5 steps to email marketing heaven

Email marketing continues to be a central part of a business's strategy as it gives them a measurable platform for engagement.

It offers marketers an easy way to deliver a message to a large target audience and $2.5 billion (£1.5 billion) is forecast to be spent annually on the tactic by 2016, according to Forrester, which underlines its enduring popularity.

But are marketers putting enough time and effort into creating emails? For example, users are 22 per cent more likely to open an email that addresses them by their first name, while having a video as a direct call-to-action results in a 53 per cent higher click to open rate.

These statistics underline how there are do's and don'ts when it comes to email, so read on for some of our top tips.

Subject lines
With nearly 90 billion business emails sent every day, why should your email be opened? Right from the get-go these messages have to be intriguing, insightful or informative. As already mentioned, using first names is a great way to make an email seem personal, while the character limit should not exceed 50 characters. But feel free to be a bit liberal with punctuation, as making an impact is the name of the game.

Get creative with content
Once you get people to open emails, the challenge is to move them onto the next stage of the customer journey. Speak directly to your audience and stay away from overly promotional language. Data from Madison Logic has found that questions will spike user interest, while the content should be related and build on the subject line. But don't get too carried away either, as if you're going to use more than 300 words, your audience better be expecting a lot of information.

Calls to action
Does anyone still use the 'Click here' call to action (CTA) at the end of an email? This is your chance to engage consumers around a topic, so the more creative, the better. Create a standalone box that can be pressed - red and orange are seen as optimal colour choices. Whether it is getting people to fill in a contact form, sign-up for a newsletter or make a purchase, CTAs give focus to your email and, crucially, provide a way of measuring their success.

Optimise the user experience for mobiles
If you do not optimise your emails for a mobile audience, you are going to lose out on a potentially lucrative cohort. Nearly three-quarters of mobile phone users will delete emails that are not optimised, while consumers are making more purchases from emails opened on a mobile device than in 2013. This is a trend marketers cannot afford to overlook if they want to keep their brand ahead of the competition. So use web safe fonts, consider device screen width and use a single column layout.

And finally, collaborate
Who is responsible for creating the ideas for the emails? If the answer is one person, your company needs to think about taking a more collaborative approach. There could be some great content being left unpromoted because no one has brought it to the marketing team's attention. So with 2015 on the horizon, make sure your marketing and email calendars are aligned.