There’s plenty of evidence that email can be a highly effective channel for promoting products and services and regularly communicating with prospects and clients.
However, many organisations do not have access to professional-grade email marketing tools or CRM-based email tools, so marketers rely on standard, corporate, in-house email systems. While this is a convenient option it can create problems when it comes to getting messages to an audience effectively:
1. Compatibility. When creating an email in a particular platform, HTML features can be used to design the layout and add images. But an email that looks right in one platform can display quite differently in a different email platform. So it might look great on your screen but when your prospect or client receives it, the design features may be lost or corrupted. If the recipient then forwards the email to others, the code can degenerate further until the email is all but unrecognisable and the message is lost.
2. Spamming. Many corporate email clients cannot test an email against spam filters to gauge the chances of the email being delivered. Unless your marketing email is tested thoroughly with various groups of users (which is time-consuming), it is impossible to know whether it will get through common spam filters. This could mean your carefully-created marketing message doesn’t ever reach its destination.Compliance. By law you must include a functional button or link in your email that allows the recipient to unsubscribe. It is your responsibility to ensure that unsubscribe requests are managed appropriately and that the database is controlled so that no one else in the company can inadvertently send email to that person. There is no way to centrally manage this in most corporate email clients, which can result in conflicts and potential concerns regarding compliance with the Spam Act.
3. Data hygiene. Corporate email clients are not designed to offer sophisticated data segregation or hygiene. Working with a single email address book means you may end up sending the wrong email campaigns or communications to the wrong people. This can result in non-clients being sent information meant only for existing clients, or existing clients receiving emails meant for prospects. This can damage your brand’s reputation and undermine the quality of your marketing programs.Lack of features. A corporate email client usually doesn’t offer features that can manage actions such as forwarding the email to others (known as refer-a-friend) in compliance with the Spam Act. Additionally, the natural design limitations of these email clients makes it difficult to create strongly compelling content using images, breakout boxes, highlights and other design tools.
4. Tracking. Most corporate email clients are not designed to provide comprehensive tracking and reporting metrics. While you can manually count the number of bounce-backs from an email campaign, it is not possible track metrics such as the number of emails that were opened in order to deliver a single campaign dashboard to help monitor and manage campaigns. It is therefore difficult to get a clear picture of how successful the email was, or even to link a new prospect with that particular marketing activity. This can limit business buy-in for future email campaigns since demonstrating the return on investment relies on manually capturing and consolidating data from different sources.
Six tips for best practice email marketing
To improve the effectiveness of email marketing activities (without buying a fully-fledged CRM or marketing automation system) follow these six tips:
1. Use an email marketing tool designed for the job. Choose an advanced third-party email marketing tool that will let you create and send email campaigns separately to your corporate system. This will help you overcome the limitations of corporate systems. It will let you include design features such as breakout boxes and images, which can help strengthen your message. These can be surprisingly cheap.
2. Test the email. Once the email design is in place, test-send the email to multiple email clients or use an email client testing tool to make sure it will appear correctly when sent to your database. This process will let you see what the user sees in different email platforms. You can then alter the template so that it appears correctly no matter which platform is being used.
3. Don’t forget mobile. More than 65 per cent of emails are now read on smart phones, where the screen is much smaller than on a desktop, laptop or even tablet and uses different presentation technology. You should optimise your email for this platform to ensure your message can be seen by these users.
4. Test for spam filters. Conduct spam filter testing before you send the email by using specialised products in the cloud that can give you a score as to whether it will pass most spam filters. There are lots of these available from providers including Litmus, Email Spam Test, Email on Acid, and Lyris ContentChecker. There is a small fee for using these services but it is a worthwhile investment to ensure your message gets through.
5. Comply with the Spam Act. Include a button or link that lets recipients unsubscribe. This should link directly to your email list to automatically stop any further emails being sent to that person. Use a ‘refer a friend’ function so that the email can be forwarded to additional recipients without breaching the Spam Act. Keep your prospect data separate from core customer data so that market segmentation is easy to manage.
6. Collect and report on statistics. Build the case for email marketing by collecting campaign statistics that let you present the ROI or business statistics to management.
If you’re looking for an alternative to your corporate email platform, Outsource’s Email Connect solution could be right for you. It is ideal for companies that don’t necessarily want to invest in a complete CRM system, lead automation or marketing automation platform but still want a low-cost email marketing tool.