Get your subject lines in order

MarketingFile - Get your subject lines in order
MarketingFile - Get your subject lines in order

Producing effective, interesting, curious, exciting and personal subject lines for your email campaigns is challenging. You need it to be informative, summarise the email in a couple of words, fun, intriguing, not to hit spam filters and most importantly get your audience to open the email.

Working with many sized companies in a wide variety of verticals has helped us realise where businesses can go wrong with their email subject lines, and through no fault of their own as writing a “good” subject line is hard – even for the more experienced.

Even before creating an attractive email and ensuring the journey beyond flows seamlessly, the subject is the first thing your audience will see and therefore is by far the most important element of your email campaign. It is the clincher as to whether they go on to open and read your email you’ve spent time and money investing in, so don’t waste it with a poor subject line, or even worse by your email getting caught in spam filters and never even reaching them.

Spam detectors

The art of a subject line is to sell your product or service without using words which can get caught by spam filters. We’ve listed a handful of them, although there are many more, so using tools such as subject checker will help give you an idea of what will get caught in spam filters.

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Keep it short and sweet

The length of your subject line counts, keeping it between 20-40 characters will ensure the whole sentence can be seen in most email clients, any longer and you’ll find it will get condensed.


It might only be a short sentence but do not leave out proper punctuation, the first letter should be capitalised – but don’t write the whole thing in CAPITALS as it will get picked up by spam filters or most likely ignored by your reader for being too ‘shouty’. Something else


This follows along from the point above, no matter what you are sending out – email, mail piece, advertisement, SMS you should always spell check. No excuses for poor or misspelt subject lines.


Without writing all in capitals, give your reader a sense of urgency to open the email. However, if you put a time limit on an offer or promotion then you must stick to the end date, people do not like to feel cheated out of a deal. We’d also like to add leave out the exclamation marks, it doesn’t add the urgency you want to create just annoys the reader!!! (see).


Coming from a data background we can only but tell you how personalised messages can improve open and click through rates on a majority of emails, however there are two things to bear in mind:

  1. Get the name right – if you’re not confident in your data then do not use the first name and keep it generic, its better than sending Mr Adam Smith “Paul, a Christmas treat just for you”… oops.
  2. Keep it relevant to that persons shopping habits – if you’re using their name then you should know what they like and offer it to them.

Remember there is no definitive rule when it comes to subject lines, what works for one business might not for another. It all depends on your testing capability, so just keep on testing those subject lines and see what works best for your customers.

Preparing your Christmas marketing

MarketingFile - Preparing your Christmas marketing
MarketingFile - Preparing your Christmas marketing

Whether you are one of the very few organised people with all their Christmas shopping done by the 1st September, or (like the majority of us) leave it till Christmas Eve, scrabbling around in department stores or vigorously buying up the whole of Amazon, as a business you need to predict shopping habits for the whole of the Christmas period and plan your campaigns accordingly.

No doubt businesses across the UK have been planning their Christmas campaigns since the end of summer, and why we hear you ask – with spending patterns over Christmas increasing on average by 60% (Retail Research) it’s a time of year your business should not be missing out on.

With this in mind we’ve got 5 quick tips for next year’s Christmas marketing – although it’s never too late to start!


Do not underestimate the benefits of planning early and creating campaigns which engage your customers. Giving your business enough time to plan effective and engaging campaigns by offering value for money and an essence of fun should lead to an increase in sales leading up to and over the Christmas period.


It is Christmas after all! Giving your customers some festive cheer with great offers or discounts will encourage spending. However, even though it’s Christmas keep an eye your margin when cutting those prices!


Allow your Christmas marketing to be creative, you may not be competing with the giant retailers such as John Lewis or Sainsbury’s, but creating an intriguing campaign will get your customers talking about you.


Relating back to one of our blog post on multi-channel marketing, we cannot stress enough how important it is to take an integrated and multi-channel approach with your Christmas marketing campaigns.


Spending time segmenting and targeting your Christmas campaigns to the right person at the right time will pay its dividends for the time you invest. Send messages which will relate with your customers, either with the products they buy or have shown an interest in, by using your CRM system to see their previous shopping habits.

Is it safe to call?

MarketingFile - Is it safe to call?
MarketingFile - Is it safe to call?

Does your business carry out its own telemarketing or outsource to a call centre?

Either way, telemarketing has a number of regulations and standards which you need to know about before embarking on the complicated world of telesales.

As we’ve mentioned before telemarketing should form part of your overall marketing strategy, so although it can be used for cold calling (not recommended) it performs better when part of a multi-channel strategy. For example, let’s say you’ve sent out an email or direct mail to prospect data the perfect way to follow up these leads is calling them.

