I don’t know about you but when it comes to your inbox, do you find yourself at melting point in terms of the volume of emails and email newsletters you receive? Do you feel frustrated because you are bombarded daily with emails that you’re not particularly interested in? And, even if you are interested, how many emails does it take before you’re finally switched off from buying? It doesn’t help when you read so-called marketing experts talking about how many times you should send emails to a prospect: some say you should target potential customers daily in the first week – well, that’s more than enough for me to hit the ‘unsubscribe’ button as I am pretty sure you will agree.
Recently, I signed up to a marketing website as I was interested in receiving their updates, only to find the next day I had been emailed 5 TIMES within the past 24 hours – I’m not kidding. I unsubscribed immediately – who knows if I would’ve gained any benefit from the book they were trying to sell me, I will never know.
When YOUR potential customer DOES unsubscribe from your emails, you will have lost the ability to communicate to that customer FOREVER.
So, you definitely want to get it right first-time – right?
Back when I was working for Communisis, a large marketing services provider who supply direct mail and digital marketing to a variety of big blue-chip clients, a valued colleague of mine told me that the most important thing you can ever learn about marketing is how to apply common sense to your campaigns. And it’s this common sense factor I want to talk about today.
When I worked for Everyone Active, a large leisure centre operator, I was managing an email database of around 1 million customers. We created a suite of auto-responder emails which we called ‘triggers’ – these emails were sent out to customers when they used our leisure centres to remind them of things like their gym inductions, swimming lessons and other activities.
We also created email promotions and campaigns on a variety of different themes and events. We carefully planned our email transmissions so that our customers and prospects would never receive more than a couple of emails per week at the very most. Our database was our most valuable asset, as yours should be too, so treat it with respect and you will reap the rewards.
- Create a Communication Strategy – this is absolutely vital. Plan out messages and offers for emails in relation to the people you are targeting; who are you sending your message to? What are they likely to be interested in? Look at seasonal themes and timings – e.g. it’s probably better to send out an email campaign after the summer holidays if you’re planning on running a business promotion. Likewise, if you’re selling sun hats, it’s best to plan in your campaign well before the summer months begin – don’t leave it too late. Nurture your prospects slowly; it’s better to build up to a promotion over time, rather than trying to hard-sell to prospects straightaway.
- Produce quality content over quantity – you’ve heard the saying ‘less is more’ and the same can be said for email marketing. Use punchy wording and snappy headlines, but make sure you give your reader something valuable in terms of information which will make them want to keep hold of your email.
- Use an ‘inverted pyramid’ style when it comes to displaying your content – your most important information should sit on top so it grabs your reader’s eye. If they’re interested they will keep scrolling down for the finer details.
- Use a clear call-to-action – this is where you’re asking your reader to do something. For example, “To find out more about my therapy services, please visit my website” and add a link – try to drive traffic to your website and, ideally, it’s a good idea to have a landing page ready and waiting for customers to read about any offers you’re currently running. This will help to measure your marketing too in terms of Google Analytics. Make sure your call-to-action is really clear; use a bold font or a different colour which can easily be read.
- Use a larger font – okay so we’re not talking about size 20 Arial but try not to go below a size 12 because it will prove difficult to read. What’s more, don’t try to cram too much wording in using a size 9 font – your readers won’t make it to the end.
- Break up your content with images – everyone enjoys visual emails rather than plain text. If you can embed a video in your email, then this is a real bonus.
- Create an attention grabbing subject line using no more than 50 characters or less – tell your customers what’s inside without trying to use hard-sell tactics, e.g. give them a reason to open the email which will ultimately give them benefit.
- Think about the time of day you send out your email – some marketers have even created reports and charts on this subject. Again, I would apply some common sense – if you’re targeting business to business, then maybe send your email so it lands first-thing in the morning or at lunchtime when people have more time to read their emails. Likewise, if you’re aiming at business to consumer, and you have personal email addresses, then try sending early evening after people have had the chance to come home from work, eat their dinner and relax – between 7pm and 10pm is a great time of day for consumer related emails, and over weekends too.
- Use Split A/B testing on your emails – this is when you test different subject lines of emails by sending to two small groups of email addresses, the email containing the subject line with the highest open rate will be used as the subject line for the remainder of your emails. Mailchimp have great advice on how you can set this up for your own email marketing campaign.
- Only use permission-based email marketing – this is both a legal point and best practice. You should only send email marketing to those who have ‘opted in’ to receive your marketing emails and those who have signed up to your email newsletter. Contacts from a ‘cold’ purchased email database are likely to end up considering your emails as spam which could prove harder for you to send out in the long-run especially if you are blacklisted. Mailchimp have some excellent advice on this and are a great free email template provider if you’re looking to create an email campaign.
I will be posting more tips on email marketing and how to communicate to your customers again in the next few months. In the meantime, if you need help with your email marketing, then please don’t hesitate to contact me or call 01455 444731.
Image credit: Image “Computer And Envelop” by ddpavumba