classed as amateur and cheap. Invest, employ the services of a professional to design you a template, specific to your company, not one that has been used by umpteen others and is easily recognised as been so, that you can, later on, change the text without having to spend more money.

    Create An Effective eShot

    What to look for in an email marketing campaign

    Instant Success - In short there is no such thing as instant success even with direct marketing and so you should treat email marketing with the same attitude. Though you may see positive results from individual email campaigns in the long run, it is the prolonged campaign that will produce dividends. We have seen evidence of customers keeping archives of email newsletters and eshots for future reference who open up eshot months after first sending out.

    Corporate Branding - Eshot Design is a direct method of getting your corporate branding to your potential clients. A continuous period of marketing will keep your brand awareness close to potential customers. Designing eshots to reflect your corporate branding is important in differentiating your email from the multitudes of others.

    Judging Intervals - Being bombarded with emails from one entity is more likely to prove an annoyance and is the greatest reason why someone who may have opted into your email programme moves your emails straight to trash.

    Permission based - What defines a good email campaign from a spam based email is the end user. It is always necessary to be aware of customer's and client's feelings on being sent emails. If you have terms and conditions you should let your customers know how you use their contact details. You should always respect the recipient's request to be removed from recieving emails in the future. Negative marketing with regards to email campaigns is harder to combat and easier if avoided.

    Business Details - If you don't already know, in the UK, it is a legal obligation to put business details of companies in all correspondances, inlcuding emails and websites. If you are a registered company then details of your registered address need to be given. This is also good advice in giving more trust and credence to your e campaign and differentiating you from that SPAM email.

    Value - This is perhaps the most important. The eshot that delivers the hard sell is more likely to be discarded, an eshot that delivers value is more likely to be read and more importantly continue to be recieved in the future. Most successfull emails offer syndicated content via RSS feeds to useful articles or blogs. Getting on side is probably one of the most important aims of a email campaign.

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