Our expert advice for creating successful creative email campaigns
What are the most important considerations for an effective creative email campaign?
Top level factors that need to be considered when creating effective creative email campaigns are:
- Distribution list – Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to your distribution list. Engaging with a few hundred dedicated followers and readers will have more impact that sending to thousands who simply delete your email. Spend time to ensure your data list is relevant and appropriate.
- Content – Make sure content is relevant to your readers. This might mean that you need to segment your distribution list into sub groups to ensure each group receives relevant content to them.
- Subject lines – Make sure your campaign subject line hits the mark. This is an area that is often used for A/B testing where two versions of a subject line is sent to two individual seed groups to begin with. The most effective subject line that receives the most opens, will then be used for the remainder of the distribution list. Whatever you decide, try to make sure it is less than 50 characters and contains an action oriented verb if you are wanting to promote action. Never use the word “newsletter” in your subject lines as this will almost certainly reduce your open rates.
- Mobile optimisation – Today the world has gone mobile and almost half of all marketing emails are opened on a mobile device first. Therefore it makes sense to have a mobile optimised email if you want people to read it and take action.
- Schedule and timing – Timing is extremely important for email campaigns. There isn’t a single right answer for this; the key is to use some thought and experiment with timing and schedules. A B2B email campaign for IT services might work best on a Tuesday afternoon, while offers for last minute weekend hotel breaks might be more effective on a Thursday lunchtime. Once you have found the optimum timing, make sure you stick to it. Also consider the regularity. Some creative email campaigns benefit from weekly sending schedules while others will be better as monthly or quarterly.
How effective is email marketing?
Poorly executed email marketing campaigns are not just ineffective but are also annoying to the recipient, not to mention potentially illegal. At Fourleaf, we focus on creative email campaigns that are targeted, ethical and effective.
However, the individual effectiveness of an email campaign will vary widely according to the specifics of the subject and audience. For example, an inventive email campaign to existing customers in a niche Hobbyist area such as model planes, could deliver an open rate of between 25% and 35%, while a consultancy services company might only achieve between 15% and 20%. The click through rate will also be quite different with around 4% to 10% for niche hobbyists while only 1.5% to 5% for consultancy services. Therefore, it is wise to not focus on the norms of email marketing as a whole.
We do however recommend that clients always set ambitious but reachable targets with a series of KPI’s such as open rates, click through rates, unsubscribes and sign-ups. By having a measurable set of targets we can ensure that our campaigns stay on track and deliver good returns.
How does tracking of email marketing campaigns work?
What makes good quality creative email campaigns stand out from other marketing forms such as direct mail, is the tracking capabilities. When a direct mail is sent in the post, you have no way of knowing what happened to it, whether it was read or thrown away. With email marketing, tracking can provide an in depth analysis of who opened your email, how many times they opened it, whether they clicked on any links or if they forwarded the email. This kind of insight is invaluable as a marketer. Using the data from analytics to inform decisions will also significantly help you generate returns.
Once setup, the tracking of email campaigns is completely automated and works via simple unnoticeable image downloads within the email. When a download is triggered, it reports back to your email analytics that an “event” has taken place and this can be seen in your analytics dashboard.
What is the best email marketing service/software?
We are often asked what is “the best” solution but in reality there is not a straightforward answer. At Fourleaf we do not recommend a one size fits all for which email platform or software you should use. Over the years we have used many different systems which all have their own benefits. While we do have our favourites, we recommend software providers on a case by case basis depending on client requirements. This can be based on:
- Cost – Some services will provide free plans which are perfect for lower volumes or occasional senders. Other platforms are more cost effective for large volume sending.
- Functionality – Sometimes our clients need, or will benefit from, specific functionality such as A/B testing or social media marketing.
- Integrations – It is not uncommon that we are required to undertake third party integrations with other systems and software such as CRM solutions. In these cases it might rule out certain email software providers.
We combine all these factors to make our recommendation on which is “the best” email marketing service or software for your specific needs. The most valuable thing you can do is to carefully think about and document all of the requirements you have. Selecting the right solution for the right reasons from the outset is imperative as changing platforms later can be extremely time consuming.
What are the Legal considerations of email marketing?
Marketing via email is not that much different to other forms of marketing. To ensure you comply with the law, you must still adhere to sensible rules. However, the laws surrounding email marketing are a lot more complex than many marketers realise. It is also important to note that B2C and B2B email marketing laws vary.
In either case, you must provide users with a simple way to unsubscribe or opt out of further emails. Usually this is handled automatically via an unsubscribe link or a simple reply email but it can be via other methods if needed. As long as their email address is removed from your list within 30 days of opting out, you have complied with your obligations.
You must also be clear and honest as to who you are, the fact that you are selling something if that is the intention of the email and the details of any promotions, offers or conditions.
If you are sending to a business in England and Wales (which can either be a Limited company, PLC, LLP, school, hospital or government department), you are allowed to send speculative, non-opted in emails as long as they are relevant and in a business context.
If you are sending to B2C emails, you can only send email marketing or campaigns to people that have given you permission to do so, also known as “opted in”. This opt in process usually happens at the point of signup to an email list, at the time of a purchase or at the attendance of an event etc. Just because someone is or has been a customer, does not give you the automatic right to email them in a marketing campaign.
The main point to learn is that email marketing law is not straightforward. You should either do your homework or make sure you use a professional creative email campaign service provider like Fourleaf.
Additionally, while there are legal aspects you must make sure you adhere to, we always advise our clients to also adhere to best practice guidelines. Although not mandatory, legal requirements best practice rules are there for a good reason. They hold you in people’s minds for the right reasons, rather than the wrong ones.