Back to the classroom – email marketing Published April 1, 2015 OK, faces to the front please. Spit that chewing gum out, and who’s nattering at the back? The school of email marketing is back for another term and gaining a quality education has never been more important. Growth in the marketing channel means mailboxes are getting all the more crowded. Companies need to go above and beyond in order to get noticed, or risk seeing their efforts quite literally go to waste – their messages bypassing the inbox on their way to the dreaded trash folder. Fortunately it’s never too late to learn about the kind of things that make a campaign tick and how brands can generate a return on their investment of time and money. Not only this, you can never be so far into email marketing that it’s impossible to turn back and think about why something isn’t working. There’s nothing wrong with going back to basics and understanding how the platform drives traffic, interest and sales, as an immediate improvement is just a short tip away. We’ve a lot to get through before the lunch bell rings, so let’s get started. Getting Subscribers There is such thing as an under-appreciated newsletter, which is often down to the company sending through very specific types of content in order to convert a smaller group of customers. However, all email feeds could do with a few hundred extra subscribers and if digital marketing has taught us anything, it’s that the audience is always there. First thing’s first, always ensure opt-in boxes for facilitating sign-ups can be seen at all times. Place these next to page elements that are likely to attract attention and make them a reasonable size. The next step is to offer an incentive of sorts. If you sell products, consider a welcome discount for any new subscribers. If you offer a service, perhaps try offering a free trial of one of your smaller offerings. Use your creativity to find what would work best. Promoting your email service through social media is another option if you’re active on a particular network. It’s also worth pushing a ‘tick to sign up’ box to the customer when they’ve just entered their email address on your site. This could be during a check-out process or when they come to leave a comment. Get crafty to get your service out there. Nurturing relationships So once the user is signed up they’ll just stay there until you stop sending emails? Detention! Users will opt-out of your service as quick as they opted-in unless you make it abundantly clear how important they are and that you want to build a relationship with them. The value of an email list is made up of two factors: the size of the list and its responsiveness. So you can’t just expect to increase sales off the back of gaining a few more sign-ups. Start by using an auto-responder sequence that all new subscribers pass through. This should send through a welcoming email, offering a sneak peak about things to come. The second should be around three days after the first, containing a useful tip, a how-to guide or something across those lines. This implies that you’re not in it for the hard sell and you’re happy to just keep them on board. From then on, great content helps brands convert subscribers into loyal fans and maybe even customers. Segmentation An email list filled with engaged subscribers holds a world of possibilities. However, you might not be getting the most out of your activity by giving everyone the same message. If you feel your opt-in list is big and brave enough for the world of segmentation, push right ahead with your targeting. Consider a range of factors when doing so, using gender, location, age, purchase history and consumer interests to create a number of lists. These should all receive a slightly different version of the news, with the suggested items window a good place to start. That way everyone can be assured the email service really is tailored to their interests. Frequency How do you find out the ideal frequency for your sending? By asking the audience, of course. Lots of companies like to put themselves firmly in the driving seat and refuse blind to ask how often they’d like to hear from them. This ‘my way or the highway’ approach often has a detrimental impact on the campaign as the user should always be able to give their two cents on how it runs. Why? Well, without them, there wouldn’t be anyone to receive the messages. Use a survey to find out how often people would like to receive their messages and use this to plan your deployment schedule. Measuring results When it comes to measuring the success of a campaign, brands have this strange tendency to only concentrate on the open rate. This is a great stat for revealing the effectiveness of a subject line, but it can’t provide a decent enough assessment of the campaign as a whole. Obviously it’s important that your email is being opened, but you should also look at click-through rates for discovering how many people wanted to find out more about your company. Perhaps look into when people viewed your message; how long they spent on it before clicking away; whether they took you up on any offers. Findings like these can help you fine-tune your campaign and optimise everything it encompasses. Homework So that’s the basics done and dusted, but you’ll soon find that flagging email campaigns need more than just a few tweaks to bear fruit. In short, you get out of the platform what you put into it, which means paying attention in all areas. Start by looking at how you treat your customers and consider what they think of your brand. You should always make it easy for users to opt-out of your service if they feel it’s no longer delivering, while throwing in the odd discount to loyal followers won’t hurt. It’s also worth cleaning up your email list to reflect how many followers it really has, as messages sent to invalid or old addresses will only skew your campaign stats. Last but not least, it might seem like another basic tip to run through but it can never be said too often. Always check your content for grammar, spelling and typos, because you’re the professional in this relationship. Class dismissed.