Around our office, it’s no secret that I like to think of email marketing as the “marketing underdog” – it’s true. In today’s social-media-driven world, a business’ Internet marketing success is seemingly contingent on its social media efforts, sometimes causing other forms of effective marketing to fall to the wayside. This should never be the case; if you know of a marketing tactic that can potentially benefit your business, use it.
If there is one undeniable way to directly communicate with your customers (besides picking up the phone or speaking face-to-face), it’s email for the win. Just because you have a direct route into an inbox, however, does not ensure your message will be seen or well received. For that reason, I’m going to explore 10 of the most effective ways to maximize the success of your email marketing campaigns and help you let this underdog rise to the top (of your contacts’ inboxes).
1) Entice with Your Subject Line
If you can, (bear with me) try to think of the subject of your email as a pick-up line. If you reveal what may seem like “bad intentions” (a hopeful sale) right off the bat, the other party is going to not only lose interest, but also probably toss a drink in your face. If you use the right balance of charm and honest persuasion (how is your recipient going to benefit from your email?), you may have just scored a phone number (or potential customer). First impressions are everything, and a first impression through email is no different. A subject line can determine whether your email is read or tossed in the trash.
What not to do:
What to do:
2) Quality Not Quantity
Sure, it’s fun to be popular, but you don’t pay for people to be your friends (I hope), and you certainly don’t want to pay for a large email list either. Building a quality list of contacts is going to be the foundation for the success of your email campaigns. You can do this by ensuring an opt-in form is in clear view on your website’s home page and promoted on other outlets such as your blog and Facebook page. Popular email service providers such as Constant Contact and MailChimp are putting their foot down about the way you gather your contact lists, and for good reason. With paid email lists comes an increased number of spam emails that ruin the user experience of email. Help keep email a fun and informative place for all!
3) Market Your Brand
Building brand awareness is extremely important. Your brand is ultimately your business’ personality; your “personality” should shine throughout your marketing outlets. This is largely a visual process, which is why spending time to build an attractive and recognizable website is so important. Pairing your email templates with your existing design concept (logo, color scheme, etc.) and writing style familiarizes readers with your brand. Want to win customers over with humor? Go ahead, be the funny guy with the stylish wardrobe and winning smile (tie in humorous, witty content with a modern, attractive layout – you get the idea).
Image from www.BocceClubPizza.com
4) Employ a Happy Marriage of Text and Images
We’ve all fallen victim to short-attention-span syndrome at one point or another (daily). While images seem to grip our attention and get the point across quicker than the dreaded text, image-only emails are not always the most effective. Recipients will typically have to opt in to view images, so while image-based emails can be incredibly appealing, some are immediately disregarded or marked as spam. Including a healthy mixture of attractive graphics and quality content will get you the best results. Those who cannot or choose not to view the included images will still be able to see and read your message if they so choose. Utilizing the alt tags of your contained images will inform recipients what an image is before they see it.
5) Lose the ‘Salesy’ Attitude
If you approach an email like a door-to-door salesman, consumers will immediately catch on, and you’ll get the metaphorical door slammed in your face. With any marketing effort, you want to gain trust and respect – not leave in someone’s mouth a sour taste about your business. Aim for the tone of your email to be friendly and helpful. Think of the audience you’re contacting: what do they want to hear from you? How are they going to benefit from the service or product you’re promoting? If recipients are effectively convinced of the benefit in your message, then you will score leads and potential customers without coercion.
This was automatically sent to my spam folder? Wonder why…
6) Give and You Shall Receive
Potential customers will determine the value of your email by what they receive from it. No, they’re not all selfish, but you’re one of the hundreds of suitors they face on a day-to-day basis – they’re allowed to be discerning while scanning the waiting line that is their inbox. Now this “gift” does not necessarily have to be something tangible like a coupon (though who doesn’t enjoy a good coupon?). Giving customers something as simple as knowledge is still a gift. What I mean is, give an offer/coupon, feature an interesting/educational blog post or ebook you’ve recently published that they can learn from, or invite readers to an event or to participate in a contest. Any of these things can help place value on your emails and thus build a valuable customer-business relationship.
7) Check-ch-check-check-check-ch-check It Out
It may have seemed excessive when the Beastie Boys said it, but when dealing with checking over your email campaigns, you can never “check it out” too much. Send yourself as many tests as you need to feel secure. Ensure all grammar, dates, coupon codes, and other specifics are accurate. Check to see that your links are all pointing to the right location. Mistakes happen to everyone, but believe me when I say that the last thing you want to do is send out a second (or heaven forbid, a third) email because your coupon expiration dates were wrong. We have enough to worry about; keep the embarrassment to a minimum.
8) Accept Rejection
As humans, we’re programmed to feel the sharp pain of rejection, but if we learned anything in high school – I mean, life – it’s that you can’t please everyone. Emails are no different; some people will not care to see them. Don’t keep your contact list feeling trapped. Allowing recipients to easily unsubscribe from your list will prevent a lot of ‘marked as spams’, which can harm your reputation with your email service provider. Email services have the final say when it comes to your account, so a good record goes a long way.
9) Embrace Inquiries
Always ensure that your return email address is one that allows those interested to inquire about your services or the content of your email. Just as it is important to answer comments on your blog or Facebook, user engagement in response to your email campaign should also be acknowledged. A good business is always in “Constant Contact” with its customers (see what I did there?); it shows that it cares about customer experience, not just what’s in their customers’ wallets.
10) Stay Connected
So maybe email isn’t a recipient’s thing, or maybe that person will love you so much that he/she will want to explore you all over the Web. Either way, make sure they know where to find you. Include social media links as well as links to your website. We’ve all heard the saying, “there’s no ‘I’ in team,” and you should apply this mentality while marketing your business. Let all your outlets connect to and promote one another. Marketing becomes effective when a business keeps it consistent across the board, which includes linking up all marketing efforts. Not only are you promoting your business through your emails, you’ll be able to drive traffic to your website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and any other platform your business utilizes.
True, every business should have a Facebook page and every business owner should be aware of the value of a tweet. A strong Internet presence comes from interacting with your customers and building relationships that convert to quality leads, and social media is a great way to, well, socialize. Beyond social media, though, the marketing underdog is patiently waiting to prove itself as a serious asset to your marketing arsenal. If you have a strong email relationship with your customers and prospects, it can potentially provide you the greatest ROI of any of your marketing endeavors – and that is certainly something worth exploring.