Have you taken the decision to add email marketing to your sales plan, but don’t know where to start? Already using it but not getting the most out of it? Don’t worry, because we have drawn up this step-by-stepguide to explain how to create, send and analyse a mailing campaign. Whatever type you go for, we will accompany you throughout the entire process to ensure that you get the most out of it. Email is one of the most cost-effective direct marketing channels with the highest return on investment. That is why, despite the fact that over the last decade others have emerged, such as social networks, it is still one of the most used by companies to attract and retain customers. In this guide, you will learn how to capture, import and manage subscribers, design and customise email templates, send campaigns, create different types of campaigns and analyse the results.
Chapter 1: List of subscribers
The first thing you need in order to start drawing up a mailing campaign is a list of subscribers who have given you their express permission to receive commercial communications via email. You may already have some or you may not have any at all. Below, we will look at the possibilities in both cases.
1.1 Capturing subscribers
Whether you have no subscribers or you are looking to attract more, there are several ways to go about it. First, however, you should take a look at the data protection regulations that you must take into account in order to do so in accordance with legislation currently in force.
- Classic: A normal form to include on a website.
- Bar: A bar-type form, perfect to include in a browsing menu, for example.
- Side: Forms to place on the side of the webpage.
- Popup: A floating form over the page content to display whenever you want.
- Exit Intent: This type of form appears when the user is about to leave the website; it is a good time to ask for contact details so as not to lose the user along the way.
- Facebook fan page form: With this type of form you will be able to capture subscribers from your Facebook fan page.
To create a form, you must follow the steps below: Choose a template and customise the design Configure the confirmation message Get the code to insert into your website
1.1.3 Form integrations
If you use other applications or CMS, we have several integrations so you can easily include your forms in your PrestaShop, Magento or Facebook page. You can check all the available ones here: Acumbamail integrations.
1.2 Import/Export subscribers
If you already have subscribers previously collected by other means (remember, you must always have obtained their express consent to avoid having a useless list or running into problems with law enforcement), you can easily import and export them. You can upload a CSV file, paste the text directly or import your lists from MailChimp.
1.3 Scrubbing the lists
When collecting subscribers, it is often the case that some of the emails on the list do not actually exist, either because of a typing error or because the user has entered a false email. In both cases, it will result in a hard bounce. To avoid this, you should scrub the lists before sending anything. If you use Acumbamail, a high number of hard bounces will result in the sending being cancelled.
1.4 List optimisation
Beyond the importance of scrubbing email addresses that cause hard bounces, it is also a good idea to try to optimise your lists. For example, getting rid of certain subscribers if they don’t open a certain number of emails, if they are X number of soft bounces or if subscribers do not click on the internal links in your campaigns. In this way, you will be able to narrow down your target and take advantage of the maximum profitability of email marketing.
1.5 List quality
The quality of a mailing list is measured mainly by three factors:
- Mailing addresses included in the list must exist.
- The user has not marked your address as SPAM
- The subscriber will be interested in the content you send and interact with it, or else the behavioural spam filters may automatically put your emails into the spam folder
A high-quality list is of the utmost importance, as ISPs give higher priority to mailings with fewer post-sending errors. Therefore, if your list is not of a high enough quality, in other words, it has a high bounce rate, the deliverability of your emails will suffer.
1.6 Configure notifications
In the “Notifications” section, within a list, you will be able to configure automatic subscribe and unsubscribe notifications, as well as the confirmation page or “thank you page”.
1.7 Good practices
- Use double opt in: The double opt in means that the user will not be included in the list until he/she clicks on a link sent to the email address he/she has provided. In this way, you will be sure to include verified addresses in your list, in turn, cutting down on potential errors. Although with this system your list will grow more slowly, it will be of a higher quality.
- Segmentation: One of the advantages of email is that it is a highly customisable channel. You will be able to send specific campaigns to specific segments of a list, thereby refining the interest of the recipients, boosting your open rate.
- Only send communications related to the permission obtained: Subscribers have signed up to your list for a specific topic, and what they expect to receive is emails related to that topic. Therefore, try not to send them unrelated emails, as most of them will not be interested and will not open them or, even worse, will mark them as spam.
