All You Need to Know About Email Mar­ket­ing

Email Mar­ket­ing is one of the best ad­ver­tis­ing sales tools around. You could say that it is the pipe­line through which sales reach your busi­ness, eas­ily re­turn­ing R500 to ev­ery R12.50 you spend. In­te­grate this with so­cial net­works and the re­turn is even h

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL -

Where to start!

The first tool that you will need is a bulk email host. Your nor­mal email client (prob­a­bly the provider who hosts your web­site) will have restic­tions on the num­ber of emails that you can send per day. If you abuse this thresh­old your email ad­dress (and your web­site do­main) will be ‘black­listed' – a term that tells email block­ing pro­grams that your email is ‘un­safe' or ‘spam' and pre­vents it from ap­pear­ing in a sub­scribers in­box.

Bulk email host­ing ser­vices such as MailChimp and Mail­erLite are free for mail­ing lists of up to 1000 re­cip­i­ents and have af­ford­able monthly op­tions as your sub­scriber list grows over time. Both have some great fea­tures that make cre­at­ing email cam­paigns sim­ple, like free de­sign tem­plates with ‘drag & drop' func­tion­al­ity, rich text edit­ing and built-in photo edit­ing. More im­por­tantly, both have re­ally good list man­age­ment tools to keep track of your email cam­paign per­for­mance and to man­age and pro­tect the in­tegrity of your mail­ing list.

The Mes­sage

As far as the mes­sage is con­cerned, you are try­ing to gen­er­ate more value for your cus­tomers, which in turn gen­er­ates more sales.

So the first thing you have to do is NOT to start writ­ing a news­let­ter. What you have to do is de­ter­mine what your main strat­egy (your per­sonal an­gle ) is go­ing to be.

There are two parts of com­mu­ni­ca­tions that you have to work out at the start, one is who are my sales prospects ex­actly (e.g. holiday, busi­ness trav­ellers, or travel and hos­pi­tal­ity col­leagues), in other words what are their per­son­al­i­ties, and se­condly how do I com­mu­ni­cate my com­pany's brand and prod­ucts to them.

Sounds easy? Well it isn't, but there is an easy way to find out.

The first thing you do when you have the power of email mar­ket­ing at hand, as­sum­ing you have a cus­tomer mail­ing list that is up to date and you can seg­ment the dif­fer­ent types of cus­tomers, is to send them an email. This is re­ally a sur­vey to find out what your cus­tomers think about your com­pany's des­ti­na­tions, its ser­vices, your col­leagues, and you. Af­ter all It's about what im­pres­sions they have. Im­pres­sions trans­late into val­ues; and it's those val­ues that form the ba­sis of your com­mu­ni­ca­tion with them. Key is to know ex­actly how your clients like you to com­mu­ni­cate with them. You can do this by set­ting up a sim­ple and ef­fec­tive sur­vey let­ter.

First of all you need to place your­self in your client's sit­u­a­tion and a good in­tro­duc­tion paves the way to get­ting good an­swers back. Above all Keep it sim­ple! So per­haps this mes­sage to trav­ellers will suit:

Sub­ject: Thank you from South Africa

Dear (Name)

I trust that you had a pleas­ant trip to your on­ward des­ti­na­tion and hope that your stay with us was a happy and mem­o­rable one.

As a val­ued guest, your opin­ion is very im­por­tant to us and I would like to ask your opin­ion on the fol­low­ing ques­tions, which may help us to im­prove our ser­vice to you in the fu­ture:

What is your im­pres­sion of our ac­com­mo­da­tion?

What is your im­pres­sion of our food?

What is your im­pres­sion of our staff?

What kind of at­mos­phere would you say we cre­ate?

I am grate­ful for your an­swers. Please don't hes­i­tate to crit­i­cise as it is only by know­ing our weak­nesses that we can build on our strengths. Please visit our web­site or follow us on so­cial me­dia to keep abreast of changes as we im­ple­ment your feed­back

We at (your com­pany name) look for­ward to host­ing you again.

Kind Re­gards,

Your name

(in­sert sig­na­ture / con­tact de­tails)

Re­sponse han­dling us­ing au­tore­spon­ders

Now that you have hit the send but­ton your email is on its merry way, and there is no telling what the re­sponse might be. Have I checked for any even­tu­al­i­ties you might think. Well here is how to pre­pare for that. In the email mar­ket­ing ap­pli­ca­tion you setup your first au­tore­spon­der. An au­tore­spon­der is re­ally an­other email that you cre­ate which is sent out when a cer­tain con­di­tion or a num­ber of con­di­tions are met. For ex­am­ple if a cer­tain num­ber of re­cip­i­ents haven't re­sponded to your first email within a num­ber of days. In this event the au­tore­spon­der email can be sched­uled to be sent out to those re­cip­i­ents that didn't an­swer within the spec­i­fied time limit.

