Is your subscription list shrinking? Does your click-through rate leave your marketing manager shaking their head? Email marketing is a vital tool for digital marketers, but only when done effectively. Find out how to improve your email strategy in our expert guide.
How to send emails your customers will want to open
Email marketing is an exact art, when done well it can provide valuable leads and create new business, but when done poorly it can damage your reputation. As recipients are legally entitled to an obvious mechanism for opting-out or unsubscribing, your approach to email marketing should be carefully tailored to your audience and far more than just creating a monthly newsletter bulletin. Sending automated, spammy emails, on a daily or weekly basis won’t work in the long term.
Why you should email less
As a smart content marketer, you should know that your email list is one of your most important business assets. Sending an undesirable email to your subscribers can result in mailing list fatigue and higher unsubscribes, as audiences become increasingly spam-savvy. How do you avoid this? Email less. Think quarterly, rather than monthly. Have a clear sense of purpose to every bulk email you send and ask yourself if you received this email out of the blue, would you really want to read it?
The vast majority of emailing that we do in business is person-to-person, in short form, and attachment-heavy. Most employees don’t embed images in emails and keep the content of the message focused on a single issue. So if these are the de rigueur approaches to email, why is it that so many companies resort to bulk html mailouts, with imagery. Most email marketing looks more like a web page than a single marketing message.
How to make your emails valuable, clickable and useful
One of the most effective changes you can make to your email marketing strategy is to segment your email list according to demographics, buying habits and interests. This enables you to send more targeted campaigns. Your subscribers might be interested in events, news or offers, but usually, won’t want all three. A simple division is to decide who you want to send emails to based on their previous history or preferences.
Another great segmentation tip is to look at past open rates and click throughs. If a user hasn’t opened an email from you in the past year, then they are unlikely to suddenly change that habit if you bombard them with new emails, whereas a subscriber who consistently opens your emails and completes an action, such as clicking on a link, is a prime target for more regular engagement.
Benchmarking and evaluating your email marketing database should be treated as an important part of your campaign and your mailing lists need to be nurtured and cherished, not used and abused.
2. Single purpose
Having a catchy subject line can make an email compelling and increase the chances of it being read, yet many marketers struggle with devising clever or eye-catching titles. This can often be unnecessary – your subject line should be like an introductory title, explaining the upcoming content clearly and simple. Audiences value relevance and honesty. Don’t try too hard, just focus your email around a single concept and the rest will come easily enough.
3. Less page design, more friendly chat.
Your email needs to look like an email. Start thinking about your tone of voice, clear subject lines and shorter, punchier structure. Keep corporate branding to a minimum, and don’t swamp your audience with unnecessary images or attachments they are unlikely to open. Your email is a communication between your company, and interested parties. So approach it with care, and keep the tone friendly, informative and relevant. Most of us are put off by overly curated email content and prefer a form of communication that tries less hard to sell.
4. Fewer stock images
You should consider text-only emails for a number of reasons. Many spam filters might exclude imagery, or users may choose not to open large emails, which means that the simpler the content of the email, the more engagement you are likely to receive. If you chose images, keep them relevant and personalised to your company. Stock images or overly corporate styles are less compelling to your subscribers.
5. Genuine company news
Just as we advise using fewer stock pictures, sharing genuine updates or company successes with your mailing list is more valuable than a generic approach. Don’t feel compelled to email without a reason, just as you wouldn’t email someone in your everyday life without a motivation, the same is true in email marketing. Having something interesting to share with your subscribers makes your email more valuable, and less likely to register as ‘spam.’
6. Special offers, sign-ups and calls-to-action
Having said all of the above, it is, of course, important to note that some of your email marketing content will have to be commercially driven. Your readers will not resent you for asking them for something at the end of your campaign, as long as this is tied in with the content, and appears genuine. If you want to make an offer available, do so quickly and clearly. Personalising a call-to-action in email blasts will resonate well as will clearly defined CTA’s, which can actually improve your click-through rate too.
So what will your next step be? Updating your email marketing is a worthwhile long-term process, so don’t be afraid to make some small incremental changes to begin with.