Email marketing: it's one of the longest standing digital marketing concepts. And while most of digital marketing has changed completely over the last few decades, email marketing is still a highly useful tactic for reaching your audience. But how do you do it right? Keep reading to get the answers to your burning email marketing questions.
SHOULD I BUY AN EMAIL LIST?
No, never! But if you need the "why", let me tell you. People on a purchased list didn't choose to hear from you or your company. The goal of your marketing efforts should be to find the right prospects and customers. If you buy a list, you are taking that decision away from your prospects. Suddenly, they receive this message from you (or their spam folder, most likely), but have no idea what it's about, who you are, how you got their information, and now you're on their bad side. So just don't do it, ok?
HOW CAN I GROW MY EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS' LIST?
"To get the right message to the right person at the right time you first need to get the right data to the right database at the right time." – John Caldwell
The success of your email marketing efforts will only be successful if you start with the right list. Your email marketing list should consist of past, current, and prospective customers. Your efforts should be focused on reaching an engaged audience that is interested in what your organization has to offer. If you’re pushing information out to people who aren’t interested, you are wasting your time and building a bad email marketing reputation.
In order to grow this list, make sure you have opportunities to opt-in throughout your website and blog.
What type of content works best?
With all of the awesome capabilities we have with videos, images, and templates for email marketing, deciding what to include in your message is a challenge. The key here is not to go overboard. Keep your message focused and provide a path for your reader to follow—an introduction, body/message, and call-to-action. Your message should answer the questions or problems that your customers face. Make sure you are writing for your readers and their interests. Keep the email message clean, don’t overwhelm your readers with too much background noise - white space is a good thing.
A recent HubSpot study also uncovered that plain-text emails perform better than HTML emails. While most respondents say they prefer HTML emails, the open rate was higher for plain-text emails.
My advice—do both. Keep the visual appeal of HTML emails, but also include a plain-text version. Most email editors will allow you to do this easily.
What’s the best time and day to send emails?
Unfortunately, there isn’t an end-all, be-all answer for that question. It varies depending on your email list and recipient preferences. To figure out what works best for your readers, try different days and times and analyze the results.
What are the best practices for email subject lines?
There are many different takes on email subject lines and like much of email marketing best practices, you’ll have to trial what works best for your audience. However, there are a few best practices to start with:
- Write for your audience—use language they’re familiar with
- Personalize it
- Keep it short - for mobile’s sake
- Use clear action words
What metrics should I track for email marketing?
The best way to know if what you’re doing is working is to analyze the results. Email marketing statistics should drive your decisions when making adjustments. Here are the main email marketing stats you’ll want to track to make sure your marketing efforts are succeeding. And for reference, check out these industry benchmarks from MailChimp.
An open rate is the percentage of people who opened the email from the total number of people who received the email. Having a good email open rate is crucial. If your recipients aren’t opening your emails than they aren’t reading your content. To improve your open rates, look at your subject lines, preview text, from name, and email address. Open rate goals vary by industry, but overall, aim for an open rate of 20-25 percent.
A click-through rate is the percentage of people who clicked on a link in your email from the total number of people who opened the email. The click-through rate is dependent on what you’re offering in the email and the lead information you provided in the messaging to build to that click. Ultimately, the goal of any email marketing tactic should be to get clicks to the next step.
Unsubscribes, as you may have guessed, are the number of people who have unsubscribed from your emails. With a well-developed list, you should see low unsubscribe rates. However, if this number is high, it’s a key indicator that you need to take a long look at your email marketing list.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing is a great technique for uncovering the best email marketing tactics and timing for your specific audience. You can test everything in your email from template to subject line to headline. Here is a list of some ideas to get started:
- Subject line
- Layout of the message (one-column or two)
- Personalization strategy
- Time/Day of week
Keep in mind that you should only test one variable at a time, so the data is clear on what worked, and what didn’t. My advice, test continuously—there’s always room for improvement.
When it comes to email marketing, there is always something new to learn and try. Hopefully, these email marketing questions and answers give you a good start.
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