7 Tips for Effective Email Marketing
Email marketing is a fantastic way to reach out to potential and current customers. It’s a way to build relationships with customers, keep them engaged, remind them of your value, products, services, and grow your business.
Today, we're inundated with email marketing campaigns, and yes, some of it still feels spammy, but there's no denying the impact a well-crafted and targeted message can have on your customers. You can do a lot of things with emails, like sell products, share some news, improve your cart abandonment return to purchase rate, provide thought leadership, educate, onboard a new customer or tell a story. 😱
Email is still one of the most cost-effective ways to communicate about your brand and sell stuff!
PRO TIP: Follow our 7 tips as a starting point for successful email marketing.
And The 7 Tips Are...
1. Email Marketing Strategy and Plan
A strategic email plan is the linchpin of any successful digital marketing campaign. As you develop an overall marketing strategy, it’s easy to put email marketing on the back burner. However, email marketing has proven benefits for small business owners, from building the credibility of your brand to boosting sales.
Set Goals and Success Metrics
A fundamental part of an email marketing plan is to determine your goals and success metrics. Are you looking to increase traffic to your website, boost sales, on-board new customers, nurture leads, build customer retention and loyalty, drive more ecommerce sales from abandoned shopping carts, grow your mailing list... and so much more! For example, you might start with one single SMART goal to improve your click-through rate by 5% by end of a specific period, say next quarter. Of course, multiple goals and KPIs can be included in your plan, but one simple goal and KPI will help you keep focus.
Research and Define your Target Audience
The next step is to research your target audience and learn as much as possible about them and how you will capture the relevant datapoints to support your goals, personalisation and targeting with your email campaigns. An email marketing strategy is no different from an overall marketing strategy, in that you need to define the personas / customer avatars of your ideal type of customers and take this into your email marketing strategy and plans.
Once you know who your target audience, you can further research the type of content they find most appealing. A number of techniques can help you establish this, conduct customer surveys, interview your sales team or other team members, assess what your competitors are doing well, look at which website pages, blogs and social media are receiving the most engagement.
Learn from your overall Marketing Results
Each year or whatever time period you determine your overall marketing plan and time horizon to be, make sure to take onboard insight from your existing data and results as to what has worked well and what hasn't and use this to shape your Email Marketing Strategy and Plan.
2. Fit for Purpose Tools
Email marketing software can help you in managing your contact lists, help you design and send compelling emails, and track whether these were opened or clicked and what page was visited on your website. The good news is some tools are not that expensive and free tools such as HubSpot and MailChimp can be used.
Email marketing can take several forms. For example, some businesses might decide their most effective marketing tactic is a value-add newsletter delivered to a gated subscriber community. Others might want to tie their emails directly to their product and sales engines so that they can provide special offers and deals to recipients. Various approaches can require different tools for creating the source email and sending it to recipients.
Next Level eMail Marketing
Feature rich tools exist and have many more benefits beyond basic email marketing and include broader digital marketing capability, CRM, Marketing Automation, Paid Ads, website integration with forms/tracking and Sales Optimisation possibilities.
Revenue Growth software provides such a broad range of benefits that businesses of all sizes, from solopreneurs, startups, scaleups, SMEs and enterprise level corporations can all benefit. Every business requires tools and processes to help them organise and execute their marketing, sales, customer service activities effectively.
3. List Management
List management is a series of procedures for gathering information about subscribers, analysing their activities, ensuring the validity of their email addresses, cleaning an email list of inactive users and duplicate contacts, and so on.
Segmenting contacts with different needs into their own categories within your email list allows you to send targeted emails that matter to your recipients. History tells us email marketing bad etiquette resulted in blast emails with the same message/content to everyone... this no longer works as a strategy long term and your email list will shrink significantly each year as a result. Categorise your contacts by persona type, industry, product interest, and other demographics, geographics and psychographics and this will provide the foundation for email personalisation and targeting and help you realise better business results.
