Email is one of the most widely used forms of communication for the 21st century but it is also one of the most misused.
When considering using Email as a marketing communication medium for a small business, the question is how to provide customers with sufficient information to drive sales and visitors to their website or bricks and mortar premises, without being flagged as spam.
A second consideration is ensuring that the email message is formatted in an appealing manner so that it will be read. Information and presentation work hand in hand when setting up your email marketing campaign(s) and both are equally as important.
When considering the presentation of emails, one of the first decisions to take is whether to use plain text or HTML formatted messages. Each option has advantages and disadvantages to be considered by a business owner.
Plain Text Emails
Plain text emails are easily displayed on any device and, typically, more easily delivered. Most email filtering software will generally allow text only messages through, whereas formatted messages can be more readily tagged a spam.
However, plain text is very… well PLAIN. It’s much like reading a print ad. There is no interaction with the message and the user must take extra steps to go to your website to take advantage of any special offers.
There are no visual queues for your message, so the words have to do a lot of work, inspiring action.
HTML Formatted Emails
HTML formatting allows you to essentially send a small web page to your customers. This gives the look and formatting that matches your company palette, but it also can trigger spam filters.
The key to having your HTML formatted emails delivered, is simplicity. Avoid too many bells and whistles. Your email message should consist of images and colors and shouldn’t contain code (or scripts).
Many businesses are tempted to fully replicate their website layout in the email template. This is not recommended, as it can add a level of complexity to the layout that will caught by spam filters or makes it difficult to display in the recipients email reader. A simple, clean, graphic layout for the email newsletter template that reflects the website layout will be far more effective.
Provide An Online Copy
Another effective strategy is to include a link to the message which is displayed online. Some email marketing tools, like AWeber, will automatically create an archive that can be viewed online.
If your email marketing tool does not provide an archive, create the message in an archive on your website and include the link in your message.
Proof Reading and Checking…
Proof read the emails before sending them! It often pays to have someone else proof read the email message. Ensure that each and every link is checked as well – make sure that the link is correct (displays the website page it is meant to) and that it is actually clickable within the message.
Catching a mistake before the email goes to the subscriber is as important as checking your print advertisements.
Send Both Formats!
It should also be noted that customers may have HTML formatted emails blocked or use a device that does not display the mail as intended. If possible, your email marketing tool should send both HTML and text versions of the email message – as the clients mail program will generally choose the best format to display.
Text Email vs HTML Email
Using HTML as an email format can be more complicated and requires work to setup an appropriate email template. Email Marketing Tools like AWeber provide a number of professional email templates for use however, to maintain the branding of a business a specific template will need to be created. In addition, not all recipients will be able to read HTML email messages.
The benefit of HTML formatted email messages however, is that a visually appealing message with appropriate visual queues that matches a businesses branding can be sent.
Text emails are essentially boring and it is not possible to highlight parts of the message as visual queues. However, text emails can be received on just about any device.