6 tips for effective email marketing

Of course, you are no dummy. You're a successful business person running a thriving company and getting some impressive figures. So why aren't you making the most of your email?

Well perhaps like many of us, you have negative feelings about email marketing campaigns. Think back to when you'd open your email to find 30 offers of Viagra, myriad chances to invest in dodgy schemes, or buy fake degrees and false Rolexes. Every morning our inboxes would be full of such soulless spam. No one with any sense ever opened these emails and they certainly never read them.

But those days are gone, legislation and more effective filters ensure that we are rarely bombarded with a daily sluice of unsolicited spam. This means that as long as you aren’t heartlessly spamming your subscriber lists, email marketing can be an incredibly powerful tool for getting messages directly to your clients and prospects. Email can enhance your relationship with current and potential clients and drive your sales. This is why in 2011, US firms spent USD$1.50 billion on email marketing, a figure expected to rise to USD$2.47 billion over the next 3 years. CMO Council (Chief Marketing Officer Council) shows that of marketers around the world, 67% rated email marketing as the most effective marketing method in 2012.

If you have good content marketing and integrate your campaigns with social media, email marketing makes even more sense. You are not posting a pamphlet to sit in a dusty letter box, but sending interesting, relevant content right to someone's inbox. With one mail you've contacted their home computer, their laptop and even their ever-present smartphone and not one tree has been felled. Email marketing is green and economic, boasting a return on your investment of 4,000% (Direct Marketing Association). You also get the chance to gauge customer response instantly so you can fine-tune and adjust your campaign in real time.

And unlike the old system of direct mail, in email marketing, if you've got the right content, you are starting to actually engage in a conversation with clients, not simply throwing information at them. This conversation starts with three basic steps:

  1. Great subject writing - To ensure that people open your email, which they need to do before they can engage with your company. A dull subject encourages people to just hit delete.
  2. An entertaining and distinctive voice - To make sure that once the email has been opened, it's actually read and also engages the reader's interest.
  3. Tailored content - Which is customized based on the subscriber’s demographic or previously collected data, and encourages them to take up an offer, engage with you or even to pass it onto other prospective clients.

By tagging your emails with custom campaign tracking, you can see how they are driving traffic to your landing pages, rather than counting aggregate visits to your site. You can also see what links are clicked on and whether people are forwarding emails. Equipped with this powerful information you can now really tailor your marketing message to people who will make use of it.

6 tips for getting started

At its most basic, email marketing means sending a message via email, whether this is an ad to make sales, advertise a product/service, confirm a purchase or to solicit new business. There are two main types of email:

  • Marketing emails - These might be informational or promotional messages sent to your permission-based lists of prospects, clients, reporters, vendors, affiliates, etc. They might have a variety of content but most commonly are used to send newsletters, sales promotions, announcements, press releases, follow-ups and surveys.
  • Transactional emails - This type of email is usually automated and triggered by your customer's activity. Examples of a transactional email might be welcome messages, order tracking, payment received and registration confirmation etc. Such emails tend to have higher open rates and offer the chance to greater engagement and cross-sell opportunities.

Whichever type of email marketing you use. Here are six tips to help you to succeed:

1. Make your email interesting from the minute it lands in the recipient's inbox
Think of it like a newspaper - it's the headline that grabs your attention and in an email this is your subject heading. April Newsletter Is Here! isn't going to generate any clicks. But if you are teasing the reader, arousing their curiosity or asking a question, (e.g., Have You Been Secretly Penalized by Google?) you are more likely to sustain people's interest.

2. Ensure that your emails are not sent to spam
If your carefully constructed emails are sent directly to spam, they'll never see the light of day, and certainly generate no results. You really want your recipients to opt-in and give permission for you to email them. Clients might do this by signing up for email lists, requesting further details or asking to be kept up to date. If subscribers have the chance to opt-in, you are avoiding the spam box. This is an important process, as if your emails are flagged for spam you may be banned from certain email networks for violation of services.

So keep your email list clean, monitor any spam complaints, adhere to all the laws and regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act and make sure that people are not opening your emails simply to unsubscribe.

3. Make sure your copy looks clean and crisp
This sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how many people send out emails that look like amateur websites from the 90s. If someone has opened your mail because of an engaging heading, you want to keep their interest. This means:

  • Using short paragraphs and ensuring that keywords and phrases relevant to your readers stand out.
  • Making use of bullet points to let people quickly browse the content and take in the vital points.
  • Using pictures properly. Any images should be there merely to illustrate your message and not to replace content. This is important to remember as many email service providers block images in their default settings. Large images also make your email more likely to be sent to spam or make them impossible to view on mobile devices, where, according to research from emarketer.com, some 40% of people now check their email.

4. Make the links obvious
The aim of your email marketing campaign is to increase traffic to your landing page and website. No clicks means no customers, it really is that simple. So make your links obvious and give readers more than one opportunity to interact. This is helped with strong "calls to action" that speak to emotions and feelings. A simple “click here” just won't cut it these days.

5. Don't make it impossible to unsubscribe
Your email marketing campaign needs to be friendly. After all, no one wants to buy anything off an aggressive salesman, at least not willingly. It may seem you are cutting off the 'conversation' by giving clients the chance to opt-out but if a user wants to remove their name from your lists and can't do so easily, they'll flag emails as spam which will cause you problems in the future.

6. Test, test, test
Don't send anything without making sure it's working. Test internally, at the very least engaging all the major providers: Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo. If you can, test on mobile devices as well. Ensure that emails are not falling apart, all your links work, and any personalization is not failing. Sending email marketing without testing it first would be like turning up to a business meeting having chosen your outfit in the dark. If it goes wrong, you'll look foolish and unprofessional.

Of course, there are many more tips to a successful email marketing campaign, but these should be enough to get you started. We will be looking at other ways you can adapt the way you interact with your subscribers in future articles, so keep reading, and happy emailing.

Pronto Marketing

Pronto Marketing

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