In an age of Instagram Stories, artificial intelligence and direct messaging, emails seem almost like an antiquated form of marketing. But older doesn’t equal obsolete. After all, there’s a reason why companies still spend thousands of dollars a month in rent to put up billboards on the 405 freeway. They work!
The same is true for email marketing. It isn’t exactly sexy, but it’s effective. The average open rate for an email is 21.7%, as compared to 6% for organic Facebook posts. And, because you can divide your contact list according to industry and other criteria, you can personalize email outreach far easier than you can with content shared through social channels.
With emails, the stakes are also higher. Instead of just putting your message out into the social media ether and hoping that your followers take notice, emails hit home: their inboxes. That means you have to be even more mindful of how you communicate. Here are some tips to help you improve your email marketing strategy.
Write Strong Subject Lines
Like a blog headline, an email subject line should draw the reader in and make them want to learn more. Keep the subject short (30 to 60 characters), catchy and descriptive of what’s in the body of the email. Never mislead your readers by taking an overly familiar or urgent tone. If you’re promising a big deal, you better deliver. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM Act, deceptive subject lines can be costly—resulting in a fine up to $41,484 per email! Speaking of…
Add Opt-Out Language
The CAN-SPAM Act governs more than deceptive email practices. As part of the law, marketers must allow recipients the opportunity to opt-out of emails and to honor those requests promptly, within 10 business days of their reply. The law says you also have to let recipients know where you’re located, as well as other details.
Make it Personal
It goes without saying that marketing emails should be personalized. Start by making sure that the emails come from a real-live person, not a faceless company. Drill down into specifics based on audience segmentation and/or how the recipient has interacted with your business (purchases and/or links clicked, content downloaded). Avoid using logos or graphics. The idea is to make it look and feel like it’s coming from a person they can trust, not a business that wants to sell them something.
Keep it Short and Sweet
We’re all pressed for time, and no one wants to spend any more of it than they have to poring through a bunch of marketing emails. Be respectful of your contacts by keeping emails short and to-the-point. Your goal should be for the whole email to fit into the first screen so that recipients don’t have to scroll to read more. As for frequency, emails should be consistent, not annoying. Twice a month is a good rule of thumb depending on type of business and industry.
Include a Call-to-Action
All emails are designed to get the recipient to do something—read a blog post, download an ebook, sign up for a trial. Include a clear and concise call-to-action (CTA) with a noticeable link. Remember, keep it simple—including too many CTAs will confuse your audience and turn them off.
Double Check Your Work
Spelling mistakes, typos and grammatical errors are embarrassing and reflect poorly on your brand. Double check for common errors like possessives vs. plurals (shoe’s vs. shoes) and contractions vs possessive pronouns (you’re vs. your) Avoid caps lock (no one wants to be yelled at), weird capitalization of words, slang and overuse of emojis.
Get the Timing Right
Email marketing is a lot like cooking: you have to keep tweaking it until you get it right. Play around with sending emails on different days and times until you figure out when you get the best open and click-through rates. If you’re emailing about a special offer, make sure you’re giving your recipients enough notice to take advantage before the sales period is over.
Add Forwarding & Social Sharing Buttons
Hitting send on an email doesn’t have to be the end of it. Add social sharing buttons to allow recipients to easily share with their broader network.
Test and Preview
Try out A/B subject lines to find out which emails are performing better. Send previews so you can test out how it looks in both mobile and desktop environments.
One of the reasons email marketing is so effective is that it’s all measurable. While social media only measures engagement based on likes or shares, email is measurable on several levels, including opens, click-through rates and downloads. Make the most of your data by monitoring results and making changes based on which emails perform best.
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