Email Marketing Campaign Management

Email Marketing Campaign Management

Email Marketing how’s and whys are explained on my new media marketing blog. Here I have written several blog posts on the subject.

I explore issues such as; Existing Client Email Marketing Strategies, Email Marketing Strategy to Win New Clients, Email List Acquisition and Pitfalls in the Technical Aspect of Email Marketing.

However the purpose of this page is not to help you learn about email marketing but to introduce you to the work I, Gareth Evans produce, manage and administer. Whilst also giving you a technical insight into my work.  Including a technical insight into HTML Emails. With a download of my work from my portfolio for you to scrutinise or use as a template.

I create targeted and cost effective email marketing campaigns, that comply with the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications pertaining to emails and websites.

On average the campaigns I manage have had email databases of over 18,000 double opt in prospects. I have used my analytic and SQL/Excel abilities to refine those lists to the most likely prospects, remove bots and to target particular sub groups.

Occasionally I will simply split the lists arbitrarily so that I can conduct A/B testing and measure the response to particular campaigns to increase email marketing effectiveness.
 
 

With careful use of subject lines I achieved an average open rate of 34% in an industry where the average is just 18.1%

 
 
During one such campaign the mailing list chosen contained approximately 2000 (double opt in) recipients and the emails I designed and wrote, with careful use of subject lines I achieved an average open rate of 34% in an industry where the average is just 18.1%.

You can download an example of an email I hand coded. The download is of a marketing email I created in 2012 and then refined for my portfolio in 2014. This was produced for an online lingerie retailer in Bournemouth, for whom I was acting as Digital Marketing Manager for through my Employer.

Download the Zip file here.
 
 

My Email Marketing Background

The first marketing email I produced and sent was around 2001. At the time it didn’t seem so strange setting out the page with nested tables and inline CSS. A little backwards perhaps but not difficult since that is how I had created web sites in the not too distant past.

I did not have cause to send or create another marketing email campaign for many years and in that time the internet had moved on. Websites were controlled by (often multiple) external style sheets. DIVs ruled the page and web pages were often actually a composite made up of many different types of resource such as JavaScript, PHP, XML or HTML, all controlled by a CMS.

Email marketing had sadly not moved on in quite the same way. Sure it was more eloquent. The marketing more polished and professional, the messages disseminated clearer and data driven. But this was all because marketing and digital marketing in particular had come on leaps and bounds due to demands on agencies by their clients.

On the receipt end of emails there was far more email client and email enabled device choice for consumers. Far more consumers than ever were reachable by email. Email use had exploded. Systems previously unthought-of were now in place to thwart spammers which also sadly often thwarted genuine marketers with valuable genuine messages.

But when it came to the code needed to create a marketing email, it was and is still stuck in the 1990’s. Nested tables are still the only way to lay out an email. Inline styles are still the only reliable styling option and images still cannot reliably be used as a table background. And every email client, email enabled device and online email platform have a different way to present any email marketing campaign you decide to send!
 
 

Marketing Emails Re-Learnt

I basically had to relearn email marketing and remember how to use tables. I will admit I have used MailChimp in the past and I actually rate their platform very highly, it always produces reasonably standard results. As an all round marketer (and Digital Marketing project professional) I would often have to back up the designers and developers I worked with and ‘create’ campaigns myself and MailChimp provided a short cut.

However I have also worked for clients and employers who had custom email marketing platforms (often written in PHP) or open source email marketing solutions such as PHPList and the emails were required to be hand coded.

For these marketing emails I still start with some help from MailChimp (see code example below). Then build the email from a HTML wire frame first which I can preview in multiple browsers. I optimise the HTML for email prior to sending the campaign by removing comments, classes, move the CSS inline, ensure image alt tags are present and finally replace multiple paragraph tags with line break tags.

MailChimp also provide a GitHub Email Templates which is where I built my starting style template from.
 
