Digital Marketing Frequently Asked Questions

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How To Set Up Email Marketing Infrastructure?

Before launching your email campaign, you need to ensure that your email marketing infrastructure is in place and up-to-date. A robust email marketing infrastructure makes sure that your emails are hitting the right inbox. Properly configured email infrastructure is mandatory to bring hot prospects and grow business. Unless you setup a proper infrastructure for your next campaign, you won’t be able to send targeted emails to registered subscribers that eventually will lead to lower click-through rates and missed earning opportunities.

If you send bulk promotional or transactional emails through a service provider of repute, make sure that it’s being sent by a dedicated IP address. It’s recommended for marketers to use at least two IPs, individually dedicated to transactional emails and marketing/promotional emails respectively. This is very important in order to having your sender reputation intact.

Before triggering your maiden campaign, ensure that you don’t use an open relay or open proxy. Be in sync with the established industry standard best practices that define regulations for network and server security. Unless you secure your email marketing environment against hacking and breach, even best mailing practices won’t garner any result.

An email campaign gets its due success only if it targets genuine recipients who are interested in offers you communicate. Don’t ever purchase an email list from random vendors. The list they provide quite often has unverified names, numbers and emails that likely kill your email open rates and conversion. Only the right email list can help you reach out your targeted recipients and convert leads into actual sales.

It comes handy when senders start facing deliverability issues. This pushes marketers to adopt better list hygiene. Feedback loops give marketers a way to manage complaints. You need to get registered with all major ISP feedback loops and must implement a process to remove email addresses that log complaints. If you keep sending emails to those who marked your emails spam will result in deliverability failures.

Do not bombard recipients with emails. Too many emails can annoy them. Promotional emails, newsletters and other offers should be sent at set intervals and at pre-decided schedule. That doesn’t necessarily means having big gap between emails. Keep testing the time when your audience responds the best, then schedule the campaign accordingly.

Emailer Design Compatibility

Regardless of the type of an email (an e-newsletter, promotion, transactional email or announcement) email marketers need to follow certain emailer designing standards to ensure compatibility. This is important, as emails are opened for several email clients and different browsers as soon they are launched. Email designing compatibility is significant to your campaign success. Aside from the email design, it’s also important how your emails interact with different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE), email clients (Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird) and mobile apps.

When designing an email, stick with the email designing best practices to ensure that your emails render beautifully across all email clients, web browsers and on mobile devices. Due to the availability of numerous email clients and the limited support they offer to CSS, it’s crucial for marketers to follow very specific rules & do’s/Don’ts when it comes to email design. This brief guide will help you understand the key points that you should keep in mind to ensure that your email is displayed properly on each and every email client.

  • Avoid using HTML5
  • Use “table” instead of “div”
  • Use html attributes like bgcolor
  • Avoid CSS3 specific code
  • Use HEX values “e.g. #FF9000” for colors instead of rgb
  • Use padding instead of margin
  • Avoid “div” and deeply nested tables
  • Don’t over-optimize your HTML code
  • Make sure the message is still readable even if images are blocked
  • Don’t use Javascript, Flash, embedded video, iframes, forms or external CSS code

Email recipients use variety of email clients to view and read emails. The space an email occupies when opened depends upon number of factors such as advertisements, menus, and toolbars. Therefore, the emails wider than 550-600 pixels can be opened and read easily regardless of the device used. Though, this could be a standard size of an email, marketers can also opt for 700 pixels to be on safe side.

Email templates are different from a standard website due to their limited support to web fonts and CSS. To avoid ambiguities in the mail text display due to general lack of support available for handling web fonts, stick with web-safe fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Times Roman, and Georgia.

Emails having heavy and slow loading images are most likely marked spam by clients, resulting in a serious reputation dent. To avoid this, keep a balanced image-to-text ratio in your emails when shooting an email marketing campaign. Most email clients block images from being appeared in the mailer. Therefore, include text in the mailer that best describes the main point of your communication, the offer, the announcement and call to action. Ensure that the important text of your email should be viewable upon opening the email. A balanced text-image combination helps to keep mailers browser friendly.

The standard of using background images became obsolete when Outlook 2007 and a number of web-based email clients arrived. You may still use background images if you’re sure that your contacts are only using email, else avoid using background images.

The growing use of mobile phones for accessing emails led marketers think to adopt email templates that support responsive layouts. Your emails should be adopted to the mobile devices, they are being opened on, whether smartphones or tablets. That means the emails sent should be clearly visible on every device without being truncated a bit.

