Email marketing is used regularly by many businesses of various sizes to reach out to prospects and customers. This method of digital marketing has gained so much popularity because it has consistently been a high performing direct marketing tool. Email marketing provides a unique opportunity to convert prospects to customers at a far lower cost than other methods of advertising like TV, magazines and billboards. It is about the only marketing channel that allows you to advertise to people who actually gave you the permission to do so.
In view of the critical role that email marketing will continue to play in most businesses in 2015 and beyond, we have put together this short guide on the best practices and trends to watch out for this year. The following topics will be covered in this guide:
- Set Definite Goals for Your Email Marketing
- Adopt New List Building Trends
- Make Your Mobile Readers a Priority
- Use a Responsive Design that Shows Well on All Devices
- Increase Email Automation and Drip Marketing
- Blend Content Marketing with Strong Lead Generation
- Personalize and Customize Your Emails
- Use Analytics and Testing for Email Optimization
Set Definite Goals for Your Email Marketing
To achieve a higher return on your email marketing investment in 2015, you need to set smart goals for your email efforts. This will make it easier to monitor and measure the impact of various marketing activities. It will also help you to stay focused and be adequately motivated to achieve them. To start with, you should evaluate the performance of your email campaign in the previous year and set goals in the following areas:
- To increase the number of email subscribers – Your email list is one of your greatest assets and you should do all you can to make it grow. If you want to do this, you need to make it easier for people to subscribe. In every place where they are interacting with you and your business, let signing up be quick and easy. This should include your website, Facebook Page, and all your interactions offline. You may even use your mobile device to collect email addresses manually. In addition, you should give people an irresistible offer that will make them decide to sign up for emails. For instance, you should let your target audience know the value they will get in terms of top quality content, special offers, discounts, etc. So instead of just asking them to subscribe, add a specific benefit to market the signing up process.
- To boost email open rates – This is one the most important metrics for monitoring the success of your email campaigns. It will let you know the number of subscribers who are responding to your emails and how well you are doing in comparison to other businesses in your field. To increase your open rates, make your audience look forward to receiving emails from you. In other words, after your audience has read your emails, they must feel grateful for what you have sent. Also, your emails should stand out in your readers’ inbox. You can achieve this with a consistent name and email address and using properly oriented subject lines. For instance, in the health and fitness niche, you can use a subject line like: “The Easiest 5 minute workouts that help you burn fat all day”. This subject line can be used for an audience that like to do regular exercises but always find it rather difficult because of a tight work schedule. The subject line will catch their attention and give them a reason to click and read your email.
- To maximize reader engagement – After your readers open your email, they need to take action and click on your call to action links or buttons. One of the best ways to know what they are doing is to monitor the click-through rates of your emails. The design of your email will determine how well users can interact with your emails. For instance, mobile users need to be able to interact easily with your links while reading on a small screen. Another factor to consider is the type of offer you are presenting to them. Is it compelling and attractive enough to get them to click through? Your click reports will let you know which links are performing well. In 2015, bolder, bigger graphical links will attract more clicks since they are easier to interact with on mobile devices.
- To obtain better business results – The ultimate goal of your email marketing should be to get new leads and customers, drive sales, and increase profit. So you should set definite goals that bring results beyond opening and clicking on your links. You should find more ways to get readers to go directly to your checkout page and pay for a product or a service. This goal is the most important one and you should strive to make all your marketing efforts have more direct influence on your bottom line.
Adopt New List Building Trends
Statistics revealed the effectiveness of various opt-in methods which you can use to increase your subscribers as follows:
- Online competitions: 23%
- Partnerships: 28%
- Social sign up: 14%
- Website (with incentive): 13%
- From online service: 10%
- Facebook voting app: 5%
- Facebook welcome: 2%
- Events: 3%
- Friend invites a friend: 2%
This shows that you can get more people to opt-in to your mailing list in 2015 by increasing your opt-in methods and focusing more on those that bring in more people such as competitions, partnerships, website sign up and social sign up.
A popular trend in 2015 that will also continue this year is the use of pop-ups. On many websites today, you will be greeted by a floating pop-up window shortly after you arrive at the site or after you start scrolling down. Although this could be a nuisance on some occasions, it is still helping marketers to grow their lists. One of the best ways to use it is to provide a mouth-watering offer as an incentive for signing up rather than simply asking for the email address of someone who has not even read one line of the content on your website. You may also want to consider signing up with our friends over at JustUno.
Use all possible media channels to grow your list. This includes Facebook, Twitter, and video sharing sites. For example, Tetley Tea promoted a special discounted offer through video on demand, email, Twitter and Facebook. The entire promotion recorded a 20% redemption rate across all channels. This is a unique feat when compared to the industry average of about 3%.
Make Your Mobile Readers a Priority
In 2015, you must focus more on mobile users. From simple observation of the habits of adults around you and information from tools like Google Analytics, you will discover that close to 70% of your target audience now prefer to read their emails on their mobile devices. Push technology and a myriad of mobile apps make it easy for users to receive instant notification when a new email enters their inbox. So if your emails are not mobile-friendly, you are at risk of losing many of your customers.
