Simple email marketing strategies that work

Did you know the first email was sent in 1971?! It’s unlikely back then that they had considered any kind of email marketing strategies. Now it’s use is so prevalent, in the time it took you to read this sentence, 20 million emails were written.

We often hear rumours that ‘X marketing channel’ is dead, and email marketing is certainly no exception to this. Now considered a ‘traditional marketing tool’, and somewhat overlooked in the new era of ‘digital marketing’, email marketing is, however, well and truly thriving.

The 2014 annual National client email report commissioned by the Direct Marketing Association provides valuable insight into what marketers have to say about their email marketing strategies, budgets and upcoming trends. The report suggests that marketers are reaping rewards of more targeted campaigns, switching focus from open rates and click rates towards ROI. Confidence in email marketing is supported by it’s integration with other channels, particularly social media and direct mail, and with better end-to-end analytics is easier than ever to track ROI.

Keeping things simple is by far the most effective strategy and here are our most effective email marketing strategies.

1) Segment the data

Data is the lifeblood of direct marketing, and managing it is one of it’s biggest challenges. You are only ever as good as your data.

By narrowing your focus and sending messages to targeted groups, your recipients will find your campaigns more relevant – and relevant campaigns get better results.

Make sure that your database contains sufficient fields so that it can be segmented according to your marketing needs. (Why not actually ask them what they want to receive!)

2) Segment the messaging

Buyer profiling activity will reveal that different members of the decision making unit will have different needs from your product/service and different questions that need answering. Just as you segment the data, you also need to segment your messaging.

3) Test subject lines

Significant changes from a number of popular email clients have necessitated new strategies and tactics. Since Gmail’s inbox now automatically makes moves to categorise promotional emails for a better user experience great subject lines have become even more important.

The best subject lines tell what’s inside; the worst sell what’s inside. The task of the subject line is to get the email opened and, failing that, to communicate a key message from the brand.

Split-testing subject lines is an essential part of email marketing; the answer to what works best always lies in your own data (results).

Some simple tests we’ve been doing include split testing asking a question versus telling a joke. For example:

Subject line A: What’s your worst contact centre nightmare?
Subject line B: Three contact centre managers walk into a bar…

Which do you think performed better?

4) Re-send

Your audience receive countless emails each and every day. Whilst you can have a positive influence on opening behaviour by using a great subject line you do not have an influence on whether the customer has time to read your message or not. Instead of identifying non-openers as “not interested”, you should include a resend programme in your marketing plan; and here is where you can use that alternative subject line.

(Note: do not resend to emails that have bounced, or to those that have unsubscribed.)

5) Ditch the images

Whilst we know that a picture can speak 1,000 words, images perform poorly for email. Every email client has its own default settings regarding displaying/hiding images and email marketing best practice is to prepare for them being switched off. Clever design can make an email look beautiful and perform well – regardless of browser or device.

6) Think mobile

Increased mobile use has arguably been the biggest change for email marketing – in 2012 41% of emails were opened on a mobile device (Source: Knotice), a 14% increase from early 2012. Mobile friendly templates are no longer enough, design must be responsive.

7) Flex the format to help your audience

Emails can take many different forms to meet the varying objectives of new customer acquisition, customer retention and brand engagement. People consume information in different ways, so flex the format to maximise opportunity to engage.

From short introductions and special offers to newsletters, your audience simply want to know how you can do one or more of the following for them: make their life easier; help them develop, learn or have fun; make them look good or give them a great deal.

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