Direct emails are still one of the most popular and effective ways to reach out and get your Christian market target audience to respond to your message. The whole goal, in my mind, is to do this for the purpose of user acquisition and/or engagement, enabling you to market to these people directly in the future. Whether you are emailing your own existing customers, or targeting new prospects using one of our email lists, there are a number of ways to boost email response and increase your return on investment. Successful email campaign marketing isn’t any different than any other form of marketing. You must find out what actions work well for your organization, and then repeat those actions. Embrace the learning curve.
Let me share with you some guidelines that will increase the success of your direct email ads.
These come from my experience helping Christian publishers and authors, music labels and artists, non-profits and causes, colleges, films, and more… all of the direct email ads we’ve run as one of the leading Christian market media groups, particularly through various targeted subscriber segments in our iTickets.com Christian email database with 400,000+ subscribers.
Not One Big Image
Having one big graphic as your direct email ad is an epic fail. Your ad should be at least 50% text and 50% images. Images should count for 50% or less of your ad. Text in the HTML should ALWAYS be 50% or more of your total ad. One big fat image all by its lonesome immediately increases your SPAM ranking, decreasing your success. Make sure the email has a great chance of actually getting through the many SPAM filters on the Internet.
Subject Line Is Most Important
Spend more time creating your Subject Line than creating your HTML ad. Those pretty pictures are no good if no one opens your email to see them. The Subject Line is the first impression and communication with your prospective target audience. It’s gotta be short, shorter than a tweet, as short as you can get it and still be clear. Your only purpose is to get the subscriber to open the email. Let me say that again. Your ONLY purpose is to get the subscriber to open the email. Without that, you are through. Including something in the subject line that resonates with the recipient is crucial to getting the email to be opened. Recognizable brands are more often opened than not. Stay away from typical words and phrases that you probably already know are SPAM triggers because you see them in your emails, things like “FREE”, or “No Cost”. Check yourself against one of the SPAM Trigger Word lists. Here’s a recent one. If your subject line did what it was supposed to do, the email was opened.
Make It Clearly Christian
In general, the majority of all emails sent are never opened. Think about how many SPAM related emails you get daily, along with the general emails you skip over. This makes for a HUGE opportunity if you can create any slightly more appealing interest for the person receiving your email. Connecting to the user’s faith is one of the most passionate connections that can be made! Don’t assume that because your message is coming through a Christian company like NewReleaseTuesday.com or iTickets.com, that their subscribers will “just get it” that you are a Christian product, service or cause. The reader’s inbox is full of everything just like your inbox. Design your Subject Line and the ad itself to connect the dots the Christian audience you are sending to.
Have A Clear Offer & Call To Action
The recipient has opened your email ad because the subject line was compelling. So now, let your content within the email body deliver exactly what your subject line said. Keep your email ad simple and clear. State your purpose or offer at the top. You don’t have to provide a story explaining all the reasons why this is such a great offer. Just offer it. The sole purpose of the body of this email ad is to deliver a message that will cause the recipient to click on the link to your landing page. Make sure the link to the landing page is easily found and communicates why one should click. Make every image link to your landing page.
Tune Into WIFM
Answer your Christian email reader’s question “What’s In It For Me?” Don’t merely tell about your product, service, or cause. Instead, offer something of value to the audience you are sending to; solve a problem, give help, etc.
Turn In HTML & Text Versions
There are still people using image blockers in their email in order to increase download speed and protect themselves from unwanted images. Always turn in both an HTML ad and a Plain Text version with no text formatting. Most email systems are set up to send out both versions so that any individual subscriber will see what their settings say they should. Just copy your text from the HTML into any plain text editor like Notepad, and then add back in text for the missing message elements. If you have links that are more than 65 characters long, then use a shorter URL instead. Either have your web designer create a short URL on your site, or use a free service such as http://tinyurl.com. For example, https://www.frontgatemedia.com/blog/index.php/category/offer-of-the-month would instead be http://tinyurl.com/frontgate-ootm.
Landing Page – Success! Data Capture
Make sure your landing page reiterates the offer along with the action you want the person to take. Because the Subject Line succeeded in getting the email opened, and the email ad succeeded in getting the click, now the landing page should do what it is intended to do: collect the consumer data and then deliver their reward. The recipient is likely wanting to take action! They clicked here for a reason. Be sure that VERY little stands in the way of the prospect’s ability to take action. Again, keep it simple. This enables you to have future communication with this person, who is now your subscriber! At a minimum, you should have 3-5 or more opportunities to communicate directly with person and in more detail about your Christian product, service or cause.
Test It All First
Let me tell the tale of the Christian software company that spent $5,000 to send a very generous offer for Bible software at a significant discount to part of our Christian subscriber audience. All the recipients had to do was enter a special code on the landing page. Imagine the response: a Bible software message offering Christians a major discount! WOW, the media email databases delivered to the subscribers and the subscribers responded! Except that the special code didn’t work. The advertiser’s web site rejected every single person who clicked to the landing page and completed the form. Now imagine the despair. I knew immediately when they said there was zero response that only one of two things was possible, either the email didn’t go out, or they had technical issues on their end. I hated being right. YOU MUST TEST EVERYTHING.