Grow Your Email List
There are many strategies to grow your email list, such as having a subscription form on your website, using leads magnets, viral giveaways, opt-in pages, using social media and paid ads in a broader marketing sense. It's important to consider any GDPR and CAN-Spam compliancy issues in terms of the data you capture and how you use it - this will enable you to ensure better open/click rates and not tarnish your email reputation with high spam complaint rates which will ultimately impact your ability to send emails from your business email domain address.
Email Verification & Data Services
If your business collects data from your website, unfortunately, you run the risk of gathering fake email addresses. This happens for a number of reasons, from people genuinely interested in your product or service being reluctant to provide their details, to scammers looking to commit fraud.
By verifying your contacts email addresses are valid it will help you avoid high and unnecessary hard bounce rates and further email deliverability issues.
emailhippo is an excellent tool for Email verification and provides data services for marketers, developers and fraud fighters.
Other Best Practices
Typically, you should only communicate with opted-in users. There are B2B strategies that can be used for cold emailing, but it's vital to conform to GDPR and CAN-Spam regulations. Did you know that you don't always need permission to email someone in a B2B setting? 🤔
It's also a good practice to allow users/contacts/prospects/customers to self-manage their communication preferences, not only, if you can send them email or not, you can have a more granular marketing and preferences ability to have them decide which type of emails they want to receive and other types of communication. e.g. Promotional Emails, SMS, Paid Ads, Newsletters etc.
Another good practice is to send email re-engagement campaigns. If you notice there has been no or little engagement for a while on your emails with a specific contact, have a system and process setup to automatically trigger sending a re-engagement email campaign - so that their engagement score improves, and it prevents them being added to an email suppression list thus helping to avoid them not being sent future emails...your email domain reputation will also suffer if significant suppression is at play.
4. Email Campaigns
Planning out your actual email campaigns on your marketing calendar is often the most exciting step to developing your email marketing strategy.
Establish your Sending Frequency and Goals
There’s nothing set in stone about how often you should email your customers, but if you send too often, your subscribers are likely to ignore them or unsubscribe altogether. Some users that run a blog or news website might choose to send daily updates to their subscribers, while other users only send twice a month, so subscribers stay excited about their emails. Choose to send your email campaign at your own pace and check the unsubscribe rates and the click through rates to adjust the frequency if needed.
Make a Schedule
One way to make sure you’re staying on track is to create a content calendar to schedule your email campaigns, blog posts, social media posts, and more. Your email marketing schedule will depend on your industry, the types of content you send (content marketing strategy), and your sending frequency.
Campaign Ideas Generation and Planning
You should consider adding key dates to your calendar that you don’t want to forget. This may include - important holidays, product launches, business events etc. Each key date is an opportunity for an email campaign and this needs to be planned in advance in terms of content, subject line, call to action, target audience, send dates etc.
Next, brainstorm other ideas based on your email marketing and overall marketing goals. Highlight marketing ideas that seem to align the closest with your stated goals and KPIs. Once you’ve determined which email marketing campaigns you want to use, you can begin plotting them out on your calendar.
Of course, somethings are reactive, and it might be you have to quickly plan a new email campaign into your schedule that hadn't been thought of in advance.
5. Email Content
It’s one thing to design an email marketing plan for yourself and another thing to ensure you follow through on your plan. Plan time each week to craft your email content. Even with a top email marketing strategy, you’re unlikely to achieve success unless you have equally strong email content.
Decide What to Write
Now that you know who you’re writing to, what the topic/theme is, it’s time to think about your content. What do you want to say to your audience? What is your content marketing strategy? You’ll want to send emails with purpose, that really speak to your subscribers, so always keep in mind what they signed up for.
When designing email campaigns, focus on your message and keep your design straightforward. We suggest laying out all the elements for your campaign in a hierarchy, putting your most important information or the main takeaway toward the top so people can quickly scan your email if they’re short on time.
