4 Tips to Help Improve your Email Marketing
Did you know that today is International Thank a Mailman Day — an interesting worldwide observance given how the use of traditional postal services continues to plummet, and costs soar accordingly.
These days when we think of mail, it is more often email that first comes to mind. So on this very special day, what better opportunity to delve into the wonderful world of eNewsletters.
What, Why, How
When it comes to building digital marketing plans, eNewsletters are almost always included in the marketing mix. In fact 83% of B2B marketers regularly use eNewsletters to communicate with prospects and customers, making them 2nd only to social media among most popular tactics.
Effectiveness, however, is a whole other story. The average eNewsletter is only 58% effective, ranking significantly lower among communication platforms
That doesn’t mean that eNewsletters should face the same extinction as their physical counterparts, but rather that marketers need to learn and follow best practices in developing, executing, monitoring and continually improving their campaigns.
So, are you ready to rock your email marketing? Then check out these 4 tips…
#1: Develop your Database
The first step towards delivering quality eNewsletters that boost your business, is developing a targeted database. With the relatively new CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) regulations strictly monitoring the way businesses reach out to their email audience, it’s absolutely crucial you invest time into building a legal list of contacts.
You might think that buying a list is the fastest way to prospect profitability, but it’s the exact opposite. Even if the contacts in the database meet your target audience profile and could really use what you offer, people hate getting emails from companies they don’t know. Sure they may have opted-in to emails from some other company, but not yours. And by the time you’ve emailed them, they’ve probably been spammed to death by other list buyers.
So don’t spark the spam police and alienate prospects with quick and dirty email tactics. Engage customers and prospects through their favorite channels and social media networks with content that educates, engages and entertains. Wrap that up with contests, offers and giveaways (that require them to provide contact information to participate), and you’ll have a high-value email database that will help fill your sales funnel.
#2: Do the Prep Work
Like any content marketing program, planning and preparation are paramount to success. Setting up an effective content and eNewsletter delivery calendar can take some time, but without one, your eMarketing efforts will not have the impact or results you desire.
Ask yourself these questions and do the research to find out the answers if you don’t already know…
- What is your goal for your eNewsletter? This should drive your “Call To Action” (CTA) in communications with your audience.
- What topics are more likely to attract your audience and keep them clicking on your emails in their inbox?
- What’s your competition doing well? Benchmark leaders and influencers in your industry by subscribing to their eNewsletters. Learn and “borrow” their best practices.
Keep in mind that every reader likes to feel as though your content was created just for them. The number two reason readers unsubscribe from eNewsletters is that they no longer find the content relevant to them.
So don’t send the same generalized content to your database over and over. Be creative, consistent and compelling in every communication to keep your audience coming back for more.
#3: Format for Phones
Did you know that more email is read today on a mobile device than on a computer? (Source: EmailMonday) So make sure you pick an email template that is responsive (mobile-friendly) because if your eNewsletters aren’t “made for mobile” they won’t be friendly to your audience or your business.
We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words which is why great eNewsletters have captivating images in them. But be aware that most people don’t enable images on their phones. So make sure your images’ key messages (especially images that include a Call to Action) reach readers, include alt text with each one.
Alternate text is what is displayed when an image can’t be loaded in an email. So if you can’t paint a thousand words for your readers, make sure you cleverly craft a message that won’t be missed in their mobile messages.
#4: Measure, Analyze, Improve, Repeat
I’ve said this many times, but it’s worth repeating. There’s no point in launching a marketing campaign if you’re not going to measure the results. Because…say it with me…”You can’t improve what you don’t measure!”
eNewsletters are no different. Luckily all the good email marketing systems (e.g. MailChimp, Constant Contact) have built-in analytics to help you, including:
- Open rate: Many also show you how you compare to the industry average which is a nice benchmark. But don’t get complacent if you’re higher than they are; continue to try and improve this metric.
- Click-through rate: Review this for each of your internal links (including social sharing links/icons) to see which ones are most effective (Pay attention to their location and CTA messaging; either one or both could be the reason for the rate),
- Conversions: Integrate Google Analytics into your email marketing system to track readers right through to your website and conversion funnel.
- Bounce Rate: Emails that couldn’t be delivered should be reviewed to see if there was a one-time system problem with them (soft bounce) or if the email was never going to work because it had an invalid address (hard bounce). Review all hard bounced emails and see if there is a typo or some other fixable issue you can correct. If not, then delete them to avoid future hard bounces.
Once you have the data from your campaigns, use it to continually improve. This is where A/B testing comes in.
A/B testing (AKA split testing) is a simple way to test two versions of an email campaign (or website) to see which one performs better. If your open rate is down, it might be related to the time the newsletter arrived in your audiences’ inbox or it might be that the subject line wasn’t enticing enough.
If you think it might be a subject line issue, use your next campaign to see if this is the case by splitting your audience into two groups. Send the same newsletter to both groups at the same time, but use two different subject lines to see which one gets more opens. Over time you’ll learn what words work and what are a waste of bits and bytes.
If you want to learn more about A/B testing, check out this beginner’s guide.
As always, the initial jump into a new form of online marketing can seem daunting. If these tips provide guidance, but don’t inspire confidence, then feel free ask me for help.
And in the meantime, don’t forget to thank a mailman.