 

Where to Start a HTML Email


/* Not required inline (Mail Chimp Code!) */
/* Force Outlook to provide a "view in browser" button. */
#outlook a{padding:0;}
/* Force Hotmail to display emails at full width */
body{width:100% !important;} .ReadMsgBody{width:100%;} .ExternalClass{width:100%;}
/* Outlook 07 and 10 border padding issue fix */
table td {border-collapse:collapse;}
/* Required inline */
/* Prevent Webkit and Windows Mobile platforms from changing default font sizes. */
body{-webkit-text-size-adjust:none; -ms-text-size-adjust:none;}
/* Yahoo paragraph fix */
p {margin: 1em 0;}
/* Yahoo styling of h and a fix */
h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6 {color: black !important;line-height: 100% !important;}
h1 a, h2 a, h3 a, h4 a, h5 a, h6 a {color: blue !important;}
/* There is limited support for psuedo classes in email clients, this was added just for good measure. */
h1 a:active, h2 a:active, h3 a:active, h4 a:active, h5 a:active, h6 a:active {color: red !important;}
h1 a:visited, h2 a:visited, h3 a:visited, h4 a:visited, h5 a:visited, h6 a:visited {color: purple !important;}

I start with these style declarations in the head of my HTML file on every email or template I produce. These combat all the common email marketing pitfalls. They are also handy clues as to which email clients/platforms I hate, (Yahoo!, Windows Mail, Outlook 2007 and 2010).

As you can see the first three style declarations are probably the only ones I do not put inline. Whilst the remainders are simply templates to remind me which inline elements I definitely have to set.

For example regardless of other formatting I will always include margin: 1em 0; in the inline CSS for a paragraph tag as Yahoo! has a funny way of indenting paragraphs without this declaration.
 
 

Marketing Email Digital and Design Size

In Digital Marketing, SEO, SEM or whatever you want to call it I am often conscious of the size of web pages as it effects load time which in turn effects ranking and actual user metrics such as bounce rate. But in the world of Email Marketing if your email contains large images it could possibly be detected as spam. Too often online email clients will also not load large images by default and of course slow load times still frustrate the end user. Your prospect and potential customer.

As for design size, I used to create emails 600 pixels wide, now I make them 650 pixels wide (they can be as long as you want within reason!). Debate is still open as to how wide you can go, but I find 650 pixels is the maximum width for maximum compatability.

Remember some people are reading your email on a email enabled mobile device and for example 650 wide in portrait orientation of an Apple phone device is just about right, especially if zoomed in.

Others will use an Yahoo!, which still uses a three column layout, menu on the right adverts on the left. Further restricting the width of your email.

Other similar online email clients use narrow two column layouts. So in my experience 600-650 pixels wide is suitable for most email clients and enabled devices. This has also been proven multiple times by my multiple email client tests.

Outlook allows for much wider emails so it will allow the email to take up the whole width of the available window so at least make sure it is centered so it looks right.
 
 

Email Marketing Tools

I will sometimes make use of litmus.com, email on acid or campaignmonitor.com depending upon which my client has an account for or whom my employer chooses.

These are fantastic tools for previewing your email as it would appear on multiple devices and email clients. They have often pointed out my mistakes and allowed me to edit the HTML prior to sending the email marketing campaign out. They are also the reason why I came to the conclusion that 650 pixel wide emails would not be too wide.
 
 

Example Download of Marketing Email

The best way to get a feel for what I can do is to download my portfolio email marketing example.

This is how it looks as a webpage.

Enter your email address here then click submit to have it sent to you as an email; (COMING SOON)

Download the Zip file here.

The code is well documented in the ‘draft’ version and the comments are removed for the final version. The draft version will give you a good idea about what I am thinking about whilst I create a email marketing campaign.
 
 

Additional Resources

http://www.queness.com/post/8784/12-killer-tips-and-tricks-for-building-html-email
http://www.emailology.org/
http://www.benchmarkemail.com/help-FAQ/answer/Common-HTML-Email-Coding-Mistakes
http://blog.mailermailer.com/email-design/background-images-in-html-email-the-naked-truth