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Ten Ways to Give Your Email Marketing a Lift

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10 Ways to give your email marketing a lift

Done well, email communication offers low cost access, better client retention and business growth.

Here’s a list of 10 best practices for successful email marketing campaigns from Burns & Wilcox, with assistance from email marketing technology company ExactTarget.

General Practices

Set your target

Always be relevant and personal in what you send customers, the same as when you talk in person or on the phone. Send information they want, personalizing the email in some way. Most email marketing systems can customize the email with information specific to each customer.

Limit your visits

Don’t overstay your welcome by sending emails more often than customers want. Check customer preferences and stick to the frequency they select. Most isn’t always better. Annoyed recipients can unsubscribe from your email campaign – or worse – mark the email as SPAM, completely shutting down this link to them.

Seek Permission

Only send permission-based emails. Check ahead before sending or risk all your emails getting caught in the customer’s SPAM filter. Remember, people regard their inboxes as personal and have less tolerance for junk email than junk snail mail.

“Live” really means “live”

Email is an immediate medium and requires a detail-oriented, live broadcast mentality. Most other forms of advertising have production windows that permit modification or retraction. When you push send, your message is delivered nearly instantaneously to every recipient and you can’t recall your message.

Know and follow the ruleS


The Controlling and Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM) establishes a set of rules for emailers. It bans false or misleading headers; prohibits deceptive subject lines; requires that recipients have an opt-out method by a return email address or another Internet-based response mechanism; and requires even more of commercial email. Failure to follow the rules carries a penalty of $16,000 per violation, which adds up fast.

Design Practices

Sell with subject line

Be brief, clear and on-target. ExactTarget recommends that the subject line run no more than 49 characters, including spaces. For example: “Tom, Here is your Burns & Wilcox monthly e-mail” The most compelling body copy is lost if you can’t entice the reader to open the e-mail.

Too much of a good thing

Don’t include large attachments that may overload customers’ inboxes. People will skim the email without necessarily opening any attachments.

Front-load your message

Grab your reader’s attention with a compelling message starting from the top left corner (where most readers start). Provide a clear call to action from the beginning so that readers know what you want them to do-even if they don’t make it all the way through the e-mail.

Short, sweet but complete

Write using bullet points. Link out to more detail to assist readers in getting all of the information they want to take away.

For moving targets

A growing number of people read emails on the go, with equipment that may provide either a bare text-only view or a full graphic experience. Unless you can query users and put out several versions, your message needs to work with or without the graphics.

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