Email & HTML emails
If you decide to set up an email campaign or already have one, you need to make sure it is informative and has purpose or you could be wasting a great marketing opportunity! Building up a contact list can often take time but it is definitely worth starting to build up contacts even if you are going to wait a while before commencing your email campaign. However you may have questions, many people are not totally sure whether they should opt for HTML or text based email, if they should track the email and what outcomes they will expect. Failure to see these things 'in the cold light of day' can lead to unachievable expectation from which there is only one way to go - down !
What is the difference between email and HTML email ?
Many people ask us to describe the difference between email and HTML email. Simply put email is text based only usually all one text colour, where as HTML email usually contains different size text, colours images and so on. It can be very common to find that promotional and updates you receive by email are HTML email, where as the email you'd type to a friend would most often be text based email.
One of the main differences is that many of the harsher spam filters can remove HTML email and place it in a 'junk folder' without it even appearing in your inbox. This can be annoying if it happens before the recipient has had a chance to decide if it is wanted or uninvited and not applicable or of interest to them. Therefore many companies have reverted to text based email or a blend of HTML and text based messages to try and ensure that the recipient sees at least some of their communications.
Another factor to consider is that just like web browsers that you use to view a web page like you are doing now, email packages display HTML emails very slightly differently depending upon the package and the version number. "Factory settings" differ on proprietary email packages and newer versions are set to so called "anti-spam settings" and do not allow emails that are image heavy or link heavy to be directed to the inbox without adjusting settings. Whilst this undoubtedly does help it can also filter off 'innocent emails' that the recipient may have wanted to read, this can be another reason that people favour text based email.
Who should I send email to ?
Building up an email data list can take many weeks months or even years. Data can be purchased on the open market from companies that specialise in selling digital addresses. The problem is that your message need to get to the correct within the company or organisation that you are sending it to. Until it is in the correct inbox it could be viewed by other recipients as unwanted spam. Sadly you will often find that your email is unsubscribed and your list of recipients shortened, before you have found the correct person who is responsible for the products and services you can offer. Therefore we advise that you build your list slowly and carefully. A 'cheap list' may land you with 'lady luck' but more often you end up with a load of 'old muck'. In these situation the only person that 'wins' is the company who sold you the list. You are not alone many companies spend vast amounts of money on a list which they then call to "qualify" the data. Sadly this is still not a guarantee that you will not be unsubscribed or end up languishing in 'junk mail folders' or spam filters.
Our best advise is to have an area on your website where you can allow visitor and customers to sign up for email updates. This type of list building usually creates a much slower unsubscribe rate. It goes without saying that if your communications are not 'on message' and interesting even these people will unsubscribe from your list.
Email tracking pros and cons
It is possible to track email and much rubbish is also spouted regarding the pro and cons of email tracking and also what is and is not possible. Previously in this article we mentioned that different proprietary email packages have different settings. Some of these interfere with the tracking methods that is traditionally used with email monitoring.
Most email systems will allow you to track the number of opened emails, bounced emails, links that are clicked on and so on. Whilst it is important to sometimes have this data to allow you to target the best style and approach for your customer base, we'd argue that the 'acid test' was whether it generate enquiries or not.
You can spend vast amounts of money honing your style and ensuring that your brand is well received and your communications opened and read, however if that does not generate some type of revenue for you or your advertisers your method for offsetting your costs may soon disappear and no longer be an option to you. Therefore the final test has to be, in our opinion the number of enquiries that you communication generated. Don't be too harsh though, it may be that your emails are part or a 'multi-part' strategy and it is not until part way through the cycle that you are expecting many results.
However you organise your approach you need to ensure that you have some type or tracking and success measuring system in place to ensure a good return on investment.
Do you need an email campaign manager, are you currently looking for someone to run your 'out-of-house' email campign. We can design and run the campaign for you. We can also help you to identify who to target your emails towards, to ensure that your customers are specifically targetted.