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Six Tips for Improving E-mail Campaigns


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What are your customers' experiences with your company's e-mail campaigns? Unfortunately, too many marketers are making the wrong assumption about their customers and missing the mark when it comes to balancing business goals with consumer needs.

Forrester Research Study

In December 2006, Forrester Research reviewed 63 e-mail campaigns from top businesses in the six industries of: products and services, consumer goods, financial services, media, retail, and travel. Companies involved in the study included CNN, iVillage, Coldwater Creek, Expedia, Intercontinental Hotels, Sears, and the New York Times.

Sixty-two of the 63 e-mail campaigns in the study failed the best practices review! All of these companies are rich with resources and capable employees, yet they still got it wrong. If Fortune 500 companies can't get it right, what hope does that give small business?

Avoiding E-mail Campaign Mistakes

The truth of the matter is that both small and large businesses make the same mistakes that cause e-mail campaigns to fail. Creating a successful e-mail campaign is simply a matter of following best practices. Here are six tips for improving e-mail campaigns as recommended by Forrester Research:

#1 - Above the Fold

Put important content above the fold. The term "above the fold" is a reference to a direct mail letter. The most important information needed to be above the fold of the letter. Today, the term refers to the screen of the computer. Put your most important information above the bottom of the computer screen.
The action statement needs to be above the fold. If readers have to scroll to get a call to action, they may not read it.

#2 - Recognizable "From" Line

Make the "from" line of your e-mail a recognizable company name and sender. People want to immediately know who is sending them an e-mail. If they don't recognize the sender, it could be deleted without being read. In my e-zine mailings, I always have the "from" as my company name and my name separated by a
hyphen: Internet Word Magic -Michelle Howe.

#3 - Value Driven Subject Line

Use a subject line that communicates value. People are bombarded with too much e-mail. Our inboxes are overflowing, and we can't waste time opening e-mails that appear to us as a useless sales pitch. So consider creating a subject line that is more than descriptive. Make people want to open the e-mail by showing value. It goes back to the old marketing truth of people want to know "what's in it for me." For instance, the subject line "Seniors Receive Discount" is a value benefit subject line that would invite an open.

#4 - Easy to Subscribe

Make it easy to subscribe on your website. More than 50% of people arriving at your site will come through the homepage.
Include an e-mail sign-up form on the home page, above the fold. Don't make a visitor click to another page for the registration. Also include a privacy policy statement near the sign-up box or provide a link to the privacy policy.

#5 - Easy to Read

Make the e-mail easy to read. Remember, people like to scan, they don't like to read. Use strong headlines, bullets, bolding, color, and logical layout to create clear copy. Keep the content concise, to the point, and benefit driven.

#6 - E-mail Subscription Control

Allow recipients to control their e-mail subscription. CAN-SPAM rules require all e-mails to offer a way to opt out of future mailings within 10 days. The easiest way to meet this guideline is to use an e-mail provider like Constant Contact that automatically includes a link to unsubscribe in all footers of e-mails. Additionally, make it possible for subscribers to update their preferences, profile or e-mail address by linking to an online preference center.


Creating a successful in e-mail campaign is a combination of following industry best practices and always looking for opportunities for improvement. Strive to create a positive brand experience that creates a positive e-mail conversation.

2007 Michelle Howe

About the Author

Michelle Howe, MBA, president of Internet Word Magic, specializes in writing irresistible copy for websites. Transform the way you do business. Visit her website at for a FR^EE chapter download of her new book "Turn Browsers into Buyers".

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-01-02 14:11:56 in Marketing Articles

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