It’s easy to get distracted with the latest and greatest marketing innovations in the fast-paced digital space. From tweets, likes and +1s to mobile apps, sites and advertising, many marketers are losing their way. Let’s take a ride down memory lane, through the lenses of pop icon Justin Timberlake, to discuss why e-mail is still a relevant marketing channel deserving of your time and attention.
Bringing Sexy Back to E-mail Marketing
E-mail may be deemed “traditional digital marketing” by some, but don’t break out the casket and shovel just yet. It continues to be a powerful driver of awareness, engagement and action. Advances in e-mail marketing platforms have no doubt added ease and cutting-edge capabilities to the process. E-mail marketing delivers a higher ROI than any other platform, at $44.25 for every dollar spent (LYRIS). According to recent statistics from Forrester Research, e-mail marketing will reach a whopping $2 billion by 2014.
Here are some practical tips for revitalizing your e-mail marketing program:
1. “Dead and Gone”
Evolutions in e-mail marketing are leading to the slow death of the eBlast. eBlasts are like shotguns. You load a shell full of pellets and fire away. E-mail marketing has evolved to the point where segmentation, personalization, frequency and a deep understanding of the habits of e-mail users is absolutely critical to success. eBlasts are exactly that, blasts, when you should be looking at your e-mail marketing program as a sniper rifle, which implies, well, a very personalized message. You do your research, carefully scope out your targets, and fire a shot that hits the heart of the reader in a timely fashion. And then you hit them again. And again.
2. “Why, When, How”
Before you send an e-mail, study how people think about, access and read them. Many view e-mail as a chore, as homework. The consumer mindset when it comes to e-mail is very much a wham, scan, thank you ma’am scenario. Our inboxes are inundated with personal and professional e-mails. This is why superficial elements like subject lines, information hierarchy and personalization are critical to achieving higher open rates. You can have the best e-mail in the world, but if it isn’t opened, it’s a fail. Your e-mail is sitting right next to work requests, a dozen Facebook e-mails from friends, and the latest Groupon offers. How does your e-mail stand out from the crowd?
3. “I Need Love”
Consumers like receiving targeted e-mails from brands they care about. They may despise spam, but if they’ve subscribed and the e-mails they receive are relevant and fit into the context of their lives, you’re in tune with their heart. It’s important to not only segment your e-mail lists (by audience, demographics, etc.) but to use the data you are collecting to talk directly to a person and not an audience, building an emotional connection.
Your subject lines need to pop. You must have a good hook. Subscribers scan subject lines first. “What’s in it for me?,” they ask themselves in a milli-second. Certain words and even punctuation can trigger an open or a delete. For example, some of the words with the highest click-thru-rate include: posts, jobs, survey, week’s, e-newsletter, issue, digest, bulletin, edition, giveaway, tips, video, news, etc. (MailChimp). Punctuation in your subject line can impact your click-thru rate as well-leaving out parenthesis garners more clicks, using an ampersand instead of an “and” works better, and hash tags should always be avoided.
5. “Bringin’ Da Noise”
Did you know 88% of e-mail readers prefer HTML e-mails over text? And that 65% said they prefer mostly images versus mostly text (The Science of E-mail Marketing, 2012)? In addition to imagery, take full advantage of HTML5 technology, which enables you to include video and animations within the body of your e-mail without losing your mobile-friendliness.
6. “Up Against The Wall”
Been using the same provider for years? Feeling pigeonholed with the platform you’ve been using? Not abreast with the breadth and depth of e-mail marketing platforms? It’s time to find a program as savvy as you are. Check out MailChimp, SilverPop and Constant Contact, to name a few. Don’t just look at price; e-mail marketing is an investment. So find a platform that enables you to fully spread your wings in an easy and effective way.
7. “No Strings Attached”
Do your e-mails have strings attached? Did you know that 80.8% of smartphone users, an audience of 100 million+ in the US alone, which will double by 2016 (eMarketer) report reading e-mail on their smartphones (The Science of E-mail Marketing, 2012)? Clearly, if your e-mails and landing pages aren’t optimized for mobile, your campaign isn’t going to be as effective as it could be. That being said, a mobile-optimized e-mail isn’t enough. When a subscriber clicks a link in your e-mail (and I hope you have plenty of calls-to-action!), are they being served with a mobile-optimized experience? Don’t get deleted simply because your audience can’t read the e-mail or engage with the e-mail since they’re on their iPhone or iPad and you didn’t meet them on their terms.
8. “I Wanna Be With You”
As human beings, we love when others love us back. Therein lies the formula for social media. Just about everyone and their grandma is on Facebook and perhaps a few other networks. First and foremost, your e-mails should integrate social sharing. If you really want to supersize your results, dynamic content like names and faces of others attending an event or comments from your social media channels can increase effectiveness.
9. “Bye, Bye, Bye”
Before you hit send, remember that as a general rule, sending e-mail in the morning and weekends is the best time with regards to click-thru-rates. Track the metrics from each of your e-mails to see what time seems to be working the best for you and your audience, as long as you remember that timing is everything. If someone opted-in to your list, they should get an e-mail. Immediately. Your newest subscribers are your best! Surprisingly, the more e-mail you send, the more your unsubscribe rate tends to drops (The Science of E-mail Marketing, 2012). Make sure you’re sending frequently enough so that your audience expects your content, rather than forgetting about signing up in the first place and hitting the evil Spam button.
10. “Just Got Paid”
So you just launched an e-mail campaign. You followed all of the best practices and used a great platform like MailChimp or SilverPop. You feel “LoveStoned” and you should! Before you break out the champagne though, don’t forget that e-mail marketing is a science as much of an art. Sometimes you can’t replicate a viral hit, but often you can glean insights from data to put your “Good Foot” forward and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
An example of a great e-mail, courtesy of Moo.com:
Authored by @RobbyBerthume