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What You Need to Know: The Ultimate Email Marketing Checklist

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When it comes to email marketing, you might think “well that’s pretty easy, you’re just sending someone an email!” Well, yes, that’s true, but that’s only the first part. It’s the marketing that’s the hard bit. Just like this title: The Ultimate Email Marketing Checklist. Fancy, right? It’s designed to make you want to read on – well, how is it the ultimate checklist? What am I going to learn from this that I won’t learn anywhere else? Honestly, that’s up to your judgement, but it definitely hooked you, didn’t it?

Just like with an email marketing campaign, you need to grab the reader by the front of their shirt and not let them go until you’re done. Sending out a lot of wishy-washy drivel that everyone’s going to immediately delete isn’t doing anyone any good. Not the reader, not the customer, and not you. Engagement – as with everything marketing related – is key. Setting up an email marketing campaign alongside your social media campaign (just like we talked about in our Social Media Checklist article) can be a real boost. But, for now, let’s think about what makes a great email, well, great.

The Subject Line

The first thing that your prospective customer, reader or user is going to see. You need to make sure that it’s short, snippy and engaging; that your reader is going to want to click on your email rather than just bin it. Subject lines between 4 and 15 characters seem to be the best of the bunch. This is a common theme on most email marketing checklists, with good reason. Getting your subject line right will make people want to read – it’s as simple as that.

Depending on your company, you could go with a pun or joke, or something more serious but equally as engaging. Answer a question the consumer may have. Make them laugh. Make them think. Any way you go, just make sure it’s punchy and to-the-point. Long-winded titles just send people to sleep. The same goes with most writing, but with email marketing, getting the subject line right is key.

What’s in a sentence?

Or, a little simpler: what is the first thing (after the subject) that your reader sees? With most emails, you’ll see who the sender is, the subject line and then a portion of the first sentence. What some email marketers don’t realise is that when you have ‘Click here to display images’, or ‘Click here if the email isn’t working’ at the top of the page, that’s the sentence that appears on the email user’s main page. You need something short that fits with the tone of your business. ‘Hello and welcome to the Thunderdome’ may work for a comic book shop, or a social media outlet trying to relate to its audience, but definitely won’t work for an accountancy firm (unless you’re really trying to make maths cool).

After the subject line, the first sentence is what pulls you in, so it needs to be snappy. Or, at the very least informative. But, especially, it needs to be personal. Say hello. Tell the reader what’s going on. But, most importantly, tell the reader why you’re emailing them in the first place! Most people will wonder what on Earth a random email is doing in their inbox, so make sure that you let them know.

Who’s your target?

Of course, there may be a huge range of people you’re sending your email to, but quite often there’s a certain kind of business you’ll want to be targeting. Look at company sizes and job functions. What are they going to want to see? What is most in demand at the moment? Be current, but also be specific. Don’t start talking about something that got sorted out last month; no one cares! Be relevant, be smart and be snappy. Don’t spend the whole email talking about something completely unrelated. Why are you emailing them? Is it about a new product? A new event? Well, it has to be something that’s going to interest them otherwise you wouldn’t be emailing. What is it? Why should they pay you money for it?

If it’s a larger company, you may be directing it toward the CEO, sales department or general workers. But, they’ll have a little more money to spend on something if it’s really, really fantastic. If it’s a smaller company, then you’ll need to make sure you talk about how much money they’ll be saving with you. A great rule of thumb for anything you’re trying to sell, really.

Getting up close and personal

Getting what you need to across is key. Being vague and unhelpful when you’re the one shouting about your newest product or scheme is a real turn-off. But, sometimes, being more personal will work better than filling an email with cold, hard data. When it comes down to it, splurging data is a double-edged sword. Receiving an email that feels like it’s just for you is a wonderful feeling, especially when you agree or appreciate the content. But, with the flip-side of that being not a lot of information and coming out the other side with less information than you started with, it’s hard to tread that line. And, it is a fine line.

Knowing who you’re targeting, as we spoke about in the previous section, can help you tailor your email toward the right people. You’re not going to hit the mark with everyone – that’s nearly impossible. But, if you target, say, small businesses with younger employees, make sure most of the people you’re emailing are young people in small businesses. Use the right kind of language, use a GIF or two (where appropriate), let them know that you’re “down with the kids”, as it were. If you’re emailing large businesses with an average age of 40 or over, that’s probably not the best strategy. Be appropriate, but act as if the customer matters. You’re the one emailing them out of the blue; make what you’re saying worth their time.

What’s up with your copy?

Honestly, you’re not going to get everything perfect all of the time. But, with email marketing, you have all the time in the world to get it right before you send it out. Make every word count. Don’t waffle on about something the reader’s not going to care about. Go back, re-read it, get someone else to read it for the first time. Email it to them acting as if you’re from a completely different company. See how they react.

The words are the most important part of any email. They are the email. Make sure that there aren’t any grammar or spelling mistakes – read, read and then read again. Your tone and voice are important as well, they’ll help you align the text with whatever your company’s brand is. Colloquial, professional or somewhere in between. Really, the copy should be a reflection of the previous points. If you’ve done your research and made sure you’re thinking about your target audience, you should be good.

The extra stuff

Are you including a call to action at the bottom of your email? Do you have examples of “nice” photos (i.e. professionally taken images, usually from free stock websites)? If you have any influential Twitter users in your business, perhaps they’re talking about a similar idea to you. You can always embed a tweet, or link to something relevant that they’ve said. Other than that, making sure that your email is responsive is a big deal. A lot of your customers or users will be viewing on mobile or tablets and if they can’t look at your email properly, then you’re stuffed! You’ll lose interest before they’ve even read the first line.

Remember that email marketing is both an art and a science. But, don’t fret! Experiment and see what works. People may start turning you away at the start, but when you understand what’s going wrong (i.e. looking at the analytics of who opens your emails, who throws them away and who reads and follows through) you can rectify it. Writing brilliant copy might not hit the mark every time, but if you keep at it you’ll find email marketing to be a fantastic tool that you can utilise alongside your social media and your SEO.