Embedding videos or flash elements in your emailer is a bad idea. Most email clients flag it spam and some don’t support it at all. Rather embedding videos forcefully, attach a screenshot of a screenshot of what the video of flash player looks like and embed that. When user clicks it you can have the video/flash open in their browser.

Purchased Email List vs Organic Email List

Achieving maximum deliverability is the end goal of every email marketer. Email marketing infrastructure setup and optimization efforts go in vain if emails don’t hit into the right inbox. Delieverability of a campaign eventually depends upon the authenticity of the email list your campaign used. Authentic data leads to surging open rates, while unverified and ambiguous data in email list could result unexpected surge in bounce rate, unsubscribe requests and IP blacklisting.

But here is the check. Your email list is the crucial element of your email campaign as it contains the people who probably are your new customers. But the campaign success depends on how you acquired the list. There are two ways in which email IDs are obtained- one by engaging people with persuasive content and the other- by buying an email list from different sources.

The worst thing with the paid list is its meager credibility. Despite fat claims made by the sellers of the email data, quite often the list turns to be a repository of erroneous data. The list may have sort of ambiguity such as:

  • Missing or incomplete data
  • Outdated information such as non-existent email addresses
  • Email addresses illegally obtained by flouting the CAN-SPAM Act

An email list that you’ve purchased contains data on the audience who are unknown to you. Thus, every email that barges into their inbox is deemed as junk or spam. People don’t like opening and reading unsolicited marketing messages unless they’ve subscribed to. When annoyance of receiving this junk passes the peak, recipients delete messages or simply mark them spam.

Another downside of the paid email list is that your email service provider may flag red if too many of your messages are tagged spam. Email service providers such as AWeber and MailChimp talks tough on spamming. In case you are found flouting the guidelines stated in their service level agreement, they can close your account, can levy heavy fines, and in a worst case scenario you can face legal trouble too.

Moreover, niche email service providers don’t allow using rented / leased / purchased email list in campaigns. They consider it a blatant form of spamming a serious violation of their SLA.

Data sellers sell an email list to multiple marketers. Means, many other marketers as well are using the exact same list as you. They bought the list like you, and might be relentlessly flooding recipients’ email boxes with emails. There might be a good chance that these people have already filtered anonymous mails from appearing in their inbox, therefore, your emails will never get into their inbox.

This is more than obvious why paid email lists get fewer responses. People don’t bother to open an email that comes from an unknown source and looks like a hard marketing spam. Most of the people on a paid list don’t even open your email. This dents your open rates and CTR calculations. Since the list you’re using isn’t segmented, the people will unlikely engage with the offer given in the email.

The idea behind above was to tell you that buying an email list is indeed a bad idea. It would be better to build a genuine an authentic email list by putting some efforts. Here are the reasons why an obtain an email marketing list gives your email marketing campaigns a big boost in terms of open rates and CTRs.

When a campaign is sent to the people who subscribed to receiving your mail, the chances for the emails to be sent to the valid email addresses are higher. It further brightens the chances that your emails are received in the recipients’ inboxes. This eventually boosts deliverability. Purchased lists contain scrupulous and fake email addresses that people use simply to sign up and receive some free content or giveaways. Purchased lists may have invalid email addresses that can skyrocket email bounce rate.

In addition to better Delieverability, organic email list gives better open rates as emails reach to the target recipients. Being more engaged, an organic list gets better response from the recipients. The list contains the people wants to see what you have to offer. Emails sent to such audience opened, read and acted on more. More email open rates translate to more conversion.

An organic list contains the emails of your target audience. Thus, after completion of the campaign, you can easily measure true conversion and determine the problems if your campaign fails to take off. Tracking the campaign results help you identify the problems within the campaign and fix them right there. Since people on scraped or purchased list are unknown and not segmented, it’s a hard task to identify why the campaign failed to take off well.

Email Campaign Tracking Methodologies

Unless you are able to measure your email campaign, results would remain be unexpected. Irrespective of the optimization you have performed on your campaign, efforts go futile if you haven’t set goals to achieve. The great thing with email marketing is that this is one of the most measurable marketing mediums if done with right setup. Marketers can track every email on the parameters like how many people opened it, how many clicks occurred, where in the email they clicked, how they interacted with your website, and how much revenue each email marketing campaign generated. A brief guide here takes you through the metrics you should care about.

Popularly termed ‘CTR’, the metric is defined as ‘the percentage of email recipients who clicked on the email links accommodated in a given email.