Make sure you have a strong subject line, don't underestimate this - having something like 'July Newsletter' is a no no, try to create interest so that they open and read your email - Neuromarketing techniques can be used, and some simple tools can also help. As a general rule shorter subject lines work best, personalising them can also benefit open rates e.g. Including person or business name. The use of numbers, statistics or asking a question can also spark some interest. Subject lines can be A/B tested too, but more on that later.
Focus on providing value to your customers, by having high quality content - prioritise their needs and wants and not your own - show the benefits not the product/service/features!
Every email requires a purpose. Your call to action (CTA) allows you to draw attention to that objective. You quite simply need to tell your customers what to do after reading your email. e.g. Click here to get this offer or read this blog for more value or share this with friends etc. If you have too many different CTAs in a single email campaign, that will also confuse your audience and they might end up taking no action at all - fine if all CTAs are leading to the same purpose and aligning with your email marketing goals.
6. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation uses software to automate monotonous marketing work. Businesses and marketing departments can automate repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media posting, and even ad campaigns - not just for the sake of efficiency, but also to provide a more personalised experience for their customers.
Unlike regular campaigns, an automation is a targeted email or series of emails that you can set and forget. From a welcome email series to follow up emails after a purchase to rewarding your customers with a special incentive, automation helps you streamline your communications with customers so you have more time to focus on creating content and increasing return on investment (ROI). Plus, you can design, send, and track order notifications to update customers on purchases they have made.
7. Measure, Test and Improve
The marketing analytics data collected in your email marketing tool will help you refine your marketing strategy going forward.
Opens and Clicks
For example, 'opens and clicks' being the most obvious statistic for measuring email campaign engagement, as it indicates how well your content resonates with your audience. Please note that changes with Apple IOS14 has impacted email open rates and not something we go into in this blog.
The email campaigns you send can help you direct more traffic to your website. Some email marketing tools provide good website tracking analytics, and you can see what your customers are looking at and which email campaign their visit was triggered by.
Testing Email Campaigns
The obvious thing to check before you send a campaign are for typos, grammar mistakes, formatting issues, bad / wrong hyperlinks. Other things to consider is how will the email display on various email systems and devices. e.g. How will it render on a desktop PC for a user using Outlook, MS 365, Gmail or on a smartphone or tablet device. Some email marketing tools are better than others for evaluating how your email campaign will look on various user email platforms and devices - tools such as Litmus.
You also may want to bring in to play other marketing techniques such as A/B testing and test alternative subject lines or other elements of your email campaign and then allow the system to auto pick the best combination and send this to your target audience.
Improving your Email Marketing Results
There is no quick fix to making improvements and the devil is always in the detail. It's vital to evaluate your email campaigns individually and collectively, assess which parts of your strategy is working or not, evaluate your data for more insight and opportunities for improvement and adhere to email marketing etiquette and best practices. Hopefully our 7 tips above have helped a little!
There’s a difference between sending emails to your customers and creating a strategic email marketing plan. Having an email marketing strategy in place allows you to set goals, measure successes, and grow your business over time.
Think about this for a moment would you have a keen DIYer rewire your home! Probably not a great strategy. Email Marketing is no different, an Email marketing DIYer will only damange your business and email reputation, so please seek professional advice if in any doubt as it will pay off in your business results.
Curious about benefits, features and pricing of tools to help with your Email Marketing?
Autus provide Revenue Growth Platforms, Marketing & Sales Automation and Digital Marketing services to help sales and marketing personnel and teams build efficient and effective sales and marketing best practices and automate their marketing and sales processes by leveraging personalised content, various digital marketing tactics, segmentation and behaviour of their prospects and customers. Find out more here.
Autus provide a done for you social media management service for clients that don't have the time or know-how. Find out more here.
Our founder, Tom Berry, also provides selective fractional CMO services and is a member of some client boards.
Let's keep in touch!
If our team at Autus can help advise further, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our founder, Tom Berry.
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