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Reach your audience with email

 23 May 2014

As a creative you should be allocating a portion of your time to marketing. In the online world this often translates to using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. However, email still remains one of the most effective forms of online marketing.

"You will want to do everything to ensure none of your subscribers flag your email as spam."

There are over 3.5 billion email accounts in use, with 91 per cent of consumers saying that they check their emails daily. 

When done right, email can be an incredibly effective and cheap way of reaching your market, but it can be easily done badly too. Here are some tips to get you started in email marketing.

1. Build an email list

It goes without saying that key to email marketing is a mailing list. Use your existing marketing assets to grow your email list. Place a sign-up form prominently on your website, and promote it on your Facebook and Twitter accounts and in your printed promotional material.

2. Use an email marketing service

Your personal email account is not designed to send out bulk emails, and can, in the most extreme cases, lead to your personal email account being identified as spam and consequently shut down.

You are much better off using one of the many online email marketing service providers such as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor.

Start off by thinking about solving a problem your potential subscriber might be struggling with

These are useful for a number of reasons. They offer: 

  • extensive list management features, such as handling subscriptions automatically
  • customisable, drag-and-drop email templates
  • open and click reports
  • list segmentation.

The email marketing service provider you choose should come down to preference. But it should be noted that free offers tend to be limited in how many emails you can send – MailChimp's offer goes up to 2000 addresses.

3. Give them a reason to subscribe

The average person's inbox is overflowing with emails, so "get updates" isn't going to cut it. You need to offer something of value.

Split testing is an excellent way of experimenting with what works best. 

You will have to experiment and see what works for you, but it can help to start off by thinking about solving a problem your potential subscriber might be struggling with.

Identify what they want to learn from you and consider offering this in an appealing format, such as part of video course, a cheatsheat or an e-book toolkit.

4. Avoid the hard sell

Once you have them subscribed, continue to provide useful content, sharing tips, insights and inspirations. Whatever you do, avoid the hard sell.

Your audience is made up of subscribers who have shown an interest in you and what you have to say. If your content is useful, sales should follow naturally.

5. Develop a schedule and stick to it

Subscribers expect to be emailed at frequent intervals, which should have been outlined at the point of signing up. Emailing too frequently will have many reach for the 'junk' or, even worse, the 'spam' button.

Conversely, leaving it too long before you email your subscribers can have the same negative effect. 

6. Don't spam

Emailing too frequently will have many reach for the junk or, even worse, the spam.

What's considered spam is in the eyes of the beholder. You will want to do everything to ensure none of your subscribers flag your email as spam, so make sure the content of your emails matches the recipient's expectations. 

Including an 'unsubscribe' link is more than good practice – it's a legal requirement.

Image-only emails are often associated with spam and hence have an increased rate of being regulated to the junk folder.

These should also be avoided because images are blocked in most email applications, so you will want to avoid turning one of your pretty leaflets or brochures into an image to send as an email. 

7. Split test your email campaign

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is preparing and sending two versions of an email campaign to two small groups, containing as many as you wish to define, within your email list. The version that gains more opens or clicks is sent to the remaining recipients. 

Split testing is an excellent way of experimenting with what works best. For example, you can play around with varying the subject lines, the main text or the images.