Today, customers across-board are often bombarded with lots of product choices. As such there’s a pressure on business owners to stand out in a crowded space of competitors jotling for the same market attention. To stay on top of the game with your customers, email campaigns are a great addition to other digital marketing strategies you are probably exploring. This is because, with it, you build customer loyalty and engagement without breaking the bank.
As with any type of marketing, your first step in email marketing should be to set goals. Do you want to use email to showcase products and services or bring more visitors to your website? Do you adopt email campaigns in driving increased ROIs, like distributing a coupon that brings in sales? No matter what your goals are, a good place to start is by building a list of people who’ve expressed an interest in your business or value offerings. But the million-dollar question is ‘how do you find these people and get their email addresses?’. Thankfully, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Start by asking them in exchange for a specific value.
Let’s examine a practical scenario. Supposing you own a pet supply shop, when you chat with customers, offer to notify them about discounts and special offers if they provide an email address. If you have a website, include a form that encourages visitors to subscribe to your mailing list, while giving them some form of value — which could be an eBook on general tips about your offerings.
Keep in mind that people must give you permission to send them commercial emails, and many countries have laws that require consent.
Your email marketing options
While there are many options to choose from, most email marketing tools share a few common features. The first is a contact database that stores your customers’ information. At the minimum, databases allow an email address for each contact. Most software services allow you to include additional information like name, mailing address, and other information.
Build your email database by adding the customer data you already have. Most services allow you to upload data from a spreadsheet — a handy feature if you have a lot of information to upload. Next, you want to give people the option to subscribe (and unsubscribe).
Most email services provide an online form that you can add to your website by copying and pasting some of the code. Visitors can submit this form to sign up for your emails. This data is then automatically transferred to your contact database.
One thing to keep in mind: forms are customisable, so you can request for the specific customer information you want. But your online sign-up form should be short and super-easy to complete — you’ll have more success growing a subscriber list if you don’t require too much information. All you need is their email address to get started! If you have information about customers, you can use it to sort the customers into lists. Let’s take the pet supply shop scenario again! If you know that a particular set of customers own cats, you can group them in a “Cat list” and send them cat food offers.
Customers who own dogs would be on the “Dog list”, and get different offers. The more information you have about your customers, the more relevant your emails can be.
Now you’ve got your database, let’s talk about the emails.
Email templates allow you to create a design that matches your brand. You can reuse your template for similar email campaigns. Many people read email on their mobiles, so be sure yours are mobile-friendly. Many email marketing tools allow you to preview your email on different devices before you send.
Another great feature to know about is the ability to schedule when your emails go out. An email marketing tool can be used to track what people do when they receive it. You might find that most of your customers open their email first thing Monday mornings or during lunch on Friday. You can then use your email service to record those preferences and send future emails at more relevant times.
Email marketing services also track who clicks the links in your email. These links typically go to pages on your website. You can then track what those people do, once they’re on your site. As you learn about your customers’ behaviour, you get to deliver more personalised content. Lots of email marketing services offer a personalisation feature that places relevant content into an email template, based on a person’s interests. You can use this feature to send specific messages to different people within your database.
While most of your emails will contain general information that “all pet owners will appreciate”, your email template can include one or two fields for content that is tailored to suit each pet-specific group. By targeting each group with a personalised email, you increase the chances that they will not only read your email but also click to visit your website.
Evidently, email marketing tools make running a successful email program much easier. Next, let’s explore how to craft a compelling email and how to best manage your campaign.
Crafting great marketing emails
Once you’ve signed up for an email marketing service, e.g., MailChimp, and you’re ready to get started on your first campaign, you need to grab your customers’ attention with exciting subject lines. It’s very important to keep their attention with concise and relevant content while offering links for more information.
Back to the case study of you being a pet supply shop owner. You’ve been collecting names, emails and ‘pet types’ of both prospective and loyal customers. And now, you’re ready to launch your first email marketing campaign.
You want to send an email announcement aimed at dog and cat owners, telling them all about the latest all-natural pet foods you offer. But in order to get customers to read your newsletter, you first have to get them to open the email. It’s all about making a good first impression here. Think about what customers see when they glance at their inbox.
Your email should make them want to open it — two things they’ll see when they open your mail are your business name in the “From” field and the subject line of your email. Be sure to use a name and email address in your “From” field that clearly identifies your business. People are more likely to open an email, from someone they recognise and trust. The subject line of your email can make or break your campaign. An effective subject line will compel people to open it. A poorly composed subject line might mean your email gets deleted or trapped in spam filters.