- Do not buy or rent databases: These are two things that should never be carried out because all it will do is add lots of emails to your list from people who are uninterested in receiving your emails and you will be marked as spam.
- Scrub and optimise lists: As we mentioned before, try to keep your lists as clean as possible from non-existent addresses or inactive subscribers or subscribers who do not interact with your campaigns in the way you would like.
Chapter 2: Campaigns
Once you have drawn up the list or lists of subscribers you are going to send to, it is now time to create the campaigns. There are several types, each of them suitable for different needs, as we will see below.
2.1 Campaign types
The different types of campaigns are as follows:
2.1.1 Normal campaign
These are the usual campaigns in which you select a list or segment, choose a template and send.
These campaigns let you automate delivery when you include new content in an RSS feed, for example, from a blog. So, when you publish a new post, your campaign will be sent including the content you have configured.
Autoresponders are campaigns that, instead of being sent in bulk to the entire list, are automatically “triggered” in response to a specific event. For example, you can set it to be sent X minutes after a subscriber joins a list, as a welcome email.
2.1.4 A/B Testing
A/B Testing campaigns let you send different designs of your email to small fragments of your list, so you can compare which one gets the best results.
2.2 Creating the campaign
Once you have selected the type of campaign you need to create, you must follow some steps to complete the campaign before sending it. On our platform there are 5 steps:
In step one you must fill in the following information:
184.108.40.206 Campaign name
It is the name you give to the campaign, it will only be visible to you. The name should reflect the objective of the campaign to facilitate your organisation (in particular if several users manage the same account).
220.127.116.11 Email and sender name
This is the name and email address that subscribers will see when they receive the email. The more “human” it looks, the better. Do not use “no-reply” or similar addresses; the email should be signed by someone from the team, as people prefer to receive this type of communication from a real person.
18.104.22.168 Subject line
This is what you will write in the email subject line. It is one of the key elements, since it is what most of your subscribers will read and, depending on what it is, they will decide whether to open the email or not. There are some ideas about what to put (and what not to put) in the email subject line in this article.
By checking this option, we will be able to store information about who clicks on the links in your email so it is reflected in reports. Should you not want the links to be replaced by our tracking URLs, you can uncheck it and use your own, however, in this case, we will be unable to show you this data in the reports.
22.214.171.124 Activate Google Analytics
You will be able to configure the UTM to track your traffic derived from the campaign in Google Analytics.
With this option you will be able to customise your campaign links. You can either link your own subdomain or choose the word to create an Acumbamail subdomain (for example, newsletter.acumbamail.com). This modification of the links is carried out with a view to being able to track the links and add value to the statistical reports. You can learn more about it in this article about link customisation in your campaigns.
The next step in the campaign creation process is to select to which subscribers the campaign will be sent. To do this, you must select the list or lists you want to send to. There is also the option of not sending to complete lists; you can choose a specific segment that meets one or more of the conditions you select. For example, if they subscribed less than X time period ago, if they opened the last campaign, etc.
Once you have selected the subscribers who are going to be targeted in the campaign, you have to select the template you are going to use. Our editor has more than 70 free, responsive and customisable templates, with suitable HTML code so they can be viewed in all email clients and browsers. If you want a bespoke template, our design team can come up with one for you following your instructions. However, you can also import your own template or use a text-only template.
126.96.36.199 Template design
Parts of a template
- Body: This is the general configuration of the template
- Structure: This is the way to organise the template using columns.
- Content: It includes the different elements such as text, images, buttons, etc.
Basic HTML rules for email
The HTML of emails must comply with some rules to facilitate their deliverability to the recipient and ensure that they can be read correctly. However, each email client may interpret it differently, so it should always be tested out on different clients, devices and operating systems to ensure that your campaign will be delivered correctly. Some basic tips are to use responsive HTML, always include “alt” tags on images, or make sure all tags are properly closed. To avoid any problems in this regard, it is best to use the editor of an email marketing platform that ensures that your template will come out with the correctly-formatted HMTL.
