Oct 28, 2008

Email Strategics - Step 3 - Email Creative

Once your target is ready you have to work on your creative (it can be done the other way around but both are very closely linked).

Sender ID and Subject line:
The first elements of your creative to which your target will be exposed to are the following:
The sender name and the subject line!
These elements will trigger (or not) the email's opening. It might on the other hand trigger a negative reaction (Spam complaint for example).
The sender name especially HAS to be recognized by the user, be very explicit on who is sending the communication (You).
One funny thing though: studies prove that having a girl name in your sender name helps a lot, women feel more confident and men ... are men :)
For example nice sender ID could be "Jane - Your_company_name (jane@Your_company_name.com)"

You also have to keep in mind the fact that your users' inbox is probably full of incomming messages, you have to get his attention.
Some ways to do so are:
- A personalized subject line (adressing the user directly by his name might help get his attention).
- A subject line not too long to avoid it to be cut in the middle by some webmails.
- If you advertize on a time limited offer, don't hesitate to mention it!
- Avoid as long as possible CAPS, special chars, and exclamation marks.
For example a nice subject line could be:
Anton, on today's happy hour, get up to 50% off on IT products.

On a general point of view, the creative has to be attractive but of course not a lie.
If you tease the user with a "50% off" subject line, but the creative only shows "30% off" offers, you will probably not transform the opening into a click and maybe lose the user's confidence.

Once the client has opened your email, he will be first exposed to the creative images not displaying (unless whitelisted).
Your creative has to contain sufficient text information to get the user to display pictures. Don't forget as well to add images alts to avoid living the images spots 100% empty and to give some extra information on the image content.
A "view email online" text link at the top of the email is according to me usefull as well.

- Concerning the looks of your email creative, it depends on the kind of target you aim at: the age, gender, job function or any type of information you segment on, might have it's importance on the way your creative must look like.
General advice concerning email creatives are:
. The most important information of your creative has to be placed at the top of the email crative (first thing seen by the user).
. Always use image alts.
. Keep a good image to text ratio.
. Keep it concize, do not drown your user in too much irrelevant information, a NewsLetter has to be attractive, not to list ALL the products available.
. Do not hesitate to test the creative with the default security setings on the main freemails, outlook, outlook 2007, thunderbird,... you might have some bad surprises.

- The creative not only has to be nice, it also has to comply with all the email standards:
. Try not to exceede 600 pixels, this makes it possible to see the message correctly in the preview window of mailboxes such as Outlook without having to scroll horizontally.
. Avoid the use of CSS, this is not read by Gmail and Outlook 2007
. Centering the message is recommended
. Code all the characters with accents or special characters (€ = €) in HTML. In general, it is required to comply with the W3C specifications.
. In order to customize the content of your message, you must forecast text areas, not images. Take care of the size of those text areas in order to prevent any misshaping of the message due to customization fields too long.
. Some webmails delete the body tag : Do not use it to insert an image as background or to define font colors.
If you need to insert images in background, use tables instead
. Do NOT use absolute positions inside those tags : the display will be broken in some webmails.
. Use fixed sizes within the tables instead of percentages.
. Rather use the attibute target=’_blank’ in order to open a new window when the reader clicks.
. Give names your links.
. Cut your images in order, do not send a big, single image.
. Prefer plain text to text in an image.
. Name your images and use alt tags.
. Specify the images size : width and length.
Some extra information on email standards are available (broke down by ISP) on the email-standards website.

Email Strategics - Step 1 - Database
Email Strategics - Step 2 - Segmentation
Email Strategics - Step 4 - Broadcasting
Email Strategics - Step 5 - Landing Page
Email Strategics - Step 6 - Analyzing statistics

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