Interested in finding effective email marketing strategies and best practices to help improve your online outreach efforts? The first thing that we want you to know is that the primary purpose of sending any email, e-newsletter, or customer communication is to get your recipient to want to receive and open the next one. This bears repeating–as it’s the most essential concept in this entire article. You want your customer to want to receive and open your next communication—not just the one you’re sending now.
Years ago, email was a largely untapped market. Today, businesses and organizations send upwards of 290 billion emails and email marketing campaigns every day. And that figure is expected to break 347 billion daily emails by the end of 2023. This may sound like an overload in our inboxes but stick with me.
The Human Mind
As humans—and digital consumers—we guard our email inboxes heavily. We’re highly selective about what we allow in, and we’re quick to decide what we no longer want crowding our email. With that in mind, those who do subscribe to your monthly e-newsletter are the people who are most likely to be interested in and engage with your brand or business. They’re your customers! So, that’s why both emails and e-newsletters are one of the best ways to get connected with the right people—at the right time and in the right place.
Just like every other type of communication, email success has changed over the years. But it’s still a key marketing strategy. With this article—and this marketing blog— as your guide, you’ll discover best tools available today to maximize your ROI (Return on Investment) as a business or nonprofit organization. And you’ll learn how to increase your active recipients while decreasing inactive recipients.
According to Data & Marketing Association, emails still have a greater ROI than pay-per-click advertising. And emailers can expect up to $51 in return for every $1 spent on this medium. That’s a pretty great ROI for any industry. And according to this article in Forbes, email marketing is still the most powerful tool to next level your marketing. And to get prioritized in email marketing, you’ll need a clear and methodical strategy. So, in this article we want to focus on seven best strategies and insights to help you gain the most ROI for every email and e-newsletter you send—all while saving you time and energy. Let’s get started…
Email Marketing Strategy #1: Make It Personal
The first best and effective email marketing strategy is the first decision-making point: subject lines. Email subject lines are the first hurdle that needs to be conquered to get your email opened. Creating clear, compelling, interesting, and enticing subject lines can be the difference between your email or e-newsletter being opened and read vs. being sent straight to the trash folder. And no, we don’t mean send a separate email to every individual on your list. So, what does ‘make it personal’ mean?
One way to more clicks is to pay attention to the email subject line. Most email providers give you the option of using your recipient’s name in email subject lines. So, instead of saying, “Dear Valued Donor,” your email subject says, “Dear Susan,”. Think about it… when someone mentions your name while speaking to you, don’t your ears perk up and make you want to pay attention at least a little bit more? A similar reaction happens when you use your recipient’s name in an email subject field as well. It truly works!
Email Subject Lines
Statistics show that making the email subject line personal in this way garners an average of six times more open, reading, and interaction rates. That’s a big gain from just a small personal touch—and it reduces your inactive audience rate. The best part is that making it personal can be a differentiating factor for your business because as many as 70 percent of today’s nonprofit and for-profit brands don’t use personalization in their emails. Plus, you may also want to test your email subject lines strategy using emojis.
The pre-header text (or snippet text) is also an essential tool to make your e-newsletter be opened and read. Don’t waste this valuable opportunity. Use this area to summarize your email further, offer a benefit, provide another tidbit that’s also included in your email, or include a call to action or other important message that gets your subscribers to take action.
KEY: Using this personalization tactic depends entirely on uploading the proper email list format to begin with. For most email providers, it’s easiest to upload your email list in Excel format with the following information separated into three separate columns: first name, last name, email. If your email list is not separated this way, it’s best to take the time to do so before uploading your list. A little time and investment spent up front will mean more opportunities for marketing, engagement, personalization, and better ROI in the future.
BONUS HINT: You may choose to upload more information that may be important to your marketing, such as location or even age. The more details you can upload to your email provider, the more you can segment your list for future marketing. That means that if you want to send a hyper local email, you can choose only recipients in certain zip codes rather than sending the email to your entire list.
Email Marketing Strategy #2: Keep It Real
Before your email arrives in your recipient’s inbox, your in-house marketers first have to pass a major strategy test: get past the gatekeeper. Both personal and company email inboxes are heavily equipped with spam detectors. So, it’s ultra-important to be as transparent as possible to circumvent falling victim to internal email policy. Be sure to designate the “Reply to” or “From” email as the email of a real person (e.g., email@example.com) and not an “info@” or other generic email address, for example. Most spam filters will immediately send emails from a generic email address to the spam folder, where your email may be missed entirely. (How often do you check your own spam folder? P.S. You should check it daily.) This is the first and best way to avoid being classified as spam.
Email Marketing Strategy #3: Enable List Segmentation
We’ve mentioned to business owners and marketers before about list segmentation by location. If you are holding a local event, you don’t need to email list members from 100 miles away… that is, unless your customer base would typically travel that far for an event. Instead, target the people who are most likely to attend.
Additionally, you can segment your list for other purposes. (Paid tools such as Hubspot can be helpful for this.) For example, you can add segmentation according to where they are in the buying process (also referred to as the sales cycle).
- Never purchased
- First-time buyer
- Regular customer
This type of segmentation strategy is referred to as a drip campaign. Through email marketing, you can lead each customer or potential customer down the path to an eventual purchase or to becoming a repeat customer with your marketing strategy. This requires that you change your messaging along the way to encourage this path. If you want people to buy for the first time, you are wasting your longtime customer’s time—and possibly even frustrating them—by sending an email that doesn’t apply to him/her/them. Most email providers and email marketing software offer built-in tools to help you set this up.
