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The 10 Commandments of Email Marketing

Email marketing can open up a sea of opportunity for your business and lead to legions of customers in your database. Read the 10 commandments below to help you achieve some mighty results.


1. Thou shalt not use long subject lines in your email campaigns.

The subject line will be the first thing recipients will see in their inbox. Therefore it should be as short as possible, preferably under 40 characters, including spaces, and aim to spark their interest to open the email.

Try this: Look at what other email marketers, and even what spammers are doing. Look at the way their subject lines contain short, intriguing sentences that pique the reader’s curiosity.

2. Thou shalt not bore one’s customers with long paragraphs.

When writing content for email marketing, remember that readers will most likely scan the content for keywords that interest them. To ensure your message gets through, you need to make your point as concise as possible.

Try this: Challenge yourself to reduce your paragraphs to no longer than 2 or 3 short sentences, by removing as many words as you can in each sentence.

3.  Thou shalt not expect recipients of one’s email campaigns to read them on a regular basis if there is not something in it for them.

The challenge for email marketing campaigns isn’t getting recipients to read them. It’s getting them to read your emails regularly.

Try this: Provide value adds or incentives such as free tips relating to the use of your product or service. This should cost your business very little and be perceived by your customer as relevant and of value. Over time, this will keep customers interested enough to open and read your email campaigns on a regular basis.

4. Thou shalt not try to achieve a direct sale every time.

Sometimes generating a lead from an email campaign can be far more successful than going for the hard sell. Depending on what you’re promoting in your email campaigns, the generation of a qualified lead – whether that’s a phone enquiry, a customer downloading free tips or filling out an expression-of-interest form – can provide very good results.

Try this: Offer your customers a free trial or demonstration that will allow you to generate a qualified lead.

5. Thou shalt not assume one’s email campaigns are working. Track and analyse everything religiously.

To achieve real success with your email marketing campaigns, you must know what has worked and what hasn’t. A bulk email marketing tool can provide a full statistical view on your opened, not opened, bounce and click through rates after each campaign. Keep a record of these so you can understand how each campaign compares with the last.

6. Thou shalt not send email campaigns without testing them first.

When using the templates of a bulk email marketing tool or html code provided by your developer, be aware that your email campaign can appear completely different in alternate email clients. An email campaign that views perfectly in Outlook 2003 can look completely horrible in Outlook 2007.

Try this: Use the free email accounts you set up for collecting subject line examples and send test emails of your campaigns to these accounts. As for Outlook 2003/2007 find someone you know who uses the software and send the campaigns to them.

7. Thou shalt not send untargeted email campaigns.

The more relevant the message is within your email campaign to the customer reading it, the better your chances are of achieving campaign success. Use information about your customers captured in your database to target the right message to the right customer.

Try this: Using a bulk email system will allow you to track exactly which links your customers have clicked on. Use this information to segment your customer database into what they are interested in.

8. Thou shalt not spam one’s customers.

Receiving too many email marketing campaigns from the same sender within a short period of time can reduce the likelihood of the customer opening future emails. Find a fine balance when planning the regularity of your campaigns in order to achieve the highest open rate and lowest unsubscribe rate.

Try this: Split your database into segments according to product, industry, interests or location. These segmented databases will allow you to send multiple targeted email campaigns to different customers at the same time, ensuring you are not contacting the same customers too frequently.

9. Thou shalt not expect one’s database to grow miraculously by itself.

Getting potential customers to opt-in and receive your email campaigns is a process you must continually work towards.

Try this: Gather additional email addresses from your customers by integrating your accounts/invoicing with email. Provide your customers with the option to receive their monthly invoice via email, in turn providing you with an up-to-date email address list that can be used for marketing purposes.

10. Thou shalt not cut corners when designing one’s email campaign.

Good design and layout is the key to customers absorbing your marketing message.

Try this: Place your primary message, whether it is an image or just text, in a position that is likely to be viewed in the recipient’s email preview pane. Have a good ratio between white space and text as this will mean the customer is more likely to read it.

Following these 10 commandments will ensure your email marketing campaign is successful.

Francis Dunne is the Marketing Manager for Webcentral

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Francis Dunne

Francis Dunne

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