Sure, in the modern digital landscape, email might seem simplistic, old news, old-fashioned even. But outdated? Not a chance.
The very fact that 99% of consumers check their email every day (HubSpot) should be proof enough. Indeed, with email having come through a GDPR-driven transformation, other elements of digital marketing now face similar data protection challenges that could change the game. Targeting individuals through re-marketing and digital advertising is set to become more difficult, as Google in particular changes its approach to tracking users.
Indeed, no other form of marketing allows you to create such personalised content on a large scale as email. It remains a cost-effective, consumer-preferred way for businesses to generate and nurture leads, serve, and acquire customers, grow brand awareness, generate traffic and even establish thought leadership.
Here’s how you can run a successful email campaign.
One of the core strengths and reasons for the high success rate of email marketing is that you’re talking to an already-engaged audience (don’t buy mailing lists!). Subscribers have previously come into contact with your brand through your website, social media or in person, and for one reason or another have chosen to receive emails from you.
Have the mindset that you’re privileged to have access to their email inbox and need to provide value in exchange. Email marketing is a great place to cultivate loyal customers – at little cost, you can provide value even when they are not making a purchase.
As a platform to establish thought leadership, email is often under-utilised. By sharing useful insights, infographics or blogs, providing content that directly benefits the reader will improve trust in your brand.
Steer clear of the “spray and pray” approach of contacting as large an audience as you can with a generic email. Your conversion rate will be highest when you segment your audience well – think of tools such as Mailchimp’s tagging feature. Delivering relevant content to each subscriber increases their likelihood to engage, rather than unsubscribing from your list. Remember, people don’t dislike marketing; they dislike marketing that feels like marketing or doesn’t give them an incentive to participate.
Write how you talk
You don’t have much time to grab your reader’s attention and get your message across, so each sentence should be important (to them, not to you). Sentences should be carefully crafted, but shouldn’t seem to be. Write your copy to be easily understood, the way you would say it if you were face-to-face.
To make your messages clear and stop yourself from over-writing, write in short punchy sentences, not long-winded paragraphs. There’s nothing like chunky text to put a recipient off reading your email, so try and stick to one line for every sentence.
Subject line, subject line, subject line
There’s no escaping the fact that a good subject line is central to a successful email. It’s the one tool you have to make opening your email seem worthwhile. We all know a good subject line when we see one, but creating your own can be tricky.
The first four to five words are key, and if you don’t need more than that, keep it short.
In just a few words you want to prove to your reader that this email is relevant and valuable to them as an individual. Again, making sure your email is going out to the right segment of your audience is important.
Then, look at how you can personalise your subject line – this simple, easily automated function isn’t just a gimmick. It reminds your recipient that you have a pre-existing relationship and shows that you’re sending the email to them for a reason.
Make sure, too, to hook them in the first line. This should re-affirm the interest you’ve won with the subject line. It’s important that this first line builds upon but doesn’t repeat the message of your subject – remember that this line will also show as a preview of your email.
One at a time, please
Don’t try and do several things with one email. If you have more than one goal, you might want to target different audiences – at the very least, be clear and stick to one clear goal in each email.
The flash sale email is an email marketing classic because it creates an urgency for subscribers to take immediate action. Not all call-to-actions are as direct-to-purchase as that, but so long as they are clear you can build streamlined campaigns designed to funnel subscribers towards your ultimate objective.
Think mobile vs desktop
A whopping 81% of people prefer to open emails on their smartphones (Campaign Monitor), so it goes without saying you need to test how your email looks on mobile before you send it.
iPhone dominates these mobile users and will automatically display images when you open emails, whereas many Android phones and desktop email applications such as Outlook will not. Because of this, think about what your email says without the images.
Having eye-catching visuals within your email is effective but put headlines and key pieces of information in text form so your email can still do its job without images.
Learn and optimise
Have you tried sending your emails at different times of day, or days of the week? It’s never time to stop optimising your campaigns.
An email has its greatest potency in the first few hours after it is sent, and content becomes stale after about 24 hours. It’s best to do analysis specific to your own subscribers – however a general rule to live by is that on average B2B marketers are going to have the most luck hitting their audience during the day, while B2C marketers might have the most luck during the evenings.
Time to start
Sound simple? The best way to get started with your email marketing is just to start. Leaving email marketing on the back burner neglects a crucial element of your marketing strategy and a unique opportunity for direct, personal, measurable communication.
Armed with your new email know-how, you’ll soon be building a successful campaign that delivers on your goals and adds value for your subscribers.
For as long as email remains consumers’ preferred choice for brand communication, email marketing is going nowhere.