The hitchhikers guide to practical email campaigning

05 Nov

In follow up of the last post I did: here are some usefull tips to keep in mind when designing an email campaign. On the content of the mails I will dedicate a new post, because I think this is extremely important. But for right now: just a few usefull pointers
I have devided the text into a couple of major chuncks:


  • From a visual polution standpoint, the first thing is not a viable option but this works: use the blue underlined textlinks. These are the ugliest things you have ever seen online but research shows they are definatly clicked on the most.
  • Do not use spam words or strange characters in your subject lines. Lists of spam words can be found around every corner on the internet. They include words like: Sex, Win, Free, etc… Strange characters might not be displayed correctly. If you want to write an “é” just use the “e”. People are not stupid. They will understand what you are trying to say.
  • Include a very strong call to action. Tell the readers what they should do. Whereas they are not stupid when it comes to strange characters, the definately are when you want them to take action. So make it simple and include an action link on anything that can be thought of as a call to action.


  • Do not use heavy images. The longer it takes for the mail to load, the more time the reader has to delete it.
  • Make every image clickable. Even stray clicks, are clicks to your site. Every bit helps.
  • Have an alternative text under every image. Mail clients like outlook do not display images automatically. So if you have text incorporated in an image, your reader might not be able to read it.

Clean up your mailing list

  • Make sure there are no special characters in the email addresses. (“/’/é/&/à/,/;/:) If you have no extensive program do a search for spaces also. If your adresses are generated directly from your users, chances are that people have mistyped things. “Hotamil” adresses are not uncommen.
  • Deduplicate your adresses. A person that receives a mail more than once, the unsubscribe rate increases exponentially with every mail he receives too many.
  • Always provide an opt-out. This is not only a legal requirement, it shows you care about your reader. You are telling them they are welcome to receive your information but are not forcing it on them.


  • Try to reach the recipient on a personal level. You don’t have to ask how his dog is doing or if his children are doing well in school. Just address him (or her) as an individual. Use his name, language, gender to determine to say Mr. or Mrs. etc.
  • If you have a lot of content, try to personalize on topics. If you’re adressing truck drivers, leave out the article on women’s shoes e.g. This will keep the reader happy. And a happy reader will adversite with word of mouth


  • Test everything you can. Try different mail clients to see how the mail is displayed. Test different positions of images, 3 different subjects lines, try re-wording the call to action, try changing the colors… You don’t have to do every bit of testing in one mail. (please don’t) But you can spread it out over a number of mails.


  • Do not use DIV’s, Css or any type of scripts. I know css is a handy tool for designing your mail but spam robots pick this up as being harmfull. This will cut your open rate in half if you don’t pay attention.
  • Use an actual existing email address to send out your mails. It shouldn’t be your own but there should be an email account attached to it. Many email clients will look up your sender email and if this does not exist the mail is redirected as spam.
  • In my experience it’s best to send out your campaign around 10am. This way, the message does not get deleted with all the junkmail that is in your mailbox when you start up your pc.

So there, these are a number of point which you absolutely have to pay attention to when you are designing a succesfull email campaign.

As always, if you have remarks, don’t hesitate to comment and if you like what I’ve written: ditto.

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Posted by on November 5, 2008 in email marketing, Marketing


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