What Is an Email Marketing Service?
Everyone's gotten at least one email with any of the following subject lines: 50% Off Weekend Sale! Buy One Get One Free! We've Moved!
Why has everyone shared in this? It's because email marketing helps businesses connect and engage with large numbers of contacts at once to share information, increase social engagement or increase sales. And while you may find that email in your inbox a little annoying or repetitive from time to time, research shows that 72% of people prefer to receive promotional information through email.
Brands are five times more likely to engage with customers via email versus Facebook. And on the subject of statistics, email also sees the highest conversion rate (an average of 66% across all industries) compared to social and snail mail direct mailers.
The success of email marketing, as you know, means that inboxes are packed. So how do you stand out from the crowd to stay innovative and add value? Let's explore that.
The Why of Email Marketing
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of email marketing is that it is relatively free. You do have to spend money growing your prospect and customer lists, designing eye-catching layouts and creating copy that resonates with your readers, but sending the actual email itself costs nothing. Basic email marketing services are almost always free (until your list reaches a certain threshold, and then monthly fees become associated based on list size). Another top benefit is the ability to track almost everything. This includes being able to see who opens your email, which links are being clicked, who forwarded your email, bounce rates and how many (and which) readers unsubscribed.
You and I live in a mobile world, making email marketing even more valuable for business owners because it allows you to reach consumers on mobile, any time of the day, without investing in new technology or software. Over half of mobile users in the U.S. access emails from their phones and a growing number of people are accessing emails on tablets. A strong majority (over 60%) of the U.S. population have used coupons received via email, which translates to increased revenue for businesses of all kinds. The statistics say it all: One in three consumers prefer to receive discounts and coupon codes on their mobile devices.
Who are the Big Email CRM Players?
There are a number of tried and true CRM systems that help you manage lists, design beautiful newsletters and track EVERYTHING. Some of the top players are: Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Benchmark, Active Campaign and iContact. All of the major CRM systems offer drag and drop editing tools, complete tracking tools and website integration to make things simple. Some even offer the ability to build landing pages and integration with a sales CRM. Consider your goals to decide which system is best for you and your business.
Email Marketing Best Practices
Now that you've picked your CRM, it's time to get down to the actual work. Ready, set, e-blast!
1. Create a Personal Connection
Sometimes you can over design, but lack connection. Casual design can be sufficient, and emails that read like a friend or colleague can be quite effective. Personalized subject lines alone are 26% more likely to be opened. Companies also found that using a signature that appears to be from a team member or employee increases click through rates. But personalization doesn't just have to be limited to a person's name. Nearly half of US online retailers used personalized product recommendations (44.9%), about a third added the customer's name and/or a unique welcome message (31.5%) and a quarter of the respondents reported adding shopping cart reminders (27.6%) to cover all of their personalization bases.
Another way to customize is to segment your contact lists. You can segment by location, age, position in sales cycle, preferences, past orders, etc. Segment based on your campaign message, and personalize campaign messages based on segments. It's also smart to purge your subscriber lists of folks who aren't opening your email lists, because low open rates can seriously hurt email deliverability.
2. Set Up Autoresponders
Autoresponders can be set for behaviors such as cart abandonment and reengagement. Emails that call customers back to the website with some lighthearted copy can nudge potential buyers back into the sales cycle. It can also remind them of value and your USP.
3. Use Clever Copy
Copy works best when it is brief, clever (everyone loves a good chuckle!) and aligns with your brand. Make your message standout by using thoughtful language. A side note for making copy have even more impact - white space strategically increases comprehension by 20%.
4. Use Videos and GIFs
Who doesn't love a good GIF? If you're not using moving images, you're behind! Video content increases open rates by 40%. Easy to consume, GIFs are eye-catching and they can show your brand's personality in a fun and lighthearted way. Video content is also better at creating an emotional impact than static images or copy.
5. Include a Call to Action
Every time you ask your mail recipients to spend their time opening your mail, there has to be a clear purpose. Include a call-to-action that is easy to understand and simple to complete. Keep in mind that every email doesn't have to sell. Other call to actions can be to follow on social, complete a review, answer a short survey or refer a friend. Don't just email for the sake of emailing. Understand what you hope to get each time you enter your customers' inboxes.
6. Create Urgency
You should create a sense of urgency with your calls-to-action. That's what makes a lead take action, right? Creating a sense of urgency by focusing on the value of acting now. Use creative copy that cleverly gets your customers to feel what they'll miss by not acting now.
7. Add Value
Curation is an excellent way to add value, without committing additional resources to creating original content. By presenting your brand's content as a complete and expert resource sharing not just your voice, but an aggregator of many credible sources, your audience is more likely to come back to you for the latest, breaking industry news and know-how, time and time again.
8. Get to the Point and Make It Seamless
All emails should aim to provide clear instruction. If you're sending a survey, let your contacts know at a glance how many questions, what the survey is for, how much of their time it will take and if there's an award on the other side of the submit button.
Another way to create an easy and seamless experience is to create pathways that take your readers directly to only the part of your offering that matter to them. Get them to the right size, color or price range if you're announcing a sale. Help them buy by making the steps through the sales process shorter, and get them to the buy button.
9. Take Advantage of Social Proof
Nothing is more credible than a third-party endorsement, like an embedded tweet. Leverage the power of social proof and user generated content. Social proof is the new word-of-mouth, and studies show that 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust personal recommendations from a friend.
10. Use Alt Tags in Photos
Because most email clients disable automatic image downloads, alternative text (alt tag or alt text) lets readers know what is in that little blank box. Getting clever with alt tags also piques curiosity and interest.
The Bottom Line
With billions of emails sent and received every day, it's hard to focus on just ten best practices for email marketing campaigns. But campaigns that combine these elements are proven to be more successful. Align your message and design to your brand. Use GIFs and videos. Personalize a non-personal method of communication. Leverage existing content. Make it valuable, make it urgent and make it seamless.
Get ready to see your CTRs soar!