Informz Tips and Tricks

Every week Informz sends out a newsletter to registered users, to talk about system updates, studies in the field of online/email marketing, and a best practice or tip for getting the most out of your newsletter.  You can sign up here if you're interested in getting a copy.

Here is a selection of the advice from the Informz Informal, from our Informz advisors, and from blogs in the field.

Email Planning/Layout

  • Know the purpose of your email, and make sure that everything about that email drives the call to action of that purpose. The colors, font, layout, and graphics should all contribute toward convincing the reader to take whatever action you want them to take (the purpose of the email). [Read article]
  • Know the subject line of your email, and plan variations on that subject line so that you can systematically test for effectiveness.
  • Keep your subject line 30 characters or less. Many users are at least previewing their email on handheld devices, which have very limited character counts.  Don't clutter it up with repeating information found in the From line or the message header (Skidmore, Skidmore College, date, etc.)
  • Be cautious in changing the "friendly from" of your email. Skidmore College has a sender reputation, and a widely recognized identity. Your department chairperson might not enjoy that "automatic trusted" status, and could get your email deleted, or labeled as SPAM by an ISP. (True story, Jenn Crewell deleted an offer of an account bonus from Netflix because the "from" was the CEO's personal name, and she didn't know who that was, so it got deleted before she even looked at it further. Don't give your subscribers a reason to reject your emails.)
  • Take advantage of the features of the new editor, to optimize the delivery time of your emails! That puts your email in the inbox at the time that the recipient is most likely to open it, based on history.
  • Design your email in a diamond shape - most important information at the top, so that readers see it right away, and again, at the bottom.  Leave them with a lasting thought!
  • Plan the delivery date of your email carefully - you don't want to over-saturate your subscribers with emails!
  • Relevant articles:

Email Body/Design

  • When inserting hyperlinks into your emails, avoid exposed (written out) URLs. These are red flags for ISPs to flag your email as spam! Instead, be sure to embed the link to words, using the hyperlink tool.
  • Take advantage of tables to maintain the look and feel that you intend for your email. Because of the different ways that different email programs and browsers display your email, this is essential to making sure that your subscribers see the message that you intend to send!
  • While graphics and image-heavy design is great for posters and printed pieces, it's not the best way to design an email. If you include images in your email, don't make them an essential part of the call to action, or the impact of your message will be lost.
  • Shorter is better! An email should be 3-5 "scrolls" of the mouse scroll wheel long, at best, and only for a major newsletter. The shorter and more to the point your email is, the more likely the reader is to engage with it, investigate the links, and take whatever action you wanted them to take.
  • Always, always take the time to edit the text version of your mailing! It can make a big difference between something that is pleasant and readable, and something that is illegible and gets immediately deleted.
  • Always include an alternate image tag when you upload an image, for ADA compliance, and to offer something for when a user chooses not to display images in their email program. Nothing looks more horrible than a page full of red x's where your images should be!
  • Relevant articles:

Email Campaign Strategy

  • Test. Test, test, test! Test variations on subject line, test variations on graphics used, test variations on friendly from... find something to test! Falling into static habits will lead to a decline in subscriber engagement.
  • Make sure you're monitoring your deliverability rate (bounces versus sent). It's more important than you think, and there are simple changes you can make to improve your sender score.
  • Take small steps along the path toward improving your email marketing strategy. There are many ways you can improve, but they don't need to be done all at once! Take your time and it will be much easier to implement necessary changes.
  • Put your eMarketing Advisor on speed dial! They're there to help with all sorts of questions, so make sure to take advantage of their training and experience.
  • Before starting a re-engagement campaign, make sure to put a short moratorium on sending emails to the unengaged readers on your list (a few weeks). Then, when you begin your campaign, they will be more likely to notice your email in their inbox.
  • Relevant articles:

Subscriber Engagement and Preferences

Surveys

  • When creating a survey, it's critical that every question is clear and concise, and contributes to the purpose of the survey. Keep this in mind when creating each question - it's not only the question, but the question type that determines which type of information is being collected. How are the questions - and the format you choose for each one - relevant to your goal?  Make every question count!

Mobile and Mobile Friendly Design

Deliverability/Analytics Review

  • Always, always download your statistics after each email is sent. You may not review them immediately, but the statistics only stay live in Informz for 30 days. Save them to your hard drive, or print them for a binder, so that you can review the performance of a series over time.
  • When in doubt, print it out!  It's better to have a binder of statistics that you're not sure how to make use of, than have no statistics at all. One of the web team, or your Informz advisor, can help you understand how to use the statistics to understand how your emails are performing, and what you can change to increase performance.
  • Always, always review the bounces of your emails, and take note of the repeated bouncers. Those are people whose emails remain in the database, but who have had emails bounce so frequently that Informz no longer attempts to send email to them.  However, we are still charged for the attempt, and it still registers as a bounce in the statistics (and against our overall sender score)!  So repeated bouncers cost us time, money, and reputation - it's in everyone's best interest to identify those email addresses, correct them where they can be corrected, or remove them from the database where they are erroneous and can't be verified.
  • Culling inactive or inaccurate email addresses can help boost the productivity of your remaining email list, by allowing you to see the demographics of your active population more clearly, and choose your segmentation/targeting/testing based on robust subscriber characteristics.  Use those culled emails for a re-engagement list every quarter – but get them off your main list! [Read article]
  • Also, take the time to review the blocks, and get those corrected. Work with Informz, who can work with the ISP in question to identify the problem, and help you correct it. Never allow yourself to stay on the blacklist! [Read article]
  • Relevant Articles