How to build the perfect email: Strategy

How to build the perfect email: Strategy

I’m sure that barely a day goes by when you don’t check your email. Electronic Direct Mail (eDM), as some old-school folk describe it, has become an integral part of how we conduct business, socialise with friends, shop, bank and interact with the world. It’s crucial to get it right.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting several blogs that take you through the methodology of ‘How to create the perfect email’ in easy bite-sized chunks.

The statistics

NOTE: Stats in this post are from May 2009.

Although I’m a firm believer that 99% of statistics are made up, it doesn’t take much hunting to find a plethora of percentages that prove that email is the bee’s knees as far as customer communication is concerned.  Here are some of my favourites:

  • The average Joe receives around 35 emails a day.
  • Around 64% of decision makers (whoever they are) only view their emails on Blackberrys and PDAs.
  • 63% of decision makers don’t get past the subject line.
  • 83% of users activate images in emails, which means that 17% don’t.

Why send emails?

The core objectives of sending out an email blast should be to:

  • Grow your database;
  • Understand your customers better;
  • Build stronger relationships with your customers;
  • Reduce the customer churn; and
  • Increase return on investment.

The strategy behind your email

Before you send your email, it’s worth asking yourself some tough questions:

–    How does this email fit into your marketing mix?
The email should form part of your overall communications plan and not be just some  random message.

–    When should you send this email?
Generally there is such glee when you manage to get the email creative signed off that it’s just sent willy nilly. But you must consider:

  • When did you last communicate with your users?
  • What other offline communication are they currently receiving?
  • Is the email timely?
  • Is it responding to a particular need the user has expressed?

–    How relevant is the content of the email to each individual user?
All too often the content of the email is so general that it has no relevance to anyone. It’s better to send smaller groups of targeting communications than blast out the same message to the masses.

–    Did the users request the email?
Of course, if the user hasn’t opted in to receive communications from you, and accepted your privacy policy, then sending them anything is very naughty and will be considered spam. But more than this – have you set up subscriptions for the users? Have they expressed areas of interest either literally through checking a box or behaviourally by purchasing a particular product or service?

–    What do you want people to do with the email?
You must have a clear idea of the response you wish to elicit from your email. Do you just want customers to:

  • Read it and do nothing?  (Very silly –  all emails should have some form of response mechanism.)
  • Click through to a page on a website?
  • Print out the email and take it to your store?
  • Dial a number?
  • Tell a friend?
  • Update their profile?

Try to be single minded and have one clear response mechanism per email.
Also remember: every email should click through to somewhere, even if it’s just your home page. Email is an online medium and online people like to click.

–    What result are you looking for from the email?
Again, you need to be clear about the overall result you are trying to achieve. Yes, emails are very measurable, but click-through rate (CTR) and open rate (OR) aren’t really that interesting; it’s conversions that matter. So what defines a conversion for you? Perhaps it’s 100 calls to your call centre; 50 vouchers used in store; or 20 new purchases of product x.

Often, you’re sending an email because you want to tell your customers something but the question is: “Do they care?” Though many say permission is the priority with email, I’d argue that relevance beats permission every time.

Want to have a chat?

If you need a Copywriter, SEO Consultant or Information Architect, then please contact me.

The Recipe for SEO Success
The Clever Copywriting School

shares