Successful Email Campaigns

A fast and wide-reaching way to reach your customers, email marketing continues to grow each year. A well-done email blast can be very beneficial:
  • Scalable - it costs as much to email 10 people as 10,000
  • Fast - your message arrives within minutes of pressing "Send"
  • Viral - write a good email and people send it to their friends, increasing your reach and adding a word-of-mouth component
  • Simple - using a good program or online service makes it simple to design and send your email
  • Low-Cost - beyond the initial software investment, there is little added cost beyond your time
As more and more companies move to take advantage of the technology, there are several common pitfalls that have emerged that can destroy an email's effectiveness.

Virus Check: This comes first. Scrub your computer, scrub your email, and keep your anti-virus software up to date. You only get one shot at this; send a virus to 6,000 prospective customers and your email newsletter is done.

Unsubscribe Option:
One of the most important pieces to include in every email blast you send. In addition to being illegal, few things sap customer goodwill faster (for example). Even among opt-in subscribers, having the ability to unsubscribe is very important to net citizens.

SPAM Filters: We all get spam, the modern evolution of junk mail and telemarketers. Spam filters are sometimes overenthusiastic about blocking emails to large numbers of undisclosed recipients. There are online tools that examine your emails and warn you if it is likely to get filtered, as well as easy steps to take in writing. Most importantly, encourage recipients to add you to their "safe senders" list.

Too Much HTML: HTML emails are great; they're pretty, they're fun, and they send readers back to your website with a click. But only if the HTML loads correctly. My email is set up to only show pictures if I tell it to; otherwise all I see are boxes telling me where pictures should be. If your entire message is in those pictures you've lost me. Use HTML and graphics as the icing - or the architectural details if you prefer - but use plain text for the main structure.

Window Size: A related issue to HTML. When designing your email remember that not everyone uses the same size email window - or browser, or monitor - that you do. What happens if it's too wide? Too narrow? Is it still readable? Check a wide variety of sizes.

Message Size:
This is just a courtesy issue. I already get hundreds of MB of email a day; your 5 MB missive, no matter how pretty it may be, becomes part of the problem. Keep emails small, light, and easy to download. CSI's NewsBrief routinely weighs in under 90 KB, and the largest newsletter I get is only 120 KB. Or at least, the largest one I continue to get.

Finally, be sure to send a test message before sending the full blast. Send it to yourself, the rest of the office, and a few 'net friends; have everyone read it carefully and click every link before it goes out.

Good luck, and happy emailing!