Email marketing is still the most effective digital channel for marketers and offers great opportunities for businesses that do it well. So what's the secret?
Email marketing has matured. Audience expectations are high and the spam bin sits just one mouse click away. As a result email marketers must create good value emails or face shrinking click through rates and audience apathy.
"Email marketing is growing, it is vibrant, and we know this because the amount of emails our customers are sending through us just keeps growing and growing. As far as the return on investment (ROI) that our customers get through email, for every dollar they spend on email marketing they get $40 back. It works. No other digital channel gives you that ROI."
Bryan Wade, ExtactTarget
Creating valuable content is fundamental to good email creation. There's no prescriptive formula to deliver value, it's about understanding the wants of your audience.
Some readers will be interested in product and price - what they can get for how little. In such cases, online exclusives, introduce a friend discounts or functional product listings may be more valuable than lengthy text or fancy designs. Conversely, such enriched content may be useful to others and may provide the viral hook that gets people talking, e.g. whitepaper or useful tips.
You need to ensure value for you too. Creating engaging and relevant content may bolster your brand but it's likely you'll have more defined objectives. Linking content to calls to action is crucial, whether this be purchasing a product or simply visiting your website where more sales focussed content exists.
Monitoring your campaign once it's sent provides priceless intelligence about the success of your email. Many email distribution systems allow in-depth reporting and let you monitor open and click through rates. Learning what works and what doesn't will help your email evolve to deliver increased value.
If the argument for creating value isn't strong enough, the advent of tighter regulations and best practices focussing on opt-in or permission based email marketing further reinforces the importance of creating relevant, engaging emails. Consumers will only give and maintain permission to email if they see value in your offering.
The matured marketplace for email marketing demands quality and value, but also offers an exciting opportunity to reach out to valuable, impulsive consumers willing to engage and buy. Your audience is ready and waiting. You just need to create value and send the right message.
So here’s some tips for creating effective emails
1. Agree your desired outcome
You know what you want, but taking the time to think through clearly what you are trying to achieve is key, to avoid vague or wordy emails.
Identify which type of email you wish to send:
Information – you wish to tell the recipient something, no reply necessary
Action – you require the recipient to do something, e .g. take part in a survey, attend an event. Ensure to include a strong call to action, which may link to a specific landing page that drives them to fulfil the desired action.
2. Be Personal
Address the recipient by name, sign the email with your own name and use your actual name as your from address. It’s much more personal!
3. Use Plain English
Write like you talk using your real voice. Using too formal a style can turn the recipient off and by using technical jargon can make it hard for the recipient to understand.
4. Formatting and Font
Make your email easy to read and scan by keeping paragraphs short, highlight keywords or phrases or use bullet points and lists. Tell the reader what you want them to do by having a clear call to action.
5. Mobile devices
With more and more people reading emails on phones and tablets check how your email displays on these devices and format accordingly.
6. Reward people for reading
Share a useful tip or provide a link to a helpful website as a reward for reading your email. Inspire them and make them recognise your communication as one where they get something extra!
7. Analysis and Reporting
Reviewing your email performance will help you achieve optimal results from your campaigns. By reviewing open rates you can begin to identify which subject lines are appealing to your subscribers, and click through rates will give you an idea of the strength and relevance of your message.
Build on this analysis by split testing your email to a proportion of your list i.e. two different versions of the email message, to determine the most effective email. This allows you to adapt your content based on the response and get the best results. Also testing the day and time of email send outs and show important trends in recipient engagement.
Combining this with your web analytics will help you determine if your recipients went on to complete your desired action. If not, it might be time to look deeper at the performance of your landing pages.
By constantly refining your emails and using the results as the basis of your next campaign ensures maximum results.