[intro] Before you begin this Guide, it is essential that you have created an EKM Email Marketing account and made at least one Contact Group to send your email newsletter to. After you have completed this Guide, you will be able to create an email newsletter of your own design from scratch using the Visual Designer on EKM Email Marketing.[/intro]
- Creating your Email Newsletter
- The Visual Designer Dashboard
- Adding your Content
- Adding Images
- Adding Tags
- Email Marketing Best Practices
- Spam Checking
[tips] Before you begin, bear in mind that your finished email newsletter should ideally be 50/50 text and images, so it’s worth sketching out a design on paper first that adheres to this guideline which in turn will help you quickly work out what tables you need to create and where.
It’s also very beneficial to copy the text you wish to use on your newsletter into Notepad (PC users) or TextEditor (Mac users) so that you can easily copy the text directly into your newsletter. [/tips]
Creating your Email Newsletter
1. From the EKM Email Marketing Dashboard, click the green Create Campaign button:
2. You’ll need to give the Campaign a Name and Description before you click the green Create Campaign button:
3. Now you need to click the green Select Editor button from Drag and Drop Editor:
4. You can then choose whether to Select a Theme or use a Blank Campaign:
Select a Theme
5. Click the green Select a Theme button on the right-hand side:
6. On this page, you can scroll through the different ready-made Themes you can use for your email newsletter. Click on to use it:
[remember] If you choose to use a Theme, you may need to return to the File Manager and upload different versions of your images. This is because Themes require images to be in specific sizes. You can return to the File Manager easily by clicking Dashboard > Campaigns > File Manager. [/remember]
7. Click the green Create Blank Campaign button on the right-hand side:
8. You’ll then be presented with your blank template:
On the right-hand side are a number of buttons, which can be dragged onto the blank canvas which will eventually become your email newsletter.
The Visual Designer Dashboard
9. On the right-hand side, you’ll see three tabs - Content, Rows and Settings. The Visual Designer will always open by default on the Content tab.
Text - This will add a cell the width of the area it is added to for you to add text to.
Image - This will allow you to add an image from the File Manager to your email newsletter.
Button - This will add a button to a cell which can then be hyperlinked to a Product Page.
Divider - A divider provides an accent line between cells to split up the design.
Social - Drag this onto your email newsletter to add icons for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
HTML - Use this to add an HTML element to your newsletter.
Video - This element allows you to add the URL of an existing video to your newsletter.
Dragging elements from this panel into your newsletter creates cells which can be populated with different content. When you have dragged your chosen row onto your newsletter, simply return to the Content tab to drag some content into each cell of the row.
Within the Settings tab, you can amend the width of the email newsletter, the background colour, font and link colour.
[tips] Loren Ipsum text is typically used to add content to a Webpage or a website to see what the design looks like before the real content has been written. If you need to use some Loren Ipsum text, simply click here and copy the text from this website. [/tips]
Here, you just need to upload your images into the File Manager within the Visual Designer itself.
10. Click and drag the Image button on the Content tab and drag this into the area you would like to add your image:
11. You then need to click the blue Browse button in the Image cell:
12. This will open the Visual Design File Manager. Click the myfiles folder:
13. You then need to click the blue Upload button on the left-hand side:
14. This will open the File Explorer on your computer so you can locate your image. When you have found it, click it and then click the Open button:
15. When your image has been uploaded, you’ll see it displayed in the File Manager. Click the blue Insert button to add it to the Image cell on your newsletter:
[caution]Do not click Back on your browser when you are within the File Manager, as this will mean you have lost any unsaved work on your email newsletter so far. Instead, to return to your email newsletter from the File Manager, click the black cross symbol on the far right-hand side of the page:
16. You will then see your image within the content of your newsletter:
[remember]Although the File Manager for the Visual Designer will automatically resize your image to fit in the required cell, it can’t change the overall shape of the image. In my example, my image is square, which is why there’s a lot of white space on either side of the image. With this in mind, ensure that any images that you upload are shaped correctly. [/remember]
[tips] If you cannot upload an image (as all images have to be under 200kb), use TinyPng or TinyJpeg - simply upload all of your images and they will remove any superfluous data without affecting image quality. You then need to download your optimised images and upload them to your folder on EKM Email Marketing. [/tips]
Adding your Content
The best way to begin your design is to drag buttons from the right-hand side onto your canvas and experiment with them until you have found your ideal layout. You then need to add images and text. Aim for content which is 50% images and 50% text to ensure that your email newsletter passes through junk mail filters safely and can be read by your subscribers.
[caution] When you are adding text to your template, do not copy it directly from a Word document, webpage or similar. This is so that any code that is used to format it is not accidentally carried onto your template and as a result will not display for your readers or ‘behave’ correctly when being edited.
