In today’s noisy email marketing landscape, how can you stand out in a subscriber’s inbox?
The answer: Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC).
SFMC offers numerous intuitive creation tools, built-in SFMC templates, an intelligent predictive AI engine (Einstein), plus powerful segmentation, personalization and testing capabilities, so you can deliver tailored, 1-to-1 emails to every subscriber, every time.
To help you build a successful SFMC email campaign from the ground up, we have created this simple to-do checklist.
Ready to deliver the exceptional experiences your subscribers expect and deserve? Let’s get started!
#1: SEGMENT your subscriber list
Split your email list into more targeted segments to better understand your audience, which can ultimately enable you to increase customer retention, create brand advocates, and generate more sales.
SFMC supports segmentation by demographics, behavior, psychography, geography, etc, so you can create different segments like: new users, active subscribers, disengaged subscribers, frequent cart abandoners, etc.
Design your email campaigns around these segments to ensure that subscribers always get relevant and timely emails.
Model your data to analyze the relationships between subscribers with other data objects like orders, visits, and support cases. You can also apply data filters in Email Studio with relevant attributes like country, last name, etc. For large data sets or multiple data extensions, or to target a very specific segment, run SQL queries in Journey Builder.
#2: Create compelling SUBJECT LINES
A great subject line will stand out in your subscribers’ inbox and make them want to open your email. Make it intriguing, interesting and unique. Limit the length to 70 characters, and don’t be afraid to experiment with emojis.
In SFMC, Einstein Copy Insights provides powerful language-related insights to help you craft better subject lines. With machine learning and statistics, this feature identifies language features related to punctuation, tone, emotions, phrases, etc., and assesses their impact on open rate. Use this information to create subject lines that are most likely to appeal to your audience, and thus increase email open rates.
You can also include incentives to increase open rates.
- “Free shipping on orders of $50 and above”
- “Receive a free Tee with purchases over $200”
- “Buy in-store and get 20% off on your next purchase”
Make sure incentives are backed by a warm, human-sounding email copy!
#3: Create personalized CONTENT
Personalized content is one of the most critical success factors in modern email marketing. SFMC makes it easy for you and your SFMC specialist to add personalization at multiple levels: subject line, greeting, product recommendations, copy, special offers, promotions, etc.
Here are 4 ways to get started with personalization in SFMC:
- Collect customer data through Smart Capture forms and define it as an entry source in Journey Builder
- Set up a Preference Center so your subscribers can update their details, needs, preferred frequency, etc.
- Send behavior-triggered emails when a subscriber takes a specific action at any stage of the customer lifecycle.
- Leverage SFMC’s dynamic content capabilities to personalize content based on:
- Purchase history
- Subscriber details
You can also use drag-and-drop functions, personalized scripting language, and interactive content like carousels and weather reports to delight subscribers with real-time, hyper-personalized messages.
#4: Check and remove SPAM
To keep your emails out of spam folders, maintain an optimal number of sends based on what subscribers ask for. Also ensure that you don’t use “spammy” words in content that will trigger spam filters, and automatically move your emails to the spam folder. Use Content Detective in SFMC Email Studio to identify and remove such trigger words before email sends.
Some more tips to keep spam complaints down:
- Never buy email lists. Purchased lists tend to generate very high unsubscribe and spam rates
- Add your brand’s physical address somewhere in the email
- Avoid using ‘No reply’ in the sender’s email address (see #5 below)
- Make it easy to unsubscribe (see #6 below)
- Break down your content into smaller, more easily consumable chunks
#5: Check the SENDER’S email address
In addition to subject lines, the from address can either encourage or discourage subscribers from opening emails. Your subscribers are more likely to open your emails if they know they were written by a human being, e.g. email@example.com.
An email address containing “No reply” (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) annoys subscribers because it is generic, impersonal, and prevents them from responding. A non-branded sending address also goes against CAN-SPAM regulations that protect the right of US recipients to opt out of marketing emails.
#6: Add an UNSUBSCRIBE link
No email marketer or SFMC specialist wants to lose subscribers. But, if someone wants to leave, making it harder for them to do so will just annoy them even more. Hard-to-find unsubscribe links in tiny fonts or low-contrast colors can generate spam reports, so add your unsubscribe button right next to your email address, or at the end of your email.
Tip: If a subscriber tries to unsubscribe, it may be because they receive too many emails from you. Give them the opportunity to personalize their experience and select the type of emails they want to receive. A Preference Center (see #3 above) is a great way to potentially halt that unsubscribe.
#7: Add clear CTAs
Use a clear CTA with every email. This can increase conversions by giving readers the choice to take a specific action.
- Keep CTA copy specific and short
- Use attractive colors for the button
- Use white space
- Show CTA before the fold
- Test the links, make sure they’re not broken
- Optimize link/button for mobile
#8: In every email, the design is as important as the copy, so make sure you get it right.
Use the ready-made SFMC templates, and reusable content blocks to save time and get your emails out quickly. Include high-quality visuals, color palette, fonts, styles, etc., that sync with your brand’s design guidelines. Include relevant brand elements like logo, tagline and physical address.
Add ALT text to every image and button so users can understand what they’re reading, even if the HTML doesn’t render properly, or if their email client blocks images by default.
Add interactive elements wherever possible: videos, countdown timers, quizzes, image carousels, interactive maps, accordion menus, live polls, etc.
Create both HTML and plain text emails. HTML emails are rich in visual, interactive and media elements. But they might not render properly in all email clients. But with plain-text emails, you can still share information and provide value, and thus reach more subscribers.
Finally, create responsive and mobile-friendly designs by taking care of these elements:
- No broken links
- Images load properly
- Easy scrolling and navigation
- Short subject lines: 25-30 characters
- Use pre-header text
- Short copy that’s readable on a mobile screen
#9: Set up TESTING
Before sending out an email, test it on a small group within your target audience using A/B testing. Set up different versions and send each to a different group. The version that generates the best results, say, most opens, clicks or conversions, should be the “winning” version which you can send to the remaining subscribers.
In SFMC, A/B Testing must be set up in Email Studio. You can test different elements, including:
- Subject line
- From name
- Content areas
- CTA text
- Send time
Useful tips to run a successful A/B test:
- Define a hypothesis and goal
- For more accurate results, test as large a sample as possible
- Randomize your contact list and choose the same sample sizes for both versions
- Test as early as possible
- Test only one variable at a time
- Wait at least 24 hours before declaring a version as the winner
After finalizing the email version, preview it within SFMC Content Builder to ensure it renders appropriately.
#10: Set up ANALYTICS
Once you send an email or finish a campaign, review its performance in terms of:
- Open rates
- Click-through rates
- A/B test results
- Spam complaints
Also look for answers like:
- Are customers clicking on your emails more than the industry average?
- Which content chunks do they engage with more?
- Have store purchases increased?
- Which designs perform better?
- Do buttons do well or text links?
Use the tracking reports in SFMC Email Studio to dig deeper into the data, to gauge performance, and to improve over time.
We hope this checklist gives you a strong foundation to build memorable email campaigns to engage with subscribers, and convert them into loyal fans. If you still need help, our email marketing experts SFMC specialists can help.