Email is still a highly effective marketing channel, but how do you get your messages opened and acted on? Jennifer Watkiss, Head of Marketing Communications at Adestra, offers some practical advice
Despite its reputation for being a bit boring and unsexy when compared to other digital marketing techniques, email is still top of the chart when it comes to revenue generation. In fact, according to the 2014 Econsultancy Email Marketing Census, email marketing received more positive ROI ratings than any other marketing channel.
So how can you ensure you’re making the most of your emails? Follow these five top tips to help you know which technologies to take advantage of, what and how to test, how to increase email subscriber engagement and ultimately, of course, improve your email marketing ROI.
DO set up triggered automation. People are impatient, and have been trained to expect instant recognition and confirmation. Whether it’s a purchase confirmation, newsletter sign-up, event registration, subscription reminder or an anniversary or birthday message, ensure your forms and data are linked to your email programme to send those triggered and scheduled messages out the door automatically. Then spend the time you’re saving by automating these routine email activities to improve your other revenue-driving campaigns.
DON’T set it and forget it. Schedule time to revisit your automated campaigns regularly, and ensure they’re still relevant and performing. Regular testing of your data feeds and message rendering (these technologies are always subject to update and change) will ensure your automated messages continue to work for you and your subscribers.
DO test your subject lines. Your subscribers can’t click and convert if they’re not opening your emails in the first place; this is your first stop when increasing subscriber engagement. Test everything from a single word change to entirely different variants to see which perform better for your campaigns.
You can also use the Adestra subject line keyword tool to see how your subject lines stack up against others in your sector:adestra.com/keywordcheck.
DON’T leave your subject lines as an afterthought. Many marketers spend ages putting together a beautiful email template and clever copy, and spend about 10 seconds thinking about, and adding a subject line. Not only is the subject line your key for increasing opens (so subscribers will actually see your beautiful template and clever copy), it’s also one of the most powerful inbox branding tools you have for those who don’t open every email, but still see your message in their inbox.
DO use your data to ensure your subscribers are receiving the right message (for them!) at the right time. Increase engagement by sending customised, tailored messages using everything from personal information your subscriber has given you (like their name), their purchasing history, or even their geo-location data.
According to the Experian 2013 Email Marketing Study, messages with personalised subject lines have, on average, 26 per cent higher open rates, and yet, still, 70 per cent of companies claim they don’t bother using personalisation.
DON’T forget to cleanse your data, and add conditions for handling blank entries. There’s nothing the internet hates more than a “Dear <>” email, when it’s dead easy to make that read “Dear Friend.”
DO embrace the mobile trend. According to eMailMonday’s Ultimate Mobile Email Stats, “Mobile email will account for 15 to 70 per cent of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type.” Making your campaigns mobile friendly is no longer optional.
DON’T get overwhelmed trying to design for every single mobile platform. Developing a fully responsive experience for your subscribers is a noble goal, but takes serious investments of time and budget. And while you’re putting together that programme, you could be missing out on valuable engagement with your current subscribers. Let your campaign reports guide you; look into what percentage of your emails are being opened on mobile platforms, and which email clients are most popular.
Then make a few small tweaks to optimise design for the majority of your subscribers, so you don’t miss out before your fully responsive emails are ready to launch.
DO embrace nuance. Your emails don’t need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. By setting up a subscription preference centre, you can ensure your subscribers will hear just the messages they want from you, at a frequency that makes sense for them. It’s hard to keep prospects engaged and delighted if their only choice is receiving too much email from you, or none at all.
DON’T put additional barriers in to unsubscribing. As the old adage goes, if you love something, you must set it free. Making unsubscribing easy means your engagement rates go up, because your list is truly made up of people who want to hear from you. Also, your recipients are more likely to mark your email as spam if they need to log in to some long-forgotten portal just to update their email preferences.
Bonus Sixth Thing: Results
DO continue to test, tweak, test, evolve, and test your emails some more. Always keep your ultimate goals in mind. Are you trying to increase sales? Registrations? Brand awareness? There is no end of updates and changes you can make, and new marketing technologies to integrate with your email programme. It’s easy to get swept up in the buzz and excitement. By keeping your eyes on the prize, as it were, you’ll be sure you’re making the right choices to deliver email ROI to your organisation.