Best Practices For Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the earliest forms of digital marketing that has persisted for an important reason: it works because email is virtually unavoidable in the modern world. People can forego having numerous social media accounts and install ad-blockers, but virtually everyone who uses the internet at all has an email address.
Most of all, someone who gives you their email address is far more likely to give you their money than someone who simply gives you a like on social media or sees a compelling advert. When it comes to engaging both new and potential customers, email marketing is incredibly effective. This is because there are things you can do with email that you can’t do with other digital marketing methods, and it is delivered straight to the recipient’s inbox opposed to getting lost in the social media stratosphere and potentially being unseen. Email marketing can be so effective because the recipient isn’t being distracted by potentially thousands of other social media posts to scroll past, or wanting to click your ad shut to get back to the article they were reading.
Here’s what you need to know about devising an email marketing strategy that works for you.
Assembling a Mailing List
- Give people an incentive to sign up for your email list when they find you online. Whether it’s offering a free e-book or an exclusive discount code for their first order, having some kind of “sweetener” is a great way to get people to subscribe to your email list. What other value can you deliver exclusively through email that you can’t deliver on your blog, social media channels, and other ways for people to find you? You need to provide a good incentive for people to not just subscribe, but stay on your mailing list.
- Get signups in person at events. Making that connection in person is so valuable on many levels, but especially when it comes potential customers and other people who you do business with. Someone who engages with you at an event is likely to be genuinely interested in doing business with you and take advantage of offers exclusive to that event, and conferences can be an opportunity to collect hundreds if not thousands of voluntary signups. Use a phone or tablet to collect email addresses so that errors aren’t made in transcribing written addresses.
- Build a microsite specially for collecting email addresses. Are you launching a new product or have a specific one-time offer like a webinar? By building a microsite separate from your main site, it prevents distraction and can be a very effective way of getting a great deal of voluntary subscriptions to your mailing list.
- Buying banks of email addresses is both unethical and ineffective. Never buy email addresses from services claiming to have lists of potential customers for you. Other companies sell this information to make some quick cash to their customers’ detriment, as well as your own. The random people who get your emails will not be interested and likely to just report you as spam.
- Remember to be mindful of email marketing regulations. You can find a comprehensive list on the Information Commission Office website as to legality of collecting emails and sending unsolicited emails. You want to grow your business, not be fined or go to jail over emails!
Best Practices for Email Campaigns
- Personalization can make an enormous difference in open and conversion rates. If you personalize the email’s subject line, the subscriber will be 26% more likely to open it. If the contents of the email have been personalized, this is also going to have a deeper impact than sending a general promotional email.
- Automation can make email marketing a powerhouse. Automating email campaign processes for new sign-ups, incentives, personalized content, and other email marketing tactics is very easy to implement and will save you a lot of time while generating profit.
- Have some kind of regularity to keep engagement up. A smaller business with fewer resources may be able to get away with more infrequent mailouts, but if you want to keep engagement steady you need to reconsider how regularly you send out emails. Timeliness is a major factor for certain types of businesses, such as retail brands relying on holiday spending. For entertainment brands, weekly emails are a great fit to keep subscribers up to date on local concerts, plays, and other events that they are expressly interested in. A business consultant may be better with a monthly newsletter. Having some kind of regularity that best fits your product or service will make your email strategy more effective over time.
- Try segmenting your subscribers. Some of your subscribers may not necessarily be interested in a new product while your new subscribers are. If you’re opening a new shop in one county but a significant percentage of your subscribers are in other parts of the country, you may want to segment them by location. Segmentation by location, demographics, products purchased, and other criteria can make your email campaigns more effective because they’re only reaching the people who find the content relevant.
- Use A/B (or split) testing every so often to test the efficacy of differences in your email layouts. A/B testing can send two different versions of an email to random selections of your subscribers. The differences can be minor or significant, such as the colour, size, or font of the text used or trying animated GIFs instead of static images.
Evaluating an Email Campaign
- How many people opened your email? This is the first thing that needs to be examined. What was your open rate? How many people actually open the emails you send? What is the open rate relative to your total amount of subscribers? You need to measure this metric over time to get an idea of how consistent your open rates are, and examine the differences in campaigns for particularly low and high months. A low open rate can indicate that your subject lines and subhead text aren’t that great.
- What was your click-through rate? One of the most important metrics are examining the open rate is how many people are clicking on links after they’ve opened the email. How many clicks did you get on links that you were promoting? If the links got little or no clicks, it’s time to reconsider how effective your email copy is.
- How much conversion resulted from those clicks? Depending on how sophisticated your analytics are, you may not know this information. But you want to make that investment so you can have a clearer idea of how effective your email campaigns are. If you had admirable click-through rates, you need to know how many of those clicks resulted in sales.
- How many subscribers did you lose? Losing subscribers over time is inevitable. But if you’re losing a significant number because of a recent campaign, there’s something that needs to be addressed. It could be the content of the emails themselves such as bright colours making the emails hard to read or causing eye strain, or you’re doing mailouts too frequently and your subscribers feel like they’re being spammed. Evaluating this churn rate is important so you know how many more new signups you have to target to replace what you lost.
In summary, email marketing is a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy. The people who voluntarily sign up for your mailing list online or in person (or who were already paying customers) are going to be more engaged than people merely expressing interest on social media. If they bought from you before, they’ll be likely to buy from you again.
A strong and sizeable mailing list is the foundation of a successful email marketing strategy. Building a quality mailing list can take time but it is well worth the investment if you want a solid inbound marketing technique you can easily rely on. Buying mailing lists is not going to be nearly as effective, because they are likely to just mark your emails as spam and not want to bother with your product. There are also ethical and legal implications involved since unsolicited emails are subject to information regulations.
When putting together email campaigns, automation is key to improving your workflow by assembling and scheduling them in advance. Personalization matters, as does the frequency of which you send emails. Segmenting subscribers by interest, division of your business, demographics, or other criteria can also increase your efficiency and reduce the number of subscribers you lose over time. It’s also prudent to do some A/B testing to determine what kind of language and imagery resounds the most with your audience.
In evaluating an email campaign, you need to examine your open and click-through rates as well as what happened after those clicks. This needs to be done over time since email marketing has both immediate and long-term effects. Everyone loses subscribers so don’t despair if you do, but if you are losing an abnormal amount you may need to reconsider your strategy.