Whether you use your sales team or employ a call centre we’ve put together the regulations that surround telemarketing;

Data Protection Act 1998

This is not just limited to your telemarketing activity, anywhere you are using consumer data your business must ensure it complies with the data protection act of 1998. The rule includes, but is not exclusive to; data must be kept safe and secure, used for limited, specifically stated purposes, used fairly and lawfully and handled according to data protection rights.

Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) Interception of Communications Regulations 2000

This regulation relates to the act of intercepting, recording and monitoring telephone calls. A business can only intercept, record or monitor calls in the following instances;

  • To provide evidence of a business transaction
  • To ensure that a business complies with regulatory procedures
  • To see that quality standards or targets are being met in the interests of national security
  • To prevent or detect crime to investigate the unauthorised use of a telecom system
  • To secure the effective operation of the telecom system.

Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003

The purpose of this regulation is for consumers and businesses to stop any unwanted marketing calls, either by telephone, email or SMS. It is the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) who is responsible for enforcing against unsolicited calls, emails and SMS messages. The penalty for this offence can carry a £500,000 fine – so be aware of who you are calling, do you have their permission?

Click here for more information on the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations

The above regulation also relates to the TPS, telephone preference service. This is a service paid for by the DMA, regulated by Ofcom and is a legal requirement for all businesses not to make calls to any phone number, consumer or business, registered on the list.

Any business partaking in telemarketing needs to ensure their data is clean of any TPS records, this can be done through MarketingFile’s data cleansing services, we also check against the MPS, mailing preference, and FPS, fax preference and Baby MPS. The latter check is crucial for businesses targeting new families, in the circumstance of the death of a baby mailings to parents can cause unintended pain, by checking your lists against the baby MPS this can prevent such action occurring.

For more information on our TPS services please call us on 0845 345 7755 or email [email protected]

Key questions for your multi-channel marketing

MarketingFile - Key questions for your multi-channel marketing
MarketingFile - Key questions for your multi-channel marketing

Connecting with your customers across a variety of channels creates valuable multiple touch points to communicate your marketing messages, creating a dialogue and ultimately creating purchases.

The number of touch points your business can use to target customers or prospects are vast, from traditional marketing; direct mail, billboards, bus advertising, newspapers, magazines or radio, to modern and digital marketing techniques; TV, social media, email, SMS, blogs and online advertisements.

So which channels are right for your products or services?

No company should try and do it all, selecting the perfect channels for your marketing messages is crucial for high ROI. Also note we mentioned channels, do not limit yourself to one marketing channel, be strategic in how you want to connect with your customers through multiple touch points.

We’ve put together key questions your marketing team should be asking before creating a new marketing campaign:

What are your objectives to the campaign?

Producing objectives for your campaign can be the hardest part, if done correctly. They need to work towards achieving your company goals, and remember the classic SMART acronym for effective objectives.

Where are your customers?

Market research into where your customers spend their time, this maybe what newspapers or magazines they read, where they shop or what websites they spend their time on.

Are these channels right for your products or services?

Once you’ve highlighted their channels, decide if they fit your offering, for example Instagram may not work for your business if you do not have fun or interesting photos/images to post.

What is your budget for each channel?

By far the most important stage for determining your ROI. Ensure your budgets are realistic and are able to give you good return on investment. Keep in mind the cost of each channel, do not expect to pay any less than a cool £1M for prime time TV advertisement.

How are you going to plan your multi-channel strategy?

Include every team member who is going to be involved in your marketing, working out your multi-channel strategy will take time but getting it right at this stage will save you time in the long run. Remember though to stay flexible and leave in contingency plans, no one can foresee what might happen!

What are your marketing messages for each channel?

Each channel will require slightly different messages with a variety of lengths. Twitter will only let you get in 140 characters, whereas you could have a whole DPS in a magazine to get your message across.

How are you going to create a dialogue with your customers and prospects?

Only throwing messages out and not expecting, or wanting, a response (not necessarily a purchase) is not a viable option. Creating a conversation on social media, blogs or on your website via testimonials creates an engaging environment, and remember to check this regularly – disgruntled customers need your attention and quick!

How is the campaign going to be measured?

Each channel will have a different performance tool to measure against. Measuring the success of your campaign will be an on-going task but vital for knowing if the campaign is worth running again, or identifying channels which need changing.

How to get your content just right

MarketingFile - How to get your content just right
MarketingFile - How to get your content just right

As a direct marketing agency we receive the latest magazines with news and updates on today’s marketing environment. Recently we came across an article in The Marketer magazine from the CIM which included 6 really useful tips on content marketing from Richard Fitzmaurice, CMO at the TMF Group.

