Email is the comet that rendered the typewriter extinct. It made the fax machine redundant; regular mail older and slower. Because of email, real-time communication became possible. Work became more efficient and productivity soared. You could get more tasks done in less time and at lower costs. It opened a digital avenue where you can directly communicate with your target market. This is why email marketing is such an effective tool for achieving business goals.
However, like diet and exercise; two things that were intended for the greater good, the use of email became abused. Marketers took advantage of its speed, convenience, and ease of use. Scammers found a cottage industry on the Internet. From the excitement of “You’ve Got Mail” in the 1990’s followed the threat of notorious phishing schemes in the new millennium.
Email marketing developed a bad reputation. Consumers became suspicious of marketing content that landed in their inbox. 2017 was a banner year for cyber- criminals. Companies lost millions of dollars’ worth of Big Data. Investigation showed that email was the common entry-point.
Marketers made matters worse. As email marketing became popular, it became a standard feature of a digital marketing campaign. Eventually, it became subject to “The Law of Diminishing Returns”. The more marketers used email marketing, the less effective it became.
6 Worst Practices For Email Marketing
Before we discuss its best practices, it would be a good idea to cover its worst practices so you would get a good idea of which mistakes to avoid.
- Buying an Email List – Finding your way into the inbox is like having one foot inside the door. However, if you were not invited you are merely trespassing. Don’t buy an email list. Instead, grow your list organically. No one likes intruders.
- The Email Blast – Email marketing is effective when you take a targeted approach. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work. You shouldn’t fire off a large volume of email and rely on percentages. If you send out 3,000 emails and 10% respond, what do you believe the 90% thinks about you?
- Poor Content – The rules of great content apply even to email marketing. Content must be relevant, usable, engaging, fresh and unique. Otherwise, it will end up in the recycle bin.
- Ignoring the Requests of the Subscriber – There could be reasons why a subscriber wants to unsubscribe to your newsletter. Your job is to carry out the request, not to question “why”. Hiding the unsubscribe button will just make matters worse.
- Errors in Spelling and Grammar – Just because emails are normally short and concise does not mean you should disregard errors in spelling and grammar. These types of mistakes are inexcusable in all forms of content. It implies you are irresponsible and unconcerned
- Coming up with an Outlandish Heading – Imagine coming across a subject line: “Make $100,000 in 2 weeks!” then reading content that asks you to sign up for a 2-week course in sales for only $100. Don’t implement click bait strategies by coming up with headings or subject lines that are so outlandish you won’t be able to deliver on them.
7 Best Practices For Effective Email Marketing
Did our list of worst email practices make you shake your head? You must have come across a number of them and others at some point in your life. The truth is email marketing remains a viable digital marketing strategy. It should be part of your online marketing toolbox because it is a powerful driver of content. The key is to know how to harness its power and make email marketing work for your business.
Here are 5 best practices for getting productive results from your email marketing campaign:
1. Build Your Email List Organically
If you approach email marketing as a numbers game, you might play a hand that might end up costing you more than anything you can potentially earn. Don’t assume that consumers who don’t like receiving marketing collateral in their inbox will simply ignore your content.
Not only will your content end up as spam, but some may file a complaint against you from the regulating authority such as the Federal Trade Commission or FTC. Your email domain may end up getting blacklisted. These are the risks taken by those who buy a leads list and run an email blast.
Grow your email marketing list organically or naturally. Drive traffic to your website through content marketing, social media, and paid ads. Make sure there are email sign ups where site visitors can choose to be part of your newsletter campaign.
By working on your email list instead of buying it, you can be assured of greater engagement with your content. Recipients expect it and have interest in reading your content. It may take longer to build an email list, but there are fewer risks and the probability of getting positive feedback is much higher.
2. Get To Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience will help you customize your content better. This will improve engagement levels, enhance your branding strategy, and potentially move your prospect further down the sales funnel.
