Some say email marketing is dead, while others maintain it is alive and well. I’m in the alive and well camp, because data shows email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, giving it an astonishing 3800% ROI, which means it remains one of the most effective marketing methods available. After all, active email accounts were expected to hit 5.6 billion by 2019.
Understand the 3 Types of Messages You’ll Send
There are three types of messages you’ll send to your list over the course of their time as a subscriber. Understanding which ones to use and when will help you develop a better strategy.
These emails are promotional or informational messages you send to people who’ve asked you to keep them updated. These are often prospects, clients, affiliates, vendors, or reporters. Marketing emails may include a variety of content, but are generally used to send sales promotions, newsletters, press releases, announcements, surveys, and follow-ups.
These emails are automated and triggered by customer activity. These include welcome messages, order received/tracking, received payments, registration confirmation, etc.
These messages have great potential because if a customer gets one, that means they’ve done at least one action on your website, and are likely to engage with you again. These are trusted emails meaning they generally have higher open rates. As such, there are plenty of opportunities for cross-selling and engagement.
These emails contain important information about your business, such as maintenance plans, holiday hours/closures, or changes to your service availability. You may be tempted to skip sending an operational email if you think it won’t have an impact on your sales, but for the sake of trust and engagement, it’s important to be consistent.
Though these messages may come across as strictly informative, they can be created in a way that improves your sales and image. For instance, if your service will be down for maintenance, taking the time to describe the updates you’ll be doing is a wonderful way to remind your clients of the value you provide.
Make Messages Personal
Write each message as if you were talking to one person only in your email. This strengthens the emotional connection between you and your list members. The majority of email marketing tools allow you to use shortcodes to indicate where you want to refer to the subscriber by name, which can help.
It also helps to segment your list so you can send more personalized messages to each part of your audience. For instance, you’ll want to send different messages to current clients than you would be sending to prospects, and you’ll send yet another message to people who have recently left your company, or abandoned their shopping cart. Segmentation ensures everyone gets the appropriate message for their place in the sales funnel.
In working to create a personalized email experience, it’s important to also consider your audience demographics. Promotional emails were the most effective method in influencing millennial purchase decisions – with 68% saying promotional emails impacted their purchase decisions on at least a few occasions.
Encourage Readers to Respond
In each email message you send to your list, encourage the readers to reply to respond to the email. They can use the reply to give you feedback about your products or services, express concerns, ask questions, etc. The key is to make sure people know you’re using email as the two-way communication channel it is intended to be.
Whether you personally reply or not is not the issue – just make sure someone in your company takes the time to craft a personal response to each message. Ideally, your customers will be thrilled if the response comes directly from you, so make sure you are ready to reply to the messages if you ask people to engage. If people take the time to reply to the message only to have it ignored, you can bet they won’t continue to engage with your emails.
Focus Efforts on the Subject Line
The subject line is what is going to capture your reader’s attention and entice them to click the message to open it. And while you want a good open rate, it’s important to remember that a good open rate won’t necessarily mean a good conversion rate. People will open your email and read it, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take the time to buy whatever it is you’re trying to sell them, or go on to your website to learn more.
Your email subject line should use power words and pique curiosity. There’s no need to follow meaningless stats about the optimal length of a subject line. Everyone’s audience is different, so what works for you may not work for someone else. Don’t be afraid to experiment to learn about your audience response.
Keep Things Mobile-Friendly
One of the keys to keeping your email list actively involved in your messaging is to ensure it’s designed to be mobile-friendly. Mobile opens accounted for nearly half of all email opens, and 35% of business professionals check email on a mobile device.
Make it Easy to Unsubscribe
It may feel like cutting off conversation by giving your readers the chance to opt out, but if a user wants to remove themselves from your list, and cannot do so easily, they’ll simply flag your email as spam. This will cause problems for you in the future because your messages could skip people’s inbox and end up in spam, even if they have subscribed to your list. Plus, this is an FTC requirement for compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which outlines regulations for email marketing.
Test, Test, Test
Test various elements of your email marketing campaign with split-tests. You can test elements such as subject line, send time, copy, placement of images, and more. The more testing you do, the more you learn about your audience and how to elicit the response you want.
Most importantly, whatever you’re sending your list must provide value. If you’re not providing value to your subscribers, there’s no reason for them to stick around. You must provide information that sticks with them to keep your business in their mind, whether it’s educational, marketing messages about the products you offer, or operational messages about your service.
The money is in your list. Plan your content in advance, and continue efforts to grow the list no matter what else you have going on. Your email marketing strategy should fit right into the rest of your digital marketing alongside social media, SEO, paid advertising, and more.