Most people don’t realise it, but email marketing is one of the most important tools available to help increase sales. It might not seem as cool as the latest social media trend and you might get irritated with the constant stream of emails landing in your inbox every day – but when done right, email can win you a place in the hearts and minds of your customers.
In fact, email has the highest ROI of any digital marketing channel.
Here’s everything you need to know!
Building an email list
Let’s start with the basics – the first thing you need is an email list.
If you sell a product or service online, then you probably already collect customer emails. If not, start by adding a sign-up link to your website and share it on social media. You can entice more people to sign-up by offering incentives such as discount codes or free downloads that could be of interest to them – just make sure it’s relevant to your audience!
Email marketing software
You’ll need to choose an email marketing service to manage your address list, create your newsletters and send them. Depending on the size of your list, you might be able to start with a free plan and upgrade once your list grows, prices are usually very reasonable.
There are lots of options to choose from, and most will let you do all sorts of cool things like A/B test your subject lines, segment your audience and other things that we’ll discuss below. Some popular options are Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Sender.
Import your email list and you’ll be ready to get started!
Design is crucial
Most email software provides templates for everything from selling products to storytelling, welcoming new customers to follow-up emails. You can easily drag and drop content boxes and add your own branding. Getting the design right might not be in your skillset or you might not have the time, so you can get template(s) professionally designed and upload them.
When it comes to email design, there are some simple rules you should stick to:
- Have a clear layout so readers can easily scan through to pick up the key points.
- Make sure your logo is visible.
- Include an obvious call to action (CTA) in the form of buttons or links.
- Make sure it’s mobile responsive.
Get the message right
Don’t think of your email newsletter as just another sales tool and instead focus on what value you can offer your customers when planning out your content. Your email is a chance to build brand awareness, instil trust and gain credibility; so, use it wisely!
Whenever your email lands in someone’s inbox, it’s competing for attention with the many other emails your subscribers will receive each day, so take the opportunity to stand out.
Even the most serious B2B industry can inject personality into their email marketing and create content that people look forward to reading. Do this by speaking directly to the customer, keeping sentences short and adding humour where you can.
Your customers’ time is precious, so keep to the point. What action do you want them to take? Have a single, clearly presented call to action and scatter it throughout your email.
To get the most out of your email marketing, tie it in with the rest of your marketing activity. A marketing campaign that is executed across your social media accounts, website and email will have more impact. Make sure that the landing page you link off to reflects the content of the email and is focused on the result you want!
Timing is everything…or is it?
There’s lots of debate about the best time to send an email, and the truth is it varies across industries. Generally, weekends have lower open rates and Mailchimp say 2 pm is the best time.
The most important thing is to know your audience and experiment to find the time that works best. Once you know that, the key is to be consistent and have a schedule. Post regularly but don’t overwhelm people with too many emails.
Your customers will become accustomed to hearing from you at a certain time and maybe even look forward to reading your email!
Keep your subject line (and pre-header) punchy
Once you’ve put time and energy into lovingly creating your email, you want it to have the very best chance of being opened once it hits your subscriber’s busy inbox.
Your subject line has to work hard! As does the pre-header; the line that appears in the customer’s inbox giving a summary of what the email is about.
It’s best to keep the wording punchy (there’s normally a character limit) and avoid being too corporate or generic. Be personable and speak directly to the customer.
Certain words are known to get more clicks than others, but this is industry-specific – people love to read the word ‘free’ in an email from their favourite restaurant but think it’s ‘spammy’ when from an estate agent!
This is where the magic happens!
Gone are the days of simply including a subscriber’s name in the subject line then sending the same email to every customer.
Email software is now so sophisticated that you can tailor emails to specific segments of your contact list based on lots of different factors and send highly personalised messages to different groups of people.
There are lots of different ways of approaching this, here are some examples:
- Say hello to new subscribers (known as an autoresponder).
- Remind people that they have something in their shopping cart but haven’t checked-out yet.
- Re-engage people who aren’t opening your emails very often with enticing offers.
- Reward loyal customers with discount codes.
Regardless of your industry, there will be a way to personalise your messages.
Get to know the analytics
Your email software will have a dashboard showing detailed insights into how your emails are performing. When you finally press ‘send’, you might feel a wave of anticipation as you watch the open rate figure roll in!
The click-through rate will let you see how interested people were in your offer and reflect how well your email content was executed. You can even link this to your Google Analytics account and see what people did on your website after they clicked through from your email.
Unsubscribe rates are one statistic that can be hard to look at but try not to take it personally! CampaignMonitor figures show that the average rate is around 0.17%, but a higher number can help you see where you might need to make changes in your email strategy. You can find a breakdown of unsubscribe rates by industry here.
Subject lines, send times, images choices, content…test every variable and learn about what gets the best open rates and click-through rates. Getting familiar with the analytics dashboard and testing will help you make smarter, more informed decisions to increase your ROI!
Are you ready to take your email marketing to the next level? If you’d like some help creating a winning strategy and creating your design or content, give us a shout.