Use a Responsive Design that Shows Well on All Devices
An email marketing forecast made by Forrester Research, for 2012 to 2017 in US, predicts that by 2017, 178 million active email users in the U.S. will access emails from mobile email clients. This is one reason why your emails need to be responsive and compatible across all devices. Whether your readers are using laptops, desktops, tablets or smartphones, they should have a pleasant experience. A responsive design is a modern display technology in the web browser or email client that automatically modifies the content layout and sizes of images to suit the user’s screen size. Here are some tips to improve mobile-friendliness:
- Ensure that your subject lines, pre-headers and sub headings are short, crisp, and enticing. Since most mobile readers receive scores of emails daily, they usually skim through their incoming emails to see the one that is worth opening. So when you really need to get your users to take action, you should include a call to action or a promotional code in the pre-header. Then the reader will be enticed to open your email and read it. Also, make it easy to scan through the content. Use several subheadings, bullets and bold typefaces to help your readers absorb your message faster.
- Carefully optimize the elements of your email. Use images that are large enough to attract attention but with just enough bytes to look good and load quickly. Mobile email users have limited time to wait for large images to load. You should also use a font size that is easy to read, twelve pixels or larger should be appropriate. Your call to action buttons should be at least 44 by 44 pixels for easy clicking. Also, make sure your landing pages are mobile friendly so that after your mobile users touch the call to action button, they can easily make a purchase. After optimizing your design, try and test it across several browsers and devices to ensure that it renders properly on most mobile platforms. A tool like litmus.com can be of great help in this regard.
Increase Email Automation and Drip Marketing
Drip marketing enables you to automate the nurturing of leads and customers by sending out timely and relevant messages. These messages help you to fill in gaps in your company’s sales funnel and make better use of available time and resources. You can apply the principle of drip marketing in various ways. For instance, if your emails have primarily focused on selling, you can use automated drip marketing to build up more trust and credibility. Thus, you will be able to get a better engagement from your readers and increase your sales.
Blend Content Marketing with Strong Lead Generation
Develop email marketing content that is relevant, valuable and engaging. As you send out bite-sized information that can easily be digested by your subscribers, you should also consider where your readers are located in the buying cycle. To create an effective content marketing strategy for your email campaigns, you should define groups of customers at different phases of the buying cycle. Then determine what each group of customers will need to be convinced to convert. You should then deliver the appropriate information to them at the right time to get the best results. For example, a wedding service can use content marketing to help brides-to-be by providing vital information on how to plan and prepare for their wedding day several weeks in advance. Then gradually, the brides will be given an incentive (discount, special limited offer, or bonus) to get them to use the wedding service.
Personalize and Customize Your Emails
Personalized email messages are more likely to convert than general messages sent like a mass email message. So you should identify various groups and segments in your subscriber list and then apply personalization tactics to deliver relevant marketing messages to each segment. According to a study conducted in 2013 by Experian Marketing Services, personalized emails produced 6 times more revenue than emails that lacked personalization. Emails designed with personalized subject lines also had 37% higher open rates than emails without them. 82% of the survey respondents said that they will be willing to receive more promotional emails from retailers if the emails took into account some of their past shopping habits.
Your emails should therefore focus on the recipient’s needs and interests. Most email service providers, such as MailChimp, have several tools for personalizing emails, so you can create, send and test the effect of personalized mails. Here are some valuable ideas for doing this:
- Use the reader’s name in the subject line. This will make your email stand out among so many in the inbox and increase your open rates.
- Use the recipient’s name in the message. Instead of Esteemed Customer, you should customize the email with the reader’s first name.
- Add a sender’s name where possible. Use a person’s name (either yours or another colleague) in your from line and in the signature of the message.
- Talk about the personal attributes of the recipient. After doing your market segmentation, you should know what is important to the person you are sending a message to. Talk more about these things than about your products.
- Send different messages to different list segments. Use purchase history, demographics and the content that your customer has viewed on your website to determine what to include in the email.
- Include links to targeted sections of your website. Try to avoid sending all customers to the general home page or a page with a long list of products. Instead, provide a link to a page containing products or offers that will catch your reader’s attention.
Below are some examples of great emails, you see more here: reallygoodemails.com.
Use Analytics and Testing for Email Optimization
To improve the results from your email campaigns, you should constantly examine and tweak various elements. These include design, layout, content, headlines, subject lines, landing pages, frequency of mailing, and the time each email is sent. Set up email optimization tests and analyze them for every campaign to determine what works well for your audience. After you get the results of your test, you should implement necessary changes to increase the performance of subsequent email campaigns.
We believe that if you implement the email marketing guidelines and ideas given above, you will experience an improvement in the performance of your email marketing campaign in 2015 and beyond. However, email marketing goes beyond making a quick sale with a special offer. It involves building a consistent, relevant and value adding conversation with your audience. You should create email content that your target audience will read regardless of where they are in the buying cycle.