Email Marketing Production
Email marketing production involves several Internet marketing specialties, including copywriting, Web design and front-end development. In addition, an email marketing technician coordinates production and is responsible for important setup and execution tasks. The production process includes the following steps.
Most email campaigns are executed on an online email marketing platform that facilitates, automates and manages production and testing activities. Many excellent platforms are available; Straight North usually uses Campaign Monitor, because it is superior for handling multiple accounts and managing complex as well as simple campaigns.
Once the client account has been set up, the mailing list must be prepped and loaded into the platform. This is an easy or complicated task depending on the accuracy and data integrity of the house list. In many cases, house lists must be scrubbed and/or data re-entered into a format that is suitable for the platform. This setup work is well worth doing, because once the list is properly transferred to the campaign management platform, the easier production and maintaining the list over time will be.
Responsive Design Template Creation
A Web designer creates a responsive (mobile-friendly) template for the email campaign during the setup phase. Having a responsive template is virtually a requirement, because mobile Internet access now exceeds desktop access, and the gap promises to widen. Mobile-friendliness is especially important for certain consumer businesses, such as restaurants or medical practices, because the major call to action may involve phoning in to make a reservation or appointment. But even in gritty B2B niches, the importance of mobile-friendliness should not be underestimated. Employees from production foremen to CEOs regularly use smartphones to sift through emails: An email that is hard to read on a small screen will be deleted immediately.
In addition to being adept at responsive design, the Web designer on your campaign must also be well schooled in conversion rate optimization (CRO), a set of techniques used to persuade email recipients to take action. For designers, important CRO considerations are where content elements are placed on the page, and how information is organized graphically. Another related and important design technique for an email designer is user experience (UX). UX informs design decisions regarding the size and style of fonts, type of and amount of intricate design elements, and other factors that make scanning, reading, and understanding the content easy for recipients.
Our email campaign has been a great success. Patients definitely enjoy hearing about our special offers and new services. Thanks in part to these emails, we’re busier than ever.
Writers use information gathered from the campaign's research phase, along with independent research, to craft content and develop the proper tone. For campaigns having strong conversion goals, the copywriter should be trained and experienced in persuasive copywriting and CRO, a set of techniques used by Web writers and designers to persuade users to take action. CRO techniques are particularly useful in composing content for small but crucial content elements such as the text for call-to-action buttons.
Once content has been written, it goes to editing, where the material is reviewed for substantive and technical accuracy. Competent email marketing agencies pay plenty of attention to editing: An email with grammatical flaws, factual errors or unclear meaning reduces interest and conversions, possibly forever.
Another key element of content production is the subject line. Subject lines, which are what recipients see in their inboxes before opening the email, have enormous impact on open rates. Writers and email marketing technicians usually collaborate on subject line creation. For instance, many words, such as "free," sound appealing to writers, but email marketing specialists know that these words almost certainly send an email into the recipient's spam folder. Email subject lines, in a very small number of words, must combine an understanding of email marketing best practices with persuasive writing techniques, and inspire recipients to read the email.
Uploading and Coding
After content has been written, edited and approved by the client, it is uploaded and coded in HTML format, in preparation for launch. At this point, the client reviews the final email, where design and content are finally combined. The email marketing agency also tests the email at this stage, to make sure everything is functioning properly, including links in the call-to-action elements.
The final step in production is pre-launch testing. This procedure ensures the email can be properly viewed in all media, and all display and content issues are resolved. Pre-launch testing includes:
- Design/display testing on all popular email applications, including Outlook, Gmail, Apple Mail, AOL and Lotus
- Design/display testing on smartphone screens
- Sample mailing to client for one last review
While many agencies offer email marketing services, producing a campaign that generates results is not something every agency can do. When considering agencies, ask to see the documented production process: If it covers the points highlighted here, that's a good sign; if the agency has no documented process, or one with gaps, it will probably miss the mark on execution. In addition, look for an agency with a dedicated project manager, Web designers, copywriters and editors on-staff. If the agency relies on freelancers, continuity and quality may suffer a great many ups and downs.