This article was written by Lauren Tilden, Director of Marketing at GreenBook.
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels available to the modern marketer. One study showed that email marketing is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter (McKinsey). According to Campaign Monitor, a message delivered by email is 5 times more likely to be seen than the same message on Facebook (Campaign Monitor). And even with new technology and tools available to us every day, email is the channel that delivers the highest ROI for marketers(Campaign Monitor).
If you agree that email marketing is worth taking seriously, there are some clear steps you can take to improve the effectiveness of your email marketing program.
- Have a goal. Make sure you’re clear on the objective behind every email you send. An exercise that has helped me is to ask myself two questions: what do I want my readers to know? and what do I want my readers to do? If your ultimate goal is to get readers to click a link and go to a website, you’ll want to design your email in a way that makes it super easy for them. You want to make that link VERY obvious and not include other links that will send people other places. You might even think about providing an incentive to visiting your site, such as a free white paper, eBook, or something else of value.
- Segment your list. You don’t have to email everyone on your list every time you send an email (and we strongly suggest that you don’t!). Most likely, your email list is made up of different types of subscribers – clients, prospects, professionals in different roles and industries. They have different challenges and needs, and the kind of content that is useful and valuable to them is probably different. The more directly you can speak to the specific business challenges and interests of your audience, the more effective your email will be.
- Write like a human. Ditch the corporate speak and write copy that reflects the way you would actually have a conversation. One tip that I find helpful is to actually read your copy out loud after you’ve written it. If it sounds like you (or your brand voice – which should sound like a human), you’re on the right track. Another useful exercise is to pick a specific client or prospect on your list who will receive the email, and write it to him or her. This helps to stay away from the business jargon that not very many of us actually use when we communicate in real life. Here’s a good article on this topic.
- Subject lines (really!) matter. You can put all the time and effort in the world into designing the perfect email, but if no one opens it, you’ve wasted your time. A good rule of thumb is to think about what value your email is providing for your audience and articulate that clearly in the subject line. There’s tons of research into what makes a good subject line (here’s a helpful article on the topic), but the BEST research is to examine the open rates in your own email history to see what works best with your audience.
- Experiment and analyze. Experiment – Email marketing is full of decisions to make: subject lines, what to write, how to write it, how to organize information, where to put images, etc. Each of these decisions can seriously impact the performance of your emails. You will never know what is most effective with your audience until you test things. At GreenBook, we run A/B tests on every email we send, and we are continuously learning (and adapting to) what really gets through to our readers. Analyze – As the saying goes, what gets measured gets managed. Nearly every email marketing provider provides robust data on the performance of each email campaign – use it! If you notice a change in things like your open rates, click-through rates, or unsubscribes, there’s probably a reason – and with a little detective work, you can often come up with some theories to test. For some great ideas on key metrics to pay attention to, here’s a useful article from HubSpot.
- Check your work. Sending an email with a big error in it to thousands of people is no fun, to put it lightly. But there are some simple safeguards you can put in place to nearly eliminate the risk of this happening. Create a checklist of important items to check in each and every email you send out – and have someone else check it for you. This list might include running the copy through spellcheck, confirming dates, testing every link, etc.
Email is one of the most important tools we can use to reach and demonstrate our value to our clients and prospects. I hope you’ve picked up a couple of ideas to help your company continue to improve the effectiveness of your emailmarketing.