When I was five I spent a week with my family at a vacation spot that included a water park with a rather large slide going into the deep end of the pool. My older brother and sister spent the week using that slide but alas, I was too scared to try it. I remember climbing to the top of the ladder and then climbing back down again because I was too frightened to” take the plunge.” Finally, on the last day of our vacation I accidentally slid down the slide; to this day I’m convinced that my brother precipitated this accident with a gentle nudge. In any event, I escaped unscathed and spent the remainder of the day using that slide.
When it comes to marketing there are two elements that I recommend: ACT! and an ACT! E-Marketing account. I routinely set up a trial ACT! E-Marketing account for my ACT! clients. Unfortunately, just like my slide, too many people are afraid to take that initial plunge. Maybe I’m over-simplifying things a bit (after all, I write Dummies books and software “cookbooks”) but I think I can get your ACT e-marketing efforts off the ground with three simple steps. This article covers the first of those three steps: designing your templates.
I’m finding that too often potential marketeers get caught up with the design of their ACT e-marketing templates. They spend way too much time trying to create spiffy, eye-catching holiday templates not realizing that most of those templates are probably just going to end up in someone’s spam filter.
In my opinion, you need three, and only three, ACT e-marketing templates in your arsenal:
- A plain vanilla “text” template
- A fancy HTML designed template that matches your website that includes one area for your message
- A fancy HTML designed template that matches your website that contains two columns for your text
I can almost hear your gasp across the Internet. What? Plain text templates? Why in the world would anyone want to send out black and white e-mail when there’s a whole world of color to choose from? The answer is simple; most readers using Outlook use the preview panel. When sifting through their Inbox they read the plain “Hi, John” emails first, and look at the graphical ones later, if at all. E-mail that arrives in full living color pretty much reeks of advertising and is not given a priority.
So now you’re probably wondering why you should bother with an ACT! E-marketing account if you’re just going to be sending out plain messages. Don’t let that plain facade fool you; those simple templates pack a lot of punch. Your plain text template can include hyperlinks to your website, or a link to your e-mail address. Because the template is part of your e-marketing account, you’ll be able to track data such as your open rate, the people who’ve read your message, and invalid or bounced e-mail addresses. You will insure that you remain spam compliant in the bargain. And since you’re using ACT!, you can send off your message at the click of a button and see your results directly in ACT!.
But wait. I warned you against HTML templates and then recommend that you have a couple. That’s because it’s nice to a couple of fancy shmancy templates available for non-marketing pieces such as monthly newsletters and pricing sheets that you send out regularly to your tried and true base of contacts that have come to expect these messages. By matching your templates to your website you’ve created branding for your product in much the same way that you can identify a machine selling your favorite brand of soda from 50 paces away.
By definition a template is editable which means you can use your templates over and over again, saving each new effort with a different name so that eventually you’ll have your own custom library of templates.
I offer an “ACT! E-marketing Quick Start” promotion for those ACT! users who, well, want to take the plunge. For $150 I’ll design the three templates mentioned earlier and place them directly into your ACT! E-Marketing account. Add your message and you’ll be ready to go. Interested? Send me an e-mail!