Email marketing allows businesses to engage with potential and current customers. However to achieve success, you need to follow these 12 simple steps.
Email marketing is a great way to make potential and current customers aware of what your business has to offer. However, due to the popularity of this medium, your message has to stand out from the ‘noise’ that now populates most people’s inbox. For this reason, above all other concerns, you need to ensure your email is well targeted and highly relevant. So, how can you maximise the visibility and responsiveness of your emails?
Here are 12 tips that will save your email campaigns from the trash and turn them into cash:
- Set Clear Goals – Define specific objectives for your campaign and set up goals and objectives that are clearly measurable.
- Segment Your Audience – Make sure your message matches what your audience wants. Segmenting your audience allows you to test different creative approaches, which you can then measure against each other.
- Grab Your Headline – Be clear and concise: you’ve only got seconds before your message ends up in the trash folder. You should look to avoid using capital letters and exclamation marks, as this looks unprofessional and may appear as spam to the recipient.
- Timing – Do you know what the optimum time is for your audience to see your message? It’s different for different businesses, but you need to see what works best for you.
- Branding – Make sure the ‘from’ includes your brand name, sent from an email address that’s your recognised domain. Use your logo and brand colours so your email is in sync with your brand. You should also ensure the language and tone is consistent across all your marketing collateral to maximise impact, and prevent brand confusion and dilution of message.
- Design – Sometimes very simple, uncluttered, text-based emails work best; but it depends on the objectives of the campaign. Test and test again – remembering that the message should be compatible across all devices. Images often don’t display, as they are stripped for security reasons – so you need to ensure your call to actions have text links to improve the click-throughs.
- Personalisation – When used in an appropriate way, there is nothing more powerful than personalisation for engaging with prospects. Using the name of the business or the contact, or indeed referencing the location of the business, all add an element of engagement and help your message stand out.
- Call To Action – What’s the point of your email? Make sure the action is clear and the response required simple. You are unlikely to elicit reams of information, so don’t include a long form for prospects to fill in (unless you incentivise completion).
- Effective Landing Page – Landing pages are a great way to measure your email campaigns. The best landing pages are distraction free, so just include the information required.
- Sharing – Make sure that you allow your email to be shared, by including links to social media and encouraging referrals. You could also try offering an incentive such as a discount for future purchases, if customers forward your message to spread awareness of your business.
- Tracking – This goes way beyond opens and clicks. Often the email is the starting point that may end in a purchase or some other ‘action’. Tracking these can help you to improve targeting next time around. It is also important to monitor social media to know what is being said about your business.
- Testing – The beauty of email marketing is the flexibility to test every aspect of the campaign without incurring huge costs. Everything can be tested to improve impact – from the audience, copy, creative, message, position of key calls to action, frequency of sends, timing etc.
Is Lack of Control an Issue?
If done correctly email marketing is very profitable. But does a lack of control with performance-based email marketing compromise business success?
Email marketing is without doubt a hugely successful approach for both retention and acquisition marketing. Techniques have now become very sophisticated, and integration with other marketing channels has maximised the potential returns from email marketing campaigns. In addition, the relatively low cost of testing what works (in terms of message, creative, target audience etc.) makes email marketing a very flexible way to refine your marketing activities and improve results. With its popularity continuing to increase, it is therefore not surprising that there are now several different models that are used to price email marketing – such as buying a managed service, or buying an email list or paying on a cost per lead basis. So, which one should you choose? On the surface, the cost per lead model seems a “no-brainer” – because you only pay for each lead generated, rather than for every prospect the email is sent to. However this increase in performance based marketing (lead generation on a cost per lead basis) does have some downsides. For example, a client will brief an agency on what is needed, and the agency will then source different providers to obtain the relevant email data needed for the campaigns. So far so good – but there are only a very limited number of data sources, although there are many email data providers to work with. In the end, working with multiple performance-based marketing agencies can lead to target customers receiving multiple examples of the same email, as each company is working in isolation from each other. This is about as far removed from good target marketing as you can get – and a total waste of money! Here is a real life example: At Market Location, we work directly with a blue chip client on customer acquisition email marketing campaigns. We provide email data for them to manage their own email sends, as well as direct mail and telemarketing data for their call centre. This is a tightly controlled environment; they only work with one data provider, so are able to ensure that any duplicate customers are removed and the recipient communication is fully managed. This seems straight forward enough, but then performance marketing is introduced – i.e. where the company pays other agencies on a cost per lead basis. What could be better for a client? Well, surprisingly perhaps, we also work with that same payment provider through a performance based agency. Although unusual, their different creative treatments are broadcast, and we are able to manage the number of emails a recipient receives. However, this is where it gets complicated: The client also works with two companies who licence our data on an ad hoc basis, and we have received the same performance brief through another two agencies that are offering the identical creative to what we are already sending. In other words, in the client’s eyes they are sending one or two emails a month to an individual, when in reality they could be sending as many as seven. These are, of course, just the ones that come across our desk – yet an email address is related to an individual, which means as well as it appearing on our database it could be on numerous others. How many emails could one person receive in a month?! Fighting a lack of control This lack of control is worrying. Clearly, the client wastes a lot of money. But in addition to that, the recipient who is receiving multiple emails is going to get annoyed. This ensures the message becomes diluted at the same time as making your business or brand look very unprofessional. Furthermore, a lack of management in regard to performance marketing also means that the client’s customers get a lot of prospecting emails. Ask yourself: is this okay? Of course it isn’t. Why on earth would you need to send multiple emails to the same recipient? Naturally this is a situation that could be easily rectified, but no one seems to want to. All a client would need to do is ask all their data suppliers to upload data to match and de-dupe against others and output the net records. This may cost the client extra money, but which client wouldn’t want to protect their brand?
