As you may or may not know, I work in the email marketing industry. It’s a very interesting field that has gotten a bad rap due to some undesirables shirking the law and their responsibility and creating what we know today as SPAM. Despite this set-back, email marketing is still one of the most popular and effective ways to reach consumers. Let us not forget that email was the first social media. In keeping with that theme, I have decided to write a blog that explores 12 best practices that apply to both social media and email marketing.
1. Write great subject lines.
This is the first rule of email marketing. Subject lines are the first thing a customer sees and are usually the deciding factor in how much attention they give an email. This is even more important in social media where many times your subject line is all you have. Using services like Twitter and Facebook you must focus on a strong “headline” if you hope to grab the attention of your over saturated audience. Don’t hurry writing your subject, come up with several different ideas and chose the one you think would appeal to your customer most.
2. Start strong and don’t forget about the preview pane.
The preview pane is that handy little window in email clients like Outlook and Thunderbird that shows a preview of the email before it is actually “opened”. It’s so useful in fact, that many people read their emails almost exclusively in this manner. Which means, the top section of your email is most important. In social media this applies to almost anything you present to your audience. There isn’t technically a preview pane, but there is in theory. Whatever a reader sees before they have to scroll down or click a link could be considered the preview pane. There’s an old journalists trick, we call it the “inverted pyramid”. Present the big picture at the beginning of your story and work your way down to small, less important details. This grabs the attention of your reader and ensures that even if they bail half way through the story, they didn’t miss the main point.
3. Avoid naughty language.
Chances are you’ve gotten SPAM before, but have you ever notice how they all seem share the same language? There seems to be a language of the disrespectful, unsolicited hard sell. SPAM filters are designed to pick up on this recurring “language of SPAM” by using Bayesian style filters. These types of filters have been popular for years and use common “SPAM words” to filter messages. The general idea is that by avoiding certain words and phrases can make your email more deliverable and your social media messages more palatable. If it looks like, smells like, and taste like SPAM, people are going to assume it is. The last thing you want is to associated with that dirty four-letter word.
4. “The difference between you and me? I make this look good.” – Will Smith, Men in Black
Despite the common advice to not judge books by their cover, everyone does anyway. This is true of websites, emails, and social media efforts. You might do everything else right, but if you have sloppy design, you can ruin any potential for success your hard work may have had. Not all companies need high style and design but look at your online media and ask yourself, “Would I be comfortable giving my credit card information to this company?” If your answer is no, you have a serious problem. Make your online efforts look professional and your clients will be more apt to click your links and buy your products.
5. Treat your recipients like real people.
There are many ways to appeal to your audience and no one way is best, but in the world of social media and email marketing, treating your clients with a respectful and personal touch can be the difference between success and failure. Online interaction can be notoriously cold and impersonal, if you find a way to break that mold and connect with your audience, you will give them a refreshing surprise that they are sure to respond to.
6. Focus on meaningful content.
Find out what your customers want and give it to them. Too many marketers get so wrapped up in their product that they forget about the consumer. If you provide your audience with something valuable, your campaign will be a success. Blatant solicitation is a waste of everyone’s time.
7. Establish your brand.
Assuming you are already producing content that your recipients actually want, the next step is to ensure that they don’t overlook your efforts. Maintaining similar design and messaging will make your online campaign familiar and it will make you recognizable to your audience. With the chaos that is the internet these days, this can be crucial to your success.
8. Let’s make a deal!
Including an offer is a fantastic way to attract attention and motivate social sharing. Exclusive offers are typically more attractive and have the potential of prompting recipients to send your offer to a friend if they find it an exceptional value. Free marketing doesn’t get any better than that! Don’t bother with this unless you can actually offer something with legitimate value and avoid being misleading at all costs.
9. Study provider policy.
Professionals in any field always do their homework. They know more about their topic than anyone else and they use that knowledge to their advantage. If you want to be a pro in the email marketing and social media world you need to know the policy’s of the major service providers. You wouldn’t ship goods somewhere without knowing the docking regulations of the port, so don’t be uninformed of the rules and regulations of companies like Yahoo!, Google, Facebook or Twitter.
10. Hire us to help!
Yes, this is a shameless plug and yes, we are available for freelance work.