The Direct Marketing Association recently declared that ‘email has never been so important’ for achieving brand goals, and with an average return on investment of £38 for every £1 spent, there’s no denying it offers value for money.
So with that in mind, here are our eight top tips for making your email campaign click.
1. Understand what makes your customers tick
There’s only one thing that will persuade your prospect to open and read your email and that’s genuine interest.
First impressions count, and in email marketing that all comes down to how you craft your email subject line and the words which appear in the preview window.
Get as creative as you can with your subject line and teaser text, keeping your customer firmly in mind and using the kind of language that you know will work for them.
Once you’ve hooked them in, make sure the body of your mail is just as engaging. Our mantra is always ‘use, need or want to read’ when crafting our e-marketing copy. If your content doesn’t tick any of those boxes, don’t bother.
If you’re not confident about your writing skills, consider investing in a copywriter to work on your words for you. It’ll be money well spent.
BONUS TIP: Try splitting your mailing list and test different subject lines with different customers whilst keeping the main content the same. It’s a great way to gauge what hooks people and what doesn’t. You can use then this insight to refine your future subject lines.
2. Look the part
How your email looks will play a crucial part in its success. If you don’t have the design skills in-house, invest in a professional designer to create your mailer for you.
This could be anything from a template you can re-use, to a bespoke design for a particular campaign.
We love these examples from Campaign Monitor, but you don’t necessarily need a big budget to create a big impact.
In fact, according to Smart Insights, last year saw a move towards more simplistic email design in response to the need for emails to work across all devices.
So go as good as your budget will allow, make sure the visual style of your email fits with your brand and check it works well on different platforms, especially smartphones.
3. Get the balance right
There’s a fine balance between sending your customer useful, engaging emails to build your relationship and becoming a ‘free advice’ service without any conversions to sales.
There’s also an art to keeping your promotional messages on the right side of pushy.
One of the best ways to do this is by subtly mixing the two together, so your customers get something useful (like ten top tips improve their sleep) but there’s also something in it for you (£5 discount on their first order of herbal sleeping tablets).
Another approach is to send a content-driven email one week and a sales-focused message the next; if you build trust by offering something useful at first, your customer is more likely to be receptive next time they hear from you.
4. One thing at a time
Don’t overload your email with lots of different subjects or unconnected promotions. Try and stick to the golden rule ‘one mail, one key message’.
By doing so, your email becomes more powerful and targeted.
It also means you can track and evaluate success more accurately, as you can be really clear about what you expected to achieve versus the response you received.
If you’ve got several things going on at once, you dilute the power of your message and it also makes it trickier to understand why your email did or didn’t work.
Always make sure you include a clear call to action too. A clickable link is ideal within an email as it allows your customer to instantly access your offer and it’s a great way to track your conversions.
5. Plan ahead
That carefully planned first email campaign worked amazingly well, and you now need to leverage that potential and build momentum. Establishing a regular and reliable rhythm of contact with your customer will help you build that ongoing, trusting relationship.
Before you even sent that first email, you should have planned your next six. Minimum. Time flies and it’s easy to become sidetracked by other business activities. If you’ve got your email campaign list and content planned, you’re already one step ahead.
Some e-marketing packages will allow you to automate the time and date your future emails go out, so you don’t even need to be there to press ‘send’.
And be just as savvy with your timing as you have been with your content; for example if you’re a restaurant or bar with a weekend offer you want your mail to hit inboxes on a Thursday afternoon rather than a Monday morning when your customers may not be as receptive.
6. Hit the right target
When your email goes out, you want to make sure it reaches someone who genuinely wants to hear from you. Unfortunately, just emailing your granny isn’t going to cut it on this occasion.
You’re going to have to proactively branch out if you want to tap into new networks.
Aiming for a ‘slowly but surely’ approach will also help to ensure that your contacts are more likely to be genuine, long-term prospects.
And, really importantly, you need to make sure the person you’re emailing has given their permission for you to do so as there are strict rules in place around how you can contact people by email for marketing purposes.
Slightly different laws apply for business to business and business to consumer contacts, and the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office offers a really clear and useful guide to the law which you should read before planning your email marketing campaign.
And don’t forget to always include a clear ‘opt-out’ option in every email you send.
7. Don’t press send just yet!
Your email has just gone. And then you notice a glaring mistake. There’s nothing worse.
Avoid post-send panic by making sure you thoroughly proof check your email before you let it go, including checking any links that are included.
And remember, almost two thirds of your targets will open that email on their smart phone, so always pre-test your email on different platforms to check it’s displaying correctly.
8. Don’t forget to evaluate
The beauty of an email campaign is that your open rates, click-throughs and conversions can be relatively easy to track and evaluate.
Make sure you capture and use that insight to make any improvements for your next campaign, and be sure to note any un-subscribers or bounce backs so you can update your mailing list accordingly.
Mail Chimp is a great place to start if you’re new to email marketing. It’s simple and easy to use, and includes lots of useful tools to measure and evaluate success.