(Total clicks OR unique clicks ÷ Number of delivered emails) * 100

For instance, if you have sent 10,000 mails and got 500 total clicks on the links contained in the email, your campaign CTR would be 5%.

CTR is the topmost metric that a marketer should start measuring just after shooting off an email marketing campaign. It lets you easily calculate performance for every individual email you send. Needn’t to say, CTR is a very crucial metric as it gives marketers a clear insight into how people are interacting with their content and how much they are interested in their brand or offerings.

This is another important metric to measure the might of your email campaign. ‘Conversion rate’ is the percentage of email recipients who not only clicked links within an email but also completed a desired action. These actions could be as filling out a lead generation form or purchasing a product.

(Number of people who completed the desired action ÷ Number of total emails delivered) * 100

For instance, if in response to 4000 mails sent, 400 people completed the desired action, the conversion rate would be 4%.

Once the recipient clicks through a link on your email, your next goal is to see him perform a desired action. This is the action that your recipient is asked to take by using one or many call-to-action buttons given. In case you’re sending an email campaign to tell your audience registering for an event, every genuine registration form filled would be a conversion indeed.

Next in the list of campaign metric is bounce rate. The Bounce rate of an email campaign is the percentage of total undelivered emails that couldn’t make it to the recipient’s inbox throughout an email campaign.

(Total number of bounced emails ÷ Number of emails sent) * 100

For example- if 90 emails out of 10,000 total emails failed to make it to the inbox and remain undelivered, the bounce rate would be 0.90%.

Soft Bounces:

Soft bounces occur when they stand undelivered despite valid email addresses due to temporary problem, such as a full inbox or a problem with the recipient’s server. These undelivered emails are stashed in the recipient’s server until the problems get cleared. You may, however, try re-sending your email message to soft bounces.

Hard Bounces:

Hard Bounces occur when emails sent to the recipients fail to reach their inbox due to invalid, closed, or non-existent email address. These emails will never be delivered successfully. If your email campaign throws hard bounces, it’s recommended to immediately remove hard bounce addresses from your email list. Since internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates to establish a sender’s reputation, too many hard bounces can tag your company a spammer in the eyes of an ISP.

This is the rate at which new subscribers are being added to your email list.

([(Number of new subscribers) minus (Number of unsubscribes + email/spam complaints)] ÷ Total number of email addresses on your list]) * 100

Example: (500 new subscribers – 100 unsubscribes and email/spam complaints) ÷ 10,000 email addresses on the list * 100 = 4% list growth rate. (Source: Hubspot)

In addition to the metrics explained above, the size of your email list is also a significant factor you should be keeping a close watch on. Marketers should be decisive on taking steps to grow email list in order to expand the audience, and position themselves as an industry thought leader. As the audience is the staple food of any email campaign, it’s more important than ever to put efforts to growing your subscriber list.

As the name implies the metric calculates the percentage of email recipients who took interest sharing or forwarding your email content to their network.

(Number of clicks on a share and/or forward button ÷ Number of total delivered emails) * 100

Example: 100 clicks on a share/forward button ÷ 10,000 total delivered emails * 100 = 1% email sharing/forwarding rate

This metric, though may not seem all that significant, they can help you generate new contacts to your email list. The reason is pretty obvious. People who are already in your list may add to the conversion rate, but this wouldn’t be helpful in generating new customer base unless they pass on your email further.

Unsubscribe Rate

The metrics says about the percentage of subscribers who unsubscribed your newsletter for one reason or the other. Like open rates, unsubscribe rate is also an unreliable metrics. This doesn’t paint the real picture of your email list. There could be the cases that some of your subscribers just stopped opening and reading your emails rather going for formal unsubscribe process. So, dropping open and click rate doesn’t always an indication that you’re losing subscribers.

These are 7 key metrics that concoct an email campaign’s success. You should be smart enough while tracking metrics. As long as you're able to determine each of those metrics, you could reap great profits out of the email campaigns.

Open Rate

As the name implies Open Rate is the percentage of email recipients who open a given email. Most email marketers optimize their email campaigns to achieve a maximum open rate.
Notably, Open Rate is quite a misleading metric. Here is why- an email is counted as ‘opened’ if the images attached with the mail are also received by the recipients. However, as email users likely have an image-blocking enabled in their email client, embedded images don’t get opened even if recipients open the email. This leads to the inaccurate marking of open rate and unreliable metric for marketers.

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