Over the past five years, growth in new digital channels has shifted the focused on digital marketing on social media, native advertising, and content marketing. However, despite this change in the digital landscape, email marketing has seen a resurgence in popularity. Email open rates aren’t declining, and services like MailChimp, Emma, and Constant Contact have made email marketing user-friendly and highly automated. Email marketing has become big business in recent years due to its ability to enhance the merchant/customer relationship and encourage repeat business.
When compared with other marketing channels, email constantly tops the list as delivering one of the highest returns on investment (rivaled only by organic search marketing as the most effective online marketing tactic).
Why Do Email Marketing?
There are a number of reasons a company chooses to do email marketing:
- Brand Awareness – emails keep your brand on the top of the customer’s mind
- Sales promotion – emails keep your customer abreast of information about sales
- Automation – emails can be scheduled in advanced and change based on a customer’s actions
- Personalization – emails (and their content) can be targeted on an individual level
- ROI – emails can generate real returns for relatively little investment
- Scheduling – emails can be sent to your customers at the times most convenient to her
But an email database is only an asset, if you execute a successful campaign. To help you accomplish this, we’ve assembled a list of email marketing best practices.
Email Marketing Best Practices
Before starting your campaign, it is vital that your recipient list follows certain guidelines. The first and most important guideline to follow is to ensure that your list contains ONLY those who have “opted-in” to receive your email. The term “opted- in” refers to those who have given you permission to send them emails by signing up on your website. Specifically, they have given you their email address after purchasing a product or attending an event, or have opted in offline. As long as the individual gave you their permission, it is okay to add them to your list.
In some instances, brands may choose to go above “opt-in” and choose a “double opt-in”. A single “opt-in” makes your list vulnerable to prank submissions, typos, and spambots. A double opt-in attempts to circumvent this. Adding this feature to your email campaigns is simple. After a recipient signs up for your email through your website, they will receive an email with a confirmation link. By clicking the confirmation link, they have “double opted-in” to receive your emails. You now have not one, but two times the permission from your recipient. You can also save the IP address, date, and time that they registered should you ever receive a false report in the future. Double opt-ins ensure the quality of your list is high (you may see higher open rates and conversion rates, for example). However, they come with the trade-off that you’ll almost always have a smaller list. Some users will opt-in on your website but then never go through the second step.
Because everyone is different, it is very beneficial to segment your customers into distinct groups and tailor the message they’ll receive in their email. If your database contains other demographic information, it can be broken down based on customer age, past purchase history, or stage in the buying process. Once broken down into separate groups, you can then customize the email to their specific needs. For example, a financial services company made serve the needs of college students and retirees, however the retiree probably doesn’t care about student loan financing, nor does the college student care about retirement planning.
Market to the Individual
Using different techniques to market to an individual consumer can have a very favorable outcome when it comes to email marketing
Add a Personal Touch
You would be surprised at the impact that a personal touch can have on an email’s effectiveness. Simply by adding a name in the subject line, you may greatly increase the likelihood of that person opening your email. This small addition can make someone feel appreciated, valued, and more likely to return for repeat business.
Businesses who sell online and maintain a robust customer database should consider implementing a collaborative filtering algorithm into their email campaign. Collaborative filtering allows businesses to create customized emails down to the individual based on that individual’s past purchases.
For instance, if a customer purchases a dog bed, a collaborative filtering algorithm may suggest other pet care related items in the next email that customer receives. The customer will now continue to see various suggestions of other products or services based on their previous buying habits. If you want to see this in action, sign up for Amazon’s newsletters. They take collaborative filtering to an all new meaning.
Use Drip Campaigns
Drip campaigns are scheduled emails that go out to new subscribers at specific intervals. For example, each time a customer signs up for your emails, they could receive 5 emails (one each week) that introduce you to your business’ value and mission. Structured correctly, these can be a strong way to drive user-engagement. And once they’re in place, they don’t require much work other than occasional metric monitoring and small improvements.
Use Only the Right Content
People read emails like they read any other web content – quickly. Try to keep your emails text-light. Don’t be afraid to use content, but use only the RIGHT content. Drill down quickly to the core message you’re trying to deliver in that email. Most users will not read past the headline of an email. In fact, many won’t read more than the email subject! Be sure to use those words well.
When done the right way, email marketing can have a dramatic effect on your business. Because of its ease of use, and cost efficient manner, all of the pre-mentioned tactics can take your business to new heights.