Marketing to a wide audience in a cost-efficient manner proves to be a difficult task for many businesses today. Email marketing is an effective method used by many brands to promote and grow sales revenue. Building strong relationships with customers through email is essential in today’s competitive digital market. Whether you’re a start-up or a well-established business, you’ll want to keep these best practices in mind when devising an email marketing strategy.
One of the major keys to successfully increasing conversion rates is to personalize email communication. According to Experian, personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates, but only 30% of brands actually utilize this strategy. A simple way to personalize an email is to use the subscriber’s first name. If you are sending out thousands of emails at a time, no need to worry as there are automated methods you can use to fill your contacts’ first names without having to enter them manually. Going beyond first name personalization, you should cater your content to a specific target audience. It is extremely helpful to gather useful information about your subscribers in order to segment them. You can base these customer segments on several different criteria, examples include: purchase history, location, interests, etc. Your audience is more likely to respond to an email that appears relevant to their behaviors and interests.
Personalization doesn’t just apply to the body of your email. Adding the recipient’s name to the subject line is a great way to grab their attention. Remember to keep your subject lines short – limit to 50 characters or fewer. The ultimate goal of a subject line is to drive higher open rates. Create catchy phrases that will spark curiosity from your subscribers, and hopefully encourage them to open your message. There are a few strategies brands use to stand out in a consumer’s inbox. Using emojis in your subject line will draw reader’s eyes to your email. There are many sites, such as Emojipedia, that provide properly formatted emojis you can easily copy and paste into your subject line. Puns are another effective strategy you can use to help your email stand out. People appreciate humor when used in a tasteful manner, just be careful not to offend your audience or to stray from your brand’s voice. As always, you want your email content and subject lines to be diverse. In other words, you don’t have to make your contacts laugh with every email. It’s just another tactic to keep in your marketing toolbox.
A great way to get your customers to engage with your content is to center your message around a specific call-to-action (CTA.) Your CTA should be bolded and prominent in the body of your email. If you’re not sure what to display as your CTA, think about your overarching marketing goals and the actions you want consumers to take in order to achieve those goals. Oftentimes, companies will display CTAs as a button linking to a website in hopes of driving traffic to that page. Keep in mind that sometimes graphics don’t always load on certain browsers, so try not to trap important messages inside images. You might consider placing the CTA in your message multiple times to be sure your subscribers see it, but remember to keep it tactful – too many could be overwhelming.
If you haven’t retained anything thus far, then here is the one lesson you must take away: it is essential that every email you send out provides your subscribers with some sort of value. Value can come in several different forms; whether it be a discount code or helpful tips, your readers will be much more inclined to engage with your content if you give them a good reason to open your message. Before asking subscribers to perform certain actions like filling out a form or making a purchase, it is crucial that you provide them with some unique value to encourage two-way communication.
Not only is your subject matter important, but your email design has a huge influence over your marketing results. You’ll want to create a layout that is both appealing to the eye and consistent with your branding. When your viewers click from your email to your website, their experience should be smooth and continuous. Empty space is not always wasted space. In fact, when it comes to web design, it's a best practice to give your content a little breathing room. The ratio of images and text content should enable subscribers to read through your message with ease, while keeping their interest peaked throughout. Another note about images: be sure to use small files to guarantee fast rendering and deliverability to make certain that your audience receives your message. It would be to your own benefit to test image rendering before launching your email campaign.
Images aren’t the only portion of your email you should regularly test. Subject lines and CTAs are two other important aspects you should use A/B testing to determine what content you should include in your message to maximize your results. Most email campaign software has built-in tools designed to run A/B tests; however, if yours does not you can set one up manually. Simply split your list into two and send one version of your message to one list and send the other version to the second list. When setting up A/B testing, it’s important to remember to only test one element at a time to obtain accurate results and improve conversion rates. When determining which component you’d like to test, you must first think about what part of the conversion process you wish to target. For example, if you hope to improve your open rates you might want to test your subject line as this will directly affect how many people open your message. Be sure to test your new element on a large sample size to ensure accurate results. After you have run your test, conduct an in-depth analysis to determine which version of your message was more successful.