News­let­ter Con­tent

Most of the news­let­ters I get in my in-box are from sa­fari com­pa­nies or DMCs, gen­er­ally in­for­ma­tive on the prod­uct level telling me what lo­ca­tion, what ac­tiv­i­ties and what ac­com­mo­da­tion they pro­vide plus who to con­tact and how to get there.

So what's wrong with that? Nice email from nice peo­ple - what ex­actly am I miss­ing here?

First of all I like get­ting news­let­ters from peo­ple in the busi­ness and of­ten look to just see what it is they are do­ing, but as soon as I see yet an­other “Look at my prod­uct” mes­sage I quickly click away. We all get mes­sages like this ev­ery­day and they are ba­si­cally all the same, churn­ing out the same in­for­ma­tion over and over again. You re­ally can't tell these news­let­ters apart un­less they have been tem­plated in which case that might have a pleas­ing ef­fect af­ter all.

So how does one go about pro­duc­ing an ef­fec­tive news­let­ter?

Let's first go back to some es­sen­tials. For in­stance what is im­por­tant in send­ing out a monthly news­let­ter? Is it the prod­uct you want to show or is it what your sub­scribers want to read? We of­ten for­get to dig into the per­sonas at the other end of our vir­tual pens to find out what they value the most. It is so easy to slip back into the old in­for­ma­tion bash­ing rou­tine. So let's get un­der the hood with some sim­ple specifics. Ev­ery suc­cess­ful news­let­ter does the fol­low­ing:

• takes the cus­tomer on a short but in­ter­est­ing jour­ney,

• shows prod­uct in­for­ma­tion and

• il­lus­trates the com­bi­na­tion of both mag­nif­i­cently.

These points are ab­so­lutely key to cre­at­ing last­ing re­la­tion­ships and of course trust. I know it's easy to say; “Hey this is what we are go­ing to do!” and then leave out the im­por­tant stuff, so what ex­actly lies at the heart of a good re­la­tion­ship bond­ing news­let­ter? Well it is most im­por­tantly ‘IN­VOLVE­MENT'.

What ev­ery sub­scriber re­ally wants to know

What ev­ery sub­scriber wants to know and doesn't ask is:

‘HOW IN­VOLVED ARE YOU WITH YOUR PROD­UCT'.

Aha! So how do you show sub­scribers how in­volved you are? Well, quite sim­ply by giv­ing them a view of your ac­tions, yout drive, and your imag­i­na­tion. Re­ally what read­ers want is to know you, your col­leagues, what hap­pens in your of­fice or out in the bush, how cer­tain things were achieved, how youror your col­leagues coped with a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, you name it - any per­sonal anec­dotes to­gether with a healthy dose of hu­mour. Hu­mour al­ways works in forg­ing re­la­tion­ships (even if you are an un­der­taker). That’s it?

No it isn't, now comes the fun part - merg­ing your anec­dotes and your prod­uct in­for­ma­tion to­gether. This takes a bit of imag­i­na­tion, for ex­am­ple what anec­dote can you tell that has some­thing to do with the prod­uct you are sell­ing? Ask your col­leagues, your family and your friends. You'll come up with some­thing guar­an­teed.

Last but not least

The header (tag line) of your news­let­ter is im­por­tant, so make sure it rings a bell with your sub­scribers! Make sure your brand­ing and news­let­ter de­sign is per­son­ally tar­geted to the mar­ket and sub­scriber base you are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with.

News­let­ter De­sign

All of your good in­ten­tions and valu­able con­tent can be wasted if you don't pay at­ten­tion to how that con­tent is man­aged and dis­trib­uted. There are some highly im­por­tant guide­lines to re­mem­ber and work to if you are go­ing to make your email cam­paign suc­ceed.

Your email ad­dress and sub­ject line.

Your email ad­dress and sub­ject line is the first in­for­ma­tion peo­ple will see when mail ar­rives in their in-box. On av­er­age read­ers spend 3 to 4 se­conds de­cid­ing if your email is worth read­ing or not. With pro­fes­sion­als get­ting many emails a day there is no guar­an­tee that peo­ple will view what you send. It's im­por­tant that they recog­nise you in­stantly as a trust­wor­thy and rec­og­niz­able source, so for­get about us­ing info@ or such, in­stead use a per­sonal email ad­dress. Your sub­ject line is your make or break line, 50 char­ac­ters stand be­tween you and the trash-bin, so make sure this stands out vis­ually and offers in­ter­est from the word go. Use your reader's favourite prod­uct-name with a con­sis­tent repet­i­tive iden­ti­fier, make creative use of brack­ets and try out dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of cap­i­tal­iza­tion! Gmail Out­look and Iphone also of­fer 100 char­ac­ters or less of pre­view text next to the sub­ject line. These snip­pets are pulled from the first lines of text in your email, so of­fer some­thing valu­able here and/or in­clude a call to action. Use timely top­ics and ur­gency. Make three dif­fer­ent vari­ants and send each test email to a seg­ment of your sub­scribers (don't for­get to in­clude your­self in the list). De­ter­mine if your email looks spammy next to other mes­sages. De­cide to use the most suc­cess­ful one for the rest of your cam­paign and con­tinue to re­peat and im­prove your for­mula from here on.