Content writing is still a very hot topic and probably will be while companies figure out how to make it work for their own products and services. The below tips should help you work out how to create engaging and useful content for your own readers to make the most of.

Producing relevant and read worthy content for your businesses products and services will in turn lead to unified messages for your marketing material and activities. Once you have your basic content written this can be applied (with tweaking) across a multitude of platforms such as websites, advertisements, PR, promotional material and direct marketing activity.

These are the 6 tips from Richard, with our own take on each one;

Where possible, have a narrative

As the tip suggests, telling your readers a story will keep them engaged in what you have to say. Take it to the next level and write content which elicits a response, make it a two way conversation.

Have purpose

Don’t produce content which doesn’t provide a purpose, which ever platform you decide to publish your content on there will always be competition. Give your readers something they need and will remember.

The best content does not need a sales pitch

If you are writing content for purely knowledge and advice then don’t tie in a sales pitch, it can just dilute the message and take away the prominence of what you’re trying to say.

If you can, ensure your content has an author

People like to know who has written the piece they are reading, for example this was written by our marketing manager. It can build a relationship up between the company and reader.

Do not assume there is a correlation between volume and effectiveness

Keep a count of how much content you are publishing, too much and it could start to look like spam.

Ensure the content is engaging

As mentioned above, your readers need to gain something from reading your content – otherwise what was the point in writing it?

Small business marketing

MarketingFile - Small business marketing
MarketingFile - Small business marketing

How much “marketing” does your business carry out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Not a lot? Are you sure?

Marketing is not just limited to sales and advertising, it is about growing your business – this is something you focus on all day, every day.

You don’t have to be a marketing professional to understand the basics of marketing and why it should be a major part of your business growth strategy. With the recession not too far behind us this is a perfect opportunity to find new channels to market to gain competitive advantage.

As a small business your ability to be agile within your business environment means you can be more responsive to the ever changing market conditions. Without the restrictions, which can arise in larger corporations for example over brand identity, an SME can alter their product or service to match the needs and expectations of their customers. Decisions can be made quickly and easily, with less hoops to jump through for a new offering to be released to the market. Key attributes such as flexibility and agility within SME’s are attracting a new standard of marketing professional, one that is willing to make big jumps into new sectors using new marketing activities.

However, there are also the limitations to take into account. Budget and resources can hold back a start-up business or SME into launching new products or services using expensive advertising. To help combat budget restrictions for marketing within small businesses here are our top tips to make the most of out of your marketing budget:

Use your customers

They are fantastic advocates of your business, as small businesses tend to be closer to their customers asking for feedback or suggestions can provide valuable customer knowledge to help your brand grow.

Think niche

As a small business you can’t target everyone – even if you could why would you? Segmenting your target audience will identify who is most likely to use and therefore purchase your products or services. These are the people you should be targeting, find out where they are (in the real world and virtually) and what they read so your messages reach them at the right time.

Keep it social

With a limited budget your marketing spend still needs to be spent wisely. Be cleaver with your social media, although it’s free to post and share, if you’re using their promotional activity then be careful where your budget goes. Below are the current stats of how many active users each social media channel has. Select the channel most appropriate for your audience, e.g. start with LinkedIn if you’re a B2B company.

Cheap channels

Another marketing activity which will give great return of investment and not break the bank is direct marketing. This will allow you to target specific customers or prospects using email, mail and SMS channels. With email starting from as little as 3p per email this is a channel which all small businesses should be including in their marketing activity.

If you want to find out more about direct marketing get in touch with our team on 0845 345 7755 to see how MarketingFile can help with your next direct marketing campaign.

Return to Sender

MarketingFile - Return to Sender
MarketingFile - Return to Sender

Although a very well-known Elvis Presley song, anyone sending out direct mail does not want to see the words “Return to Sender” on their mail items. If this is something you are seeing on your returned mail items then you need to find out about our 100% Delivery Guarantee – keep reading!

It is inevitable with any marketing list, even your own, there will be occasions where your mail item or email cannot be delivered, also known as a gone away. This process is a waste of resources, time and money, so ideally no business wants to have to pay for their undelivered items.

The reason behind undelivered mail or email items is down to old or poorly collected data. At MarketingFile we understand the importance of clean data, which should play a big part in everyone’s direct marketing activity. To help you ensure your mail or email pieces reach their intended audiences we’ve listed a few pointers on how to limit your undeliverables:

Choose your audience

Before using your own database or purchasing a list, decide who your marketing is meant for. Accurately segmenting your data and identifying a target market for your product or service is half the battle when sending direct marketing. This will also help you choose the data you need, if you don’t have it in-house then look at a mailing list provider or list broker.

