Email Marketing 101

Thursday 26th, May 2016

Email marketing is one of the traditional forms of digital marketing that has been around since the world woke up to the phenomenon called the internet. You want to reach out to your audience and customers digitally and you do it by sending them an email.

From sending generic emails to everyone in your mailing list, email marketing has come a very long way. We have gone past grouping customers based on common features or demographics. We now have abundant customer data which enables a business to know its customers – not as a group of people that will fit into a demographic profile, but as individuals. Knowing each customer personally makes it possible for all kinds of specific communication to be sent to each of them addressing their particular needs.

Email marketing is one of the best ways of engaging with your customers because this is one channel where the audience actually opts to hear from you! You are not just talking to them, hoping they want to hear from you! So it is no small wonder that according to a report from Econsultancy, 73% of marketers report a high ROI from marketing!

And why is that?

Because sophisticated tools now place enormous power in the hands of the marketer, giving him the opportunity to send the right message to the right customer at the right time.

They can

  • enable personalization in a great way
  • increase open rates
  • improve productivity

And so much more!

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of using email to market to your customers.

  1. Email marketing is one of the less expensive ways of marketing. This is one of its greatest advantages.
  2. And the fact that email marketing is sending messages to people who opt to be contacted by you! Which means that the conversion rates are high!
  3. Email marketing is targeted marketing at its best. You get to control who sees your email and what they see!
  4. It is possible to segment all these willing and wanting to be contacted customers based on various criteria and engaging with them based on that!
  5. And the audience gets the emails immediately. So the impact is quick!
  6. Emails are easy to create (great tools available for this)
  7. They are easy to track and measure. Both in terms of sales and user engagement. So you know how many people viewed your message. You will know what works. And what doesn’t.
  8. Emails are easy to share – if a customer so chooses to! All you do is hit “forward”
  9. By sharing emails with your customers, you increase brand awareness. Which is a great thing.
  10. It helps you engage with your customers better by including an interactive element in it.
  11. It is possible to personalize your messages to your customers – you don’t need to use a “one size fits all” kind of method.
  12. You can communicate more frequently with your customers – since emails are easy to create quickly.
  13. Great way to save trees and the planet

Yes – there are tools. And yes – they do place enormous power in the hands of the marketer, giving him the opportunity to send the right message to the right customer at the right time. But that is not the end – in this current digital age of multichannel engagement and evolved customers, there are a few things a marketer must factor into his email marketing strategy.

Mobile use has overtaken the mighty desktop. Consuming email on the go is quite the norm these days. According to a study by Litmus, the email analytics providers, of 250 million emails, as much as 53% of email opens happen on mobile devices – cell phones and tablets. Designing emails that are optimized for mobiles is no longer just an option – it is now essential. A necessity.

On the other hand, consumers have complaints! They say that they get

  • Too many emails
  • Irrelevant emails
  • Emails that use fonts that are too small to read and interact with
  • Website and landing pages not mobile optimized
  • Email that is not formatted for mobile phones

Most mobile email clients just scale the emails down to fit the screens of smaller devices. These messages are hard to read and in all likelihood, ignored. When it is an email newsletter, the results are disastrous. According to a study, if an email did not display properly, about 70 percent of readers will just delete it.

So does a marketer handle this?

The first thing to do, is to have a mobile strategy. To create content that can be comfortably consumed by mobile users – content that will be just as attractive and compelling as they are on a huge desktop screen. Using the responsive design is one way to do this. Adaptive mode is another. Make sure that subject lines grab the attention of your customers and make them want to open it to know more. Make sure that any action buttons are easy to tap on.

Some useful hints –

  • Use a single-column design that lends itself to the vertical scroll
  • Use short subject lines
  • Bold headlines
  • Optimize images – let them not be too heavy
  • CTA buttons must be large and visible. Easy to tap.
  • Make sure it works across a variety of devices
  • Use responsive design

Make it count

Today’s customer is evolved. He is not about to fall for any kind of general mass-mailer. He would be interested only in something that would offer him some kind of value. It needs to pique his interest. Maybe a change in format can help – visual content is big. Throw in some videos. But it should be about something that the customer would be interested in. The marketer has access to all kinds of data about his customers. And it is up to him to use this information to his advantage and engage with his customers in a much more meaningful manner.

Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation does a lot more than just automate the process of email marketing.  It makes it easy for a business to engage with and communicate with its customers by helping them send highly personalized targeted messages to them. The software even helps a business gather data about its customers which will be useful in sending customized communication to them – making relevant offers, etc. Marketing Automation tools don’t come very cheap but they are worth investing in. With the right modelling and strategy, there is a lot to be gained from this.  It saves time and effort and is the most effective way to send relevant messages to the right customers at the right time.  Statistics show that such automated emails have higher open and click rates.

A simple example of this would be sending a welcome mail to anyone opening a bank account.

Make it personal

In today’s marketplace, personalization is huge. Sending a common mass mailer to all your customers – old and new – won’t work. Even if you manage to address the email to your customer by his first name. This can only have negative and rather disastrous consequences for you. Thanks to several tools, it is possible to gather plenty of information about each customer. It is possible to find out what an individual’s tastes and preferences are. You can find out what he is interested in. And when an email is personalized based on all of this, then it would grab his attention immediately.  But personalization is tricky – a little too much and all kinds of alarm bells would go off and the customer is wary at least – rather than pleased.

Here are some more great email marketing tips –

  1. Make sure that you segment your email database. A one size fits all kind of thing does not work. Your customers are different individuals who are interested in many different things. Based on what you know your customers will appreciate, you can segment them and engage with them more meaningfully. For example, if you are selling a retirement plan, it certainly won’t work on students, for instance.
  2. Images look great but they take time to load – they are heavy. Some email clients even block them. It might work best to limit the use of images to a bare minimum. And never ever use an image to convey important information that is not included in the text. All images must have Alt text and title text included. And you can link all your images back to your website. That way, even if the image doesn’t load, the image will link it back to your site.
  3. Don’t send emails from an “account” – [email protected] – send it from a person. Sending mail from an account is terribly impersonal in this day and age. Avoid that.
  4. Your subject line is where the magic lies – make it as compelling as you possibly can! This is what will entice your readers to open the mail and read further. Offers and deals work best!
  5. Keep your subject lines short – less than 50 characters. Or else, the line can get truncated.
  6. Make sure that you call to action buttons in the email stand out and are easy to use. Many people read emails on their phones – make sure these buttons are big enough for thumbs to tap on!
  7. Personalize – Learn about your customer and personalize your email based on this. But this is tricky – a little too much and all kinds of alarm bells would go off and the customer is wary at least – rather than pleased.
  8. Keep things brief – don’t make your readers scroll through tons of text – give them a little with a link to know more. And ensure that it links back to your homepage or website (the relevant section – don’t make him search!)
  9. Ensure that all the important information is in the little preview text that the reader can see before he actually opens his email. This will have a great impact on whether he would open an email or not.
  10. Study your email campaign – check to see what time works best for which segment and send the emails out at those times. Optimal open times are very important.
  11. Very important – give the customer the option to unsubscribe. And manage their preferences – like how often they would like to hear from you.
  12. Track and measure EVERYTHING.
  13. TEST and TWEAK everything – test emails before sending them to your lists. Make sure it works on all email clients. Find errors and correct them when you test your emails.
  14. Don’t do anything that would qualify your email as spam – that can keep you out of the customer’s inbox for ages!
  15. It is a good idea to do a HTML version of your email and a text only version of it – some people opt to read only the “text only” versions of it.
  16. Your email template should ideally be less than 600 pixels wide. And make sure there is a link within the first 100 pixels.
  17. Clean up your email list every now and then and remove addresses that don’t work. If there are many undeliverable email addresses, email providers will flag you as spam.
  18. And ask your customers to add you to their contact lists so the mail won’t get sent to the spam folder.

Email marketing tools place tremendous power in the hands of a marketer. But it takes a smart marketer to make the campaign work.

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