Written by: Nicole Merrett, Vice President CRM Marketing, Sage North America
Successful email marketing campaigns are typically defined as such because of their higher open and response rates, and ultimately revenue generation. Small businesses busy with everyday tasks often need a little help – a blueprint leading them to results they’d define as “successful.” Here are several suggestions to help you craft more effective email campaigns.
1. Subject Line is Key
Everyone has heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately, there is a reason—because it’s a natural instinct. First impressions are critical in any form of communication. When people receive an email, the first thing they see is the subject line, which has the potential to either gain or lose their interest. Subject lines that include your company’s name as a reference and provide specifics supporting your email topic will typically gain higher open rates.
2. Pay Attention to Who It’s “From”
To understand how important this is, think about your own inbox. Would you be more likely to open an email sent from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? People don’t want to feel like they are receiving an automated email. If readers don’t see you putting time into personalizing the “from” address, they won’t spend time considering what you have to say.
3. Mail Merge
People love seeing their own name. It makes them feel the email was written to them personally and not sent to recipient #432. Online services have simple options to directly insert names from your contact database using a template editor.
Sending an email can be one of the most effective ways to grab readers’ attention. However, if you abuse the efficiencies email marketing provides, readers will stop showing interest in your emails. Consistency is essential with any marketing campaign, yet variety is equally important.
How often do you send out newsletters, event invites, and updates that aren’t just soliciting a purchase? Are you getting an active response from recipients? If not, try something new. Be conscious about how many emails you send out each week or month. How are individuals interacting with your emails? Are you following up accordingly? How are you engaging the people that seem uninterested? Some email services include click-through analytics that monitor which readers spend time with your emails or forward them along to colleagues.
Chalaran Direct Marketing represents tourism services and entertainment providers in Barbados and uses an E-Marketing tool from Sage to view open rates of its emails to hotels. Employees call recipients who spent the most time within an email and are thus more likely to be interested in its services. Chalaran likewise adjusts messages for recipients who do not spend much time in a particular email.
5. Quality Over Quantity
It’s far more important to send out content-rich emails than it is to send out long or multiple emails. When you provide your contacts with quality content, they’re more inclined to read your emails and even forward them to friends. Gain the trust of your contacts by emphasizing quality of communication over quantity. One option is providing information they can use immediately. A seller of gardening supplies might offer a series of horticulture tips; and when a prospect is in need of planting materials, is likely to think of the insightful supply marketer first.
6. Content Suggestions
How can you personalize your message content? Listen to your readers—the people who take time to contact you are most likely to become customers. Study their emails, questions, likes, and dislikes. Build or improve products with your customers’ input and they will notice you appreciate them and remain loyal. Social media monitoring is one easy way to listen to and engage your readers. Pay attention to what customers are saying online about your services and your industry. Use these insights to create valuable email content.
7. Test Everything
Test the way your email appears, not only through your own email service provider, but several providers. Test all links in your message to make sure they work. Test your graphics. Pictures are a great way to grab someone’s attention; but remember, pictures don’t always show up in email messages, so test the effectiveness of your email by viewing them in an email client with images turned off and making sure your message remains easy to understand and the call-to-action clear.
Finally, test your email with a spam check tool before sending. Spam check services review email content to see what might get caught in spam filters.
8. And Test Some More with A/B Testing
Your email has passed all the tests of looking good, having working web links, properly placed images, a call to action, and has made it through the spam check, but is not getting the open rates you expected. How come? There are many reasons including time of day, day of week, frequency, message, etc.
So why not test it?
Test one change at a time. For example, explore what days your recipients are more likely to open your email. Split up your list and send each set the same email on different days. Does the open rate stand out more on one day than another? A next step could be to determine the time of a particular day people are more willing to open and interact with your email. Again split your list up and send out the same email at different times of the day. A good starting point is the start of the day and middle of the afternoon. Studies have shown these are the best times of day to send emails. See if your tests concur.
When you have a specific day and time recipients are most responsive examine your content. What sort of subject line gains the highest response? Do your recipients react more to graphics or text? Consider the placement of your call to action. Is one position more effective than another? Do your recipients appreciate lengthy, informational emails or do they prefer a quick read? Test each element one at a time.
With email marketing you never need to settle for one formula because you will often have the flexibility to make improvements as you go. So make taking advantage of trends and technology the ‘constants’ in your digital marketing programs. They will help you achieve more tangible results with your campaigns.
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Nicole Merrett is vice president of CRM marketing for Sage North America, a supplier of business management software and services for small and midsized businesses.