Help and advice with email marketing
Businesses use email marketing because it has many benefits over other marketing channels – and it works. In fact, recent figures from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) show email marketing has now overtaken direct mail in terms of volume.
1. It’s personalEmail offers you the opportunity to personalise your message to the recipient. Send them emails addressing them by name and give them offers targeted to their preferences.
2. It’s quickerDirect mail campaigns can be complex and time consuming. They typically taking more than a month to execute and then you’ve got to wait for the post to deliver it to the customer on top. It takes far less time to plan and execute an email campaign and you get your results back almost immediately. If you react quickly you’ll see the benefits to your business almost straight away!
3. It’s cheaperPostage costs will make up a significant portion of the total costs associated with a direct mail campaign. You don’t have postage costs with an email campaign and this makes it instantly much cheaper. With response rates often higher than direct mail, email will give you a better return on your investment.
4. It’s measurableEmail campaigns are fully trackable giving you complete visibility of your results. Being able to see exactly how many emails were delivered, opened and clicked on means you can test different campaigns and refine them to get the best response rates.
5. It helps build customer relationshipsBecause email communications are cheaper and easier to send, companies often use email to keep in regular contact with existing customers and this enables them to build stronger relationships with them. Email marketing is the ideal medium to update customers with time sensitive offers and product news.
Getting the marketing mix right
- Integrated campaigns can boost results by as much as 50 per cent
- An online/offline marketing mix can boost online by 62 per cent
How best to use email in your wider strategyThis may take a rethink of your current email marketing strategy. Integration does not simply mean carry on doing what you are doing with online and start an offline campaign. You need to mesh the two and make sure that they support each other. To do this most effectively, you will need to set some clear goals for your online strategy before complementing it with offline material – such as direct mail. To do this, you need to:
- Be objective
- Include content that is not about your company
- Stick with it (brand loyalty takes time to garner)
Backward engineering your campaignsNot everything starts with email, however. Businesses often have a number of other channels at their disposal and use them regularly. So, it makes sense to link promotions on these other channels back to your email newsletter, just as you would refer to your other content and promotions in a weekly or monthly email roundup. One of the key benefits of email marketing is loyalty. Once you get subscribers on board, they will stick by you. So pushing potential clients toward your email newsletters with other promotions – including direct mail – makes perfect sense.
1 – Tailor your content carefullyThis doesn’t mean creating bespoke email content for individuals, but instead ensuring your prospect is sent information which is relevant to them. You could be offering excellent products or services, but if your prospects don’t understand the value of what you are offering to their business, they are unlikely to show interest and make an enquiry. Be sure to use your email content to inform people of the benefits your services and products specifically offer them; giving a tailored message will significantly improve your campaign response rates and your email lead generation activity will flourish.
2 – Provide valueThough generating new leads and selling products will usually be the main reasons for an email campaign, don’t forget to give your recipients other forms of value; latest developments in your industry, news from your company, informative blog posts from your website. The more good, free content you can provide, the more they are likely to open your email, click the links and ultimately buy your product; it also forms the beginning of a strong relationship with businesses you hope will eventually become regular clients.
3 – Segment your customersIf you have a large email data list you want to contact, try to segment your data into smaller segments to ensure each prospect is targeted with the most suitable email content for them. For example, prospects could be segmented by location, size of business, financial turnover and industry. You can then email details of the most suitable product or service for them, by looking at your existing customer base and understanding what they look like and what they buy. By taking this step, you will make the recipient feel that they are being contacted for a good reason and are not being bombarded with irrelevant emails. Sending the right email to the right person within a company is vital for getting your message read and actioned. Get this wrong and all your hard work will be wasted. If you’re looking to purchase email data to contact, make sure you have the details of the Senior Decision Maker as they are most likely to be the person to decide what will be purchased.
4 – TestSending different email subject lines, designs and messages out to your email list is the best way to understand what works to generate response so you can maximise your ROI. Make sure this testing is carried out and recorded in a methodical way so that you can keep tabs on your results. Try to change only one variable each time you broadcast an email, so you can attribute any increase or decrease in response to the one thing you altered. Following these four steps will assist in turning an email data list into viable leads for your sales team to follow up with a phone call or a direct mail campaign. With initial contact, your aim will be to make a strong impression and lay the groundwork for further interaction.
What you need to do:
- Craft the content carefully: make sure the recipient understands why they’re receiving your email.
