Email marketing strategies – where we’re going wrong

With emailing now a vital tool used in most marketing strategies, Josh Tetteh Lartey, Digital Director at Ruleof3 offers an expert opinion on how these strategies can be improved…

We are guilty of thinking that good email campaigns are easy to execute… like most things in life, if you want to get great results it involves a bit of effort

 Love them or hate them, emails are now a vital part of many businesses marketing strategy. I bet you have read more Groupon offers, brunch deals or airline ticket offers than you have print adverts before your skinny latte this morning?

Done correctly, they can yield fantastic results, filling rooms, selling tickets and in this region – even selling building projects.

The important part of the above statement is, as you’ve guessed, ‘done correctly’. In this part of the world, we are guilty of thinking that good email campaigns are easy to execute, as many companies boast of huge databases. Like most things in life, if you want to get great results it involves a bit of effort – pushing the send button is the easy part. So, ready for a few home truths?

  • Emails are not supposed to look like print adverts – they don’t work that way.
  • Attaching a jpeg to a big list does not tick your digital marketing KPI
  • Not tracking your emails is the definition of madness
  • Expecting people to get all of the information from the mailer is futile

Today emails are read on all sorts of gadgets. This is why it’s important that they are built correctly, and why testing is an essential part of that process – trust me, the effort put in here will increase your clicks through and ultimately your success.

Here are three basic rules to help create a successful e-marketing campaign:

1. Keep it short and link to your content
Make your subject line snappy and to the point. While it seems obvious that the best approach would be to have the subject jump off the screen and “GRAB THE READER’S ATTENTION!”, unfortunately this is not the case at all. Most people get so much junk mail in their inbox, anything that even hints of spam gets thrown away immediately.

What do work are subject lines that are pretty straightforward. They’re not very ‘salesy’ or ‘pushy’ at all and are short and simple.

However, where more ‘creative’ subject lines do perform well is where the database is one people have signed up too, as a certain level of expectation can be relied on and personality of a brand shown.

Secondly, an email newsletter shouldn’t be thought of in the traditional offline manner anymore. Your digital newsletter should have small snippets of a story or information with a clear click through that links to content held on a website, preferably you own. If the reader is genuinely interested in the content they will click through to read more about it.

2. Have focus 
Sending out regular communications to your readers is great, if you keep things focused. Avoid regurgitating the same news or offers and confusing messages relating to other subjects.

Always be relevant to your reader. Know why they have signed up and keep the information you are sending them on topic for their preference. Target, segment your lists and monitor analytic reports to improve the content you are delivering. You need to keep your list healthy and full of captivated readers.

3. Don’t send JPGs or PDF attachments
Your email should look good, but one giant graphic is not cool. If done by a competent designer, marketing emails can look impressive and impactful. They are visually consistent, easy to forward and above all cheaper and easier to produce, because they don’t require very much, if any, HTML coding skills. The negative of this approach is often overlooked. Sending large images increases bandwidth, speed and readability. You should always cater to the lowest common denominator and as a default single image emails are commonly deemed by mail gateways and ISPs as spam. In a default setup, email clients hide images.

With a properly coded HTML email, the reader is able to read the content of the email without relying on the supporting images to make an informed decision on whether to continue reading your email.

Finally, spamming and not being able to unsubscribe from emails just damages your companies online equity, and although emails may be thought of as the poor brother or sister to print, radio, TV, etc., underestimate them at your peril as you could be doing more harm than good.

Emails as a marketing strategy are great – they are just not as easy to get right as you think.


Josh Tetteh Lartey is Digital Director at Ruleof3. Contact him at 

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