Some marketers scoff at email, but for the right businesses and used in the right way, email has been proven to provide a lot of value for a relatively low cost. From small business to the biggest brands, sliding into someone’s inbox is a big opportunity; don’t waste it.
The best way to rationalize email marketing is to look at your own habits. Most people check their inboxes at least once a day, while even more have emails pushed on their phones or leave their email client open while they work. It’s one of the few digital spaces that combine our personal and professional interests, a place where tasks and assignments often linger with content generated by things we love and care about. We are always going back in to see what’s new, and that’s a tremendous opportunity for advertisers. Compared to its more analog cousin, direct mail, email marketing provides a lower cost and infinitely more dynamic way to communicate with customers. Plus, unlike direct mail, it finds customers poised to click on your call to action and convert to sales in seconds.
The important task is shaping your content to be something your customers look forward to and have a connection with. This isn’t spamming hot deals three times a week; this is providing information, entertainment, and opportunity. Your email content should be engaging, rewarding, and timely. Here are a few things we’ve learned that really work.
Divide and Enchant. Sending the same thing to thousands of people isn’t personal. Use segmented lists to reach customers who share a similar purchase history or acquisition source. For example, if you gathered a few hundred email addresses in-person at, say, a trade show, send a specific campaign to those new followers to re-introduce yourself and your company centered around that shared experience. Talk about your highlights, other vendors, and plans to for the next events so you might see these potential clients again.
Similarly, you can use purchase history to communicate with specific interests. Got a new tiger-inspired t-shirt design coming out? Look at sales that might include t-shirts in the past six months. You increase your open rate, your conversation rate and, just as importantly, your previous connection to the customer; they get that you get them. Get it?
Support Their Passion. They gave you their email address for a reason. Whether it’s your product, your mission, your association, or just you, they want to be in the loop. While you do need to have some element of sales built into every email blast, you should also have a story to tell as well. Show them something new you’re working on, a recently completed project, or a new technology that has just hit the industry. Keep them curious, excited, and engaged by showing what’s happening in a field you share a common interest. Sometimes a story leads to more engagement than a sale. That’s something that adds up and helps avoid your brand from being associated with discounts and bargains. If your product or service is exciting enough, paying retail will feel like a good deal.
Test It. Using A/B testing is the best way to improve your open rate, as well as to learn the best ways to speak to your tribe. We use A/B testing to compare the performance of two different subject lines that lead to the same email. Many services like MailChimp or Constant Contact strongly encourage A/B testing on every campaign, and we use it to learn the best ways to engage with our audience. We also use batched delivery, which will deliver emails based on the recipient’s’ time zone, rather than the sender’s. It’s also worth experimenting with different schedules to send. Mornings may see a higher open rate, but do conversions go up in the afternoon or evening? With more data and more testing, you’ll find the sweet spot of tone and delivery for your customers.
Let Them Go. No means no. If you don’t have permission to add emails to your list, don’t. If they unsubscribe, let them go. Unsubscribing can be frustrating, but it’s also a sign of a healthy process. Even customers who enjoy your content can need a break. While you won’t be reaching them by email, you may still be getting their eyes on social media, and it doesn’t mean you’ve lost a potential sale. It’s only when they receive emails they didn’t ask for or tried to stop that you start putting a bad taste in their mouths, so make sure you don’t have duplicates or any way that unsubscribed users might end up receiving further communication.
There’s a lot of nuance to email marketing, and it’s a process we’re always fascinated by as we develop content and strategize delivery for our clients. Want to learn more? Let us know.