A Year’s Worth of Email Marketing Tips From Blue Sky Factory (part III)

The last part of a three-part series of email marketing tips that you can do to help improve your direct marketing efficiency. These tips were sent once a week in 2009 by Blue Sky Factory and I’ve chosen to aggregate it here.

Blue Sky Factory's 52 Email Marketing Tips

  1. If your organization sends a monthly newsletter, consider using anchor tags. Anchor tags are links at the top of an email that allow recipients to click through to the desired content within the email.  When a newsletter is full of information, every article is not necessarily relevant to every subscriber.  Using anchor tags will not only save your subscribers time, but can also increase your click-through rate as they eliminate the hassle of having to search the email for articles of interest to your subscribers.
  2. Mistakes are bound to happen. They tend to occur more often when you’re rushing.  Whether it’s a misspelled word, an invalid link, or an image that does not render properly, email marketers are human.  This is why it’s critical to plan and schedule your emails ahead of time.  Leave plenty of time to edit, test, and receive feedback from others.  By alleviating last-minute changes, you are more likely to send a flawless email and receive the desired results from your campaign!
  3. API stands for “Application Programming Interface”, and is a way for two separate applications to share information (data) across a network.  While it’s meant to be used by programmers, email marketers still need to be familiar with APIs and how they can help your email program. APIs allow you to share information with your email marketing application (for Blue Sky Factory clients that would be Publicaster) in order to streamline any business processes that might have to do with your email program.
  4. Promote your email program through social networks. By including an opt-in form on Facebook, alerting Twitter followers of your email communications, and adding opt-in options on your blog posts (like we have at the bottom of this post), you’ll gain more subscribers.  The bonus here is that these people are already interested in what you have to say.  Don’t limit yourself to Twitter, Facebook, and blogging – also try creating a fun video or communicating with your LinkedIn contacts.  Whatever you do, keep your audience in mind, and don’t forget to have a little fun with it!
  5. Plan, create, and execute your email newsletter campaign(s) with your audience in mind. The content should be about them, not about you.  It’s important to use your email newsletters to connect with your audience, become a resource for them, and ultimately generate loyalty, retention, and mindshare.  By asking subscribers what they want (try a poll, survey, or simply asking for comments), you’re not only showing them you care, but you’re also gaining valuable feedback.  Use this information to further engage with your audience and build a relationship with them.  Whether your newsletter is weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, take the opportunity to send timely, targeted, relevant content with your subscribers in mind.
  6. A successful email campaign starts from the very beginning (and we mean the very beginning). In order to create a legit email campaign from the start, make sure your opt-in form not only gathers your subscriber’s information, but also: Prompts the subscriber to show affirmative consent to opt-in for future email communication.  Note that a pre-checked box does not meet this standard as it is not asking the subscriber to take any action, thus making it a passive opt-in;  Informs them of the types of email communications you will be sending.  Tell them what they should expect to receive from you; Discloses how their email address will be used.  This is generally explained in a Privacy Policy or Terms & Conditions statement; and Gives different options as to what communications they can opt-in to receive.
  7. The email marketing resources out there are endless! From Twitter to LinkedIn groups to in-person events, there are many people just like you talking about email marketing.  So what exactly is this week’s tip?  Dig in!  Not only are other email marketers discussing timely, relevant topics, but so are email service providers and industry groups like the Email Experience Council and the Email Marketers Club.  Keep reading, researching, learning, and most of all, don’t be shy!  Start conversations, ask questions, get involved.  Collaborating with others will make you a better email marketer; you never know what tips you’ll pick up from a blog, newsletter, or conference.  We hope you’re hungry!  Grab your email marketing appetite and dig in.
  8. While you need to take the CAN-SPAM Act and your audience seriously, remember that it’s okay to have a little fun with your email campaigns too! Test subject lines or creative with your email service provider’s A/B split test feature, shake up your email copy, and/or experiment with new ways to use email and social media as complementary tools.  There are so many elements to an email marketing campaign, so don’t be afraid to try new things, spice up your campaigns, and take advantage of all that email has to offer your organization!
  9. A preheader (also known as snippet text) is the first line of text in your email that is displayed after the subject line. Why is this usually small bit of text at the top of your email so important?  The preheader plays a major role in whether or not someone opens your email.  According to this post from Lisa Harmon in the Email Experience Council blog, a preheader is meant to inform recipients of: who an email is from, what the email is about and what to do with it, and how to view it with images.  While some marketers make their preheader a call-to-action, it’s important for you to test and find out what works best for your campaigns.  Just be sure to make your preheaders eye-catching, interesting, and relevant.  After all, you never have a second chance to make a first impression!
  10. Send timely, targeted, relevant emails to subscribers who have asked for them. Email by this mantra and you will have a legit, successful email marketing program.
  11. You wouldn’t eat stale bread or drink stale milk, so why send stale email creative? Whether you’ve been sending the same template to your recipients for over a year, your subscriber list is getting smaller or at a standstill, or your call-to-actions aren’t getting any action, your email design may be to blame.  The arrangement of content and the overall aesthetic appeal play a major role in capturing the interest of your recipients.   Have another look at your design, or even better, have a professional look and provide you with feedback.
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