The end of the month and that means – e-newsletters, coupons, postcards, tracking. Although we send announcements more and more frequently throughout the month, many of our monthly maintenance plans benefit from e-mail promotions landing in customer boxes on the first of each month. From monthly coupons, event reminders, and calendars, e-marketing campaigns provide the benefit of exact timing.
I could compose five to ten entries just on the value of e-mail marketing when it is handled professionally and with a respected company like MailChimp, Emma, Constant Contact and others. That however is not my intent this time around. The focus today is the importance of building the promotion correctly and taking the time to test it thoroughly before blasting it out to hundreds or thousand of customers.
Testing starts at the beginning when you are creating your graphics. Most subscribers choose html format emails so go ahead and add those cool graphics to help your promotion stand out. When you design your graphics or choose photos take them through a photo imaging software such as Photoshop. Size them to fit your format, bring the resolution down to 72 dpi and optimize them for the web. Begin testing at this stage. When you load your e-news promotions pay attention to how long it takes to load. If your graphics load too slow your recipients may get impatient and delete the message before it even loads.
Now I have never turned images off in my emails – that just goes against my graphic designer philosophy – however some people do to help speed loading time. Take a look at your layout – how does it appear when no images are loaded? Does it still read well, does the message get lost if the graphics are not there? This is another good reason to include alt text when you place your images. Alternative text helps people with disabilities read the image. We often put our discount amounts in the coupon graphic. If we do not also include it in the alt text a screen reader will skip over it and text only email subscribers will miss out on important information you intended them to have.
After you spend your time designing and writing your email promotion it is always good practice to email a test. I typically email it to myself first then staff and lastly if the client had time to review it I send a sample email to them. If you are using a mail client and the e-postcard, e-newsletter or e-coupon looks good in the preview that is a good start but don’t just rely on this. Often text can adjust depending on the browser, email client, etc. Check in you actual email window to see a more accurate view. You can try it in the email you use daily and check it in a few other email accounts too, like gmail, yahoo, etc. If you don’t add these email addresses to your mail list you will be able to test the delivery better. The sample email is not just for proofing text and graphics it can also help to make sure you won’t be caught in spam filters.
If you have the ability to preview it on different computers and devices with different operating software that will help too. In most e-news subscriptions list, members can choose whether they want their communication in html, text or mobile these days. Be sure to check your promotion in all of these formats.
Lastly and possibly most important, test your links! All of them! Although it can be time consuming, think about why you are sending the correspondence to begin with – often it is to get people to click on those very links so recipients go to your Web site to take action.
Remember to check your stats after each campaign. Learn what is working and what isn’t. You can keep your list lean if you find some subscribers have never opened, and target other subscribers who tend to only open particular messages. Good luck and happy campaigning!