The problem with email marketing is that the word “spam” is one of the first to come to mind. Maybe we all have a little residual trauma from the days when unscrupulous businesses would flood our inboxes with irrelevant messages and email programs hadn’t developed filters yet.
The good news is that while consumers might jump to the spam conclusion when thinking about email, they don’t necessarily lump all marketing messages into that category. The difference lies in relevance, or whether the message is something the recipient actually wants.
When marketers give consumers what they want, email is still a champ at delivering results.
The Proof: People Love Email
Before we get into some ideas on how to improve your email marketing, let’s cut to the chase: if you’re not convinced that email still works, take a look at the numbers.
● People send a lot of emails. More than 281 billion to be exact, and 111 billion of those are consumer emails. In a world of texting and Snapchat, people are still using email. A lot.
● Everyone is using email. In a survey of adults in the U.S., consumers of all age groups responded that email is their preferred way to communicate with businesses. In other words, it’s not just the older generations sticking to the tried-and-true.
● Email is used frequently. The average person checks their email around 15 times every day, plus all the people who have their email programs open on their computer all day and those who check every notification on their phones.
● People Prefer Marketing Emails! You read that right: 77 percent of people prefer to get permission-based promo emails instead of direct mail, text, phone calls, or social media messages.
If you want your marketing emails to be part of these statistics and drive up your bottom line, the next step is to create messages that deliver what your audience wants to receive.
Reach the Right People
First, remember the PTSD from the early days of email and never, ever buy an email list. Spend those dollars on promoting social media posts to get subscribers or boost your reach instead. Remember, it’s better to have a smaller, active list than a massive list with a large percentage of users who will never open a single message.
Email is a very versatile tool that gives you complete control over who sees what–something you’ll never get from social media or other channels. Take the time to build a strong contact database with as many details on each subscriber as you can get. That way, you can segment your audience and send only what people want to hear.
A clean database and proper segmentation will also allow you to base your messaging on past activity so you can personalize the experience and implement smart automation to reduce repetitive tasks for your humans who have more important things to do.
Make it Look Good
The cleaner your email design, the more likely you are to get a good response. Remember how many emails people are sending and receiving; they’re not likely to spend more than a few moments digesting yours, so keep the clutter to a minimum.
Your actual design should be based on the needs of your readers, but keep these technical points in mind:
● Preview Text. Don’t let your recipient’s email program simply display the first couple lines of text. Instead, create your own and make it enticing.
● CTAs are a Must. Give your messages a purpose and give your readers something to do. CTAs should be prominently featured, and easy to find.
● Include Links. Always include at least one text link, and make sure a link or CTA is above the fold for anyone who isn’t going to scroll.
● Alt Text. Many people choose to view a stripped-down version of emails to reduce data usage or avoid downloads. Make sure your images, CTA, and any other non-text items have alt text included.
● Optimize for Mobile. More than 75 percent of Americans now own a smartphone. Make sure your emails look flawless on them by keeping images small, using bigger CTA buttons, and choosing responsive templates so every screen gets a good view.
Don’t Forget the Content!
There’s a lot of work that’s gone into your emails, and we haven’t even reached the actual content yet! Here again is another area where short and sweet will get the job done. Choose an obvious focus for people who are skimming and if you must include a lot of text, break it up with plenty of headers and other visual breaks.
Most emails will do best when there’s only one main focus; so, don’t try to achieve too much from a single message. A couple of related options may work, but separate completely unrelated ideas into different messages.
Don’t forget to utilize all the personalization options you have and go beyond sticking the recipient’s first name at the top of the message. For example, you can choose which images to include in your messages based on demographics or past actions. Personalize your sender, too, as people are more receptive to messages from a real person rather than “marketing,” or worse, “no-reply.”
Lastly, be sure to include sharing buttons, including an option to forward your message to anyone who may be interested.
Test and Repeat
Before you send your messages or set them up in your automated queue, don’t forget to preview them–especially if your messaging program allows you to test several email clients and different devices.
Email also provides so many ways to test different elements and content to find what really resonates with your audience. Try different subject lines, CTAs, body copy and copy length, along with testing different messages with different segments of your audience. That way, you can keep what works and ditch what doesn’t.
Email for the Win!
Social media platforms are great for making new connections and building your subscriber list. When it’s time to nurture your leads on a personal level, make the sale, and keep that customer for the long haul, email is truly the best tool for the job. Take the time to build a solid list, follow a few technical pointers, and keep your content direct and enticing, and you’ll find success.
Nicole Hudson is an engaging thought leader in marketing strategy development, branding, demand generation, content marketing, social media, marketing technology and lead generation. Her firm, Inbound Lead Solutions, focuses on sales and marketing alignment with B2B companies, franchising, professional services, keynote speakers, authors, and consultants. Hudson’s marketing strategies have been recognized by Franchise Media Group in two consecutive years with Star Awards for social media lead generation, and by a Dbusiness Magazine award in 2016 for Marketing Consulting. Her work has been featured in a LinkedIn case study on Franchising Search Engine Optimization and Lead Generation. She published a book collaboration with Bulldog Reporter (Infocom), The Advanced LinkedIn PR Handbook. Hudson has developed social media strategies for two national television appearances, Be the Boss and Undercover Boss. Nicole is a member of the International Franchise Association and sits on its Marketing & Technology Committee; is a board member and marketing chair for Community Home Supports, a Detroit non-profit; and is a regular speaker, content contributor, and trainer on digital marketing topics.