O2 Workshop, 229 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7QG

EVENT: A Crash Course in Email & Social Media Marketing for SMEs

LOCATION: O2 Workshop, 229 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7QG

DATE: January 26 2012

PHOTOS: Facebook / Flickr


Social media and email marketing are important, modern methods of engaging with current and potential customers, but developing an effective campaign can be difficult, and there are pitfalls.
This event, organised by email marketing firm iContact, comprised two presentations; the first, from John Hayes, focused on exactly what email marketing is, what it can do, and the steps involved in producing a successful campaign. It also discussed social media marketing, and highlighted common errors made by firms trying to make their presence known on social media channels.

The second presentation, by Peter Scully of Egghead Design, focused on the design of email newsletters and how making poor decisions with regard to the layout and design of emails can turn off potential customers and reduce read rates. You can find coverage of this event below:

E-mail design best practice

What is the point of email marketing?

  • Maximise customer lifetime value
  • Create upsell opportunities
  • Generate repeat sales
  • Encourage brand loyalty
  • Customer retention
  • Build emotional connection with customers

Creating campaign goals

What defines a successful campaign? This depends on the type of campaign you’re running and what you need to achieve, but it may be one or several of the following.

  • Increase in web traffic
  • Spike in sales calls
  • Website enquiries
  • PDF downloads
  • Video views
  • Surveys completed
  • Social media followers

List segmentation

Make sure you group people together so that you send the most relevant emails. You can break customers down on a number of different variables including:

  • Demographics: location, gender, age, occupation
  • Subscriber activity: new or recent subscribers, inactive subscribers, people who opened emails but didn’t click, etc
  • Sales choice: buys clothes for men, buys clothes for women, buys clothes for children
  • Sales activity: bought last week, bought last month, bought last year, never bought

Avoiding spam filters

E-mail systems have a ‘points’ threshold – once an email accrues a certain number of points it will go into spam folders. Points are awarded if emails include certain variables, including:

  • Overuse of punctuation
  • Using all capitals
  • Using the word ‘test’ in the subject line
  • Multiple recipients in the same company
  • HTML emails pasted in from Microsoft Word

Permission, reputation and trust

These three are interlinked and essential to success. If over 1 percent (roughly) of your emails are marked by users as spam, the ISP may blacklist you.

Permission is the first step to gaining reputation and trust – it will typically involve either an ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ procedure so your emails don’t come as a surprise to users.

Reputation is related to trust, and trust is hard to build without reputation. Sending out relevant, quality emails is a good way to build your reputation.

You then earn trust, one subscriber at a time. It can take a while to build trust so it’s important not to rush the process or you may damage your reputation in the process.

Basic Design Principles


  • Keep the design simple
  • Use consistent branding and layout
  • Maximum width should be 600 pixels
  • Use tables and not CSS

Creating calls to action

  • Must reflect campaign goals
  • Clean and concise
  • Colour and imagery to catch eye

Technical information

  • Avoid using background images
  • Use inline styling
  • Alt tags on all images
  • Encode all characters (& instead of &)
  • No javascript
  • Include unsubscribe link
  • Include browser version

Browser and email client testing

All browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 6/7/8/9
  • Opera
  • Safari
  • Camino
  • Firefox
  • Chrome

All clients:

  • Outlook
  • iOS
  • Hotmail
  • Apple Mail
  • Yahoo
  • Gmail
  • Android
  • AOL
  • Thunderbird

A/B split testing

Uses two different emails and send each one out to 10 percent of your subscriber list, then send the most successful one to the remaining 80 percent of your subscriber list.

A/B testing can help you decide:

  • Which day of the week yields a better open rate
  • Which subject lines causes the most bounces
  • How the time of day affects open rates
  • Whether a personalised ‘from address’ yields a better conversion rate

Behavioural merchandising

Up-and-coming area of ecommerce strategy that assigns ‘qualities’ to individual projects to help build up a profile of each customer in your subscriber list. For example, if they buy several products tagged with the quality ‘red,’ emails can be targeted to include a broad range of red items.

The benefits of behavioural merchandising include:

  • Highly targeted emails
  • Personalised recommendations
  • Thousands of unique emails
  • Increase open rates and upsell opportunities
  • Increase chance of emotional connections
  • Generate more revenue