- Give value: if you’re looking to build a lasting business relationship, do more than just sell – give them something useful for free.
- Segment – get as specific as you can with your emailing in order to maximise conversion rates for different campaigns.
- Test, observe the results, and refine your approach accordingly.
Time of dayFor a start, you’ll want to understand that there are certain times of the business day better suited to making contact than others. Don’t try and call a prospect first thing in the morning, just before or after lunch or last thing before end of business. First thing in the morning, people tend to be catching up on some of the most important emails or messages they’ve received for the day. The same goes for the period directly following lunch. Straight before the lunch break, people tend to be distracted and keen to get moving and the same can be said for the end of the day. Time your calls to miss these problem areas and try to be as unobtrusive as possible. However, if you are getting in touch with a decision maker who has a prominent position in the company, you may also want to consider calling just before or after opening hours. Most influential employees start their day early and end late, potentially offering an opportunity to catch their attention when the office is calmer.
Time of weekFor email contacts, you also want to factor in the day of the week. At the beginning of the working week, when office staff are fresh from their break, your email communication is more likely to be read. For B2B campaigns (as with B2C), businesses tend to see a winding down of email attention as the week progresses, with open and click rates peaking at the beginning of the week. Timing your email so that you can take advantage of the extra enthusiasm and willingness to engage present before the working week hits its full stride can improve your exposure and boost the likelihood of pickup.
Time of monthThere are also particular times of the month that are particularly good or bad for getting in touch with businesses about new products or services. For example, you know that the finance department of most companies is likely to be struggling under a heavy load at the end of the month, so don’t pitch products that will need feedback from this department around this time, it will only put your contact and the department in a bad mood by adding an extra task to their list – no matter how much they might appreciate the services you have to offer.
Time of yearThere are some other factors you may want to keep an eye on, particularly if you’ve already done some research on your lead. If you’re targeting a prospective client directly because you already have some knowledge about their business, take this information into account when calling or emailing. Does their industry have particular peak times? Can you maximise on seasonal activity like tax or holidays? Do you know whether your lead is likely to be preparing for a major conference or trade show? Being considerate of factors like these can help you get off on the right foot. Timing your contact to fit into your prospects’ schedules rather than with your own is a simple but highly effective way to maximise the response you get. By using both statistics about business habits and what you know from research on specific prospects, you can make a big difference to your marketing activity:
- To reach key decision makers, consider early morning or late afternoon – they are likely to be in the office earlier and longer than others and you can potentially catch them when demands on their time is minimal.
- In general, earlier in the week is best for making email contact.
- Most businesses plan their activity around times of the month; consider how this might change the way they would like to be contacted.
- Consider seasonal and industry-specific times of year – you can either hook your marketing on this or avoid busy times.
B2B campaigns are more difficultB2B customers typically involve more than one person, due to the size of most businesses (even smaller ones), and the fact that they’re often not buying on behalf of just themselves. B2C prospects are usually individual operators; they’re completely in control of what they’re buying, which makes their decisions simpler. B2B decisions typically take longer, need to go through more people, but involve larger, longer-term purchases that will be scrutinised and evaluated. Bear this in mind when crafting your campaign and selling points.
Tone of voiceThe language of B2B marketing should be more formal and concentrate on the growth of a business. You need to appeal to the company at large, so a less personal tone is appropriate. B2C on the other hand can be more chatty and informal, customers are more likely to act on impulse and emotions, so be sure to engage these. B2B customers will put a lot of thought and scrutiny into your words, so be sure to pick them more clinically and clearly; they will likely be taken very seriously.
NumbersAs mentioned before, B2B marketing will almost always address more than one person, whereas B2C will be to individuals. A key decision maker might have to summarise and present your proposal to others, so ensure that the benefits of your product will stand out to people with a range of stakes (i.e. show how your product will work for different aspects of a business, or different departments within a business). Your email or letter may be passed on to higher authorities; all need to be convinced. With B2C you need to engage one person; once you’ve done that, your job is complete.
Emotional sellWhen working on B2C campaigns, marketers typically aim for something funny and engaging on an emotional level. This is a tactic B2B marketers typically avoid, bypassing emotion for logic; a business is only interested in managing costs, increasing productivity and generating further profit. Be sure to understand this, and stick to the positive, demonstrable advantages of your product or service; don’t waste time trying to be overly witty or creative – use facts.
Selling to the right personWith B2B customers, your best bet is to target senior staff, who have the power to sign off on budgets. They may well need to pass it through other members of the company, but the more important the person who presents the idea, the more chance it has of leading to a sale. Social media is rarely a selling channel for B2B marketing as it is with B2C, so direct mail, email and telemarketing campaigns are the key avenues to direct your marketing activity through.
- B2B campaigns are more difficult, but reap greater rewards.
- B2B emails should be more formal in tone.
- Remember B2B emails will be for more than one person – don’t forget to address the business as a whole.
- Be more logical than emotional in B2B; leave emotive B2C tactics aside.
- You will need to get in front of key decision makers via telemarketing, direct mail and telemarketing or a combination of these for B2B marketing.