Email Marketing Strategy #4: Be Mobile Friendly
Your typical target audience member probably spends more time on their phone screen than on a laptop or desktop computer screen. That means that they’re more likely to open your email or e-newsletter on their phone. In fact, at least 61 percent of emails today are opened on a mobile device. And revenue received from mobile vs. desktop interactions can be as high as 40 percent more. Why? Because it’s easy to click—and pay.
Ensuring your email or e-newsletter is mobile friendly and has the best responsive design will boost the chance of engagement with your messaging—and of your recipient taking the desired action. If your email loads slowly, jumps around when loading, or is difficult to read on a mobile device, it’s likely to be deleted—and you’ve lost your chance to connect. Most email providers give you the option of previewing your email/e-newsletter appearance on both desktop and mobile devices before clicking send. Don’t forget to use this feature as it is one of the most valuable email marketing campaign tools.
With email provider software, you’ll get numerous mobile-friendly email templates to choose from when designing your email campaigns. Pay attention to these three factors when designing your email or e-newsletter strategies:
- Responsive design for easier interaction and reading
- Links and Calls to Action (CTAs) at least 57×57 pixels to fit the average index finger
- Images reduced in size to fit a mobile screen
BONUS: The purpose of every marketing campaign is to get in front of more potential customers and to be discovered. So, make it easy for customers to find you online wherever you are by including links to every social media profile.
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Email Marketing Strategy #5: Make Your Links Dynamic
Your message and small business may be dynamic, so the links on your e-newsletter need to be dynamic as well. Dynamic links give you the best opportunity to create further-segmented email lists. For example, if you make your Buy Now button dynamic, you can assign any readers who click on that link to be added to a separate Potential Customer email list. (Again, your email provider should have this dynamic list segmentation available to use with the click of your mouse.) So, before you click ‘Send,’ check for dynamic link and content opportunities.
Email Marketing Strategy #6: Test and Measure
Once you send an email marketing campaign, be sure to test and measure the results of your strategies. Your email provider can provide reporting for you, including most or all of the following information:
- Open rate
- Number of individual user clicks
- Bounce rate
- Number of unsubscribes
- Who unsubscribed
- Who opened your e-newsletter
- How many times each person opened your e-newsletter
- What links were clicked
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- What countries your recipients are in
- Donation tracking
- And more!
As a small business, once you review your numbers, first don’t despair. On average, only 25 percent of your emails will be opened and read. Depending on the industry, that average can be as low as six percent. That’s the reality of everything that pops into our email inboxes on a daily basis. You’ll typically get the most email clicks on the day you send your email, then the open rate will trail off after the first 24 hours and over the next few days’ time.
The keys to build your small business email list and increase your email open rate are continuity, connection, promotion, providing value, and testing and measuring.
Beyond results, test and measure other email attributes to determine the best success rates.
- Subject lines
- Sender name
- Button colors
- Calls to action
- Landing pages
A/B Headline Testing Campaigns
Your email subject line can make a big difference in both email conversions, including email open rates, clicks, and the acquisition of future customers. A/B subject line testing allows you to test two different headline versions and send them both to a small portion of your email list. Whichever email gets the best open rates will automatically be sent to the rest of your email list; thus, ensuring an overall higher open rate.
It’s also a good idea test an email subject line written in headline style vs. sentence style. Or you can test using emojis vs. no emojis and whether using the recipient’s name in the subject line makes a difference in email conversions as well. (On average, a headline written in sentence style gets more email opens as well as headlines with an emoji and/or the recipient’s name.)
Call-to-Action Buttons Strategies
When creating email marketing campaigns, the color of your call-to-action buttons is not something to be overlooked. Don’t just use your company logo colors here. Experiment with other colors such as red or green, which tend to get higher click rates than other colors. With enough experimentation, you’ll find the best color to use for your business call-to-action buttons. (You may need to continue with experimentation, as customer preferences do change over time.)
Keeping your eye on email analytics and response rates will provide better insights and help you make educated decisions with each email or e-newsletter to increase your response rate each time. Here are a few more tips for your CTA buttons:
- Make sure CTAs stand out graphically.
- CTA buttons should be larger than other elements.
- Use bright or contrasting colors.
- Label CTA buttons with action-oriented verbiage: Get, Give, Help, Donate, etc.
- CTAs should have visual interest and be clickable.
Social Share Buttons Strategy
Don’t forget the power of sharing in your email marketing campaigns. Add social media profile follow and share buttons to your email marketing campaign. People pay more attention to something when it’s sent from a friend. So, make it easy for your message to be shared either via email or through social media. Plus, it’s the best way to get more active—and fewer inactive—followers. Again, it works!
Email Marketing Strategy #7: Automate the Email Process
Your email provider should offer options for automated messaging once certain actions are taken. For example, if readers click on the Buy Now button, you’ll need a specific message that entices them to take the action you require and complete their purchase. Perhaps, you can offer different options to automate more add-on sales. This plays into an individual’s ego and desire for status, as we all desire to be part of a tribe.
Then, once your customer makes a purchase, be sure to send them an automated message thanking them for their specific purchase and welcoming him/her/them into your family of customers. Then provide more ways to stay in touch with your organization, such as following you on each social media profile.
BONUS Email Marketing Campaign Idea: Lead Magnet
If you plan to bring a lot of value to the table, consider creating a paid e-newsletter as a lead magnet. Your e-newsletter can be launched daily, bi-weekly, weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly. When subscribers are willing to pay for what you have to offer, they are more likely to engage with and do business with your company. This type of lead magnet email marketing can bring you the best base of highly refined and highly motivated customers.
Best wishes in creating your email and e-newsletter strategies!
And let us know if you need any help or guidance with your marketing.
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