New to email marketing? We’ll teach you how to email market. We know how confusing that can be. Helping people get started in email marketing is why we created The eMail Guide! Have any questions? Send us an email: [email protected] or post a comment and we’ll be happy to respond!
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started!
Email marketing isn’t about what you send out. It’s about what you get back. Outlook or any other eMail client (using addons or plugins) just doesn’t support the reporting data which is so critical to building a winning email marketing strategy. At the most basic level, you need to know who opened your messages and Outlook can’t give you even this information.
Outlook means you have to handle list hygiene (removing unsubscribe requests and invalid addresses) manually. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is not a lot of work because it is.
Outlook can tie up or even crash your company’s email server if you are sending out a lot of emails.
ISPs take a dim view of a lot of emails coming from one address/source. You may find your access turned off if you try to send out even just a few hundred eMails at one time. You may find your ISP shutting down your access or you might have server crashes as a result.
While there are creative templates available for Outlook, you really can’t be sure your creative design will translate on the receiver’s end as it looked on yours. An Email Service Provider provides the support to ensure your message’s creative arrives in the same condition it left. Considering Microsoft’s disregard for web standards with Outlook, this is a critical consideration.
Still don’t want to heed our advice and feel the urge to use Outlook?
Don’t put everybody in the CC field, use the BCC field. This prevents those you send to from seeing other’s addresses
- Check with your ISP to see what their outbound threashold is (the number of messages they will allow you to send out at once). This will fall somewhere between 20 – 50 addresses at a time.
- At the least if you want to go down this road, look into programs/plugins which work with Outlook for email marketing.
Knowing the basics of these laws is key to your success in email marketing. However, using a legitimate ESP will take most of that load off your shoulders since their livelihood depends on compliance. Any reputable ESP will ensure that you are provided the guidance you require to stay on the good side of the law with your email marketing campaigns.
Here are some other basic points you must follow to stay compliant with anti-spam laws in most regions:
- A valid reply (contact) address which is live and monitored.
- A propper unsubscribe address.
- Your physical address as an alternate for people to contact you at.
- Ensure your email header (subject line, from line and address) honestly represents who you are and the subject is not misleading.
Current anti-spam laws around the globe:
Canada (see also C-27 at CAUCE.org)
USA (see also CAN-SPAM at Email Stats Center)
What’s your SPAM IQ? Take a test designed for email users here and find out!
Buying or Renting an Email List
Rule 1: You can’t legally buy an email list.
Rule 2: If someone is trying to sell you a list, refer to rule 1.
As for list rental, the only proper way is when a list owner or manager (not yourself), will send your message to their list either as a standalone message or an included advertisment.
Any other variations beyond this, fall into the realm of spam and will do your brand harm.
No Email Service Provider (ESP) will knowingly allow you to send to a list which is not permission based. In other words, you need to have a list of email addresses from people who have opted in to get email from you. You can’t buy permission.
Matt Vernhout of Thindata puts it in perspective in this video interview with The eMail Guide’s Jeff Ginsberg.
Email List Building and Growth
You can use your current contacts to build your own list. Send your first email to those you have established a relationship with and ask them to opt-in. When you do contact them, make sure you tell them front and centre, who you are and remind them of your relationship – which of course, is why they are getting an email from you.
Here are some more ways to help you build your email marketing list:
- Web forms: If you’ve got a website you should be asking people to sign up to your email newsletter there.
- Refer-a-friend: Include a forward to a friend link in your email newsletter and on your website. This is a great way to expose new potential subscribers to opt-in to your list.
- Social Sharing links should be included in all your emails and on your website.
- Always place a subscribe link right next to your unsubscribe link. If someone has been forwarded your message this is a golden opportunity to get them to join your mailing list. Never hide a remove or unsubscribe link in an email or shove it to the bottom. You’d rather have them unsubscribe then have them click the “report spam” button.
- Create a preference centre for your website. This automates management of accounts where your subscribers update their addresses, unsubscribe and change subscriptions. This will save you a lot of time and money.
- Offer incentives such as discount coupons or down-loadable content (white papers) to get people to sign up.
