Here are a few of the most important elements in an email campaign.
There is more information than we can possibly fit into this format. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions – we are passionate about our work and love to talk about it!
- Sacrificial Domains
- Content & Subject Lines
- Email formats
- Blackberries and other handhelds with small-screens
- Opting In
- Testing for Rendering and Deliverability
Setting up your Account
Sacrificial email domains
We set up a “sacrificial” domain to protect your main corporate domain and email addresses.
We do this in part to avoid attracting spam to this address. Any email posted on the web attracts bots who harvest these addresses. Over time, these addresses become heavily spammed. This is the biggest reason we use sacrificial domains.
Using a sacrificial domain also allows us to filter the incoming emails and send only the emails that are relevant back to you. (A lot of junk comes back from every campaign and it is much easier for us to do this for you.)
We have set the system up so I receive all raw responses and then forward relevant responses to you using the .msg attachment method which allows you to open and reply to the email as if you received it in your own inbox.
Please do not hesitate to let us know if you would like to change the routing on any of your email addresses at any time.
Your corporate domain should be kept as secure and clean as possible. We pay for, manage and optimize the domain and DNS for these sacrificial domains, and send our emails from a fixed IP address. Should anything happen to the domain for whatever reason, it is easy to start fresh. This is not so easy with your corporate domain/IP address. Should your corporate domain be blacklisted for instance, you may not even know about it until an important client doesn’t receive your emails.
We all know how important first impressions are. We work with you and your team to design an HTML email template that fits your corporate branding.
You tell us what you want your customers, potential investors and shareholders to see.
We’ll take care of the rest.
Content & Subject Lines
Our pricing assumes you write the content for your emails. We will run a basic spelling and grammar check before sending, but your team is responsible for issuing a “Final Approval to Send” which means your company has signed off on the content, graphics, spelling and grammar in the email itself.
Every component of your email campaign is important. We will guide you through the technical aspects of the process, optimizing deliverability based on things like spam ratings, proper headers, clean code, etc.
Perhaps the most important component is what you have to say in your emails.
There are a few things to think about before you compose your message:
- Is my content providing value to my readers?
- Who are my readers? Will they appreciate text that is funny and colloquial, or will they expect text that is more formal in nature?
- Does my subject line make people curious enough to actually open my email? Subject lines are incredibly important and should be given time to consider. They also impact your spam rating. Ask us how.
Formatting your e-mail campaigns
Email is becoming more complex rather than simpler.
HTML is now the standard for formatting email, but this is still relatively new compared to HTML for web design.
One of the reasons is that there are many more types of email clients in general use today than web clients. Its true that Outlook is becoming a standard for desktop email clients, but your audience is increasily relying on web based email and wireless email to handheld devices.
This has made the task of formatting email messages much more complex.
Dr. Basil Peters has written a comprehensive article on current “Best Practices for Communicating with Shareholders” in which he discusses the intricacies of formatting an email campaign. Click here to read his article on AngelBlog now.
In short, we send your email in a minimum of three formats:
- Plain text
More and more people are receiving and reading their emails on Blackberries and other small-screen handheld devices. Often, a standard HTML coded email with graphics and charts will not render well on a small-screen device. We spend time testing your email on handheld devices to make sure people are able to access a properly coded web version that renders well on these devices, sometimes having to code a special Blackberry/Handheld web version for CEO Updates and other appropriate campaigns.
Please do not hesitate to ask us more about this – we work hard to make sure your email is accessible and friendly in as many different platforms as possible.
In order to be compliant with current best practices, we send every email in a dual format known as “Multi-part MIME”.
Approval to Send
We will not send your email until we have written approval from a designated individual within your company. This is most often your CFO.
A very big part of what we do is help you build, clean, update and maintain your email contact database.
The success of any email campaign depends in large part on the quality of your contact database. It should go without saying that your list should only have people on it who have consented to receive your emails.
A small list might seem discouraging when you first begin. If you are fastidious about maintaining a database of contacts that have given you permission to send your emails, and whose email addresses are up-to-date, no matter how small your list is initially, your success will be much greater than if you have a large database of out-of-date, disinterested contacts.
We have seen amazing results with tiny lists of very interested recipients who are excited about receiving the emails our clients have worked so hard on. These lists produce high rates of conversion and a buzz that takes on a life of its own.
We have also seen heavy lists filled with thousands of names, many of which are out-of-date because people have switched companies, retired or changed their focus. These lists tend to fall flat. They look impressive because they are so large, but because they are not timely and clean, very few of the recipients are engaged or listening.
There are some very effective tools to help companies and individuals maintain a clean and relevant database of contacts who want to receive their emails.
Making sure that each and every person in your database has requested the emails you will be sending is imperative in today’s ever-changing world of communications.
Every campaign is tested extensively before we hit send. The testing phase of the campaign takes between 2 and 4 hours to complete depending on what we discover during the process. We test each email for:
We test rendering in across browsers and email clients
- Spam Filters
We run the email through extensive spam filter testing from SpamAssassin to DCC. Many email clients use different spam filtering software, so testing this can be an adventure. If we discover a certain subject line, or different HTML coding works well in one email client, but not in another, we are able to code your email differently for different e-mail clients if you wish.
- Seed e-mail accounts
We have a variety of seed email accounts with most major providers so we can tell ahead of time if your email is getting through.
The W3C is responsible for developing a collective understanding around Web standards. Many spam filters check the HTML behind your email. If the code is not compliant with current W3C standards, the email has a greater chance of being trapped in an over-zealous filter. We hand-code every email. Before we hit send, we run all of our code through the W3C validator to make sure it receives the W3C stamp of approval.
Tracking Your Campaigns
There are a variety of metrics we use to measure how well your email campaigns are performing. Each campaign should contain a “call to action,” or an action you would like your reader to take. This is the most accurate way of determining how interested your audience is.
Opens can help you determine if your message is reaching the desired recipients.
As important as a clear call to action, each email campaign should contain at least one or two click-throughs to your website. An email is simply a way to alert your audience to the fact you have a rich, information-filled website waiting for them. Click-throughs help you direct your readers to those pages you consider the most relevant to the message contained in each email.
Bounces let you know how your list is doing. Older lists often experience high bounce rates as people are constantly making changes in their lives.
There is some great technology on the market to help you keep up-to-date with your contacts.
We make sure you know which email addresses bounce back so you can send us any new information you have.
Unsubscribes also let you know how your list is doing. If you have a high number of unsubscribes it can be an indicator your list is getting old. Readers are a great barometer of your message. If they don’t like what you are sending then, they’ll tell you.
Responses received back
This is an imporant indicator that your list is engaged, responsive and current. We track every email that comes through using the sacrificial email address we set up for each member of your team that uses our service. We provide the number of responses you receive from each campaign in your standard metrics report.
Conversion is your most important metric, and can be measured in a variety of ways. Tracking the responses you receive from each campaign is one way to tell if you are “converting” your listeners. The very best way yo measure conversion is to make sure your email contains a “call to action,” or something you would like to see the recipient do. This could be as simple as direction to click through to a certain article on your website, or as complicated as enticing them to buy something. The only way you can tell if your message is really getting through is if you measure what your recipient does with your email, and the conversion metric helps you do this.
You can now access the metrics from your email campaign live and online. Please ask us for more information about this if you are interested.