Why Use Email Marketing?
The interconnectivity of the web today gives us more opportunities than ever to connect with one another on a personal, professional, and global level. With so many options, why invest time and resources in a feature like email marketing that has been around since advent of the internet?
When utilised properly, email marketing can be the most effective and cost-efficient means of lead generation and customer retention available today.
In today’s mobile world, the impact of email marketing is stronger than ever. The average smartphone user may use their device to check in online upwards of 74 times a day, and recent numbers show that 81% of mobile users state that email is the most common activity that their device is used for.
Unlike other forms of advertising, email marketing provides a 1:1 relationship between the sender and the receiver. Display advertising, PPC ads, and even social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIN have their own data walls and other barriers that can serve as a wedge between yourself and your audiences. Email marketing is a channel owned entirely by the publisher, giving a much broader scope of customisation and control.
Considering this, it’s no surprise that email marketing has the potential to be an extremely effective and cost efficient means of reaching your customers. Some companies have seen a return on investment as high as $28.5 for every $1 spent on email marketing.
However, having the potential for this return does not mean this level of success is guaranteed. A properly formatted email marketing campaign that brings in the sales takes time and effort, as well as a good bit of insight in order to truly succeed. In this article, we’ll go over the content, design, and best practices to consider when approaching email marketing.
Can the Spam – Contents of an Engaging Email
It goes without saying that churning out spam email is not the way you want to go about reaching your customers. In fact, bad practices in email marketing can actively prevent you from reaching your audiences- including those who are engaged and interested (we’ll go more into this later in the article).
The best email marketing campaign is one that is all about starting a conversation with your viewers, rather than interrupting one. You want your material to be engaging, useful and empowering for your audience. This is the sort of material that will inspire opens, clickthroughs, and action.
When engaging in email marketing, having explicit permission from the receiver is a must.
Have a Strong Goal in Mind
What is the purpose of your email? This should be at the forefront of your mind when putting together your content. Are you looking to promote a sale, or welcome a first time buyer? What action are you looking to encourage with your audience? An aimless email is little better than junk in the eyes of the reader.
Each piece of content sent out should have the goal of driving one specific action, such as checking out a new offer or signing up for a rewards program. If your email is cluttered and unfocused, you’re more likely to have a customer become distracted or disengaged with your message.
Target Your Audience
It may be tempting to blast out each email to as many viewers as possible for hopes of high viewing rates, but what type of customer you are reaching out to can drastically change how they interact with your business and services. 56% of email users unsubscribe not because they are disinterested in a business, but because the information they are receiving is no longer relevant to them as a customer. A long-time customer doesn’t need to see emails promoting special offers for first-time buyers, and so on.
What age group, or gender is your email targeting? Taking the time to segment an email marketing list gives a much-appreciated personal touch in an automated world of digital marketing.
One of the best ways to get your email opened and read can be by providing useful, educational, or beneficial information. By providing useful content, your email marketing becomes a valued resource in the eyes of the receiver, rather than junk mail to be sifted through and put aside. Some examples of content that different companies use to generate leads include;
- Coupons and Discounts
- Educational infographics
- Case Studies
- and other offers
While not all of these elements may be feasible or appropriate for your email marketing campaign, it can help to construct your email marketing campaign while bearing in mind what the reader will be getting out of this content in addition to your own goals.
Anatomy of a Strong Email Marketing Piece
The structure of a solid email marketing piece will largely be influenced by its purpose. A monthly newsletter is going to have a very different structure to one designed to draw in first-time customers. However, there are some general guidelines that all email marketing can benefit from in order to increase view-ability and motivate response.
Internet goers, especially those on mobile devices want to see information displayed quickly, succinctly, and efficiently. Because of this, the most important elements of any email marketing piece can be broken down in the following order;
- The Header
- This should be a bold, stand-out element that immediately catches the readers attention and summarises the purpose of the email.
- The Content
- Smaller and lighter than the header, this section is used to expand upon any additional details. Often this will take the form of a sub-heading, or a short, well-articulated main message.
- The Call-to-Action.
- This is the button or link that you may want your reader to click on to follow through on the goal of your email. Make sure that this button is always prominently displayed, and stands out either with a bold font or bright, complimentary colour.
Many email marketers will keep this structure in mind when constructing an email marketing campaign to create a visual funnel drawing the reader’s attention down to the call-to-action at the bottom of the page. The following examples show how different layouts all use similar principles to capture attention. The headline, compared to the rest of the email stands out either through font or colour. The copy expands on the main purpose of the email, and allows the reader’s attention to be naturally drawn towards a prominently displayed button or link.
