More and more companies are using email marketing in both b2b and b2c channels. At bd2, we now provide most of our clients with a range of email marketing services; from concept, design and copywriting through to distribution, monitoring and reporting.

The reasons are simple to understand and the first is the sheer volume of email traffic that both consumers and business professionals send and receive every single day. Email has become the communications channel of choice for almost all messages whether social or business.

What’s more, the ubiquitous and ever-increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets enables people to access and send emails anytime, anywhere. This constant availability makes email the perfect platform from which to create and maintain dialogue with your audience.

But, the key question is:

How do I make sure my email campaign will be received, read and reacted to by my targets?

The answers to this seemingly simple question are many and varied. And some are still being debated.

Amongst all the components which need to be considered (and to which we will return in future blog items) to help ensure a successful campaign, there are two we’d like to discuss here.

One starts you off and the other finishes the job.

First, the subject line.

At bd2, we often spend as much time constructing the subject line as we do on the body copy of the email. It’s important to remember that the subject line is the first thing your recipient will see. So the subject line often determines whether the email is read or deleted. Recent surveys have suggested that as many as 80% of emails are not read beyond the subject line.

When we’re trying to create a “winning” subject line, we write the content first. It seems common sense to us that the subject line should précis our content; so we can’t write it until we’ve crafted that content. Does that make sense?

The content should be inviting, engaging and succinct. So should the subject line, but even more so.

It’s about telling not selling. Make your subject line appropriate and relevant and more people should be drawn in to what you want to tell them.

There’s an old saying (and a song) which goes “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”

At the end, make sure you have a strong call to action.

What do you want the reader to think? What do you want them to do? Don’t assume they’ll know. Tell them what to do.

An apt and inviting call to action can make all the difference between a successful email campaign and a failure. It is also important to keep your call to action simple and focused. Try very hard to make sure there is only one – buy before Tuesday, get our new catalogue, come to an open day – whatever the desired course of action is, make sure it’s clear and easy to follow.

But don’t just wait until the end!

Put your call to action within the heading and several times in the body copy, but making sure you don’t overdo it. Putting it in the header makes sure it is “above the fold” so it can be seen without scrolling down. Including it throughout the message reinforces the required response and offers multiple opportunities to click through to the website to follow the offered course.

It should go without saying that each call to action is an interactive link to the relevant website page or article.

But, we’ve said it anyway, just to be sure.

These two simple, but incredibly important components can lift an email campaign out of the ordinary and result in high levels of readership, opens and those all-important clicks.

Email marketing is all pervading and omnipresent. And it’s not going to go away. If you’re planning email campaigns these two factors need to be considered with a host of others to help guarantee success.

If you’re not planning email campaigns, why not?