Welcome to Day 4 of the ‘How to run a Valentine’s Day Promotion Campaign’ workshop. This workshop runs between 27th January to 17th February 2010. Designed specifically for Zen Cart store owners, each day we will focus on one task to guide you as you run a Valentine’s Day promotion campaign.
Today we are looking at designing, coding and delivering the first email of your Valentine’s Day Promotion Campaign. The goal of the email is to entice your customers to click through to your store to view your Valentine’s Day offers.
|Jump to today’s task – Sending the first Valentine’s Day Promotion Campaign Email|
Yesterday’s task involved getting your online store, in particular your home page and landing page, ready to receive visitors. It can certainly be a time consuming task but I’m sure your store now has a beautiful Valentine’s Day glow! While I don’t recommend changing your template during a campaign, you may like to look at a range of Valentine’s Day templates if you need more inspiration. There are Valentine’s Day templates available to view at Template Monster*** if you need some ideas.
Designing a Campaign Email Message
As mentioned above, the goal of campaign email messages is to get the recipient to make that all-important click to visit your online store. From there, the goal of your landing page is to get the visitor the next step along towards making a purchase. From there your online store and checkout process takes over and – all going to plan – the recipient of the email purchases one or more products. This is known as a ‘conversion’ – the email recipient has been converted to a purchasing customer.
So, there is a lot riding on the campaign email message. It is the first link in the chain and if it does not fulfil it’s goal the chain is broken. Unfortunately, there is a definite art and science in designing and creating effective campaign email messages and many times even the biggest stores can get things wrong. The underlying xxx is to definitely keep things simple. There are many obstacles such as the wide variety of email programs and devices people use to read their email (each with their own anomalies), there are spam filters (each with their own anomalies) and there is the recipient themselves (yes, each with their own anomalies!). Keeping your email simple will give it a better chance of fulfilling it’s goal.
- Design your email to be between 400 and 600 pixels wide. Many readers initially view their email messages in the ‘preview pane’. By keeping your email narrow they will still be able to see enough of your email message to catch their attention while it is still in the preview pane.
- As you are most likely to want to send HTML email messages (so that you can include images and links), you will need to host any images and other ‘assets’ on your own web server and point them with absolute paths in your HTML email.
- Unlike designing for web pages, HTML email messages are best designed using a simple table layout. Nested tables and complicated layouts need to be avoided as many email programs will just not display them correctly. A garbled mess is not going to help your campaign.
- Any styling of the email message will need to be done with embedded or inline CSS. You won’t be able to rely on CSS for positioning at all. Design your email to still be legible even if the CSS was removed.
Parts of a Campaign Email Message
It is highly recommended to use your company or store name here. Recipients should be able to recognise it immediately. If they don’t recognise the name they may end up clicking on the ‘this is junk’ button before reading any further.
This is your chance to capture the recipients attention. There is a fine line between being creative and looking ‘spammy’. We will look at some subject lines from previous campaigns a little later.
When sending campaign email messages you will tend to get a higher conversion rate with a personalized email. This includes using the recipients name in the To: as opposed to their email address. Unfortunately in the current version of Zen Cart we are stuck using their email address.
Along with the actual contents of your email (such as the promotion details) you might like to include a link towards the top “View in your browser” and link to either a version of the email message or your landing page. It is also a good idea to include a sentence along the lines of “You are receiving this email because you have signed up to receive updates / newsletters from our store.” Most people don’t realise that every time they hit the ‘this is junk’ button in their email program, the sender’s ISP is notified. By including a reminder of why they are receiving an update from your store, it may avoid having your email messages being mistaken for spam.
- A HTML version and a Plain Text version
Known as a ‘multi-part format’, the newsletter email messages in Zen Cart consist of both a HTML version and a plain text version. Depending on the recipients email program, as well as the email preference selected, either version could be displayed. Sending both versions is another way to prevent your message getting caught in spam filters.
Creating a Campaign Email Message
The all-important subject line can be the make or break of a recipient opening your campaign email message. Especially if you have previously sent out newsletters, it is important to keep the tone of your email consistent with that of your store. The subject line needs to come from you but here are some recent examples from Valentine’s Day campaigns:
- J.Crew, 2/9 – Free shipping + J. Crew = Love
- Oriental Trading, 31/1 – Cupid’s coming: get reduced shipping + a free gift
- Harry & David, 1/26 – Perfect match: Gifts as extraordinary as your Valentine
- Wal-Mart, 1/18 — Get Valentine’s Gifts They’ll Adore, at Prices You’ll Love?
- Disney Store, 1/17 — Valentine Sweetness for Your Someone Special?
- Lillian Vernon, 1/20 — You’ll Fall in Love with These Valentine’s Ideas?
- Ross-Simons, 1/21 — Up to 61% Off – Share Your Heart – Plus Free Shipping?
- Orvis, 1/25 — Valentine’s Day gifts shipped for FREE
Keep the layout of your HTML email message simple. To instil a flow from the email to your landing page, utilise one or more of the same images and the promotion message from your landing page. Remember to review the Design Guidelines above when designing your HTML email. When it comes to the Plain Text Email, copy the contents of your HTML email into a test editor such as Notepad and then modify the layout to suit the plain text format.
Sending a Campaign Email Message
The sending of a campaign email message will take a bit of back-and-forth between testing and tweaking, testing and tweaking.
Take a look at How do I send a newsletter to my customers in Zen Cart? for step-by-step instructions. The email template, /email/email_template_newsletters.html, may also require some modifications if you have not used the newsletter feature before.
Well, how do you feel? Promotion campaigns can be a lot of work but one good thing is that it will be easier next time around – think Mothers’ Day! – and it does get easier as we move into the next phases of the campaign. Tomorrow we look at broadening the marketing of our Valentine’s Day Promotions using social networking.
Good luck! Any questions, please use the comments section below.
*** Please note that Template Monster do not currently have any Valentine’s Day templates suitable for Zen Cart. If you are tempted to purchase one of these templates, I urge you to read through the Zen Cart Support Forum for some issues that you may encounter when trying to ‘make them fit’ Zen Cart. It’s always best to learn from the experience of others – if you do purchase you will know what to expect.