With the onslaught of social media, you may feel like email marketing has taken a bit of a backseat. However, the power of email marketing has increased rapidly over the last five years or so. With a few best practices in mind and a few key fundamentals in your back pocket, your company can benefit from email marketing in ways you may not have even considered, including the ability to stay top of mind with your customers. In order to realize the best results, here are five tips to consider.
1. Send your e-communications to people who have opted in
How many times a day do you get an e-newsletter in your inbox that you *KNOW* you did not ask for? If you’re like us, you probably don’t even bother counting. You just hit delete a lot. Well, the same thing will happen to your e-newsletters if you send them to people who have not opted in. In fact, that’s a best case scenario. In a worst case scenario your email can be marked as spam, which can result in you getting black-listed. Although it takes patience, the best practice for email marketing is to set up a sign-up form, drive traffic to that form wherever you can, and encourage people to opt-in to your e-communications. On any e-communication you send out, like an e-newsletter, you should also offer an option for unsubscribing. If a person does not click “unsubscribe” they are in essence opting in again. This double opt-in is considered the gold standard when you are engaging in e-communications.
2. Don’t use misleading subject lines
Perhaps the most important part of your e-communication is the subject line people will see as they are skimming their inbox. Because of that, it can be tempting to use a subject line that might entice people to open your message even if the subject line does not technically relate to what you are talking about. Do not succumb to this temptation! Credibility is of the utmost importance when you are using email marketing as a tool. If you start using subject lines that do not correspond to your content, your credibility will be lost and you will lose your audience. Find a succinct way to describe your content in a subject line or create content that lends itself to an intriguing (or regularly used) subject line. Trickery will not get you anywhere.
3. It should not be all about you
When we talked about press releases we talked about the fact that the content should be more customer-centric. The same holds true for e-communications you send out. Very few people are going to want to take time out of their busy days to read something explaining how great you are. While it’s okay to include a story on occasion that reports good news, e-communications should primarily be sent with the customer in mind. How will this information assist the in their daily jobs?
4. Consider what your audience needs to know
E-newsletters can be excellent opportunities to establish your expertise by helping your readers learn more about topics that are important to them. What kinds of problems do your customers face on a regular basis? What laws and regulations are they worried about? How can you help them tackle those problems? This kind of content is what separates a successful e-newsletter from one that may not get a lot of interaction. If you’re unsure where to start, consider the questions your customer service department gets. Use those questions as a starting point for content, and then more ideas are likely to flow. Be a resource and your readers will stick with you.
5. Make sure you measure
Once again, our fifth fundamental is about measurement. Generating content for an e-newsletter can take a lot of time, which means someone in your company is getting paid to create that content and send it out. How are you measuring the ROI of those efforts? While sending an e-newsletter out regularly may not always generate new sales, there are plenty of ways to measure what is working and what is not. Most email programs, for example, will provide metrics that offer insight into what links in your e-newsletter were clicked the most. That information can help guide you in deciding what stories are of interest to your readers and what stories do not interest them. Occasionally linking to a sample request form or another promotional page on your website can help track if your readers are active customers, new customers, or perhaps potential customers who were attracted by your content but have yet to buy from you.
It’s important to remember that “opens” are not a good way to measure the success of your email marketing efforts. Like impressions, “open” simply means that a person’s eyeballs were on your e-newsletter, and in fact, even that may not be entirely true. In some email platforms, the preview pane shows an email without a person selecting it. Some email programs like Constant Contact count that preview pane view as an “open,” which means a person may not have even looked at your e-newsletter. To measure accurately, look for “click to open” statistics as well as clicks on specific links.
Make sure you measure your interaction on occasion too. Are people reading and digesting what you are sending them? Once a quarter send out a survey to see how many people respond. Perhaps consider including an open discussion question at the end of your e-newsletters to see if people respond. If your engagement levels are proven to be low, that may mean you need to try a different approach.
We hope these five basic tips will help you with planning your email marketing efforts for 2013. If you have any questions about this information, just leave a comment and let us know!
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