June 1, 2011
When there is so much focus on customer engagement, list building and email content development; it’s easy to forget that the maintenance of your email marketing mechanics is absolutely fundamental to the success of your campaigns. You probably wouldn’t run your car for more than 10,000 miles, without a full service and the same principles apply to your email marketing campaigns.
So, if a year has passed by and you haven’t taken a close look “under the bonnet” of your email marketing, you won’t know what is working well and what’s about to go wrong with your next campaign. Here are 10 key email marketing diagnostics for you to check out:
Review and test your opt-in processes; walking through everything from a user perspective, including all your active landing pages, to check all is OK. Test to see if all the links work and that they direct you to the pages you would expect, such as a registration, confirmation or preference centre page.
Make sure that you are delivering on all your opt-in promises; such as confirmation emails and free downloads and check they’re not flagged as spam and that they get to your Inbox. Also make sure that the email rendered correctly when it was delivered. Check you don’t have too many clicks in your processes; 2 clicks are ideal, 3 are just about OK, but more than this means you will be getting high abandonment rates.
Consider the last time that you looked at your unsubscribe rates and reasons, to see if there is a pattern, as you can learn from this information. For e.g. if your unsubscribes peaked or increased enormously after a specific newsletter, then review the content and adjust accordingly for future editions.
Look after your new subscribers during the early days, as they will quickly make up their minds if you aren’t meeting their expectations. And if you do lose some new subscribers along the way and they follow your unsubscribe processes; you should confirm the unsubscribe and consider sending a link to a short exit survey. Explain how to re-subscribe if done in error and maybe even offer an incentive to re-subscribe. Please also take a look at our blog article "Once you're in this family there's no gettin' out" for further help to evaluate your own unsubscribe processes.
Test every link in every email and to test your unsubscribe process, use a seed (test) email address to go through the unsubscribe process and then check your database and mailing list to make sure the address has been deleted. All it takes is one email with a broken unsubscribe process for your company to be in potential legal and marketing danger. Of course, if you are using a reputable email service provider like Extravision, this should happen automatically.
If you are already using an email service provider for your email campaigns, they should be automatically checking to see that your message renders correctly and offering solutions to any problems. If not, you should test regularly to make sure your message renders correctly across all email clients as the way emails are received changes all the time ; you should check in Outlook, on a Mac, in AOL, Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail. It’s essential that you also check all mobile devices like iPhones, Blackberries and other smart phones that don’t handle HTML and rich text very well. Also see our Tip of the Month Styling your images in case they're disabled for further help.
Review your test email message without images to see if there is still enough visible content to provide value to your recipients. Blocked images and preview panes can be a real challenge and as such, you need to make sure you’re the content in your current design features in the top 2-4 inches at the top of the message. Check that your design doesn’t rely too much on images that may get blocked and use HTML, fonts and colours to create interest. And make sure that your ALT tags always describe an image, offer or call to action; in case images are blocked. Please also take a look at our whitepaper The Importance of Your Call to Action.
If you use any third parties to cross promote your products or services; you should remember to audit their processes too. Take a close look at the opt-in page to see which other companies and offers are listed beside yours, check that your brand is represented accurately and that subscriptions are feeding into your database properly. Take time out to check for damaging spam complaints and bad addresses. Whilst using a third party service can be cost effective, you should segment these subscribers into a list to compare numbers with your main database and either explore ways to optimize the partnership more effectively, or consider discontinuing the link.
Posted by Jenni Malley
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