The lost art of email marketing
As inboxes continue to become more and more saturated with ‘junk’ (perceived and actual) the value of email marketing campaigns can potentially be lost, and some businesses have abandoned the notion of email newsletters, e-shots and e-updates to concentrate on social channels instead.
Although I would never discourage businesses from investing time in social media, but to expect social channels to replace email marketing is a mistake – they fulfil very different purposes and should be approached as such.
Email marketing can still add a lot of value to your marketing, it just takes a bit more foresight and strategy to make sure that the medium works as well as it can. So what do you need to consider when deciding on your email marketing strategy? Here’s a brief summary. It may not be exhaustive but the points are all worth considering.
1. Have a strategy for success
As with any marketing activity, you can’t just send something out and wait. Whether you plan to send a single email to ten people or a series of 100 emails to a million people, you need a plan for producing effective content, the ability to confidently measure success (or the lack thereof), and the correct tools to achieve both.
You need to paint a picture of success, then work backwards to set tangible goals for achieving this success – just like with social media. And to do that you need access to statistics from your campaigns – how many people opened them, shared them with their networks, clicked on a link, unsubscribed, marked them as spam etc. The more relevant information you have the better your campaigns will become.
2. Engaging design
I’m not necessarily talking about image-heavy designs or ‘overly-designed’ templates. In fact, there is a lot to be said for keeping images in a supporting role when it comes to email design. Many browsers and email clients won’t display them as default, so relying on them for instant impact may mean that you will fall at the first hurdle.
More important is the structure of the email itself – the positioning and ordering of content. Let your content guide the layouts of your email templates, not the other way around. And don’t include essays in your email marketing, if you need to write more than you can fit into a brief summary article then link back to a page on your website. Not only will this make the email look cleaner and less cluttered but it gives you a better chance of converting leads and sales through your website.
3. Manage your databases
For companies that have been employing email marketing for a while growing, cleansing and segmenting databases are usually the most advanced processes they have in place. Most businesses recognise that the real value of their database is stored in the detail, but accessing that detail to segment it successfully can be a time consuming process.
However getting the right procedures in place is worth it in the long-run and will make a massive difference to the success of your campaigns. Segmenting your database to allow you to send relevant messages to the right people is a highly valuable tool, and maintaining and improving this as you go should be high on your priority list.
Recent studies have shown that effectively segmenting a database results in much higher open rates and sales leads as well as lower unsubscribe rates and a number of other positive statistics.
4. Encourage sharing
If you want your content to reach further than your current database of contacts make it easy for other people to spread it for you. It sounds simple but many businesses don’t include social sharing options or prominent ‘forward to a friend’ links within their email campaigns.
Recent studies show that although the numbers are still relatively low, more and more users are including social sharing buttons in their emails. In addition, these emails have an average click through rate 115% higher than those without. Be aware that not all campaigns will be conducive to social sharing though. Putting too many sharing options in will dilute what is essentially a call to action for the recipient.
5. Learn from your past campaigns
You have structured your content, produced it with your target audience in mind, sent the right campaigns to the right people and viewed the campaign statistics – now what….
Now you use what you have learnt to make your next campaign better, and the one after that even better…
What nature of content works for your audiences? Which designs were more successful? What times of day or week do you send to elicit more response? These factors and many more can be gleaned by analysing your campaigns then adapting them.
If you’d like to chat to us about effective email marketing for your business, email email@example.com or contact Nikos on Twitter for more information.