Have you heard the rumours? Email marketing is dead. Or, it’s the fastest way to connect and convert prospects into customers.
Internet opinions can be confusing … but one thing we can tell you is that email marketing is not dead.
Even though we now have tweets, updates and live video to woo our customers, email continues to outperform them in terms of connection and conversion. According to eMarketer, email delivers a median return on investment (ROI) of 122 percent — over four times higher than social media, direct mail and paid search.
Those are figures your business can’t afford to ignore.
Follow these 6 rules to win at email
Email marketing involves sending regular emails to your prospective and current customers. Here are a few rules to guide you.
Avoid the spam filters.
Help them make a decision.
Make their lives easier.
Give them a reason to click.
Don’t overdo it.
Before we get into our list of email marketing rules, let’s touch quickly on how this promotional tool works.
What is email marketing?
We’re talking here about the use of regular emails to promote your products and/or services. But email is more than just a sales tool. Email marketing has the potential to take people from just hearing about you all the way to being a raving fan of your business. Not to mention a repeat customer.
Your goal is to keep your customers connected with your business before, during and after they buy something from you.
The biggest advantages of email marketing are cost and ease. Emailing is a relatively cheap way to promote your business, compared to other forms of advertising. It’s also easy to set up and track the results of your efforts, thanks to the range of free and paid tools available.
What you need to know
We’re here to help. This post will cover:
- The elements of an email marketing campaign.
- Best practices for sending emails.
- Tips on getting your emails opened.
Email marketing isn’t stupid easy — Australia does have strict anti-spam laws you’ll need to comply with. Add to that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which puts even more pressure on email marketers to protect recipients’ rights — including the right to be forgotten. But with a little study, you can make email marketing work wonders for your business.
Elements of an email
It might be useful to start by dissecting the typical email. All emails have the following elements:
The email sender
The sender is the person or group the email comes from. It’s tempting to make it your company name with a general email address like Info@, NoReply@ or Support@. Resist the urge to do this if you want to boost your open rates! Instead, use a real person’s name (like, yours) and email address.
When you keep it real you’re instantly making the email exchange more personal, which increases trust (and that’s good for conversions!).
The email Subject line
People tend to scan their inboxes quickly, making a decision based on the Subject lines and the sender’s email address. The Subject line is often the first impression someone has of you — it’s the reason they choose to open, delete or mark you as spam. To avoid those last two options, consider your Subject line carefully.
There are a few ways you can approach your email Subject line. For example, you can be:
- Clear and just tell readers what’s in your email: “Link to your free downloadable checklist”
- Mysterious to get their attention: “Are you making these home maintenance mistakes?”
- Casual, like a friend: “Hey, did you see this deal?”
- Creative with punctuation: “You + this trick = more contracts signed”
Another way to help your email stand out is to use brackets. Brackets can be especially effective when you put them around attention-grabbing words: “[Special Offer] Buy now and save big!”
Pay attention to the email subject lines that you click on … and the ones you send to your bin.
The email content itself
This is the heart of your email marketing effort. Your subject line makes a promise and your email content needs to deliver on that promise.
It used to be common to use complex HTML email templates with graphics. Nowadays, the standard is to send emails without design elements like banners and lots of images. The more imagery and design you have in your email, the trickier it is to keep the view consistent between desktop and mobile devices.
In fact, according to 2017 study by Vision6 and Litmus, half of Australians read their emails on their mobiles.
Why not try a simpler presentation of your content? Plain text emails let your readers focus on your message and your offer. Don’t fear plain text!
Call to action
The call to action (or CTA) is usually the last component of your email. It’s a request that your readers do something in particular. A good marketing email is written around one primary call to action, whether it’s making a purchase, clicking through to a page or downloading a coupon.
Make it clear what you want your readers to do:
- Use verbs and simple language — click to download, buy now, etc.
- Give them a compelling reason — save 20 percent on your first purchase, etc.
- Try to reduce the risk of saying yes with a money-back guarantee, for example.
The idea is to remove all objections the reader might think of — while mentioning at least one compelling benefit.
Email best practices
How can you make email marketing work for your business? Here are some best practices to observe.
1. Be timely
If you are responding to a trigger event such as a request for a quote or more information about a product, timeliness is everything. You don’t want to be the fifth or sixth business responding, have the person forget why they got in touch or have the problem solved before you even show up.
If you’re sending out regular content like a blog or newsletter, don’t send emails so infrequently that your readers forget that they wanted to hear from you in the first place!
Pro email marketers suggest experimenting with frequency — if unsubscribes increase, you know you’re sending to often.
Preparing for a launch? Give your readers a long runway of content to get them interested and excited. Great email marketing is like dating. You need to woo your readers gently rather than asking them to elope on the first date.
2. Avoid the spam filters
If you want the chance to prove to customers that you’re just the solution they’re looking for, your email has to actually be read.
That means making sure your emails get through the spam filters and get opened.
Avoid using spam trigger words like:
- SALE, FREE
Also, words like CASH, FAST CASH, SAVE $ will trigger spam filters, quietly shifting your emails into the black hole of the spam folder.
For more words to avoid in your Subject lines, check out your own spam folder! And for tips on how to write Subject lines that work, read this.
3. Help them make a decision
Think about why someone has given you their email address and attend to that need.
Sure, you might be arming them with information that ultimately sends them to another business, but in most cases you’ll be building trust. And that trust is worth far more than the time it took to write that email.
4. Make their lives easier
We know that it’s easy to track how many people open your emails and that you want to drive people to your website, but ultimately, you should be making life easier for your customers (current and potential), not creating metrics.
If you can provide information in the email rather than making them go to your website, do it. Then, your click-through rate has meaning because it’s someone taking action, not just checking information.
5. Give them a reason to click
If your email marketing is connecting to something such as a blog post or video, do more than just provide a link and expect readers to click on it.
Tell them why the click will be worth their while with an excerpt or context. Remember, when you ask someone to click a link, you want it to be more worthwhile than answering the phone, making the cup of tea they’ve been craving or making dinner.
6. Don’t overdo it
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have too many emails in their inbox. Getting the right balance of being helpful without stressing someone out is tough but critical.
Above all, think of your audience. What was the problem that led them to give you their email address? Solve that one first, but then think about other, related problems they might be having. That’s where your email marketing can really add some value.
Email sequences take your marketing to the next level
An email sequence (sometimes called an autoresponder or a drip sequence) is a series of emails that are sent based on a trigger event such as:
- A new subscriber to your email list.
- Specific browsing behaviour — putting an item in their cart but not checking out, for example.
- Downloading a white paper, infographic or coupon.
- Buying a product.
A well-written email sequence allows your readers to “know, like and trust” you before you ask for the sale. You write the emails in advance and then program your email marketing tool to automatically send them out at certain times or after certain actions.
Set it once and it keeps sending with no input from you. How easy is that?
Whether you create a complicated email funnel or write a simple welcome email after subscription, keep your email copy succinct and to the point. No one will read a long-winded waffle!
There you have it! Email marketing all wrapped up
No doubt about it, email remains one of the most affordable marketing tools at your disposal. In this post we covered:
- Why email marketing is still relevant and a worthy investment.
- The elements of an email campaign: sender, Subject line, content and call to action.
- Email best practices that will get your emails opened and read.
It all comes down to considering your audience. Remember, when someone gives you their email address, they said yes to emails from you … but they can take back that offer if you don’t treat them well! Effective email marketing delivers relevant, useful messages and content to the right group of people at the right time.