Email Marketing Campaigns

One of a series of white papers by Elizabeth G. Fagan dba EGF Consulting.


Email Marketing Campaigns Best Practices

Be customer-centric, not product-centric
  • Emails enhance your company’s customer service reputation and increase users’ confidence.
  • The overall message meets the expectation set by the subject line and registration process.
  • Instead of focusing on “product” descriptions, focus on meeting customers’ needs.
  • Place marketing messages after content. Users are likely to delete emails that begin with marketing messages before they see the content that interests them.
  • Use engaging text that “closes the loop” of an action the user took or that outlines opportunities for benefits, education, and convenience.
  • Do usability testing and refine content over time.
Differentiate your email from spam
  • Include your company name in the display and domain names of the address.
  • Give users content by including type of email (confirmation, alert, offer).
  • In the subject line, promote the email’s value rather than giving a description of its contents.
  • Do usability testing to determine the best subject line for each customer segment and email message.
Make registering easy
  • Promote account registration on an above-the-fold space on the home page.
  • Put account registration in the universal navigation.
  • Include a link to privacy statement at point of registration.
Position content by its relative value
  • Readers scan the top first: place call to action above the fold.
  • Use the inverted pyramid structure: put the most important information at the top.
  • Because some email users turn images off, put all message copy and links as text outside of images. Use images to enhance, not convey.
  • Readers scan the left-hand margin: use headings and bulleted lists to make content scannable.
Add relevant links
  • Managing customer phone calls is expensive. Instead of encouraging email recipients to call your company, encourage them to go to your website.
  • Link to FAQs.
  • In the footer, tell users how to manage their email account.
  • By law, include your company’s physical address and unsubscribe link.
  • Tell users how to edit account profiles.
  • Tell users how to change email addresses.
  • Provide customer service information.
Headings are short abstracts
  • Heads contain a first word or two that carry important meaning of associated content.
  • Headings make sense without text.
Writing is clear and concise
  • Avoid wordiness; sentence length should not exceed 15 words.
  • Use active verbs (“the cat caught the rat” vs. “the rat was caught by the cat”).
  • Call the reader “you” and refer to the company as “we.”
  • Use simple, everyday language.
  • Avoid nominalizations (“the purpose is to communicate” vs. “the purpose is the communication of”).
  • Put statements in a positive form (“paying promptly ensures you” vs. “if you do not pay on time” or “your failure to pay on time”).

HSBC.com Home Page

Fagan was Principal Content Developer for the websites of global bank HSBC. The role combined writing web content with developing front-end code, two of her strengths. HSBC bought Beneficial.com and HFC.com, which desperately needed redesigns. The two sites were essentially the same but served different markets.


Before: HFC home page

Before: HFC home page

Background

Though the two websites were branded differently, Beneficial.com and HFC.com contained the same content. The brands were active in different states.

Challenge

Create an easy-to-understand, friendly home page that instills a sense of trust. Reduce visual noise and create a single point of initial focus. Place the “Find a Loan” feature prominently.

Result

With the home-page image and banner text, stakeholders felt the page was improved. Navigation was clearer. “Find a Loan” was prominent but not overbearing.

After: Beneficial home page

After: Beneficial home page

HSBC.com About Us & Advantage

Fagan was Principal Content Developer for the websites of global bank HSBC. The role combined writing web content with developing front-end code, two of her strengths. HSBC bought Beneficial.com and HFC.com, which desperately needed redesigns. The two sites were essentially the same but served different markets.


Before: HFC.com About Us

Before: HFC.com About Us

Background

HSBC acquired Beneficial and HFC, which had been losing market share to online and upstart mortgage companies.

Challenge

Differentiate Beneficial and HFC from competitors by highlighting the companies’ long histories, traditional values, and community service.

Solution

The About Us page became a multi-page section Advantage section. The home page banner image linked to the Advantage landing page. This is a good example of how information architecture can support branding efforts.

After: Beneficial.com Advantage

After: Beneficial.com Advantage

HSBC.com Email

Fagan was Principal Content Developer for the websites of global bank HSBC. The role combined writing web content with developing front-end code, two of her strengths. HSBC bought Beneficial.com and HFC.com, which desperately needed redesigns. The two sites were essentially the same but served different markets.


Before: HFC.com Email

Before: HFC.com Email

Background

Beneficial/HFC marketers regularly communicated with customers by email. For example, a completed loan application elicited an email response.

Challenge

Use the emails to cross-sell other HSBC financial products. Increase the number of customers who register and use the Beneficial/HFC.com websites to manage their accounts.

Solution

Fagan redesigned the emails and created positions for cross-selling and links to the Beneficial/HFC.com websites. She added brand colors and visual messaging. She wrote user-centric content.

After: HFC.com Email

After: HFC.com Email

HSBC.com Rate Reduction Program

Fagan was Principal Content Developer for the websites of global bank HSBC. The role combined writing web content with developing front-end code, two of her strengths. HSBC bought Beneficial.com and HFC.com, which desperately needed redesigns. The two sites were essentially the same but served different markets.


Before: HFC.com Rate Reduction Program

Before: HFC.com Rate Reduction Program

Background

A Beneficial/HFC program offers lower rates to customers who make payments on time. The rate-reduction program (Pay Right Rewards) was described on a web page and in an accompanying PDF.

Challenge

Highlight the rate-reduction program across the new sites. Clearly define the benefits of the program to customers.

Before: HFC.com Rate Reduction Program PDF

Before: HFC.com Rate Reduction Program PDF

Solution

The rate-reduction program becomes a navigation item on the home page and on the mortgage landing page. The content was rewritten to eliminate the PDF.

After: Beneficial.com Rate Reduction Program

After: Beneficial.com Rate Reduction Program

HSBC.com Mortgage Refinance

Fagan was Principal Content Developer for the websites of global bank HSBC. The role combined writing web content with developing front-end code, two of her strengths. HSBC bought Beneficial.com and HFC.com, which desperately needed redesigns. The two sites were essentially the same but served different markets.


Before: HFC.com Mortgage Refinance

Before: HFC.com Mortgage Refinance

Background

With no clear sections and landing pages, the Beneficial and HFC websites were hard to navigate. Navigation was frequently circular, with no clear destination page.

Challenge

Create websites that are easier to use and that increase conversion rates (number of completed online loan applications), especially for mortgage loans.

Solution

Organize content into sections with landing pages. Highlight mortgage loans with Mortgage Refinance and Debt Consolidation sections. Create clear paths for completing the online loan request.

After: Beneficial.com Mortgage Refinance

After: Beneficial.com Mortgage Refinance