How to Get the Most out of Email Marketing
November 3, 2014
With the increase of social media marketing, many companies have sent their email newsletter out to sea. But people are still emailing every day, and email newsletters are a great way to reach out directly to your customers. Especially with social media saturation and Facebook’s “boosted post” policies, email newsletters and promotions can make it more likely that your subscribers will see your message.
Why you should have an email newsletter
- Another avenue for promoting sales, new projects, new portfolio pieces, etc.
- Keep your brand coming into the mind (and inbox) of your customers
- Your prospects may not need your products or services at the moment, but seeing your name every so often will keep it fresh in their minds when a need does come along
- Build brand loyalty
- Demonstrate expertise. Focus your content on original writing that tells customers that you know your stuff, and that you care about the same things they care about
- Increase engagement
- Including social sharing buttons encourages customers to share your expertise, which is an easy way to boost followers and subscribers
Important things to keep in mind (Content)
- Use a campaign-launching service such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor; we use MailChimp in most circumstances. These are hosted services that manage the “behind the scenes” work of maintaining an e-mail newsletter, including your subscriber list, spam filters and so on. These services will also provide reports that show who opens your messages, and what links they click on
- Focus: have a single goal per message
- You can focus on sales, website visits, event attendance, new employees or so on
You don’t need to have the same goal every time. One message can promote a sale you’re having on a product. The next can be promoting an open house at your store. The first link in the message (not counting social share buttons, contact buttons etc. if those are at the top) should be related to your goal — 90% of the time, the first link will get the most clicks.
Keep the message in the same tone as your other promotion/collateral/etc. For example, if you’re a upbeat company marketing accessories to young women, keep that tone in your email writing. If you’re a law firm specializing in corporate law, keep the same professional tone that you would in talking with clients, writing commercial scripts, etc. Consistency is important.
- Keep in mind the difference between a casual personal email and an email newsletter.
- It’s fine to write with a personal tone (writing as a person and not as a business) – in fact, that may be helpful — but the language and punctuation should be kept professional.
- For example, do not use excessive capital letters or exclamation points. Likewise, if every sentence in your message ends in an exclamation point, it just appears as though your entire message is being shouted.
- Proper spelling, grammar, and sentence structure matter, too.
- Keep the look of your template up-to-date and consistent with your brand identity.
- Use your logo, brand colors, fonts, etc.
- Use similarly styled templates for each mailing to build brand recognition and trust.
- Give your subscribers the content they’re looking for. For example, if you’re an alarm/surveillance company and you use your newsletter to send out a security tip of the month, if you suddenly change focus and instead just send out a coupon every week and no security tips, you will likely lose subscribers.
Content that your subscribers want and need
Email newsletters can certainly be used to promote sales, new products, etc. But including original content can be helpful as well. Articles that inform your client base of news in the industry, how you’re using the latest technology in your work, how your customers can benefit from your products, and so on also help boost their confidence in your company. If you have a blog on your website, original articles can also be posted there.
Avoiding SPAM filters
The issue of spam, or unwanted commercial email, is becoming increasingly important. Other countries already have far stricter laws against spammers, but the US laws will be coming. You can typically add people with whom you have a business relationship (people who have worked with your company or purchased from your company within the past year or so) to your list. Everyone else must opt-in to receive your e-newsletter. Never buy lists of email addresses.
There are many ways to get people to opt-in:
- Sign-up form on your website
- Include a box for “sign me up for your newsletter” on contact and purchase forms on your website
- Sign-up form at trade shows
- Ask potential leads, acquaintances if you have their permission to sign them up. Note that someone giving you their email address or business card is not the same thing as opting in unless you specifically ask them
- Sign-up form at cash register, potentially with some kind of giveaway — “sign up for our e-newsletter and get a chance to win”
Notes about what should be included in your e-newsletter to avoid spam filters:
- Include your street address (most e-newsletter providers will require this)
- Provide a one-click unsubscribe link (most providers will require this as well)
- Use accurate names in the “From” and “Reply to” fields
- Avoid certain phrases in your subject line, such as “free” — MailChimp has a tool to check this
- Subject line can really affect open rate
- Present a clear call-to-action
- Ideally a highly visible link associated with the message’s goal
Important things to keep in mind (Design)
As mentioned with consistency, it’s important that your e-mail newsletters are consistent in look with your other marketing material. Use the same colors, logo, image styles, etc. to stay on-brand.
- Custom template: While most campaign-launching services have some professional-looking templates that you can use for free, they still result in users getting dozens of emails that look the same and all kind of blend together. It’s best to have a designer create and code a custom template that promotes your brand and stands out in your subscribers’ in-boxes.
- Responsive template: Just as there has been a recent necessity to make your website look just as slick on a smartphone as on a desktop computer screen, there is also a need for your e-mails to look good on screens of all sizes. A professionally-made, custom template will be created with adaptable responsive code that will allow your subscribers to view the same well-designed content on their phone as they do on their computer.
Analyzing Your Results
Using a campaign-launching service will help you see and analyze your results. You can track everything from how many people are opening your newsletter to what they’re clicking on to how many people share it with their friends.
- Your statistics may seem low (most campaigns will only result in 20-30% opens and around 5% click-throughs), but the people who do engage with your mailings are likely to be high-value customers and clients
- The statistics are not always 100% accurate — the actual number is probably a little higher than what your analytics reflect — but they give you a good idea of how well your campaign is working.
Once you’re in the swing of things, you can start experimenting with different templates/messaging and can easily compare results. Possibilities include:
By Katherine Sekelsky, a former staff member Visit Katherine on Google+.
- A-B testing
- Seeing what types of headlines get more opens
- Different approaches to your call-to-action