Over the years I’ve learnt a number of tips and tricks to improve email marketing results. Whilst it’s a continual process, as the medium evolves, there are a number of hints I’d like to pass on to my clients.
1. Ensure you have permission
Building relationships is what it’s about, and the best way to start a great relationship is when both people want to have one. Gaining permission to engage in email marketing with a user is vital to ensuring both that you get the most from your campaign (people who want to receive communication from you are far more likely to read it and act on it) and that you don’t find that your email address becomes unusable as it’s been blocked after spam complaints from your recipients (be aware this can happen if you don’t do things right).
2. Build trust when growing your mailing list
If you want to grow your mailing list there are 2 things that can help generate trust. First is a double opt-in process, where the subscriber needs to confirm their joining via an email link they are sent. Second is the quick unsubscribe, one-click ideally with a courteous message (as an unsubscribes doesn’t neccessarily mean that the user isn’t still interested in your product or service). In some countries it’s actually required by law that every email has an unsubscribe link in it, and it’s something I strongly agree with generally.
3. Be relevant with your content
If you subscribe to an email list expecting to hear about music gigs you don’t want to start getting emails about global warming. Okay that’s an extreme example but the point is that your content must be relevant to the subscriber and meet their expectations. You then need to content to be well written and well structured, so that the subscriber wants to read it and your message gets through.
4. Help your message gets delivered
Internet service providers, and indeed end-users, all user spam protection mechanisms to stop unsolicited email. The filters rank each email via a number of criteria, such as validity of senders email address, subject line and email content. There is much debate in relation to the use of certain words, such as ‘FREE’, in the subject line of emails and whether this will cause low delivery rates or not. It’s very much down to the method/system being used to send emails and the context in which it’s used. As with everything is life, it’s not cut and dry but there are ways to minimise risk.
Also if the recipient knows the sender then this is a huge step to beating the filters, so encouraging them to add you to their contact list and safe lists is always a good idea.
5. Great design inspires the need to read on
Subscribers are expecting emails from your organisation, so you email needs to reflect your brand so that they instantly know it’s from you, and they don’t bin it. If your email is well designed then, as with all good communications material, it generates both the desire to read on and the clarity of message to help the reader along their way towards your call-to-action.
Be aware though that if you send a purely graphical email to a user who can’t receive images (or who needs to approve image downloads) then you’ve lost the impact of the email arriving. You key messages needs to be appear quickly so that the subscriber is inspired to read on. The balance needs to be found.
6. Personalisation works
If you receive a letter address to “To whom it may concern” the chances are you’ll bin it instantly, as you know it’s not come from anyone who knows you. The same applies to email. Having the recipients name clearly displayed, either in the saluation (e.g. Hi John) or even in the subject line can greatly increase the liklihood of your email being read, and subsequently your links being clicked. Quite simply, it makes the subscriber feel that a relationship exists as you’ve addressed them by their name.
7. Maximise click-thru rates
The majority of Internet users still respond better to a traditional blue text link than to a banner or button. This is because it’s a concept they are comfortable with, they know the underlined blue text is a link. As such, whilst graphical banners and buttons can still be used, it’s important to also have that simple link prominently visible to give users options to do what they feel most comfortable with.
8. Frequency of emails
Once a subscriber has engaged you need to keep them there. Nothing can turn a reader off more than being inundated with emails (so they feel pestered) or never hearing from you (so they feel neglected and forget who you are). You need to determine how often your subscribers want to hear from you and then deliver against that. If a weekly email is what they want then you need to deliver a weekly email, every week.
9. Sending at the right time
Much research suggests that sending mid-morning on Tuesday or Wednesday is the best time to send a marketing email. However, this very much depends on your marketing and the message you’re sending. Whilst this might be right for B2B emails, often Friday lunchtime works well for B2C emails where you want your message to still be fresh for the weekend.
10. Measure the results
One of the great things about email marketing is that it is measureable. When properly set up, and ideally integrated to your website analytics, you can track how many people have seen your message and how they reacted. Withthis knowledge you can then refine your marketing, on a personal level for each subscriber, to ensure they get the content they are interested in and that inspires them to engage with you.