Consumers often consider email marketing to be a bad thing, the reason for that is spam and junk mail. Devious sellers buy email lists and bombard the addresses in them with generic advertising. Such letters aren’t personalized, recipients are more or less random. Such inappropriate marketing imitation annoys everyone and creates a bad reputation for email marketing in general. However, at its best, email marketing allows companies to deliver their message to the customers and is used to build relationships with clients, keep them informed and provide added value to the relationship.
Email marketing is the use of email to promote products or services and to develop relationships with current or potential clients. It is an extremely effective way of promotion—in channel ROI ratings, email marketing beats every other method: it outperforms all online marketing strategies, including SEO, PPC, and content marketing.
Have a look:
It’s surprising and interesting, that email’s ROI increases, despite concerns about GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations). According to the DMA’s Marketer email tracker 2018 report, half of the marketers are now confident they can accurately calculate this ROI figure, while just 19% think they can determine the lifetime value of an email address to their business.
All this information leads us to the conclusion that companies should focus on email marketing and use it with high attention to detail. To be effective, an email marketing campaign needs to be created with consideration of multiple aspects. The most important among them are:
- a subject line,
- responsive design,
- useful content,
- reasonable call-to-action,
- good timing,
Let’s go through these points.
Basically, the subject line is the most critical aspect of the email marketing campaign strategy because if it is annoying, ordinary, uninformative or irrelevant, it’s highly likely that the recipient will not open the email, so it doesn’t matter what is inside it. Moreover, it is the only part most people read. Getting people to open your email is a real challenge.
There are many ideas, rules, and insights on how to create the perfect subject line for an email, and we’ll create a particular article about it. Here we just remind that a subject line should be catchy, engaging, and benefit-rich.
Main rules concerning the subject line:
- Show the kind of benefits the reader will find in the email.
- The length of the subject line should not exceed 20 characters.
- Be relevant. Replace all irrelevant words with the relevant ones.
- So-called “words that sell” in fact don’t sell. Stop using marketing bulls*it, especially in the subject lines.
- Don’t shout at the recipient by using caps lock and exclamation marks—this will only annoy. There are more subtle ways to make the subject line more noticeable. We will tell you about them in one of the next articles.
Personalizing emails is a technique that teases out the subscriber list to send relevant information to specific subscribers. When you personalize emails to readers, you not only show respect but also give your audience the feeling that your marketing team does their job well. Give this some thought, do you personally like to read emails that are addressed “Dear Sir/Madam”? According to this DMA report, over 75% of email revenue is generated by alternatives to generic one-size-fits-all campaigns.
At the same time just inserting the customer’s name in the greeting line doesn’t impress anymore. A significant element of email marketing is relationship, that’s why sending an email that acknowledges a recipient individuality, such as purchase history, most of the time triggers a positive response. It’s also useful to personalize pictures by location. In fact, technology allows dynamically changing images based on multiple types of collected data, such as gender, loyalty program status, personal preferences, and more. These techniques may also personalize offers.
You can create personalized emails by recording information and segmenting your subscribers. Basically, you get the first data from the signup form, so strive to find a balance between getting the relevant information and asking your visitor for too much information. You need to find out as much as you can about the future subscribers to customize content, but you don’t want to put them off from filling it in. When someone signs up for the list, you might ask them for their name, gender, location, particular interests, etc. Once that data is acquired, it’s a good idea to segment the subscribers according to the given information. Segmentation is the way of dividing your audience into groups. It’s a good practice to use the data that is collected when individual recipients subscribe.
Some of the categories to use for segmenting lists of subscribers:
- job title;
- company size;
- past purchases.
Having personalized lists, you can insert special offers and target a particular audience more accurate.
67% of emails today are read on either a smartphone or tablet, so it’s crucial to optimize emails for mobile devices. Of course, serious email marketing campaigns need to be designed for all devices that allow users to read through their emails — desktop, tablet, and smartphone. Ensure that your email looks perfectly no matter where it’s read.