If you want to copy text from elsewhere, open the Notepad application on your PC (or if you’re on a Mac, use TextEditor) and paste the text there first, before copying it onto your template. Both applications will remove the formatting and ensure that only the text is copied over and not any superfluous formatting code. [/caution]
Words To Avoid
There are some words and phrases that no matter how clean your email, will cause problems due to them carrying their own spam scores directly. This is only intensified if the word/phrase is set in a large font, set as bold, italic or as a hyperlink etc.
Words and any associated words to avoid are:
Phrases that should be avoided include:
Click to be removed
Sale now on
Have you been turned down
Money back guarantee
Following all the above will give your emails the best possible chance of obtaining inbox delivery, recipient engagement and ROI. [/tips]
Tags are pieces of visible code which display specific details, according to what information the EKM Email Marketing platform has listed against each recipient’s email address. For example, inserting the Firstname Greeting tag will display the following:
This means that if you have a first name value for each of the contacts you send your email newsletter to, the email newsletter will display these values wherever the tag has been which in turn makes your email newsletters look a lot more personal.
[remember] The following two tags are mandatory for every email newsletter, in accordance with GDPR legislation.
- Unsubscribe - ‘Remove your address from this mailing list by clicking here’;
- Permission Reminder - ‘You are receiving this because you opted in at our website’.
Within every email newsletter, a customer needs to be able to ascertain why they’ve received the email (Permission Reminder) and how to remove themselves from receiving any more if need be (Unsubscribe).
- Preferences - Update your details by clicking here.
- View in Browser - Having trouble reading this email? Click here for a web version.
- Forward to a Friend - Click here to forward to a friend.
- Greeting - Dear [FirstName] [LastName]
- First Name - [FirstName]
- Last Name - [LastName]
- Email Address - [EmailAddress]
- Address 1 - [Address1]
- Address 2 - [Address2]
- Town/City - [TownCity]
- County/State - [CountyState]
- Country - [Country]
- Postcode - [Postcode]
- Telephone Number - [TelephoneNumber]
- Custom Field 1 - 20 - [Custom1]
It is not necessary to use all of the Tags available in your email newsletters, especially if you don’t have first and last names saved against every customer. However, it is essential that the mandatory tags - Unsubscribe and Permission Reminder are included.
17. To include a tag in your email newsletter, add a text area and click where you would like the Tag to be placed, before clicking Merge Tags:
18. This will then allow you to view the full list of available tags. Simply click the one you would like to use:
19. You can find the Unsubscribe Tag listed under Special Links > Frequently used:
20. Repeat this process to add in the two mandatory Tags and any other Tags you wish to use, which of course will depend on the design of your email newsletter and how much information you have stored for each of your Contacts.
Email Marketing Best Practices
- Use Capital Letters in an unnecessary manner - Words that are written in all capitals translate as shouting and this is a known technique that spammers use, so not only does it not look good to your readers, but it can also see your email blocked by your reader's email provider.
- Use lots of unnecessary punctuation - what works on auction sites and social media does not work in the world of email marketing. Lots of exclamation marks ruin the quality of your newsletter.
- Use a lot of special characters - this includes @, £, %, * and $. Obviously, you will need to add a currency symbol before a product price, but keep these characters to a minimum to keep your spam score low.
- Use lots of different text formatting - A mixture of various fonts, very large text, excess use of boldness, italics and multicoloured text are all frowned upon as these are all techniques that spammers use. Keep the text within the email in a uniform style. For example, one font for all of the text, larger text only being assigned to headers/titles and perhaps two colours in use through all of the text. Keep the email pleasantly appealing to keep the spam score low.
- Make too many text alterations - Too many alterations to the text will add more and more snippets of code around that piece of text to determine the format. For example, highlighting a title, setting it as bold and size 16 is fine, however, doing that and then removing the bold, then re-adding it and changing the font size to 18, then adding italics and removing the bold again will add lots of superfluous code to your email newsletter. This in turn will see your email blocked by email providers as emails that contain a lot of excess code are often classed as spam.
- Add too many links - Links within a template are of course one of the main elements of marketing emails. However, links can increase the spam score if too many are used or they have been added incorrectly. For example, a paragraph full of different hyperlinks will upset some spam filters, as will hyperlinking entire paragraphs. Use links sparsely and try to avoid the spammers' technique of a 'click here' hyperlink with something along the lines of 'view our store for more info' (with the store being the hyperlink) instead.
- Place white text on a graphical background - Although this is a technique required to make your design visually pleasing, it is also a technique that spammers use to hide text from the recipient but to help get around spam filters. When placing text against a background colour, contrasting colours are recommended so the spam filters can see the text is presented clearly for the recipient to read.
- Add a poll or a form to your email - If you want to use a form, such as a questionnaire, then you would need to place a link in your email to a page on your website that contains the form.