You can use metrics to gather data on your audience. You will know which types of content generate higher engagement and longer engagement. Metrics will likewise give you data on where your audience comes from and the hours with the highest traffic. You will also find out how your audience wants to receive content and the best time of day to send your email.
By learning more about your audience, you can take engagement one step further. You can send them more personalized emails which are written in a way, tone, language, and type of content, that resonates better with them.
3. Give Before You Take
As the old saying goes, “The proof of the pie is in the eating.” This is one reason why sampling is a good strategy to get people to try your product. Not everyone may like it, but the fact that you put it out there for free tells the prospect you are risking your reputation to validate its quality.
Before asking your site visitors to sign up and give their email addresses, give them a free taste of what you are offering. Business consultants usually offer free white papers and research content. Fitness professionals give away free exercise manuals or diet programs. App developers provide limited time trial period on their software.
Giving free samples is a great way of building trust with your prospects. It will encourage them to buy your product and service after they’ve digested your content.
4. Analyze Your Metrics
We briefly discussed metrics earlier. Metrics are valuable because they provide you with real-time data that you can use to track the progress of your email campaign. Once you can account for data supporting specific areas of interest, you will have empirical bases for improving and upgrading your strategies.
The first step is to identify these specific areas of interest. There are programs that can help you collect data on metrics you plan to measure your campaign against. If you’re not sure on how to go about metrics, we can help set it up along with an email campaign that is customized for your business needs.
We can help you track, collect, and analyze data. We’ll take you through the process so that in time, you’ll be able to do it on your own. The correct use of metrics will contribute to achieving higher ROI. You can streamline the cost of your campaign while improving the chances of attaining the desired outcome.
5. Don’t Forget Your CTA
Even if you came up with the most compelling content for your email, what good will it do if it doesn’t tell the reader which action to take? A Call- To- Action or CTA is precisely what it is. The CTA should tell the reader what he/she should do next.
If your site visitor comes across your opt-in, what do you want him/her to do? What do you want him/her to provide? What should he/she expect by signing up for your newsletter campaign?
The same process follows once your content is delivered in the subscriber’s inbox. What do you want him/her to do next? You will need a good, effective subject line that would compel your subscriber to open your email. Once it has been opened and read, what next? Do you want him/her to try a new program or subscribe to a new service?
You could have one or two CTAs in your email. The thing to keep in mind is to make sure it has one.
6. Create Compelling Email Design
In marketing, first impressions count. Email marketing is still collateral. It should look professional, clean, and most of all, it should represent your branding strategy.
How do you come up with a professional design for an email campaign? We’ve done this for our clients. We have good experience creating designs that effectively align with the client’s branding strategy. Most of all, the content and structure corresponds with regulations mandated by the FTC.
When you have an effective design, it creates automatic recall for its recipient. They will know the email comes from your company.
7. Reward Your VIPs
Who are your VIPs? These are the people who regularly click your emails and sometimes even share it to others. VIPs are effective conduits of content. They are trustworthy; those in their community who receive your content know it has value for your subscriber to pass it to them.
Reward your VIPs by preparing a personalized email and extending them a special gift. It could be in the form of free giveaways, an extended trial period, or an attractive discount. Engagement is a two-way street. Let them know they are special. It will help build a long-term, sustainable, and mutually- beneficial relationship.
Email marketing will remain one of the best and most effective forms of digital marketing. It is a perfect example of a targeted marketing approach. As such, you must take a deliberate, measured, and strategic approach when designing an email marketing campaign.
Like all marketing processes, it will take time to get the desired results from email marketing. The advantage is that with metrics, you can fine-tune the elements of your strategy and make it more effective. The risks are much lower and with persistence, you should be able to attain your campaign objectives
If you are thinking of including email marketing in your digital marketing campaign strategy, don’t hesitate to give us a call or an email. We can conceptualize one for you and guide you throughout the implementation process.