Email Marketing: Tools and Best Practices

Some of the most recent trends in
digital marketing including social media have left more ‘traditional’ methods
such as email marketing gathering dust on the top shelf. Although these new
trends are exciting and effective in their own right, there is no excuse for
ignoring such a powerful tool as email marketing.
The upside is it offers you a 100%
conscious and willing invitation by the consumer or company into their email
inbox, and in 2011 the Direct Marketing Association found email marketing to
have the highest ROI of any other digital marketing effort. The downside? There
is a very thin line between a worthwhile marketing email and junk, and even
avoiding a direct route to the Junk mail folder does not ensure that the email
will be opened or read at all. That’s why the tools and practices used in email
marketing are extremely important to the success of the campaign.
Tools of the Trade

The favoured among many of today’s
digital marketers, this application attempts to make email marketing less
intimidating by adding some cheeky humour to the process. Not suited to every
taste, but most people find the humour takes the edge off and adds a smile to
your work routine.
Another draw of MailChimp is it has a ‘Forever Free Plan’, allowing
anyone in any company and any industry to send upto 12,000 emails per month to
anything up to 2,000 subscribers, which makes it a huge hit with small to
medium businesses. They do offer paid monthly plans and the option to
pay-as-you go if your usage exceeds this, but the rates are relatively
competitive, with unlimited emails priced from just $10 per month for up to 500
It appeals to both novice and more experienced email marketers with
templates and customisable options, allowing you to change any aspect from just
the header to the entire email template with a little HTML knowledge, or simply
stick with their plentiful premade and free templates for speed and ease.

With several impressive awards under
their belt, such as Salesforce’s Top Email Marketing Application for 2010 and
2011, and TopTenReview’s Gold Aaward, this email marketing tool is definitely
one to consider.
 Although there is no free plan, the monthly
pricing starts at £8.68 per month for up to 500 subscribers, slightly cheaper
than MailChimp’s paid option. You do get to try before you buy with a 30 day
free trial, and even a first time email marketer would be completely at ease
with this tool. It also offers a “MessageCoder” for the more experienced to
have free reign over their email creation.
The support offered with this tool is also superior to most other email
marketing tools, as it includes advice services and tutorials in video format, as
well as webinars, live chat and email marketing help guides. 
What to Do and What
NOT to Do in Email Marketing
A large part of the uphill battle that is getting your email
marketing campaign into inboxes and actually read by recipients is in the
subject line, layout and general feel of the email, and that is why a set of
Dos and Don’ts is important to be established and followed to optimise open
rate, click through rate and generated leads and sales. 

 In many cases the
email may be an incentive offering exclusive offers and information, and
putting this in the subject line is a great way to hook people in, as they know
instantly what is in it for them. Including an incentive in any email campaign
will always boost open rates.
Keep the look and feel of the email as close as possible to
the landing page you are directing the readers to, and place company logos and
any other important information in the top half of the email. There are two
main reasons for this. Firstly, people’s eyes automatically start to scan the
page from the top left corner, and move across and down, hence why many companies
place their logo in the top left corner. Secondly, as much as 70% of readers
will not scroll down below the fold, so it is important to capture their
attention enough to try to encourage scrolling, and if they don’t scroll they
have still taken away the key facts and call to action.
To ensure you have the subject line and top information all
correct and to the point, try sending a test to a friend or colleague who has
no idea what the email is supposed to be about or what the call to action
should be. Ask them to tell you what they can discern from the email after 5
seconds of receiving it. If they come back with the correct information, you
know you have it spot on, but if they don’t get all the key points or call to
action it is back to the drawing board.

Don’t be ambiguous in your subject line. If people don’t get
the gist of the email or the call to action from the subject they are more than
likely going to bin the email without even opening. The best way to combat
ambiguity is to be short and to the point, by putting the call to action in the
subject line.
Don’t use more than 2 typefaces ideally, and at the very
most 3. Although having a few different typefaces keeps people interested and
grabs attention, too many different typefaces will not appeal to the eye, and
will make the email appear too cluttered, giving readers a headache.
Another thing that gives readers a headache and can put
people off is having to scroll horizontally as well as vertically. To avoid
forcing people to have to do this, keep your email width between 500 and 600
pixels, with 650 pixels being the absolute maximum before horizontal scrolling
is a must.
There are many more
useful tools and best practices that we haven’t touched on, and if you have
some you would like to share we would love to hear about them, so please
comment below!