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Effective marketing in the age of COVID-19

Email marketing continues to be a cost-effective way to reach your customers and clients, if it is done correctly.

Effective marketing in the age of COVID-19
[chinnarach / Adobe Stock]

Many companies have had to shift from industry shows, retail showrooms, and in-person sales techniques to marketing their products or companies through other channels. Here’s a look at where to get the best bang for your buck with your email marketing dollars—and a few words of caution.

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Email marketing continues to be a cost-effective way to reach your customers and clients, if it is done correctly. Tougher spam laws have put the focus squarely on marketing to customers or opted-in leads.

And while you may employ an individual or a company to do your email marketing, it’s always best for you, as the company owner or CEO, to stay up to date on what’s required. You may even have an employee or other professional involved who didn’t know to check these important items.

To ensure that your emails are not marked as spam, be sure that you are using proper email authentication and that your sending internal protocol (IP) reputation is good. Glock Apps is one company that provides useful tools to help with testing and improving email deliverability.

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The first thing to verify in the account is the DKIM. DKIM stands for DomainKeys identified mail. A DKIM record actually consists of two different records: the actual encrypted value and a kind of verification value. DKIM is an authentication method that uses email encryption with public/private keys to validate whether the emails are generated from the authorized servers and are recognized and configured by the administrators of the sending domains. The value in the header of the email is the private value that is only found on your secured servers, combined with the sender’s and recipient’s email addresses.

The second item that must be set up correctly is the SPF. SPF stands for sender policy framework. It is about making a small change in the DNS settings on a domain. Google provides a clear definition of SPF.

Even if you have DKIM and SPF set up correctly, that does not guarantee your email newsletter will clear the Gmail spam filter—and many of your customers or leads are likely to have a Gmail address.

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So, the third thing to do is authenticate your email with Google’s admin console. Here are Google’s guidelines about how to keep your email pieces from hitting the SPAM folder.

The content of what you are sending can also influence whether it hits your audience’s inbox or lands in their spam folder. With that in mind:

• Make sure your content is more newsletter-focused and less direct sales-focused if the leads are opted in but not yet customers. Give your customers and potential customers a reason to look for emails.

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• Limit the number of images you use and make sure each image is optimized for a minimal file size to ensure fast delivery and load time.

• Ask subscribers to watch for your content and add your address to their address book. This request should be at the top of some of your earliest messages.

• Ask your subscribers to add the “from” address to their list of contacts in Gmail.

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• The “unsubscribe” option should appear at the top, not the bottom of the email, and you should remind the recipient how they ended up on your email list. This is important because your email reputation is influenced in part by whether your subscribers want to receive your content. That means it is in your best interest to have uninterested parties unsubscribe from your newsletter. After all, you are paying based on the number of contacts or emails you send. You don’t want to waste your money sending messages to people who don’t want to receive your content.

• Make sure your newsletter list or leads are obtained through an opt-in process. When a customer purchases something, there should be an opt-in for communication. Your lead pages should also have opt-in for communication. Your terms for signing up should include contact via email correspondence and SMS. If your mailing list is not opted in, then it is considered spam.

• You may want to use a dedicated IP address and a private domain. You should never email from the same domain as your website, or from the same IP address. If something goes wrong and your domain reputation is damaged (or worse, blacklisted), you don’t want it to be your primary domain. So if your domain is “https://mycompany.com” then you might consider special domains for sending emails, like https://mycompanynews.com or https://mycompany.info or https://mycompany.news.

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• Test your subject lines. A/B tests are good for figuring out which headlines work best, but there are also helpful free tools such as SubjectLine.com that will score your subject line and give you helpful tips. The subject line is more important than the content in terms of determining whether the email will be opened. And the more people open your emails, the better your sender reputation.

• And finally, use emojis in your subject lines.

In summary, to improve your email marketing, make sure you have the necessary records, authentication, opt-ins, and methods of unsubscribing. Then you are ready to focus on your content and providing timely, interesting, newsworthy messages that deliver value to your customers while giving you a cost-effective and successful way to marketing your company.

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Laura Kerbyson | Designer | Developer | Marketing | Photography | Computer Science | Internet Expert

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