The most valuable lesson I have learned throughout my experience as a Content Marketing Specialist is that every aspect of content marketing requires empathy. Acquire an in-depth understanding of your potential audience and put yourself in their shoes in order to reach them. This is never more true than when you are borrowing real-estate in your contacts’ email inboxes.
However, before we even touch upon the three magical questions that changed the way I build every email I create for both clients and our internal communication, we have to discuss the elephant in the room.
Why Should You Be Using Email Marketing?
In the age of digital media, your audience is being bombarded by information on every web page, social platform and even video they are watching. Out of all these mediums, email marketing is still the most direct line of communication to your customer’s or potential customers. If you manage to execute your emails effectively your message is 5x more likely to be seen in an email than on Facebook. Not only will your message be seen but utilizing email marketing allows you to see a $38 return on every $1 spent.
With such an incredible incentives why isn’t everyone doing it? The most frequent excuse I hear is that people don’t know how to start email marketing without alienating their contacts. Well, if you can confidently answer three questions you won’t have to worry about chasing your audience off.
- Who are you sending to?
- What is the purpose of your email?
- How will your audience respond
Who are you sending to?
Before you can even think about drafting an email, you need to really understand who you are starting a conversation with. I’m not just talking ASL. I mean getting to know the real live humans behind the email addresses.
Build a List
Add at least one form to your website
Mailchimp has a great tool that generates a code which you can place on your site’s pages. This code will create a form that will automatically add those that fill it out to your email list.
- Add a link to your personal/business email signature leading to your form.
- Post the link to your social media platforms and ask your current fans to sign up.
- Join social groups that your audience might be interested in and when the time is right, post your form link.
Create a physical sign up form.
If you have already fostered a strong enough relationship that someone visits your office or storefront, give them the option to continue to engage with your brand by signing up for your emailing list.
Don’t Buy Lists
It never fails, every time I talk email marketing I get bombarded with questions about purchasing lists. And every time my answer never changes.
Would you want to receive emails from a brand you have never expressed interest in directly? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Don’t pay good money to become an annoyance. But, if you are set on buying, make sure the list you buy is as targeted as possible and your content is the best content you have ever created.
Segment Your List
Almost every email platform has basic tools that allow you to create multiple lists or list segments. Take advantage of these. Most people don’t bother with segmentation until it’s too late. Don’t fall into the idea that your list isn’t big enough to segment. It is.
In case you need convincing, here’s my experience with list segmentation. About two years ago, I worked with a client that stored an enormous amount of data about each of their email subscribers, but they sent the exact same email to their entire list every month. The amount of people unsubscribing from their emails eclipsed those that were signing up every month and their email database was dwindling. My strategy was to split the list four ways and deliver a different email to each segment. After the first two months with the segmented list their unsubscribe rate was reduced by 5% and their open rates increased by 10%.
Start with where they signed up
You can tell a great deal about a person by where they found you. Adding multiple forms to your site and funneling to each one with a different tactic is a great way to understand where your leads are coming from and how you should be communicating with them. For example, if you fill out the form at the bottom of this page, your name will be added to a segment that tells me you came from our blog content.
As your company grows, you can investigate more robust CRM Software that will allow you to see even more information about what is helping you to build your list.
Even simple information about your subscribers, like if they signed up in person or when they signed up will inform you of their knowledge of your company, product or service.
Use their behavior to identify interests
After you have started utilizing email marketing, try to gather and compare information about what emails your audiences are opening and what they are clicking on. Comparing your average open and click-through rates with your industry’s standards can be an invaluable tools in evaluating the effectiveness of your segmentation.
Clean your lists
Stop talking to people who are not interested. It’s not doing anybody any good! Create a segment or a new list of those who have not engaged with your emails in some time and message them less frequently.
What is the purpose of your email?
It’s not only about making money.
Provide real value to your audience
Why does your email deserve a place next to their co-workers and family members’ heartfelt messages? One of the easiest ways to provide value is answering the questions that you hear every single day. Write short form content or use a program like Canva to create short informational images. Your email does not have to include a discount or coupon to be worthwhile.
Every list or segment you are emailing should be able to walk away more prepared to face the problem that your business is helping solve.
Make sure you give next steps
If you have provided the right value, your audience will want to take the next step. Outline the process and make it easy for them to find it. Your website and social media platforms are great places to send people who read your email.
How will your audience respond to your email?
Make it to their Inbox
The first step to engaging your audience with your email is to avoid being marked as spam or junk by their email provider. With so many different platforms, each with their own set of variables that determine how junk and spam are defined it can be hard to have any set rules on how to do this. However, we have few simple tips to make sure you have the best chance of getting in front of your audience:
- Clean your list — Don’t give anyone the opportunity to mark you as junk.
- Don’t send too many emails — My rule of thumb starting out is not more than once a week.
- Create content that matters to your audience — Ok ok I’ll stop saying this soon!
- Don’t use Bitly links — These are blacklisted by many email providers because they don’t provide any context about where you are leading your audience.
- Don’t use a single image as your entire email — If the image doesn’t load or the email provider doesn’t allow images to load automatically you’ll be locked out from your audience.
- Use at least 500 characters.
Make your email enticing
Use these strategies to pique your audience’s interest:
- Use a from name and email your audience will recognize
- Don’t stop the conversation before it starts! Don’t use donotreply@.
- Create an enticing subject line that matches the content inside of the email.
- Shoot for 61-70 Characters.
<liEmoji subject lines increase opens by 45%.
- Have fun!
- You have less than 10 seconds to get their attention
- Use personalization tags or tokens.
- Use multiple images.
- Use Gifs — Make sure the first frame communicates the whole message as some email providers don’t support the image movement, but they will still show the first frame.
- Put your most important message first
- Keep it simple
What your audience sees is all that matters
Design for mobile. We hear it over and over again in marketing, but there is a reason for this emphasis. 56% of all emails are opened on a mobile device.Every audience is different, though start with the assumption that your email will be viewed on a mobile device and work backward. This will save you a great deal of headaches trying to fit your desktop sized email onto a tiny smartphone screen.
Send a draft of the email to your mom, your co-worker and your boss. Honestly, send it to anyone and everyone that will give you feedback on it. Open the email on as many email platforms and devices as possible. I can’t tell you how many times testing an email has saved me from making a complete fool of myself after I spent hours working on it.
We all wake up with an inbox full of emails that someone spent time drafting. Make sure your email stands out from the rest by answering these three simple questions and your email marketing campaign is bound to be successful!