The exponential advance of digital communication can make it tough to know where to place your marketing priorities—and budget dollars. RSS, SEO, SEM, blogs, vlogs, posts, tweets, snaps—just when you think you’ve dialed in a strategy for one digital platform, a new one emerges to challenge its relevance.
But through all this change, one constant seems to be holding. Email marketing, according to research, is still the most effective online channel for lead generation. Why is that? Well, email marketing has a lot going for it:
1) It’s a budget-friendly tactic for small business
2) It offers great opportunities for segmentation and testing
3) Email can be timed and coordinated with offline marketing quite easily—making it a critical piece of any integrated marketing strategy.
Even so, email marketing is no sure-fire winner. Without smart strategy and execution, email campaigns can fall as flat as a sandwich board. Below are 10 tips to help ensure your email marketing makes an impact and delivers the results you need.
1. Clarify your goal
When it comes to email marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in the fine details. But first you have to take a step back and ask yourself—what is my overall objective and who am I trying to reach? What are you looking to accomplish with this email – is it to raise awareness for your brand among a particular group, or inform customers of a new product launch? Whatever your objective may be, it’s important to define it and make sure your emails will help you accomplish it.
2. Strengthen your subject line
Your subject line is what hooks your email recipients and encourages them to open, so create one that’s compelling. The subject line should live up to its name—the subject. Make sure the subject line explains the contents of the email, while also leaving a hint of mystery so curiosity will drive the audience to open your emails.
Subject lines can be tricky, though; they can make or break your emails by driving them straight to the spam folder. Avoid common spam trigger words such as:
3. Create a compelling call to action
Your offer is the essential piece of your email—it’s why people are opening the email in the first place. Develop your offer and craft it so it matches your overall objectives and meets the needs of your intended audience. What can you provide your audience that will help them solve issues they may be facing? Make sure your offer is irresistible and perceived as valuable by your intended audience.
In order for email recipients to receive your offer, you must provide a call to action (CTA) within your email to direct recipients to the particular offer. Remember, your CTA should be compelling and your recipients should want to click on it. Your CTA should tell the reader what they should be doing next; download, click or purchase should be clearly stated on the CTA button with the name of the offer itself.
4. Simplify your design and copy
The key to email design is to make it simple. Emails with overwhelming designs usually make their way straight to the trash folder. Maintaining a simple design that follows your brand standards is a great way to keep readers engaged, while also attracting attention to your organization.
Sometimes copy and design can become overcomplicated and can distract the audience from your overall message. Keeping the copy and design simple, while also making a statement, is a tricky thing to accomplish. By sticking to the point and saying something meaningful in your emails, your metrics will signal more favorable results. (Say hello to lower unsubscribe rates!)
5. Optimize for today's users
In our device-driven world, most people are now checking emails on a mobile device. Make sure that your emails are optimized so they are easily read and clicked, even on a small screen.
It is also important to take advantage of social media, and keep your brand top-of-mind on social channels. Be sure to include social sharing icons in your emails so that your content can have a greater reach and ultimately generate new leads.
6. Comply with CAN-SPAM requirements
Be sure to review your email campaigns for CAN-SPAM compliance. It will boost your credibility, portray you as a reliable marketer and help you avoid some hefty fines. Here are some tips to follow:
- Include and honor opt-out requests
- Use truthful header information
- Use descriptive and honest subject lines
- Identify the message as an advertisement
- Provide a physical address and telephone number
7. Create a landing page for your offer
A landing page is a webpage that will host the offer you mentioned in your email. Email recipients will be directed to that page to receive the offer without the distraction of the rest of your website.
A landing page is ultimately an extension of your email, so keep it consistent with the email offer. The design should be simple, easy to understand and most importantly, provide the content you offered.
8. Track and analyze response
It is important to measure the results of your email campaigns—how else will you know how you’ve performed? Measuring results is a great way to track what is working, what isn’t and insights on how to improve.
Reporting services and metrics such as open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates are available from many email service providers and self-service platforms. These reports ultimately provide you with some data to strengthen and improve your email communication techniques.
9. Create an ongoing conversation
The “one-and-done” philosophy should never be applied to email campaigns. Following up with your audience using a series of emails will help you to make lasting impressions and build long-term relationships. A great way to do so is by sharing a variety of useful offers with your audience using a series of emails (what we like to call a “drip sequence”). By offering useful content over a period of time, you’re building your reputation as a reliable and helpful organization—what could be better than that?
10. Test, revise, and test some more
As marketers, we’re always looking for ways to improve, and your emails should be no different. Testing your emails can be as simple as changing one part of your email, and seeing how that change performs.
A great option for email testing is to create an A/B test. An A/B test allows you to make a change one component of an email at a time (let’s say the subject line), and test its performance against the original. This will provide you with results that will help you better tailor your campaigns to your audience, and increase your overall email marketing success.
Ready to create email campaigns that entice prospects, convert customers and grow your business? Download our FREE e-book and get our 30 Greatest Lead Generating Tips, Tricks & Ideas today!
Editor’s note: this blog post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated to include additional information.