11 Best Practices for Email Acquisition and Engagement
The income generated by your email marketing is directly related to the quality of your email address list. A list filled with highly targeted prospects and customers delivers solid response rates, clickthrough and revenue. Acquiring addresses for the people most likely to respond to your email marketing and sending relevant content should be top priorities for every company.
The best strategies capture email addresses at a variety of locations and use customized messaging to motivate participation in the marketing program. Moving people past the resistance to share their email address is only the first step in a multi-faceted strategy. Every email from the initial "Welcome to our program" to routine promotional messages must speak directly to the recipients or risk triggering opt-out activity.
Overcoming the inertia created by using a tool that consistently generates responses is one of the biggest challenges faced by email marketers. The "if it isn't broken, why fix it?" thought process prevents email programs from generating even more revenue and building better relationships. The only way to move past this is to implement a continuous improvement policy and test everything.
Continuous improvement begins with best practices. Using the results from tests by others is a good way to insure that you will not reinvent their mistakes. Once the best practices are in place, testing different ways to engage customers and prospects is easier and more effective. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Measure Everything: Capturing every piece of data is important because it creates benchmarks for improvement. If the data isn't immediately convertible to usable information, save it. Hard drives are cheap and trying to regenerate lost data is hard.
- Customize Welcome Emails: Subscribers from different sources have different expectations. Create customized emails that recognize the difference and speak directly to the recipients. If your email marketing service provider doesn't have this capability and changing isn't an option right now, speak to the persona most likely to become a long-term profitable customer.
- Capture Email Addresses at Point of Sale: Offering to email receipts reduces customer resistance to sharing information and provides a second opportunity to encourage program participation when people don't automatically opt in.
- Give People a Tangible Reason for Signing Up to Receive Your Emails: Offering a discount on the next purchase encourages the sign-up and future purchases. If people don't respond to the discount, test sending a reminder just before the coupon expires. (Note: if you don't have the ability to identify the people who responded, don't send the reminder. Doing so tells them that they weren't recognized when they returned and undermines the relationship.)
- Offer People a Sign-up Choice Between Email and Text Messages: When given a choice, people are more likely to choose one than none. It simultaneously grows your email and mobile marketing programs.
- Use Pop-ups to Encourage Sign-ups: Pop-ups are the acquisition method that people love to hate. Forget the hate talk and go with the test results because it is also the method that delivers high response rates.
- Personalize Everything: Relationships are personal. Sending generic emails will not create loyal customers. Create an email marketing program that is personal and customized for individuals and you'll get lifelong, highly profitable customers.
- Keep Your Data Clean: Email hygiene services verify your addresses and reduce spam risk. A good send reputation keeps the spaminators at bay, improves deliverability, and connects you to people interested in your products and services.
- Create Second Chance Offers for People Who Don't Opt In: Automatically opting people in when they provide their email address for other reasons can reduce deliverability and your send reputation. Use a second chance offer to encourage people who didn't opt in to change their mind.
- Segment Well: Sending the same email to everyone generates results. Creating specialized emails based on people's behavior and preferences generates much better results. In addition to the immediate response, customized emails make people more likely to open and respond to future messages.
- Test Everything: General best practices are simply rules of thumb that provide a starting point for successful email marketing programs. The best way to optimize your program is to test different tactics and use the information to fine-tune future mailings.