Content Reminders and Tips

Email marketing should help you drive traffic to your Web site to build your business. The results can have multiple benefits: list rental to find new customers, sponsorships of others’ e-letters, efforts to capture leads and to communicate with your interested audiences, and so on. Ultimately, these efforts have to yield bottom-line dollars. This week, I’ll be giving you some tips on reviewing your email communications to check for what may be ailing you if you’re not getting those coveted responses that yield dollars.

Is Your Call to Action Clear?

This is a big theme in several areas of this article. Be straightforward. Tell your audience to “click here.” Believe it or not, it’s not always clear, and, due to browser and mail client inconsistencies, you need to make sure readers know how to get to what you are offering, especially when it is simply the rest of the article itself — let alone a sales offer.

Be clear about where the link is taking them: “Click here to read on,” “Click here to enter our contest.” You get the idea.

Are You Tracking Your Links?

Even if you are not using a sophisticated email broadcasting solution that provides click-through data, you can isolate pages on your site by looking closely at your log files. This takes coordination among the people managing your Web server, your Webmaster (not always the same people), and you. When your Webmaster creates a page for you, make sure that your log-file reporting will provide you information about how many impressions are served off the page that “called the action” in your email message.

Can Readers Forward to a Friend?

Viral or referral marketing is the best way to build your list. We all tell our friends about good service experiences, great stores and restaurants, something nice someone has done for you, an offer that is too good to pass up — this is what it’s about.

Get your audience to spread the word. Again, you need to be clear and bold about asking for readers’ help. Put the mention in every communication (of course, use good judgment — unsubscribe confirmations are not a place for this). Maybe make it part of your footer or logo. Consider creating a campaign that rewards people who forward and actually create new additions to your list. It can be done manually, but it is much easier when using email solution providers that have options to help you track forwarded mail. Best-of-breed providers allow you to track individuals who actually forwarded the message, and then also track the conversions from those forwarded messages.

If you are managing a smaller list, manually creating a reward campaign can be done by setting up a mailbox that lets people send you a note that says, “Joan Jett, email@address, referred me to your list.” Once you get three like that for Joan, reward her. You can reinforce the entire campaign in your e-letter by letting people know who is referring and how much and what they have received in return for their hard work.

Sponsorships and Ads: Are You Telling It Like It Is?

If your e-letter’s or Web site’s existence relies on traffic or on click-throughs for advertisers (as so many do), make sure you gently remind your audience to patronize your sponsors. Choosing advertisers and sponsors relevant to the content will greatly improve the responses from your recipients.

Your audience may need that reminder, especially when you are advertising your own services or products. Don’t be too shy; if they don’t like it, they will let you know — and you should ask for the feedback. Your audience may even have ideas for advertisers you hadn’t thought about considering.

For instance, include this in your opening statement each time: You are receiving this because… Please help us continue to provide this valuable letter — our sponsors pay our way. Remember to visit them periodically; we try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. These last few seem so basic that I almost hate to mention them, but they are so important that they bear reminding:

  • Check your “From” name and address. Are you helping your customers recognize your email messages through the use of a name and address that will be familiar to them? Make sure you also consider the branding opportunity in these elements.

  • Check for your intro statement. I covered this recently, but it can’t be said enough. Make sure your recipients know how they got onto your list. It goes a long way toward retaining them through building trust.
  • Double-check all your hotlinks and line wrapping. Seems too simple? There is not much worse than people getting interested enough to click and then have them going “nowhere.” It just happened to me this morning on a list I’ve been considering dropping. Guess what? I did unsubscribe — one too many dead links! It is best to use a 60-character line length and monospace font when formatting the text. You will be formatting to the lowest common denominator, and your links and line wrapping will likely turn out fine on the recipients’ end.

That’s it for this week! Happy August.

Until the 18th…

— Jackie G.

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