When determining the success of your campaign, analytics will help uncover useful insights into your customers’ behavior. You’ll need to first assess what your goal is (you can have more than one,) then you need to figure out which metrics you must track to determine if you’re progressing toward your goal(s). If you’re not sure where to start, one key factor almost all marketers choose to evaluate is how your subscribers are engaging with your email. When assessing customer engagement, you’ll want to examine how many recipients actually opened your email. Another important metric to track is the percentage of recipients who clicked on one or more links contained in your email, this is referred to as the “click-through rate.” Campaign tracking sites like Google Analytics can help you measure your success and progress toward your goals. Also, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your unengaged subscribers. The insights you can gain by exploring this group are just as important as tracking and growing your current subscriber base. Open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates are just a few metrics you can track, check out our Ultimate Guide for more information on campaign tracking.
Crafting a warm welcome email to introduce your brand to your audience requires several key components. According to BlueHornet, subscribers who read at least one welcome email read 40 percent more content from the sender over the next 180 days. This message is your chance to set your subscriber’s expectations for how frequent they will receive your communications, and the types of content you will provide them with. You should also encourage customers to connect with you on other channels in this email, as well as all future emails. It is best practice to send a link to your preference center so that new subscribers can adjust the frequency and types of content they wish to receive. This will ensure that readers are engaged with your messages, and will hopefully reduce unsubscribe rates.
As previously mentioned, it is a great idea to provide a link to a preference center in your email messages. This subscription management process should be extremely user friendly, making it easy for your audience to switch their communication preferences. Allowing subscribers to adjust the frequency in which they receive your messages will ensure that you’re not overwhelming your audience with too many emails. There’s always the other fear that if you send emails too infrequently your subscribers will forget who you are, triggering another round of unsubscribes. This is a complicated problem because the amount of information we’re able to process is different from person to person. Enabling subscribers to personalize their inbox through a preference center should eliminate this issue.
The final facet of email marketing you must consider when planning your next campaign is choosing the type of email you wish to send. We will briefly touch on five unique email programs that help to achieve different types of marketing goals.
Lead nurturing campaigns are automated emails sent to new sign-ups to build brand awareness, establish trust, and move the prospect further along the sales cycle. When a consumer signs up for your newsletter, the lead nurturing campaign is designed to send a series of pre-written emails at a pre-determined frequency and volume (e.g. 6 emails every 4 days, sent at 10 am.) These emails typically offer value-adding content regarding your business’s key topic area, such as valuable tips, advice and updates. When implemented well, a lead nurturing campaign can position your organization as a valuable, trustworthy partner; however, if implemented poorly, the campaign may be perceived as a bombardment of sales and advertising pitches which may prompt recipients to unsubscribe.
Industry updates are intended to inform your audience about relevant policies, developments, and events in the marketplace. Industry updates might incorporate insights guided by your company’s interests in a particular topic area. Sending these updates positions your organization as an expert resource that is prepared to invest in content that will benefit your customers, rather than simply persuading them to purchase goods and services.
Company updates help establish your brand and presence in the marketplace. Major updates such as a press release, new product launch, customer testimonial, new employee, etc., should be communicated to your customer base via email marketing. If handled correctly, these emails can present your business as innovative, dynamic and market leading, constantly evolving and expanding your product or service offering.
Promotional email campaigns are utilized to inform readers about upcoming sales, offers, events and other activities, and are primarily designed to stimulate sales. This is the most common type of email campaign, and generally, promotional emails achieve a much higher click-through rate in comparison to a website. Also, click-through rates are usually relatively high if the promotion is available for a limited time only. Check out this Campaign Monitor article for more tips on creating a sense of urgency/scarcity with your next promotional email campaign.
The final type of email you should familiarize yourself with is a reengagement campaign. These messages are extremely effective in situations in which you notice a decrease in your subscriber engagement. Reengagement campaigns are designed to remedy this disengagement issue, as the name might suggest. Some strategies to keep in mind when creating your reengagement campaign include: developing a dialogue by sparking your subscriber’s interests, sending out incentives or coupons, and adding value with great copy and email design with win back your audience’s attention.
After reading these tips, you should be well equipped with the tools you need to run a flawless email marketing campaign that produces results. Consistently hold yourself to the highest standard when it comes to email marketing best practices. Always remember to provide your audience with a unique value that will have them waiting to open your next message. Happy sending!
Exact Data is a Chicago-based marketing technology company with regional offices across the United States. The company's product is data, but their strength is technology. Exact Data leverages its technical expertise to deliver results - connecting clients with their audience through data-driven direct marketing services.
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