- Set hyperlinks to display the URL of the page you are linking to - For example, instead of creating a hyperlink like this: "Go to http://www.ekmemailmarketing.com to find out more", create it like this: "Go to EKM Email Marketing to find out more". The reason is that for a split second, the user is actually taken to an EKM EKM Email Marketing tracking URL so that we can monitor the link tracking for your campaign statistics. This means that the URL the user actually goes to is not the URL that is visible to them. As a result, some mail clients can interpret that link as a phishing link because the URL advertised is not the URL they are actually taken to when the user clicks it.
- Add Introductory text to remind the user why they are receiving your email - if the recipient is an existing customer, introduce the email with "As an existing customer, we would like to inform you of our current special offers" will immediately capture their attention if the subject and friendly from values failed to do so. If the recipient submitted their details via your site several months ago then they may have forgotten, so "You are receiving this newsletter as a result of submitting your details on our website" will prevent the user from simply assuming the email is spam and potentially making a complaint.
- Include clear contact details - receiving an email with contact details, address, phone number, web address etc. will all contribute in reassuring the recipient that the email they have received is not "spam" and is something genuine. Emails that are seen at first glance which contain none of this info whatsoever, with the only content being a typical "spammy" type hard-sell pitch that will simply provoke the user to just delete the email, or worse, report it as spam.
- Make sure the email is populated with correctly spelt text, grammar and punctuation - an email containing typos and sentences that don't make sense can be caught by spam filters, as they deem the email is unprofessional and therefore created by a lazy spammer.
- Use a similar volume of text and images within your email - too many images can upset spam filters, as can emails with too much text. Striking a balance between the two is important and under no circumstances should an email only contain just one large image.
- Enter a relevant subject and a friendly from value - the subject must be relative to the content within the email and attract the recipient's attention while the friendly from value needs to inform the recipient who the email is from. These values are very important and can mean the difference between your email being deleted or being saved to be read later on (if not immediately).
- Personalise your email if possible - the EKM Email Marketing platform allows you to enter tags that display the recipient's first name, surname or both in the email they receive. This gives a sense of personalisation and importance to the email, encouraging the recipient to open it and please the spam filters at the same time. However, if you do not have the recipients' names but still insert the tags, then a badly personalised email will only provoke the user to delete the email or even unsubscribe completely. Users of Macs with the built-in mail software are also more likely to receive the email in the inbox if both first name and surname are present within the email as per the anti-spam algorithms in the mail client.
- Create a clean coded email - An email with lots of excess or redundant backend code can cause your email to be filtered by some clients. This is very common when users copy and paste segments of text from other sources such as a website or a Word document etc. Doing so copies the backend code of the source, which is irrelevant for an email as it upsets mail filters and can cause difficulty when trying to edit that text when creating the email. Although easy to do and saves time, it is much better practice to create the tabular structure of your email, then manually enter all the text/images and leave the formatting of the text accordingly to the end.
- Have a professional, custom template created for you - Having a custom template written means your email will not contain any poor, excess or redundant code and will look its best in all mail clients.
- Encourage the recipient to add you to their white list - just because they may receive one email from you successfully, does not mean the next one won't arrive in their junk filter. Your email address or friendly from (if constant) values can be added to ensure future emails will arrive in the inbox.
21. When you have finished editing your email newsletter, click the blue Save button in the top right-hand corner of the page:
22. When you have finished editing your content, you need to check it for spam. Click the Spam Check button at the bottom right-hand side of the page:
23. This will display a window where you will be able to your content checked:
24. If there are any issues highlighted within the spam check, it’s important that you rectify these before you send your newsletter; having issues with your content can prevent customers from being able to receive your newsletters.
After you have performed a spam check successfully, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Continue:
25. If you have over 500 Contacts, you’ll be able to use an A/B Split Test to send your newsletter. However for now, click the green ‘Send Now/Schedule’ button:
26. On this page, you can select which of your Contact Groups you want to send your email newsletter to. However, before you do that, it’s always recommended you do a Test Send beforehand, so you can see how your content will be received. Add text into the Subject Line field, and then click ‘Send Test’:
27. Add your personal email address into the field provided, before clicking the green ‘Send Test’ button:
28. Your Test Send may take some time to arrive, depending on what email address you have used and how it has been set up. Click the Save button:
29. When you have inspected the test send email and you’re happy with the content, you are ready to send your newsletter to one of your Contact Groups. Click here for the Guide.
[contact] If you need our help with your EKM online shop, contact your Account Manager or Customer Support, who will be able to point you in the right direction. We're open from 8am-6pm weekdays and 9am-5.30pm on the weekends. If you'd like to suggest a feature or an upgrade on any of the EKM platforms, please let us know on the EKM Suggestions board. If you have a non-account specific question ask the EKM Team, join us in EKM Community. [/contact]