Use of images
Images can greatly enrich an email, but they must be used cautiously. First of all, be aware of the proportion between text and images, because if there are only the latter or if they are much larger in proportion to the text, they are likely to be seen as Spam. On the other hand, to ensure that the email can be read correctly, they need to be optimised as much as possible. Use the right sizes, the right files and the right colour settings. You can read all about it in thisarticle on optimising images for email.
Tags are code fragments that will be replaced in the email by variable content. For example, the tag *|Name|* will be replaced by the subscriber’s name in the email, if we have that information. You can learn more about using tags in emails in this article. As for RSS templates, there are several tags to enter the content, such as *|RSS_POST_TITLE|* which will be replaced by the title of the post. You can check the rest of the RSS template tags by clicking on this link.
Once you have selected the template, you can modify it and add the content in the template editor. The editor lets you choose the structure of the email, insert text blocks, images, separators, social network buttons and even HTML blocks, as well as modify the desktop view and the mobile view. You can learn about all the features of our editor in this article.
The last step is the one before sending and, as well as going over and editing the title, the subject line, the list to be sent to and the sender of the campaign, you will also be able to preview the template you are going to send. As well as the foregoing, you will be able to:
Send a test
You can send one or more test emails to the address of your choice, to verify that the campaign can be read correctly.
Send there and then, or schedule for another time
Once you have verified that everything is in order, you can start sending or schedule the campaign for a specific time and date.
Email preview in email clients and devices
What’s more, you will be able to preview the campaign on more than 80 devices, browsers and operating systems. With this, you can rest assured that all your subscribers will receive your campaign as you have designed it.
Check campaign quality
With this functionality, we will analyse your campaign to provide you with the following data so that you can evaluate it before sending: Rating DKIM/SPF SpamAssasin Verification that all links work Banned words warning analysis
Send at the best time
Each subscriber is a different person, with different habits and customs. So why send to everyone at once? With this tool, our algorithm learns what is the most likely time for a given subscriber to open the email, so the email will be sent to that subscriber at that time.
Re-sending of unopened emails
This option allows you to automatically resend to subscribers who have not opened a campaign, after a period of time of your choice and with a new subject line. This can boost the open rate by almost 8% according to our statistics. You can learn more about these Acumbamail PRO functionalities in this post.
Chapter 3: Automations
As well as the campaigns looked at in the previous point, email marketing allows the creation of automations, through which you can configure email flows to be sent automatically to users based on certain actions or events. So, using emails created only once, you can send them in line with each user’s behaviour.
3.1 What are automations
Automations are a process by which, thanks to the creation of nodes, a flow of emails to certain subscribers is established based on their actions. While the Autoresponder type campaigns that we saw earlier allow you to schedule an email campaign based on a specific event, automations let you configure several different events and several itineraries, so one email will be sent instead of another. For example, you can set up a welcome email for all new subscribers, and a flow for customers using the paid version and another one for those using the free version.
3.2 Creating an automation
To start creating an automated flow, the first thing you need to do is to give it a name and a description, and start configuring the flow. The first step is to configure the first node. In this node you will have to select an event that activates it (a “trigger”), which could be a subscriber being added to a list, or selecting a specific date. Once you have configured the first node, you can add another one. Here you can choose between an email template to be sent, a waiting time, or a condition. If you choose a condition, you can split the flow into two paths, depending on whether it is fulfilled or not. From this, you will be able to create the branches you want, achieving a high level of personalisation, sending the appropriate emails to users who perform or do not perform certain actions with your campaigns. The creation of these automated email campaigns will allow you to save a lot of time, achieving a high level of personalisation for your users based on how they interact with your campaigns.
Chapter 4: Transactional email.
Transactional emails are those that are sent automatically when a user carries out an event on your website (a registration, a purchase, the creation of a user account, etc.). These emails are a must, as they provide information and instill trust, and can also be used to provide other types of value to the user (collect feedback, suggest similar products, etc.).
