5 Email Marketing Tips for Beginners
There's a good reason that email is once again getting the respect it deserves as a prominent method for online marketing. Consider the following email stats: marketers see an average return off $44.25 for every $1 spent on email campaigns, while nearly half of all email recipients made at least one purchase in 2012 based on a promotional email. The benefits of choosing email as an essential ingredient of your broader multichannel marketing strategy range from reduced strain on internal resources to the ability to deliver a targeted message that not only yields results, but also crucial data to help maximize performance.
While practices, tactics and innovations rapidly evolve as businesses large and small strive to outpace the competition, the basic elements of a winning email campaign remain constant. If you're ready to reach more leads, ramp up revenues and forge powerful consumer relationships, consider these essential tips for successful email marketing:
1. Build your list. Email marketing is among the most effective ways to communicate with prospects, but you won't get far without an extensive list of qualified recipients. While it's fine to supplement your initial base with rented or purchased email leads, you'll be far better served concentrating on building an extensive list of subscribers who have purposely opted in to receive your communications. If internet marketing is on your radar in any way, a comprehensive effort to collect customer email addresses along with permission to receive promotional messages is in order. Take the following steps:
- Begin soliciting email addresses at every opportunity, including during the purchasing process, via a website registration page, customer service and direct mail communications.
- Use social media to reach pervasive pools of qualified leads, providing enticing rewards for those who subscribe to your communications and endorse your brand to their extended circles.
- Build trust with your contact base by providing options at the time of subscription as to the type of information they wish to receive as well as the frequency of your emails.
2. Avoid spamming. While a high rate of unsolicited emails inevitably end up being relegated to the spam folder, studies have shown even messages sent to those who have expressly requested to receive them will fail to reach their destination. In certain cases, emails simply fall prey to overactive filtering. That said, about one in five users who have opted in still press the spam button. Obviously, the higher the rate of successfully delivered messages, the better your prospects for increased revenues. While it's virtually impossible to reach 100 percent, it's essential to keep spam figures to a minimum or run the risk of being banned by an ISP. Consider the following tactics:
- Study best practices for keeping promotional emails from being labeled as spam, such as using a sender email address that includes your official brand or business name.
- Send an initial confirmation email each time a new user opts in, following up with a timely marketing message with a special promotion to welcome new subscribers.
- Test your emails with as many prominent service providers as possible, and include a non-HTML version for those who prefer it and as a fail-safe to bypass incompatible email clients.
3. Write effective subject lines. There are few elements that determine the success of your email campaign more than the subject line. Often egregiously overlooked, subject lines have the power to make a persuasive first impression, as well as the propensity to land you in the spam folder. In addition to educating yourself as to the anatomy of effective email marketing subject lines, continually analyze data metrics pertaining to the success of individual campaigns, testing and tinkering to find a formula that works. While following best practices is wise — e.g., avoiding using all caps or outlandish language — taking a grounded yet more adventurous approach to crafting subject lines can potentially yield more dynamic results. Consider trying the following:
- Keep your subject lines short (less than 50 characters) and relevant to the specific purpose of the communication.
- Address your subscribers by name — a personalized invitation or announcement has proven to be more compelling.
- Start subject lines with attention-grabbing action words, and include your brand name when possible for easy recognition.
4. Get to the point. In the fast-paced online environment, there's rarely time to waste working up to a big sales pitch. When someone who has opted into your communications clicks on an email, it amounts to an invaluable one-on-one opportunity to make your most compelling offer. If you meander for a moment, you risk losing your audience forever; if you offer irrelevant content, you'll end up in the spam folder. Effective email content makes its point with persuasive visual imagery; clear, comprehensible details and instructions; and a genuine tone that supports your marketing mission and core branding points. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Skip the sales lingo that's passé to online users in favor of casual and economized language consumers can better relate to.
- Present a clear and obvious path to conversion that allows users to take action with a single click.
- Deliver personalized content based on the subscriber's stated preferences and data from past shopping experiences.
5. Invest in success. While email marketing is cost effective and yields a healthy return on investment when done correctly, it takes sustained commitment to unlock its full potential. From producing compelling copy and professional-looking designs to culling data and analyzing results, it's necessary to allocate the resources and acquire the support to fuel your initiatives. Whether that means taking a team approach that utilizes the existing skills of in-house staff or bringing in a consultant with a broad e-marketing background, in the end you'll get back what you put into your email marketing program. Consider the following options:
- Work with a professional, experienced designer to create visually pleasing HTML emails that function properly and follow best practices to avoid being labeled as spam.
- Use a comprehensive software tool that does everything from helping you build a subscriber list to simplifying tracking and analytics to providing features to increase engagement and cultivate relationships.
- Never stop working to improve the quality of your email program. There are new developments, trends and techniques that emerge every day that can impact the results of your campaigns.
Email is once again among the hottest trends in internet marketing because it makes sense to reach consumers where they're most receptive to receive your message. By building an extensive list of qualified recipients, employing a combination of industry standards and innovation in reaching your audience, and supporting your campaign with ongoing analysis and reinvestment, you too can tap into the impressive results email marketing can produce.
Barry Michael is a business owner and online marketer who writes about technology and e-commerce.