Email Marketing: Fashion Vs Function
Email marketing has been evolving since the 90s introducing new features and functionality along the way. These new features and functionality are driven by the ever-changing digital landscape. Websites are more interactive and more robust. Naturally the desire to introduce these features and functionality into email marketing is unavoidable. However, at the core of email marketing, developers are still restricted to basic HTML code. I know, I just got a bit techy – let me simply define HTML as the most basic code a developer can write. Seriously, without any experience, anyone can learn the basics in a few hours.
As I mentioned earlier email marketing restricts developers to basic HTML code. This is done to ensure an email renders (or loads) correctly across every email service provider (ESP) out there. With hundreds of ESP options available, it’s key for a developer to simplify their code to eliminate any potential errors and to create consistency across all ESPs and devices. Errors could cause issues with how the ad loads or if an email is flagged as spam. It’s important the email looks good, but it’s just as important it loads correctly.
Below are 4 key elements of an email with important tips to boost your email success.
1. The Inbox
Getting the email delivered in the recipient’s inbox is the most important step. If the email ends up in a junk folder, marked as spam, or even gets blocked by an ESP all together, all other efforts to get your message read will be wasted. Once delivered, the recipient will spend 3 seconds to determine if they want to open the email.
There are 3 key elements that render in the recipient’s inbox that you can use to your advantage; the From Name, Subject Line and Pre-header Text. Use all 3 of these elements in conjunction with one another to maximize your message and encourage engagement.
Here is an example of the 3 elements that render in an inbox from within Outlook.
Character Counts Matter!
Here are the ideal character counts to ensure your entire message is not cut off in the inbox no matter the ESP or device.
- From Name Count: 20 characters
- Subject Line Count: 50 characters
- Pre-header Text Count: 75 characters
2. The Copy
ESPs are very aware of email spam traps and the ever-growing concerns for security. To combat this, many systems have been put into place to help stop malware emails from hitting the recipient’s inbox. Complicated algorithms look at a variety of elements to determine if the email should be delivered. Some of these include: the from name, subject line, pre-header text, and all the email copy. They will also look at the text to image ratio and the domain and IP health of the server sending the email. These safe guards have provided peace of mind to a lot of email recipients, but it does require a marketer to think about their wording even more.
There are countless algorithms that are always changing and adapting to combat new threats and traps. It would be a full-time job to try to stay on top of every one of these changes. However, there are major red flags that ESPs will see immediately. Here is a list SPAM of red flags:
- ALL CAPS – It’s not professional to yell at customers or prospects in person and it’s also not professional to yell in an email. WHEN YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS, YOUR MESSAGE IS PERCEIVED AS YELLING.
- Exclamation Points!!! – When you are texting friends, use all the exclamation point you want. When you are sending out a professional marketing email to customers or prospects, keep the overuse of punctuation to a minimum.
- Free! No Charge!! – The words “free” and “no charge” in any combination will get noticed by an ESP. If you use these terms, use them sparingly and avoid all caps and too much punctuation.
3. The Design
When it comes to the visual for your email, keep in mind that this will be sent to peoples’ desktop computers, laptops, tablets and phones. In some cases, the recipient could have their email set up across several devices; in that case, you will never know prior to sending the email how it will be viewed. Keep the design simple with the call to action towards the top of the email. Avoid making the design too long to minimize scrolling. If possible, create design that is responsive so it’s optimized for all devices.
4. The HTML
It is easier to code an email using only images; however it’s the wrong way. Having too many images in the html body copy can quickly trigger a spam flag. An email that is all image or very image heavy is a sign to ESPs that the sender is trying to “hide” spam triggers within the image (since algorithms cannot read images.) ESPs are aware senders have attempted this work-around so the ESPs have established an acceptable ratio of images to text to determine what emails pass inspection. The developer needs to spend the time to code as much text into the HTML as possible and take the time to test how the email renders for several of the most popular devices. The simplest form of html is best – think basic tables. Be sure everything loads and functions the same or as expected across all devices to ensure consistency.
A General Note:
Email marketing is like hitting a moving target. There are a lot of factors that can help or hinder its success, some in your control and some out of your control. When you run into concerning results (which you will) spend the time to analyze the deliverability and open/click rate. If you see any deliverability issues, focus your efforts on getting into the recipient’s inbox. If you are seeing great deliverability but poor open/click rates, look at the content. Consider doing some A/B testing on the subject line or specific content to hone in on what resonates with your audience. Look at the list and consider segmenting them into groups based on interest and send emails to a more targeted audience.
FMG provides marketing services specific to the financial and insurance industries. This puts us in a unique position; we know what works specifically regarding recruiting advisors or agents and marketing products & services specific to the financial and insurance industries. With this knowledge and experience, we help our clients grow their business. Want to learn more? Contact us.