Make it Mobile
For an email marketing campaign to see a successful return, having it responsive to mobile devices is non-negotiable. The following are a few final points that will help make sure that your mobile audience is active and engaged with your email.
- Mobile screens are small. Your minimum font size should be at least 14 point.
- Test read your email without images. Some email services block these by default, and you want to make sure that your copy is legible without them. You should also be sure to provide alt. text for instances where images cannot be displayed.
- Make sure your CTA button is located above the fold and immediately visible on screen. It should also be large enough for someone to click on through a small touch screen.
Improving Deliverability – Importance of Permissions
Even the most well put-together email is worthless if your audience doesn’t get a chance to read it.Worldwide, one out of every five emails will not reach their inbox destination. These are the ones that end up in the spam or junk folder, or may be blocked entirely. If your email marketing campaign isn’t seeing the same clicks and opens as it used to, this may be due to poor practices in deliverability.
Deliverability refers to the rating system used by email provider to determine when an email gets delivered to an inbox, when it gets chucked in the spam folder, and in certain cases- may not arrive at all. The following are some of factors that email providers take into consideration when determining the status of an email, and how to make sure that your campaign passes the test.
- Spelling errors.
- As well as being a reflection of your company’s image, spam filters pick up on grammatical and spelling errors. Triple-check your copy before hitting send.
- Language and formatting specific to spam.
- AVOID ALL CAPITALS.
- and unnecessary punctuation!!!!!!
- Other generic sales terms such as “urgent” “exclusive” and “One time only” can trigger spam filters. Use this as an opportunity to generate innovative and creative text.
- Sending from a free domain email address.
- ISPs want to see that you are who you say you are. Using a free domain account such as Gmail, Yahoo or Bing to send bulk or commercial email is a sure-fire way to have them get flagged.
Finally, and most importantly;
Sending email without permission.
Nothing will tank a business’ ability to send email faster than being flagged or marked as spam by the receiver. It is vital that your email marketing list is comprised of individuals who have given clear and explicit permission for you to use their email address for the purpose of email marketing. This is not just because of the negative affect it can have on your deliverability, but also will damage your ability to build a relationship of trust with your clients.
Today’s viewers are not going to be tricked into engaging with, much less making a purchase from a strange and unrecognised company in their inbox. Practices such as purchasing, renting, or appending email lists – or even just being unclear to clients what their information will damage your ability to engage with customers. Remember, clicks and opens are not the final goal of an email marketing campaign – but connecting with the people taking these actions.
At best, these emails will stagnate ignored and unopened in a spam box. In a worst case scenario, excess reports of spam will drastically affect your ability to deliver your email marketing – even to people who enjoy them and want to receive them.
Some marketers will consider the job done after the final ‘send’ button is hit, and their campaign is off to the world.
Maintaining Your Email List
As your email marketing campaign continues, it is important to maintain a healthy and up-to-date email marketing list. This is not just for the purpose of receiving accurate metrics on your campaign, but also to assure ESPs that you are dedicated to delivery quality content. Churning out emails to invalid accounts on a regular basis will end up reflecting poorly on an account’s deliverability.
Test Your Campaign
While most in the field can generally agree on the winning combination for an email marketing campaign, the truth is that what works will be different for everyone. Your company’s industry, size, location, and conversion goals, all play a part in determining what is going to work. For this reason, it is important to keep innovating and testing designs for the best possible result.
One popular means of determining this with email marketing is through a process called A/B Testing. This is the practice of taking one design, and altering a specific element, such as the headline to see how impactful it can be when it comes to driving results. Email automation sites such as Mailchimp come equipped with features to accommodate A/B testing in a real-time environment.
The example above illustrates A/B testing for headlines. However, this process can be used to test any element of a campaign which may determine its overall success rate, such as;
- Time of day
- Call to Action
- Day of the week
- Font styles
- Image placement
- and more.
Email marketing is a powerful tool to create an impactful, direct dialogue between your business and its clients. When properly utilised, email marketing has the potential to become a valued resource for customers and leads. When misused, email marketing can have a negative impact on your brand, and drive away audiences in droves. Constant testing and research with the receiver in mind are key when taking the first steps towards email marketing success.
For another great article on converting and generating leads for your business, check out our article on Landing Pages.