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The Retail Detail

E-commerce Strategy & Design

If you’re just getting started with email marketing there are some basic good practices that can be easily adopted…and some surprisingly common mistakes that you can usefully avoid.

1. Use an opt-in system so that customers consciously choose to subscribe to your newsletter. Explain the benefits of subscribing to your newsletter (e.g, exclusive special offers, advance notice of new products, product guides) and how frequently they should expect to receive it. While it’s tempting to automatically ‘subscribe’ everyone who makes a purchase from your site, it’s of no benefit to you to risk alienating any of your customers. It’s not the size of your email subscriber list that will give you results – it’s the quality.

2. Make sure the ‘from line’ says it’s from you. As a rule, use your company / website name. Avoid phrases like ‘From your friends‘ – these sorts of generic terms are widely used by spammers. Don’t leave the from line blank.

3. Make the title relevant and clear so that subscribers can quickly recognise it’s something they chose to receive. Many people receive tens of emails every day so avoid spammy titles like: ‘Amazing offers you must see – open now!’ Dry and factual often works best. For example, Savvy Row use this title format: ‘Savvy Row – Vintage Clothing Newsletter – Summer 2011’. Their email ‘open rate’ is 5 times higher than the industry average!

4. Check all links, then check them again. If your newsletter contains links to other content, e.g your own website, double check that all the links are correctly titled and pointed to the correct URLs.

5. Include an unsubscribe link. We’ve seen some ‘unsubscribe’ links and processes that are so complex we would never want to use that company again. Make the link obvious and the process easy and quick. Send a confirmation email. Using an email client such as Mailchimp will take care of this for you.

6. Follow basic design rules. Even if you’re not yet ready to invest in your own bespoke email template design, there are still some basic good practices you can follow – don’t use too many fonts, AVOID EXTENSIVE USE OF BLOCK CAPITALS AS THEY ARE HARDER TO READ AND IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING, use paragraphs to break up large blocks of text, use numbers or bullet points to make lists easy to read, be consistent with use of headers, use ‘white space’ to clearly define different sections.

7. Proof read, not just spell check. A spell check won’t tell you if you’ve used the wrong word or if your content reads well and makes sense to your audience. Proof read yourself, and get a couple of colleagues / friends to do the same.

8. Send a test email first. Then check everything – links, spelling, readability, grammar, message title and from lines – all over again.

Hope that’s helpful. Do you have more essential tips to share? Send us your suggestions – if we agree, we’ll add them to the list.


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