Part 2 of the “Do-it-Right Email Marketing” series. (Read Part 1 here.)
Your email marketing program has just launched, and your first campaign has shown some exciting results. Firstly, it enticed two former customers to reach out and restart a conversation. Several current customers and colleagues also sent you a note to say ‘nice job.’ And you were encouraged when you saw prospects who have been ignoring your efforts to connect in other ways have now opened this message.
This is a good start. So what’s your next step?
Get to know how to take your strategy to the next level and follow these email marketing best practices:
Manage your email lists
We frequently hear people say, “I’ve got a stack of business cards on my desk…” It those contacts aren’t properly organized in a digital format, you’ll miss out on the majority of their value.
Keeping lists current is tedious and time-consuming — so it’s no surprise that it’s often ignored. But adding, removing and updating your digital contact list, which includes the cleanup of bounced emails that don’t get delivered, should be an ongoing endeavor. Carve out time before and after each email campaign to work on your lists. You’ll always have attrition, so adding new contacts and updating old records on a schedule will keep your time spent to a minimum.
Keep your design simple
If you’re unsure of what constitutes good email design, do some research. For example, you can view 15 campaigns highlighted by HubSpot as well as Campaign Monitor’s Top 100 campaigns. Start to pay close attention to the emails you receive. The most inviting ones probably limit the use of fonts and colors, feature properly-sized and scaled images, draw you in with copy that flows from top to bottom, and prominently display a call to action.
Before you schedule release, test your campaigns in multiple email clients such as Outlook and Gmail, as well as on different devices — desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. What you’ve created isn’t guaranteed to render that way on all platforms and devices. By testing, you may discover that you want to move elements around or that the phone number in your footer changes to a color that isn’t easy to read.
Create content your audience will enjoy
Remember, it’s not about you. All those vital selling points about your products and company? Give it a rest. Wait until your audience steps up and says, “OK, tell me more.”
For now, develop content that will help your audience and create genuine interest. Include photos, videos and links to useful articles. Tell stories. Surprise and delight your readers. Even transactional emails that acknowledge orders can be playful and memorable.
Embrace the technology
Often once we master the basics of software we leave it at that. But Email Service Providers are continually enhancing their platforms to help users generate more engagement and get better results.
For instance, your platform probably has the option to set up auto-responders — a series of emails that release automatically each time you add new contacts to a designated list. It may also provide integrations with your CRM, website or social media accounts to simplify adding new subscribers to your email account. There are bound to be useful features you can use, so check them out.
Carefully craft your subject lines.
Don’t slough off subject lines as unimportant. While studies show that emails are opened first based on who they are from, the subject line comes in as a close second.
When you’re drafting ideas, strive to create urgency and curiosity. Tailor your text so it’s relevant to your readers and tease with what makes your email an interesting read. For inspiration, read 164 Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rates.
Set reasonable expectations
Most companies launch an email program for two reasons:
- They need a system for keeping in front of their existing buyers
- They want to generate new business.
Some email programs quickly lead to inquiries and conversations that turn into sales. When that happens, it’s easy to think, “Wow – that email accomplished a lot. We need to send more emails.” But your email program on its own will never be a rainmaker.
No matter how engaging and stunning an email campaign might be, it isn’t solely responsible for generating sales. If you think it is — or should be — you’re setting yourself up for disappointment in the months to come.
It’s more likely that your first email served as a catalyst, leading a select group of people who already knew about your company, your quality offerings and your strong customer support, to reach out. Fortunately, now that you plan to build on that experience, you’ll have a good understanding of how to make the most of your new email program.
Cathy Cain-Blank is President of CC Marketing and Communications, specializing in developing and deploying effective email marketing campaigns for businesses across North America.