Everyone thinks they’ve heard the best email marketing advice but take it from me; the only sound advice comes from those who are actually achieving great return on investment – and that’s only a fraction of all email marketers practitioners.

We’re all under constant pressure to get the next campaign out the door. The email marketing train seems to be a constant, fast moving, never ending journey that keeps on going from month to month. Many marketers struggle to get to grips with the latest techniques and strategies primarily because of the age old war against the simple things like the HTML editor, the latest quirky subject line and – wait for it – choosing the latest pictures to go into the newsletter!

But there is fresh hope! All of us who have been involved in email marketing share the same pressures and constraints, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A change in email marketing strategy doesn’t have to be as painful as you might expect. So here’s my four top tips to help your email marketing campaigns succeed in 2014.

#1 Stop Wasting Time in the HTML Editor

The hassles of HTML and trying to tweak content to fit a predefined email theme can cost you and your business time and money. Great email design is often not great Web design and vice-versa. Forget your preconceptions and outsource the creative design of your email templates to a specialist. Remember pictures are often blocked by business internet service providers so make sure your creative designs are clean and simple. Above all, make sure that you can add content quickly and efficiently without screwing over your HTML designs and where possible make sure the email template is responsive for your mobile audience.

Steve’s Solution: Bypass the internal design team and contract an email marketing agency with a good creative function. Go for 2 -3 basic designs which should be optimised for mobile viewing. You should have to pay no more than about £150 per theme and many online agencies will charge you just a few dollars for a themed email boiler plate. Remember, the tech-savvy email designers know what separates a beautiful template from a basic functional theme. It is very different from web creation, so ensure you get the right guys on the job and resist the urge to speak to your web developer.

#2 Don’t leave the important bits to the last minute

No one in their right mind would decide on the name of their brand at the last minute. But you’ll be amazed to learn that 84% of email marketers leave the subject line to the last task before sending, in fresh stats published by Emid. Your subject line and your second subject line – aka the pre-header and preview text – should be the most thought through text in the campaign – the holy grail of email marketing. Since 65% of our recipients are now opening emails on their smartphones and with the rise in email marketing as a route to market, the majority of our readers are barely skimming our copy; if opening it at all. Forget the pictures, fonts and colour of your campaign and focus on the subject line and decide if your audience would actually engage with your brand when they get your email.

Steve’s Solution: Develop a campaign strategy where your subject line takes centre stage. Plan your campaigns in advance and test a range of options on internal communications before running the top two via a split test. Focus your subject line on what would add value to your subscribers and generate that all important click. Once you think you’ve got it, schedule time in your diary to test, test and test again. Whatever happens, don’t fall into the old trap of sending your campaign out the door without testing the subject line.

#3 Get to know your mobile audience

It’s a fact that 65% of all email marketing recipients open their emails on the go via their smartphones. You may however be surprised to hear that in a recent survey of our own clients; only 3% knew their mobile audience figures! Engaging on mobile is different to sending standard email marketing messages. Our audience is busy, moving and doesn’t have time to engage. Your email has to be punchy, to the point, with a good subject line (see #2) that contains really useful content. Keep your content strategy alive and kicking and avoid the school boy error of writing another “newsletter”.

Steve’s Solution: Knowledge is power but the lack of knowledge, in this case, could easily cost you your job! Ascertaining this data and begin to build your strategy to engage your audience. To develop a successful mobile email strategy it’s vital to understand your mobile audience and how they react to your content. Consider tracking your mobile audience back to your site. Monitor performance back at base and check to see if a responsive website theme could help increase your sales. For the pros, get your remarketing strategy really working and follow-up on audience hits with another email.

#4 Automate your email marketing to build a lead nurture programme

Everyone knows that the Marketing Manager owns the pipeline these days, right? In the modern business, it seems that Marketing is responsible for managing everything up to the point where contracts are on the table. So the final tip to get your MD off your back help your email marketing succeed, is to setup an automated lead nurture programme. Here’s how it works; build 6-12 email campaigns that follow each other every week. Then add in your latest lead data and hit go! You’ll be surprised each week how quickly your prospects start converting to pipeline deals and what’s more – you don’t have to raise your finger to do anything after the initial setup.

Steve’s Solution: Spend time strategizing and tactically planning how you can story-tell through your email marketing. If your prospects are to receive a weekly email, at least make sure that the message is unique and follows a theme. Investing time in the setup phase will ensure that automation works seamlessly later down the line. Be sure to test your campaigns on a small set of data and analyse the point at which optimum engagement occurs – this could be 3 -4 weeks in or after several weeks dependant on your industry.

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If you need help and support with your email marketing then speak to Iconic Digital who would be happy to assist or offer some friendly advice. Tell us below what works for you and share your own hints and tips for everyone to enjoy.

Author: Steve Pailthorpe, Follow us on Google+