Posted 21st July 2011 | By Nick Evans, Chairman

So many companies have tried email marketing - and failed. Yet it is one of the most powerful weapons in the online marketer's armoury.

The people who you mail have given their permission for you to contact them - yes, they really want to hear from you. Add in the integration with social media and the complement that it forms to your website's link-building and it becomes indispensable.

This is a long post - and it's an abstract from my keynote in Stoke on Trent at the Business Summit on Friday 22 July, 2011.

Here are seven key areas of activity that make your email marketing work even harder for your business:

1. Good content
When writing your content, remember that less is more. Wordage is not popular with readers
The subject line is the gateway to the mail. Get it wrong and people won't open the mail, so think about it carefully and test and learn!
The headline - you have 3 seconds to grab people's attention. Make them count. Keywords.
The Call to Action - have one that is action-focused: Buy now, Read more, Download now ...
The design - making your email look great, attractive and effective

2. Good mailing list
Opted-in - make sure you follow the EU legislation to the letter
Regularly mailed - keep the list fresh buy mailing to them once a month, once a week ...
Not bought in - don't use commercial lists. No one on those lists said that they wanted to hear from you, specifically
Use a great system to maintain preferences, unsubscriptions and to manage welcome mails
Privacy managed - ensure that you have all the necessary privacy elements in your footer
Segmentation - divide your lists up so that people get the content that is relevant to them

3. Good sending setup
DNS records - DKIM and SPF: these help to ensure that your domain acknowledges the sending server and therefore grants permission for the mail to be sent
Whitelisted servers - these are trusted by email services. Only use these, but with clean data and good quality creative
Reliable rendering of content - make sure your encoding and image hosting are top notch
Optimised sending with throttling - some recipient servers won't welcome a barrage of emails from your system. Send mails gradually

4. Good testing
Check spelling - itll be very public if you make mistakes. They're irretrievable and often the subject of negative publicity
Check grammar - same as for spelling, but it can be worse. Missed or redundant apostrophes, incorrect idioms or simple bad grammar all make you look foolish
Check links - broken links are very common, but links that go to the wrong place are even more common - and does the page have all the right information, price, product, etc?
Test on email clients and for spam filters - there are commercial test facilities available that allow you to check what you mail looks like on every email client: web, desktop and mobile. They usually check your content for spam rating too

5. Good timing
Appropriate schedule - don't send on a public holiday, weekend or when there's a disaster in the news
Consider world and local events - volcanoes, revolutions, deaths and destruction are not conducive to your message's effectiveness - and check the content to make sure there's nothing that may affect people's sensitivities (like promoting shoot 'em up games just after a gunman's rampage
Consider when people will be most receptive is Monday morning at 9am the best time to send? Nope. Try Tuesday at 10am - usually fairly optimal (but don't everyone do it or we're canned!)
Learn from experience - try it, test it and if it works, improve it. If it doesn't, then think again

6. Good integration
Make your email messaging match your websites - keep the same headlines, calls to action, images and themes on both media. People know they've come to the right place when that happens
Provide Like and Share buttons - people will click them if they like your content and then they share your entire email with their network (who then share it with theirs and so on)
Share your campaign yourself - you have a network? On Facebook or Twitter? Then share the campaign from your system so that your network sees it too
Tell a friend - the single most powerful viral tool, but you have to get subscribers used to using it. Promote it hard (even offer incentives) because it's the way you grow your list

7. Good measurement
Make sure you measure - no point in sending if you don't know the effect
Measure the opens - see who opened and who didn't. Which mails bounced and why? Who unsubscribed or complained?
Measure the clicks - who opened, how often and when
Measure the campaigns - compare month on month, year on year
Measure effectiveness - what works; what doesn't; who's opening and clicking; who isn't ... and why?

Nick from ExtraMile Communications Ltd in Eccleshall (the business powerhouse of the West Midlands)

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