4.1 Configuring SMTP Relay
SMTP is an email transfer protocol that allows you to send email using an existing service. “Relay” is “relevo” in Spanish. When we talk about SMTP Relay we mean that, instead of sending transactional emails generated in your system directly, you send them through an external service such as Acumbamail. This has some advantages such as getting around attachment size limitations, avoiding bottlenecks due to server overload, etc. The SMTP configuration is rather straightforward, just replace your current SMTP data with your Acumbamail account data. Here is the documentation in different programming languages to carry out the integration.
Transactional emails can be categorised as you wish to receive separate reports and analytics for each one. You can create categories such as registration, purchase, payment, subscription, etc. and check the status of each of them in real time.
Webhooks allow you to set up notifications that will inform you of events occurring in emails sent to a set of subscribers and the status of those subscribers. Specifically, you will be able to track these events:
- Registrations: new subscribers who subscribe to the list through the subscription forms. Events imported via CSV will not be received.
- Unsubscriptions: subscribers who unsubscribe from a list.
- Hard-bounces: subscribers whose emails no longer exist or always given an error when sending them.
- Complaints: subscribers who mark one of your emails as spam or junk mail.
- Open: subscribers who open one of your emails.
- Click: subscribers who click on one of your emails.
These events will be collected through a POST request to a callback URL in which you must include a JSON code.
Chapter 5: Reports and metrics
One of the advantages of email marketing is that any action you take is measurable. You will have access to several metrics to know if your campaigns are having the expected success or, on the contrary, they will indicate which aspects you should try to optimise and improve. We will now look in detail at which reports you can consult, which metrics are important and how to interpret them.
5.1 How to consult reports
To consult the reports, you have to go to your dashboard and select the “reports” tab. Here you will see all your sent campaigns, and by clicking on each of them you will be able to view the report of each one of them.
5.2 Report data
In this report, you will be able to consult the data of the emails that have been delivered. Here you can see the percentage of emails that have been opened, those that are unopened, and the complaints, in other words, users who have marked the sending as spam. In the future, no more campaigns will be sent to these addresses.
5.2.2 Sent, Soft Bounces and Hard Bounces
This section shows the statistics of the emails that have been sent. Deliveries include open, non-open and complaints, and also include soft-bounce and hard-bounce. You will also be able to view how these behaviours have evolved over time since you sent the campaign. In the following section, you can check all these metrics with absolute numbers and not in percentage. The origin of the interactions by country is another data that you can see in this summary tab.
5.2.3 Open rate
The open rate is one of the most important metrics in email marketing. This is the percentage of subscribers who have opened the email out of all those it has been delivered to. In other words, calculating this percentage takes into account only those that have reached the recipient, excluding hard bounces and soft bounces. The million dollar question is: how do you know if you are getting a good open rate? The answer is… it depends. Many factors affect the open rate, some more controllable than others. Of course, the best practices we have mentioned throughout this guide have an influence (list scrubbing, segmentation, emails that are of interest to your subscribers, etc.), however, other factors are more complicated to control. It depends on the industry, the type of email (transactional emails, for example, have a much higher open rate than commercial emails) and a wide range of other factors. It is important, therefore, to be aware of the data your campaigns usually generate, your industry and your type of mailings to monitor and optimise your open rate, as it is the key to your email campaigns performing well.
5.2.4 Click map
The click map lets you visually consult the places where subscribers have clicked on your email. You will be able to analyse if your links and CTAs are working as expected or not.
The CTR or Click Through Rate is the metric that indicates the percentage of users who have clicked on your links compared to all those who have opened the email. It is an important data to track, as it tells you if your links and calls to action are correct or if they could be improved and, ultimately, it is the percentage of users who have met the objective of the campaign by visiting the URLs that you have linked in it.
5.2.6 ISPs, browsers and operating systems
In this tab of the reports section you can check from which email clients, browsers and devices your campaign has been viewed.
5.2.7 URL tracking
In this tab you can check how the clicks have been distributed among the different URLs linked in your campaign.
5.3 Interpreting the reports
As you have seen, the reports offer you a wealth of data and metrics that you will also need to know how to analyse. You should gradually become familiar with the behaviour of your target audience and, as a result, monitor possible drops in important metrics (open rate, CTR) or increased delivery problems (bounce rate) and, of course, control the number of unsubscribes you have in the list with respect to new subscribers.