Keep your subject line short and simple — ideally under ten words. Try to capture the most valuable and relevant information contained in the email. When possible, personalise or localise the subject line. For example: “Sharon, is your pup the healthiest in Lagos?” It’s best to avoid words like “free,” “per cent off,” “reminder,” and “specials,” as well as pound (£) symbols and exclamation points. These are all known to trigger spam filters.
Now, you’ve captured your customers’ attention, and they’ve opened your email. Congratulations! But that’s half the battle. At this point, keep in mind how busy your customers are, and how many other emails they get every day. Even if you’ve crafted the most intriguing message possible, they’ll likely just scan it. So keep your content concise, and get right to the point. Your paragraphs should be short—maybe one to three sentences, and keep them focused on a single idea. You can always link to longer articles and additional information, on your website: this is also a good way to maintain your SEO and drive traffic to your website.
Suggested Read: Beginner’s Guide To Optimising Your Website Speed
Another important thing to note is to make your writing as persuasive and engaging as possible. Use the right (conversational) tone for your audience. Since you want to maintain consistency across your brand, email newsletters offer opportunities should be casual in tone.
Links in your email should include “calls to action”. Encourage beneficiaries to click through to offers on your website. For example, a link could say something like:
“ Click here to save 25 percent off your next order of all-natural cat chow”.
“ Click here for free shipping on orders over £50.”
Use bold text and design, to highlight important offers and content. There’s one last thing you’ll want to include — links at the end of the email that allow recipients to unsubscribe, change their email preferences, or update their contact information.
Providing an easy way for users to opt out of your newsletter, is not only good customer service, but it’s also required by law in many countries. So remember: Take the time to craft a short, but strong subject line. Write concise content with a fun and engaging tone. And include helpful links that will improve your customer experience, and possibly lead to increased sales. Each email marketing campaign will teach you more about what works, and what doesn’t. Over time you can create better emails for your customers, which in turn, can build your business.
Managing successful email campaigns
There’s a lot to manage when running an email campaign. You can improve your campaigns, by testing your emails, creating relevant campaign landing pages, and measuring the success of all your hard work!
First, let’s discuss how you can use something we call “A/B testing” to get more people to open your emails and click through to your website. “A/B testing” is when you create two versions of an email to see which performs better.
You can use this technique to test different email approaches. Let’s say you are sending an email announcing a new product, but you’re not sure what subject line to use. You can send half of your customers, version “A” of the subject line, and the other half version “B”. Then, look at which email had a higher “open rate” — the measure of how many people open your emails, compared to how many emails were delivered. Whichever version had a higher open rate wins!
You can use “A/B testing” to test different subject lines, frequency, content and images. You could send emails bi-weekly, weekly or monthly. See what your audience prefers then adjust. Bear in mind that you don’t want to overwhelm people by sending them too many emails. Always provide the option for people to receive fewer emails, such as a monthly digest. That way, they don’t unsubscribe simply because they want to hear from you less often.
Be sure to choose—or create— specific landing pages for your email campaigns. A landing page is the first page a person sees when they arrive at your website. That way, when a person clicks a link within the email, they’ll “land” on a relevant web page. You wouldn’t want a client to click a link to learn about a specific product and end up on the homepage. Your email campaigns will be more successful if you send visitors directly to the page they want to see, so they can learn about the product, and maybe buy it!
Remember that people will read your emails on mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktops. That means your email landing pages need to work efficiently, across all those devices.
Just like any type of online marketing, email marketing is easy to measure. Email services usually include analytics tools, so you can track and measure how well your campaigns are doing. The analytics report can show you data like “open rates,” which can help you learn what subject lines are most compelling. You can see which content drives people to visit your site by looking at the “click-through rate,” when people click a link within the email.
Be sure to use web analytics to figure out what people do on your website after they click on your emails. Seek opportunities to improve the website experience for email visitors.
You can regularly improve your email campaigns by testing different versions, creating relevant landing pages and using analytics to see what’s working best.
Few people want to read emails that are addressed “Dear Sir/Madam” — as opposed to their first or last name — and even fewer people want to read an email that simply gives them a wall of text. Visuals help your recipients quickly understand what the point of the email is.
Despite the above facts, we know how time-consuming email marketing could be. That’s why at Charisol, we are more than glad to saddle ourselves with your email marketing projects. Reach out to us today and we’d fix up your email marketing needs. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Medium and Twitter to never miss out on helpful content from us.