Select your channel

With all direct marketing you have a range of channels to select from, the two which can provide you the highest ROI are direct mail and email marketing. Both channels have been around for decades, and there’s a reason they’re still used today – they work. Depending on your channel will help decide whether you need a mailing list or email list.

Purchasing data

Select a company who regularly updates their marketing list, are regulated by the DMA, and verifies their lists in order to guarantee a certain amount of deliverability. You will also want to know how often their data is updated and how they do this.

Clean up your data

Apart from purchasing a marketing list you may also have your own customer data, take into consideration this will also need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Ensuring your own customer data is accurate will cut down the volume of undelivered items so therefore saving time and money!

Don’t sit around

As soon as you have either purchased a list or cleaned your own use it. Data can age and people’s information can change very quickly so get your campaign out to your audience as soon as possible. The longer the data sits around more records will be going out of date, and you will have to go through the cleaning process again.

100% Delivery Guaranteed

Most importantly use direct marketing lists that offer a 100% Delivery Guarantee on all of their lists. Before you scour the internet searching, we can assure you we are the only UK direct marketing company to offer this on all of our 30 marketing lists.

Our unique offer means we will not only refund the data cost for any undeliverable mail or email item but we’ll also top that up with an additional 50p per item to cover the cost of postage.

Get in touch with our team today on 0845 345 7755 or email [email protected] for more information on our delivery guarantee and to select your marketing list today.

Sending Direct Mail

MarketingFile - Four basic direct mail tips
MarketingFile - Four basic direct mail tips

Sending direct mail with Royal Mail can be challenging, the system is complicated with certain weight and size restrictions which can cause higher mailing costs. For any business keeping the cost of your postage for direct mail campaigns is essential for ROI. To help with potential difficulties when producing your mail piece we’ve highlighted some of the issues you can come across.

A regular letter can be up to 24cm by 16.5cm and 0.5cm thick – this is not quite the size of an A4 sheet of paper but can include large postcards, greeting cards and folded A4 letters. 1st class is 62p and 2nd class is 53p per item. MarketingFile offer a print and post service through Touchpoint for 51p per item which includes prospect data, high quality digital printing, envelope stuffing and postage!

If you want to send an A4 document or letter, a magazine or brochure or even a CD or DVD in a case then this is classed as a large letter and can be up to 35.3cm by 25cm and 2.5cm thick. Prices start from 93p for 1st class and 73p for 2nd class.

The next stage is a small parcel, with Royal Mail there are two types, wide or deep option. Each are allowed up to 2kg in weight and sizes are:

Small parcel wide option: 45cm by 35cm and 8cm thick
Small parcel deep option: 35cm by 25cm and 16cm thick
1st class starts from £3.20 and 2nd class £2.80

*If your mail piece is larger than this it will be classed as a medium parcel and should not be used for direct marketing purposes as the cost per item starts from £12 per item which is not cost efficient.

Paper stock

Choosing your paper stock can be difficult depending on what you are sending, select the right weight that suits your marketing requirements and keeps within cost restrictions. For example if you are sending a high quality brochure then using standard paper (80gsm) is far too thin, opting for a thin card (300gsm) will give a sturdy and professional finish and depending on the number of pages should fit in the 0.5cm thickness.

Remember the width measurements from above, if you want to send a A5 brochure this would be classed as a letter, but if the thickness is over 0.5cm its then classed as a large letter and the price increases by 20-30p per item.

Machine readable (OCR compliant)

If you are sending bulk items using machine readable letters can reduce the cost of sending your letter. To do this you need to use an accredited mailing company, for example when using Touchpoint you will benefit from reduced costs as we use OCR compliant processes, we will also help you with the design and layout of your mail piece to ensure it meets OCR regulations.

Address boxes

There must be a 5mm clearance around the address block on all mail items and when using a windowed envelope there must be at least 3mm to the left and 2mm to the bottom inside the window.

Remember to include a return address, this can clearly be labelled to the top left of the envelope, leaving a 12mm space above the address block, or centralised on the back. This is to ensure you keep your records up to date with people who have moved.

For more information see Royal Mail’s guide to addressing mail items

If you are still not sure what to send or how to send it get in touch with us today to find out more about Touchpoint. Send direct mail items from 51p – this takes care of your data, printing and postage for less than the cost of a 2nd class stamp.

*All of our tips relate to the Royal Mail system, if you use another mailing company please refer to their own regulations.*