Mobile friendly emails use a one column template to avoid misaligning of text and images which would result in the dreaded horizontal scrollbar. Also, you have to consider ergonomics, as on modern smartphones users tap and scroll with their thumb. Essential tappable elements should be located in the middle of the screen. For obvious reasons, it’s important also to keep call-to-action noticeable and easy to tap.
In the email, you have to talk about the benefits you’re going to offer. People need to get something useful from the email: they spend the time to read it and want to take something in exchange. Nobody will read plain advertising. If you don’t want people to unsubscribe from you, always provide value. Even if your email contains information about the project developments, thank people for their time and attention with a useful link, quotation, free tool or whatever you can offer. Such small actions will keep your customers happy, and happy customers are your best ambassadors.
A successful email marketing campaign transforms ideas into actions. Emails must contain a meaningful and appropriate call-to-action which grabs the recipient’s attention and encourages them to act. A clear call-to-action is a button or link prompting readers to click which is duplicated in the beginning and at the end of the letter. A button is preferable as buttons are eye-catching and clean. The best practice is to use precise, actionable wording to attract attention. The phrase must contain a verb to provoke a person to click.
There are basically two strategies concerning the time when emails should be sent. The first tells that you must send them in business hours when people are near their PCs. This makes sense because we can expect people working on computers to pay attention to their inboxes. We also can assume that after leaving offices at 6 p.m. they don’t have much desire to check the emails before the next morning.
The second strategy uses the idea that office people receive too many emails during the day and your email has a big chance not to be noticed between others. That’s why it may be reasonable to send it at late evening and night. According to the quarterly email report for 2012’s fourth quarter of Experian Marketing Services, the time of day that received the best open rate was 8:00 p.m. to midnight.
Which strategy to choose is up to you. And your decision should be the result of testing and your industry’s best practices.
A/B testing, or split testing, is a way of working out which of the two campaign options is the most effective regarding opens or clicks. It allows us to determine the kind of layout users prefer, what subject lines perform better, which calls-to-action are more effective. It’s advisable to use A/B testing every time you want to try a new technique or format for an email campaign.
To perform an A/B test, we have to prepare two versions of the same letter and send it to a small percentage of total recipients. These recipients are called a test group. Half of the test group receives version A, while to the other half is sent version B. We measure the result by most opens or clicks and determine the most effective version which is then sent to the remaining bulk of your subscribers.
Tracking allows us to gather more information about the user and in time bring further personalization to their inbox. Data that helps tracking specific aspects of operations are called metrics. Tracking email marketing metrics is important because metrics give you the ability to take action based on hard data.
Metrics you should track for the email marketing campaign:
- Open rate — how many recipients will open emails sent by you.
- Click-through rate — the number of recipients who click on any link included in emails.
- Clicks per link — information about particular links people click on.
- Conversion rate — the percentage of recipients that make any of the desirable actions that they were asked to make in the email, such as a purchase, a visit to the website, a referral of a friend, a shared post, etc.
- Unsubscribes — the number of recipients who’ve refused to receive your emails in future.
- Spam complaints — the number of people who reported an email as spam. Usually, it happens when emails are of poor quality or annoying.
- Bounce rate — refers to the percentage of email addresses that didn’t receive the message because it was returned by a recipient mail server. There are two types of bounces: soft and hard. A soft bounce means that the email address was valid and the email reached the recipient’s mail server but bounced back because the server was down or the inbox was full or the message was too large. A hard bounce means that the recipient’s address was invalid.
- Forwarding rate — a percentage of recipients who share your emails with someone else.
There is a bunch of platforms that provide analysis tools. The most popular are:
- Google Analytics — the ultimate analytics platform.
- MailChimp — an all-around email marketing tool.
- Bloom — suitable for growing the email list using opt-in.
A successful email marketing campaign needs to be planned well. An easy and efficient way to ensure you’re doing everything according to the plan is to build a 12-month newsletter calendar. Depending on your business area, that may include retail holidays or events specific to your business’ seasonality. Many email marketing tools have a calendar feature built in, and you also can use simple Google Calendar or Trello.
And of course, email marketing is a place where you can make experiments, test new ideas and try new technologies. The market is evolving, and marketing strategies and techniques are changing as well.