With all the new apps and digital solutions hitting the market daily (if not hourly), you may be giving less attention to one of your best interactive marketing options: email. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your next email campaign by following these simple tips.

Choose Wisely

All email service providers (ESP) are not created equal. While each offers the basics, such as list management and subscription controls, some deliver added features that can make your campaigns run better.

Select a provider that can send test emails. Check to see if everything looks the way you want it to before it hits your customer’s inbox. Providers like Campaign Monitor can run a report that shows you how the email will look on the majority of desktop and mobile devices. A real plus.

Clean Up Your Lists

Weed out bad email addresses – those that bounce or never generate feedback. And always work to add quality prospects to your lists. Gather email addresses where your potential customers congregate, online or off, whether it’s a sign-up on your homepage or an enter-to-win opportunity at a trade show.

Build In Triggered eMails

The best communication happens at a key point of relevance. You can set up emails to go out when they’re triggered by an action – say, a customer fills out a survey or buys something from you. They can also be sent on specific dates, like birthdays, or as a scheduled reminder to purchase a product or service.

Be sure the email’s as specific as possible. Keep purchase history and preferences in a database to tailor the message to past actions. Like any communication, use trigger-based emails sparingly. No one wants to be bombarded by multiple emails within a short period of time. Many programs that send trigger-based emails have a frequency limit. Honor those limits. Even better, establish frequency rules for all your promotional emails.

Send When Your Customers Are Checking

The best time to send an email is right before a person checks his inbox, so your email’s near the top. But when is that?

For years there’s been an ongoing debate about the best time and day to send an email. Some reports claim that the open rates between days of the week vary only slightly. Others say the day makes all the difference in the world. The best advice: know your customers. If you’re targeting people on the move – like pilots – it’s less imperative to send between 8 and 5. You can make some general assumptions knowing most people check their email when they start their day and also right after lunch.

Take the guesswork out by testing different times of the day and different days of the week. See what works best. A look at your analytics may reveal that conventional wisdom doesn’t apply for your target audience.

Remember, the Subject Line Matters

Your choice of subject line can make or break an email campaign is the subject line. Make sure yours meets each of these three goals:

  1. Identifies the brand to the viewer.
  2. Communicates the email’s key message.
  3. Prompts the person to open the email.

Concise subject lines, around 24-36 characters, test best. Forget being overly clever. People skim their inboxes quickly. They’ll pass by your email if it’s not immediately clear what it’s about.

Use symbols or small graphics to increase the chance of getting noticed and opened. In one study, airplanes (✈) generated a 10.7% increase in unique open rates, while umbrellas (☂) led to a whopping 50% bump. Note, older email clients like Outlook 2003 or Lotus Notes won’t be able to view special characters, but most modern email clients can without any issues. Test it out.

Think Small for Mobile

Design your emails to work on smaller and smaller screens. Simple adjustments to type and graphic size can make all the difference in how people on the go view and interact with your email.

Using responsive design techniques lets you build one email that looks good on a variety of devices. Or you can build two versions of an email – desktop and mobile – with the correct one displayed as needed.

One of email’s main benefits is the ability to personalize your message. Segment your lists. Know your recipients’ interests, age, location etc. Tailor messages to deliver items of true interest and relevance.

A/B Test For Maximum ROI

Test different versions of your email to discover what’s most effective. A/B testing lets you fine-tune your subject line, body copy, call to action, time of day, and more. Send two versions to a small test segment split in half and see which gets the best results. Based on analytics for this small sample, send the winning approach to the remainder of your list.

Analyze Results and Refine Next Time

Really look at what worked and what didn’t so you can adjust future campaigns for the better. Most email service providers offer comprehensive statistics about who viewed your email, what time they opened it, and if they clicked through to an external link. You can also see what email addresses bounced and should be removed or corrected. Coupled with A/B testing, analytics can incrementally improve open rates and conversions with every campaign you send. If your current ESP isn’t providing this support, give it the boot. eMail’s too valuable to not make the most of it.

*Originally published in the January 24 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.