Your mes­sage, is it go­ing to work?

The first thing a large per­cent­age of view­ers won't see are the im­ages con­tained in your email.

Most read­ers are asked if they would like to click to see the im­ages. 67% of desk­top, 100% of web-mail and 80% of mobile email clients block im­ages by de­fault. The best way to deal with this and to help read­ers to de­cide to view your email is to make use of alt texts, cap­tions and tabled colour blocks.

If you are painstak­ingly col­lect­ing first, sec­ond, and sur­names for only email mar­ket­ing pur­poses you need to know that mak­ing use of your sub­scriber's first name or sur­name does not sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove open­ing or read­ing rates. Also on the data col­lect­ing side it is eas­ier to let news­let­ter sub­scribers just en­ter their first and sec­ond name in one text field in­stead of sep­a­rat­ing them into two

fields. Video, Flash, rollovers, JavaScript and back­ground im­ages don't work as they do in the browser. Out­look doesn't dis­play back­grounds by de­fault, so make creative use of back­ground colours in­stead. Dif­fer­ent email clients also dis­play con­tent dif­fer­ently, so it's im­por­tant to give spe­cific for­mat­ting val­ues (even if that value is 0) to each in­di­vid­ual el­e­ment es­pe­cially ta­bles (cell pad­ding and cell spac­ing) also image borders. Make sure to use web-safe fonts like arial, ver­dana, tre­buchet and ge­or­gia oth­er­wise your read­ers may have trou­ble view­ing your text.

Match­ing con­tent with de­sign

Now that you have safe­guarded your de­sign and cre­ated suc­cess­ful so­lu­tions for the email be­ing read by read­ers, let's con­cen­trate on the mes­sage and prod­uct specifics.

Pri­ori­tise

Try to pri­ori­tise your mes­sage top­ics, prod­ucts and ac­tiv­i­ties. De­ter­mine your main prod­uct (your best­sellers or sea­sonal of­fer) and pack­age this as a lux­ury of­fer. In de­sign terms give that prod­uct it's own full size block with clear call to action but­ton. Pack­age your ac­tiv­i­ties in three smaller blocks with read more links to your web­site land­ing pages. Of­fer more prod­ucts (pack­ages) each with their own ur­gency and call to action links. Give read­ers clear choices, never try to dis­play some­thing that you can­not de­scribe clearly and di­rectly. Tex­tual con­tent

Make use of ques­tions in your text (even in topic head­ers), peo­ple al­ways like to be asked to do some­thing. Try to vi­su­alise what the top pri­or­ity in your reader's minds is and use this with clear calls to action (but don't ex­ag­ger­ate). Mix your sto­ry­line as best you can with your prod­uct of­fer and look real and con­vinc­ing (be you!).

Choos­ing a de­sign

When choos­ing a de­sign ask your­self the fol­low­ing:

1. Is there enough space for my logo and top ban­ner, it is im­por­tant

to dis­play these in the right pro­por­tions.

2. How many col­umns do I want (us­ing col­umns usu­ally means a shorter length email as prod­uct offers can be dis­played ef­fec­tively along­side). This de­pends on whether you are go­ing to em­ploy a right hand mar­gin for your offers and/or in­di­vid­ual prod­ucts sep­a­rated along­side.

3. Does the de­sign (colours, font, lay­out) match with my au­di­ence's

in­spi­ra­tions- ex­pec­ta­tions: tech­ni­cal, ro­man­tic, ac­tive, cul­tural. 4. Are the so­cial but­tons po­si­tioned in the right place (in the footer,

un­der­neath the con­tent)

5. Is it easy to al­ter the de­sign to my lik­ing? (some de­signs are hard to

ma­nip­u­late due to de­sign con­stric­tions in the code)

Re­mem­ber

The land­ing pages that the email is linked to must be con­sis­tent with the con­tent in the email, oth­er­wise this will frus­trate read­ers and re­sult in your emails be­ing read by a shrink­ing au­di­ence over time. Win­ning for­mula

Once you have cre­ated a suc­cess­ful for­mat, stick to it, how­ever al­ways keep an open mind to new de­vel­op­ments that your read­ers are sen­si­tive to. This in turn will help you to de­velop trust­wor­thy re­la­tion­ships and in fu­ture ex­po­nen­tially grow your mail­ing lists.

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