Chapter 6: Configure DKIM/SPF
Although at Acumbamail we guarantee that the DKIM and SPF records are correct, it is always a good idea to perform the verification manually. Some email providers perform more thorough checks.
6.1 What is DKIM/SPF
DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) are two methods for mail clients to verify that the sender has permission to send from a given domain. This is necessary to prevent possible content falsification. Therefore, to ensure the deliverability of your campaigns, we always recommend verifying your domain name.
6.2 How to configure DKIM/SPF
To configure DKIM/SPF, you must go to the account section and select the “Sender management: emails and domains” tab. The first thing to do is to enter the domain you want to verify. Then you can configure DKIM/SPF. The process is straightforward and we also give you the option of exporting this report to a technician who can do it for you. The configuration can be done in two ways: by adding a TXT file to include in your DNS, or a CNAME file. This process must be done on your hosting provider’s website. Once this is done, click on “verify”. As you can see it is a straightforward process, but even so, it is perhaps the most complex thing to configure when using a bulk mailing software. Should you have any questions, our support team can help you set it up.
Chapter 7: White label
One of the features offered by Acumbamail is the possibility of creating a white label. You will be able to integrate it into your business as if you were not using an external email marketing platform.
7.1 What is a white label
A white label allows you to customise our platform with your logos, images and corporate colours. Within your white label, you will be able to create new users and assign them monthly credits.
7.2 How to create a white label
If you would like to create a white label, just go to the PRO section of the side menu, and select this option. Next, you will see a panel where you will be able to customise the notification email, domain, contact email, colours and corporate images. That’s how easy it is to create your white label with Acumbamail. Nobody will notice that you are using an external email marketing tool.
Chapter 8: Deliverability
Deliverability is a really important factor when it comes to email marketing campaigns. Low deliverability will mean that many of your emails are not being received correctly by your subscribers. Therefore, it will mean that your mailing efforts will be going to waste.
8.1 What is deliverability?
In email marketing, deliverability refers to the ability of our emails to be successfully delivered to the recipients. When an email leaves the sender’s server and reaches the recipient, a range of filters validate it (or classify it as spam). The emails that pass this filter are the ones that will arrive in the user’s inbox and will have been delivered.
8.2 How do we know that an email has been delivered?
When an email is sent from our servers, the receiving domain, e.g. Gmail, returns an OK to the request (in the event there was no error due to non-existent email, full inbox or other reasons). In this way, we count it as delivered and it is reflected in our reports.
8.3 Factors influencing email deliverability
There are several factors when it comes to making an email deliverable. The most important are the following:
8.3.1 IP reputation since being sent
When an email reaches the receiving server, these filters analyse the reputation of the IP from which it was sent. In other words, whether or not the emails sent from that IP are of good quality or not. This means that, if you send from a shared server, your reputation can be affected by your “neighbours” if they send poor quality campaigns that are often labelled as spam.
As we have seen in chapter 6, verifying the domain from which you are sending via DKIM or SPF assures mail clients that you have permission to send from that domain and reduces the likelihood of being categorised as spam.
8.3.3 Email HTML
We have also seen in chapter 2 how important it is that campaign templates comply with standard and correct HTML so that different clients can interpret it properly and display the template correctly to the recipient.
8.3.4 Recipient behaviour
Large email providers (Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc.) analyse the behaviour of their users with respect to the campaigns. In this way, they assess whether the emails are of interest. By analysing opens and interactions, providers can determine whether or not you are sending relevant content to your subscribers. Hence the importance of always sending relevant emails. Segment your database to ensure that you send the most relevant content to each subscriber. If you want to know more about how antispam filters analyse emails to decide whether to deliver them or not, watch this video, “How antispam filters work” .
Our email marketing guide wraps up here. As you have seen, these are all the steps to create, send and analyse a campaign… We hope you have found it useful to get your mailing strategy off the ground. If you are already carrying out campaigns, we hope it will help you to improve them. Should you have any questions, please contact us and we will be happy to answer them. Thanks for reading this guide and visiting Acumbamail.