People are spending more and more time on their computers these days. Whether it is for work, pleasure, or both, the fact is that people spend significant amounts of time in front of their computer screens. One of the top activities that make up this time is email related. Email is the most common activity of Internet users, with over 90% of all Internet users claiming to be e-mailers. If you are not integrating an effective email marketing campaign into your marketing plan, then you can almost be sure that you are missing out on opportunities for new and repeat business.
As with any marketing strategy, you must have a plan of attack for your email marketing campaigns before you just start blasting people with emails. Every impression you make to prospects, new clients or long time clients is extremely valuable so be sure to plan things appropriately.
STEP 1: Manage Your Email Contacts Database
Before you can send out any emails your database needs to be clean and up to date. You can also purchase lists from list providers to refine your contacts, and add more value to your campaign such understanding demographics or other qualifiers relevant to your target audience. Once you have a solid email database, spend time going through your contacts and scrubbing out any recipients that you have qualified as being useless to your marketing campaign. Do not delete these contacts, just put them in a separate database.
STEP 2: Plan Your Email Marketing Campaign
Once your email lists are ready to go you can start to think about how to communicate to these recipients in the most effective ways possible.
- Letter announcing a new service or significant changes to an existing service
- Newsletter highlighting useful tips and company news, events, promotions
- Republication of an industry related magazine, trade journal or newspaper article
- Case study of a successful client solution you provided
- Reprint of an article you contributed to an industry magazine or publication
- Checklist of helpful tips for your industry / service
- Announcement of newly acquired clients
Sign up for a couple email subscriptions to receive email marketing from successful companies. This is a great way to find new ideas and to see what effective email marketers are doing.
STEP 3: Use Professional, Relevant Messages In Your Emails
One of the most surprising things is that many marketers still use poorly designed and poorly written email messages in their email marketing campaigns. Your email marketing messages should meet all of the following criteria to be effective:
- Professionally designed (clean, easy to read, non-obtrusive or obnoxious colors)
- Limited imagery (too many images may cause your message to appear empty or worse, get blocked by spam filters)
- Well written, relevant content (text should be grammatically correct and written in a conversational tone)
- Provides links for accessibility (in cases where people cannot see or read your message, provide links to somewhere that they can)
- Includes calls to action (know what you want people to do once they receive your message and ask them to do it)
- Provides “opt-out” options (allow people to opt-out if they wish because if you do not you could find yourself getting blacklisted)
Just like with a website, if you are not a designer or lack that creative, artistic eye, then allow a professional to create your branded email messages for you.
STEP 4: Send Your Emails At The Most Opportune Times
Send your emails at the most opportune days and times of the week. There are no “established” days or times that work best for every business across the board. You should test all of your campaigns to see when they receive the best response. That aside, the following recommendations should get you started in the right direction:
- Avoid weekends as lots of spam gets sent during this time
- Avoid evenings as lots of spam is sent then and you may risk having your message included in a mass delete
- Avoid Mondays as this is usually the busiest day for most people
- Avoid public holiday periods and summer holiday rushes
The best days and times to send email campaigns typically fall mid week, during working hours.
STEP 5: Track, Analyze and Refine Your Email Marketing Campaigns
After each email marketing campaign you send out, whether it’s once a week or once a month, you should ALWAYS be tracking and analyzing the success of your campaigns. By looking at success rates of your campaigns you will be able to refine your messages as needed. The below are some key metrics to look at when analyzing your email campaign’s success:
- Open Rate – This is the rate at which people open your email. Obviously, the higher the rate the better. Typically, anything above 30% is pretty good. The subject line you use is usually the biggest factor in determining how many people will open your message so get creative, but be straight to the point with your subject lines.
- Click Through Rate – This is the rate at which recipients click on your ads, calls to action, links or promos. Usually the ones that are placed towards the top or at the close of the message will get the highest click through rates, but experiment with different placement for different messages to see what works best for your audience.
- Percent Delivered – This is the percentage of your messages that were successfully delivered. If yours is below 95% then you may want to look into another provider or contact your current provider to figure out what the problem is.
One of the best things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns is to follow up with a personal phone call. Don’t hound people, but make the effort to check in with your recipients to see that they are receiving, reading and enjoying your marketing messages. Many people, believe it or not, still enjoy some human interaction every once in awhile.
These easy 5 steps should be more than enough to get you started. If you have any tips or tactics that have worked well for you, then we would love to hear about them.