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Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Campaign

Like any consumer, you know what you want to see in your inbox.

Spam immediately will be deleted. 

Useful items may be kept around for a little bit. If the item is especially good, it might even be saved into a folder for future reading. 

So a company must be strategic in its email marketing and newsletters to consumers and members. 

One expert says the first step frankly is to respect your audience.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘are you delivering content that’s valuable?’” said Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs and author of Content Rules. “Take your subscribers seriously and don’t abuse the relationship. People unsubscribe when you’re not providing value through what you’re mailing them. If you start from there, it’s an easier road when it comes to email marketing.”

A lot of thought goes into each MarketingProfs daily email newsletter, which is sent to roughly 423,000 subscribers and members.

Every part in the newsletter is intentional, starting with the table of contents at the top or “above the fold.” 

This placement allows readers to easily view headlines and see the small abstract explaining each component of the newsletter. There’s also a great mix of content with every newsletter – blogs podcasts, suggested tweets for members to use, infographics, surveys and webinars. 

“We want people to open the newsletter and we want people to love the newsletter,” Handley said. 

Best Friends Animal Society employs a very similar strategy.

The group currently has several current campaigns, including Fix at Four which uses humorous videos to show not only why but when to spay/neuter, and NKLA, which is the group’s initiative to make Los Angeles a no-kill city by 2017.

Every email that Best Friends Animal Society sends out – whether it’s a weekly update or a fundraising newsletter – includes a theme or a different slice of the work that the group is involved in.

Senior copywriter Elizabeth Doyle said when it comes to writing, she remains mindful of voice, rhythm, melody and flow.

“It needs a very conversational tone,” said Doyle, who has been writing for Best Friends Animal Society for a decade. “Writing should have high notes and low notes. It should have pauses and breaths so you’re recreating the experience of someone talking with you. People are more likely to take the action you’re asking them to take, whether you’re asking them to support a cause, adopt a pet, make a donation or check out your website.”

When it comes to planning the monthly newsletter of PR Newswire, the marketing department treats the product very much like a news publication. 

It’s about getting content that makes sense for readers, said David Korvah, marketing specialist with PR Newswire. 

Physically producing the newsletter can take anywhere from a few days to a week.

Korvah compiles the newsletter by pulling from places like the PR Newswire blog, Beyond PR. He looks for items that reinforce the message of social media and targeting influencers.

“We look for broad stories that our audience would enjoy and that a PR or marketing person could use in their day-to-day,” Korvah said.

The newsletter tracks its success through member engagement.

Every link within the newsletter is designed to reach a dedicated landing page, which enables marketing officials to track how consumers enter certain sites and product areas. 

When it comes to executing international email campaigns, there are many cultural and practical considerations to keep in mind.

“We assume if it’s OK here, it’s probably OK there, but that’s where most of the mistakes happen right off the bat,” said Scott Neuberger, president of San Diego-based Infocore. 

Infocore specializes in sourcing email lists for US multinationals around the world, including the fast-growing economies of Brazil, China and India. 

High-growth markets such as China have leapfrogged in marketing media so traditional direct mail marketing is less prevalent, Neuberger said. 

“Email marketing is a common strategy in China,” he said. “Telemarketing also works and is the most accepted form of marketing there. Email is sort of a data collection and customer acquisition strategy – usually an entry point – but the phone is a key part of the transaction sequence.”

Neuberger offered additional rules for reaching some top international markets: 

  • In Germany, email marketing to consumers at homes or businesses requires double opt-in.  This is the strictest law in Europe.  Double opt-in means that someone has to check a box saying they want to receive email from you on a website and then affirm that preference by clicking on an email sent to that email address. 
  • In France, email marketing to consumers requires opt-in consent, which means the person whether they are already a customer or not needs to give consent for you to send marketing. Also, marketing email messages usually are sent from an email broadcast company designated by the advertiser.  This is different than the US.  In the US, most email marketing messages are sent from the company that a person has opted in to.  In the US, that is required for compliance with CAN-SPAM.
  • In the UK, third-party email lists are available for prospecting to both consumer and business audiences.  Email marketing to existing customers via newsletters is very common and accepted.
  • In Brazil, the key to a good response rate is a relevant subject. Also, using a local service provider in Brazil is important to ensure email deliverability is good. Finally, managing email frequency is important so your audience does not opt out.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.