A word about postive and negative opt-ins:
- A positive opt-in is where you actually offer someone the chance to click a box to opt-in and recieve emails from you.
- A negative opt-in is where you might use your contact list to send them an email and give them the opportunity to then opt-out but, continue to send them email if they do not select to opt-out. In general, the positive opt-in method is the better way to go.
Email marketing is about building relationships and positive relationships take time and effort. The good news is that you already have relationships you’ve built and nurtured with current contacts and those contacts will form the foundation of your email marketing success.
Email Marketing Reports and Stats
As mentioned earlier, email clients such as Outlook don’t provide any statistical reporting. You can’t judge how effective your efforts are if you don’t know who opens your messages or who clicks through on links in them. Having this data is absolutely necessary if you want to get anything out of an email marketing strategy.
With a reputable ESP you’ll get a range of reports such as:
- Delivered: how many emails were sent out.
- Opens: how many emails were actually opened.
- Clicks: (AKA Click-Throughs or Click-Through-Rate) – how many links were clicked on.
- Bounces: a hard bounce is a non-existant address, while a soft-bounce means the email just didn’t get to the recipient that one time.
- Unsubscribes: how many people have opted to remove themselves from your list via the unsubscribe link.
- Forwards: how many email were forwarded by recipients.
- Conversions or Sales: number of those who’ve interacted or even purchased something on your website (via a link in your email).
HTML Email Creative Resoures
Most ESPs provide templates which are easy to customize for your needs. This reduces time and effort and frees up resources on your end to focus on other priorities. Anyone who’s ever dealt with an overtaxed creative department can tell you this is a life saver. If you need some creative inspiration, have a look at these eMail creative examples.
ESPs also easily support in-house creative designs as well. It’s usually a simple matter of cutting and pasting code to incorporate your creative.
You can NOT use MS Word to build HTML which is critical for creative email messages.
Coding HTML email messages is a very hard thing to do. Here are some links whic you will find helpful:
Or use a creative service to design a custom email template for you such as:
Scaleability and Growth
Using an Email Service Provider allows you to focus on the message and not on the technical problems of growing needs. Decide what your priorities are first before evaluating possible ESPs:
- Think ahead! Where is your list going?
- Do you see your list growing to thousands or hundreds of thousands?
- How many names you have on your list and how often you are sending to them all influences what solution may be right for you
What matters most to you regarding your email marketing needs?
- Is it throughput?
- Is it functionality/features?
- Is it data reporting?
Is the company you are thinking of working with stragetic and technical enough to get you where you want to go in the long term? You may have to try more than one vendor to see what solution fits your needs. The eMail Guide has hundreds of eMail Service Providers listed and they all have their strengths and advantages — find a vendor who fits you and not the other way around.
A good ESP can simply grow with you as your needs do. Most ESPs offer free trials and if your list is small enough, some offer a “free forever” service.
Email Support and Accountability
With an ESP it’s one stop shopping for both accountability and support. If you choose the in-house route, most support issues will require you to coordinate more than one department or individual to resolve the issue. This can result in “cat herding” and we all know you can’t herd cats.
We’ve complied a list of questions you should ask any Email Service Provider before you sign on the dotted line.
Scott Hardigree guides you through hiring an email marketing expert here.
Email Marketing Tips and Tricks
- Start small and keep it simple!
- Connect with others and see what they are doing. A simple Google search for examples will bring up a lot of inspiration.
- Take a look at examples featured in industry blogs and at many Email Service Providers websites.
More helpful articles on email marketing:
What email marketers can learn from Sherlock Holmes
A good post to start with!
Glossary of email marketing terms explained in plain English
Knowing the lingo means a better comfort level and brings wisdom.
Great email marketing conversation starters
Some great talking points to get those meetings buzzing.
Using HTML to improve your click-through-rate
There’s more to it than just grapics and hyper-links.
Creating relevant email marketing campaigns
Your campaigns won’t work and your reputation will suffer if they are not relevant to your subcribers.
Never use a “no-reply” address…EVER
Your reply address should be monitored by a real person who responds to subscriber feedback.