You may already be using email as a vehicle to deliver messages to your audience, or you may just think it’s a good idea and want to get started. If you’re in either group, you should read on to gain useful tips that can make your email campaigns successful.
Email continues to be an incredibly cost-effective and efficient way to engage your customers. With little cost to maintain, some form of email marketing should make its way into your marketing bag of tricks, if it’s not there already.
Where to start
Begin by doing an analysis of what kind of data you possess. Do you have a puny list of emails, or have you been gathering emails for years and just haven’t used them? Do you have lots of fragments from different departments? Regardless, now’s as good a time as any to begin building the list.
One thing to remember is that although the information may be coming from multiple locations – accounting, marketing, etc. – your email communication (all communications actually) should be coming from one central location. It is preferably that this central location is your marketing/PR department, as they are best suited to manage the messages that are being released to the public.
Build you list
There are many great ways to begin building your list. But there are a few prime options that I’ll focus on; the first being your website.
Individuals visiting your website are potentially already heavily invested in, or at least marginally interested in what you do. You can begin by making sure that every page (or at least the majority) has an opt-in form on the sidebar. Many of the top email services offer complimentary customizable forms and provide HTML that can be easily inserted into your web-pages.
Whenever someone has direct contact with you, they should be considered for, and have the opportunity for, inclusion on your email list. If someone registers for a training, fills out the contact form on your website, or forwards your email to a friend, they should all be given ways to opt-in to your list.
Offering an incentive to sign up can also be extremely valuable. If individuals feel that your messaging can benefit them, they’ll be more than happy to join. Include messaging like “Join our email list to receive monthly coupons on our products” may be a good tactic. Another option is to offer whitepapers, which is a great way to get people to sign up for your email list: by gathering their information in exchange for permitting them to download.
Test, execute and measure
With just a little more forethought, you can drastically begin increasing your ROI (return on investment) by A/B testing. A/B testing is changing and testing emails with variations to see what performs better. From this process, you can figure out which types of subject lines work better for your audience, which design may catch the eye, etc.
You should also consider changing the sending times and frequency of emails. A couple of years ago, the rule of thumb was to send emails mid-week and mid-day (i.e. Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m). However, recent research indicates weekends and late afternoons may perform better. This type of research is all well and good, but from my experience, different audiences react and behave differently. We’ve had clients send emails that perform much better after normal business hours, while others maintain the mid-week, mid-day rule. In short, although research can be a great start for deciding when to send emails, you don’t have to trust the research, unless it’s your research.
You can also cut right to the chase. There’s no reason you can’t ask your customers directly with a survey. If you see one, or even a couple of times that customers enjoy getting communications from you, consider segmenting your list and sending the same email to those sub-groups at different times.
Put the time into making the campaign work, and it will reward you. List management is key. If you’re getting a bounced email, dive in to find out why. Sometimes you can get this corrected by getting white listed on a server (earning approval by sending useful content that is proven not to be spam).
Integrate with social media. If you’re performing a direct email campaign, find a way to make it sharable by social media. Your email list is finite, but allowing it to be shared across vast networks of interconnected friends and followers is huge. Even one additional Facebook “like” could earn you a lot more exposure. If you see a particular message is particularly engaging or successful, repeat it.
Although content may change, keep your branding and look of the email consistent. You wouldn’t want the receiver thinking they just received something they didn’t ask for, marking it as spam and disassociating themselves with you permanently.
Offer a clear and prominent call to action. I’ll be creating another blog in the next few weeks on how to bring more value to your call to action, but in short, if the receiver hesitates, you’ve likely lost them.
There are many things you can do to increase the ROI of your email campaigns. I’ve only scratched the surface. I’d love your feedback as to tips you might have run across, or items I missed that might be helpful.
Kyle E. Glass is the Director of Marketing at Marketing Matters (http://www.marketingmatters.net), a communications and design firm specializing in technology, consumer and custom electronics, audio-video and related industries.