Erm…If you need me I’ll be hiding under the mound of emails that have crept unimpeded, and, may I say, uninvited, into my inbox these past two weeks. I’ve done the unthinkable and let my inbox ‘new messages’ creep up to triple digits; terrified of the barrage of back and forth, CCs and ‘your urgent attention required’, when in fact in the case of the latter, it simply isn’t.
Of the 300-odd emails I receive daily, I admit several are newsletters I have signed up for willingly to help me keep in touch with what’s happening in the travel or marketing industries. A little less welcome than those, however, as I battle off the relentless email deluge, are those rather insistent promotional newsletters from companies I’ve never heard of, for information I never signed up to receive.
Yes, like many others, I’ve become quite territorial about my long-suffering inbox.
Without going into the why you should never send unsolicited promotional emails, I will admit that even those emails I readily signed up for often get deleted without ever being read as I attempt, rather unsuccessfully, to keep on top of a bulging inbox that constantly threatens to hijack my day.
So, if you’re just going to delete an email you’ve actually taken the time to sign-up for, why bother sending emails out at all? Well, believe it or not, email marketing still works. And it actually works a lot better than other forms of marketing.
According to a McKinsey study, email is 40 times more powerful at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. What’s more, email has gone mobile and now, more than ever, consumers are accessing their email on their mobile device, many of these several times daily.
Here are some sound tips to make your email marketing efforts more successful.
Know your customer
Yes, yet again it boils down to creating content that resonates with your customer, not necessarily what you want to push. You need to understand what problem your customer needs solved. What are they interested in? What would motivate them to buy from you? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What do you dislike or like about promotional emails you receive? What are your statistics telling you about the email content your customers are opening and clicking on?
Your email marketing is only as good as the quality of the list to which you are sending those emails. How up to date is your database? Have you segmented it into specific interests? Build your list online by including a sign-up form on your website, your blog, Facebook and other social media networks. Take an email sign-up sheet with you to shows and get names and email addresses of attendees. Don’t forget to ask them to opt in. Run a competition that requires sign-up to your newsletter. Remember, though, that quality not quantity is the way to go, so don’t chase numbers.
Not all subscribers are created equal. They may have different destinations or experiences in mind. They may have different budgets. They may even have different email consumption habits. You don’t want to send information about beach holidays to someone who has expressed interest in the bush for instance. Similarly, exclusive romantic getaways are unlikely to resonate with a budget family holiday traveller. The more aligned your content is with the preferences of that person, the more likely you are to gain their interest. Segmenting your database organises your subscribers into groups based on their preferences to ensure that you’re sending the right information to the right people.
Consistency is key. You don’t want to send a mailer out and then not send one again for months. Create a calendar of upcoming email deployments, including such information as what the email will be about, the deal you will be communicating, to whom it will be sent, and what remarketing activities can be undertaken for each.
Create a set of handy templates that you can reuse for each type of newsletter so that it’s quick and easy to edit and then send out a mailer. The mailers will then have a consistent look and feel and you’ll also avoid any last-minute rush in getting mailers designed for a campaign.
The key to email marketing is engagement. You should never think of it as purely an opportunity to push information to a customer. Rather, this is an opportunity for you to start a conversation and to do that you have to tick the following boxes:
- Have a killer subject line. They have to open your email before they can engage with you and a bad subject line will take your email straight to ‘file 13’.
- Entertaining, engaging and informative content is a non-negotiable. Catch them in the first paragraph. Make it short and sharp and, if possible, tailored to their interest. Don’t forget to use high-quality images but not too large or you’ll be sent to spam or invisible on a mobile device.
- Great design creates a great first impression. And without a great first impression your email is headed straight to ‘trash’.
- Call to action is important but don’t have more than one as this is confusing for readers.
Once you’ve got your subscriber to act, i.e. click on a link, make sure the destination you’re sending them to meets or exceeds their expectations. If you create a landing page that is irrelevant and uninteresting your email will have been a complete waste. Test everything before you press send as broken links will make your business look unprofessional and uncaring. Make sure that not only is your email visible on mobile but your landing page too.
Since so many users are accessing their emails on their mobiles, one of the key requirements for email marketing is to ensure it is responsive, i.e. it ‘responds’ to the size of whichever mobile screen you are viewing that email or landing page on.
Experiment… Send your emails out at different times of the day, in different formats, with different subject lines (without spamming) to see what resonates with your customers. You need to be sending out emails regularly enough so that they don’t forget you, but not so frequently that they want to press the delete button as soon as they see you arrive. Split testing your campaign is also a good idea and that involves comparing two or more versions of your email subject line/message content/call to action and other variables to see which gets the best response from your subscribers.