EDMs: The Golden Rules
Posted by Sean Pieres on
When it comes to EDMs, we’ve all had at least one nightmare moment. We’ve compiled all the mistakes we’ve come across to give you a master checklist before you hit “SEND” to your database.
We all know what it’s like to click the SEND button seconds before you realise you didn’t send a test of your final version and check it on your mobile. Or maybe you even clicked SEND right before it dawned on you that you forgot to link the content of your EDM to your highest performing category.
Aside from these common hiccups, there are certain things which are easy to forget that might have a larger impact on your email marketing than just annoying a customer that they can’t click on one of your images. These things are related to your site performance and stability and will be far more difficult to come back from than forgetting to add a link.
Most people who work in eCommerce are well versed in the importance of “batching” EDMs. Almost every email marketing platforms allows for batching and if yours doesn’t, you should change to one which does! Batching allows to you to release your EDM to segments of your list at incremental periods. For EDMs promoting Sales, you can bet your click through rate will be higher than your average “new arrivals” email so here’s what we recommend.
- Use your email marketing platform to see the report for your last Sale EDM
- What does the report say about your click through rate? This is crucial information so make sure you find it and note it.
If your click through rate for your last Sale EDM was 30% and you sent it to 20,000 users you can determine that 6,000 people visited your site. Ask yourself this, can your site handle 6,000 concurrent users? Or will your site traffic bottleneck and get stuck if 6,000 users suddenly arrive? Depending on your server capacity, the answer to this question will vary.
If the answer is no, here’s what you need to do.
- Determine how many users your site can comfortably handle (you might want to chat to your development partner about this who can help you with stress testing)
- Divide the amount of users you are expecting between the amount of users your site can handle
For example, if your site can handle 1,000 concurrent users and you’re expecting 6,000 users you need to stagger your EDM send over 6 batches. We usually recommend allowing 15 – 30 mins between batches to ensure your site visitors have enough time to browse and purchase before the next batch arrives.
Once you’ve designed your beautiful EDM with all your images and content, the next step is adding in your links. Your marketing team will be desperate to track every single click through Google Analytics so they will probably provide you with queries and limits for your URL links to measure the performance.
The more tracking parameters you add to your links, the more stress you’re going to put on your server. We always recommend “caching” your URLs before your EDM goes out. This essentially means we force your server and CDN to take a snapshot of your category pages and place that snapshot in front of your server. So, when users hit your site and browse your sale category, they interact with the cached snapshot of your site and don’t actually request any information directly from your server until they add an item to their cart.
For arguments sake, let’s use those hypothetical 1,000 users who came in with your first batch send. 1,000 users browsing the cached snapshot of your sale category is nothing, they’re not requesting anything from your server so your site runs smoothly.
Now let’s imagine you sent those 1,000 users to a URL containing parameters which give each user a unique page so you can track their behaviour and sessions individually against their profiles. Suddenly your server is being forced to serve 1,000 unique visitors with unique experiences. This is the part where your site starts to struggle. Then say some of those users start to go through cart and checkout. The server is forced to server even more unique requests. This is the part where your site crashes.
So how do we stop that from happening?
Here’s what a URL looks like with parameters, queries and limits:
Here’s how we recommend sending your users to that page:
The truth is, URL tracking is brilliant but there are easier ways to achieve tracking (within your email marketing platform reporting) than by adding numerous parameters to your category URLs. For more information on this, chat to a member of MindArc today and let us help you.
Remember that load time is one of the most important factors when it comes to user experience so for that reason, make sure you check your image sizes. Users want to open an email and see it load almost immediately and if you’re using large images this won’t happen.
Make sure your images are optimised before you click send. You can also test this by turning your test mobile and tablet devices to data rather than WiFi and check how long it takes to load.
In order to avoid your EDM going into SPAM folders, you should make sure your EDM contains a few key things.
- An unsubscribe link which must be valid for at least 30 days after your EDM goes out (MindArc recommends a permanent unsubscribe landing page)
- Use a balance of text and image content
- Ensure your Subject Line is clear and not misleading
There are no set of rules to follow to guarantee your EDM will avoid all junk folders, but following a best practice approach will give you a much higher chance of customer engagement. It’s always advisable to discuss SPAM best practice rules with your email marketing platform in case this varies from one platform to another.
Use a template
If you send EDMs regularly and always include the same header and footer design with the same links, it’s a good idea to save this as a template in your email marketing platform. This will not only save you time when you’re designing your EDMs but it will also give you the peace of mind that the header has been pre-tested and works across all your devices. This is an easy thing to do but may vary depending on your email marketing platform. If you’re not sure how to create templates, get in touch with your email marketing platform or ask one of our team here at MindArc.
The final golden rule is the important of sending your EDM as a final test to a few team members. There are no words for how incredibly irritating it is to receive your own EDM and notice that you typed “new arivals” instead of “new arrivals”. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are an instant turn-off for your more discerning customers who don’t want to give their hard earned money to a business which can’t even spellcheck an EDM. A test EDM doesn’t just cover you for for typos, it’s also a great way to make sure your EDM is easy to read on desktop, mobile and tablet. Be sure to have all these devices handy to check your EDMs so you don’t lose a chunk of your audience after clicking send.
If you follow all our Golden Rules, you can click send and breathe out. Job done.