August 10, 2010

Lifecycle Marketing Series Part 2: Email Design Elements


Hostway Team

By Buffy Cranford

Up to $160 Cash Back. Step One: Open this email.

This promotional email from a popular cruise line provides an excellent example of successful email marketing. The subject line grabs the reader's attention and includes an attractive promotion. Before the readers open the email, they likely imagine themselves basking in the Caribbean sun with a frozen umbrella drink.

According to DMA in a recent economic-impact study, commercial email boasts returns of $43.62 for every dollar spent in 2009. Consequently, email marketing, when designed and implemented correctly, can generate larger returns for your company.

Template Basics

When developing an email marketing campaign, companies should build an email template consistent in design, layout and text and plan for various marketing scenarios. For starters, your company can create a standard template including a catchy subject line and a consistent layout.

Grabbing the attention of the reader in the subject line reduces the risk of the consumer deleting your email immediately. A consistent layout features similar colors and text size which offers familiarity and subtly builds brand recognition. The template should also include a small sampling of text promoting your product, and feature the company contact information with a Web site link and phone number.

Once you have a basic template, you can design specific email templates for welcoming new customers and targeting specific consumers.

Welcome Emails

Welcome emails are often delivered after a customer registers on your Web site or purchases a product. This email greets potential or new customers, and can also serve as an information gathering tool by requesting basic information via a link for their name, email address, location and possibly an offer to receive promotional emails.

If a consumer opts to receive additional email communications with special offers and promotions, you can create an automated confirmation email. This email prompts a reply from the customer before they are officially added to the marketing list.

Promotions and Recommendations

Your next email template should be a direct email marketing design based on analytics. Using analytics, you can target a specific audience with a promotion, and additional product recommendations. For example, if a consumer has been browsing hard drives on your website, you can send a promotional email with a direct offer on a product, such as 500 GB hard drives for $39.95.

You can also recommend products based on consumer searches. How often have you purchased a book or movie on a website and received a follow-up email with thumbnails of additional products purchased by other consumers.

Re-engaging Your Customers

For infrequent customers, create a template for re-engaging the consumer. This may include a basic “we’ve missed you,” and an exclusive offer with free shipping, include the steps for shopping and entering the free shipping code.

By following these basic template guidelines, you can launch your email marketing in just a few hours. Your messages should not contain:

  • Broken links
  • Weak subject lines
  • Unappealing content
  • Expired offers

Your messages should contain:

  • Attention-grabbing headlines
  • Positive text
  • Contests or coupons
  • Surveys with working links

Read the full series:
Part 1: Getting Started
Part 2: Email Design Elements
Part 3: Honing Your Message
Part 4: Measuring Success
Part 5: Why It Works for Small Businesses

About the Author

Buffy Cranford has over 20 years of experience in writing and publishing. Her writing background includes newspaper journalism, and reviewing and researching computer software and hardware for Smart Computing and PC Today magazines. She has worked with established companies such as Dell, IBM and Acer.

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