Best Practices in Email Marketing – Part II of II

A crash course for building a solid framework for success

When we last met, we talked about the importance of getting familiar with CAN-SPAM rules (legal dos and don’ts of email marketing), keeping data accurate, email appends, opt-ins and unsubscribes.

This time let’s talk about the best practices of putting together the emails; creating subject lines, formatting text or copy, graphics and videos, and some basic information about supporting your email programs.

Subject Lines

Why is this a topic for a best practice discussion? You tell people what the email is about; doesn’t seem too complicated, right? Well, yes and no. CAN-SPAM rules require that you not be misleading in the subject line of an email, but you also need to be aware of the “buzzwords” that may set off a domain’s SPAM filters and send the email directly to a Junk Mail or SPAM folder instead of an Inbox, where you want it to be. Do you use words and phrases including:

  • free
  • offer
  • bonus
  • cash
  • big bucks
  • chance
  • million
  • prize
  • winner
  • congratulations
  • luxury car
  • special promotion
  • weekend getaway
  • limited time

These words and phrases may seem harmless, but they may trigger a SPAM designation if other best practices are not used properly in conjunction.

Keep subject lines short and to the point, avoiding filler words, and place important words first so that they will appear entirely on a mobile device. Use the recipient’s first name to get their attention, and never start a sentence in the subject line that is completed in the body of the email. Using ALL CAPS is also a bad idea in a subject line and, for goodness’ sake, don’t make spelling errors!

Email Text or Copy

Be certain to use Responsive Design in creating your email messages. This allows the design to auto-adjust to the browser or viewing application that your device uses to display an email. You don’t want graphics or text to be lost in the display process of an email app on your phone.

Keeping the text or copy of an email short and to the point is also a must. You don’t want your recipient to have to scroll too much to get the purpose of the email. Especially since you don’t know if they will be viewing your messages on a mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer. The less work on the part of the recipient needed to see what you are presenting, the more likely your entire message will be seen and acted upon.

SPAM filters will scan the content of the email’s text just like the subject line. Keep your messaging concise and consistent. Don’t use a lot of ALL CAPS, excessive punctuation (!!!!!), and again, watch out for spelling errors.

Graphics and Videos

Appealing graphics are always a good idea in any marketing presentation. Keep your brand consistent, and don’t use graphics and effects that are too large and take too long to load. An email that is too slow to load, especially on a mobile device, may be deleted before it has a chance to be seen or set aside for later and forgotten.

Videos should be made available via a link in the email rather than embedded in the email itself. Again, short load times are key, but videos are hugely successful when they’re relevant and consistent with your brand and message.

Supporting Your Programs

Domains like Google (Gmail), Yahoo, AOL (yes, they are both still out there!), Hotmail (MSN) and many more, have a tremendous amount of responsibility to make sure the messages that make it to your inboxes are not harmful in nature. That includes written content, as well as embedded or attached viruses and malware. GDPR rules in Europe and the implications for what that means for future rules in the U.S. have put even more pressure on domains and email providers to ensure the safety of our inboxes.

The best practice for your email program in today’s environment is to educate your players and guests about your email program in the same way that you would a new and ongoing promotion.

Tell them what they will get when they allow you to send them email. Tell them what kinds of messages and offers you will send them. Tell them the email address their offers will come from and ask them to add that address to their address book and to whitelist the domain with their email provider (the part after the “@ symbol” in an email address). And even after all of that, remind them to check their SPAM folders to make sure your messages aren’t tagged as SPAM.

Email marketing is a never-ending exercise in trial and error, just like every other marketing endeavor you undertake. Paying attention to these basic best practices will give you a solid foundation for building a successful email marketing program.

Tami Jones 7 Articles