Email Marketing 101: What You Need to Know

4 email marketing mistakes

email marketing

With the rise of social media, blogging, and influencers, email marketing is something sometimes overlooked as marketing managers try out each new digital marketing tactic – but email marketing can (and should) be an important part of your strategy. Sending periodic targeted email messages helps you reach an audience that requested information from you. By subscribing, users held up their hand to say they’re interested in your products and want to have a relationship with your brand.

Like any marketing tactic, email consumes resources that always seem like they’re in short supply — namely time, money, and planning. But, the rewards are spectacular. Check out this information from Data Mentors showing the ROI of email marketing is higher than any of the other shiny new tactics out there. By a lot.

successful email marketing
Image courtesy of Data Mentors

If this data increased your interest in starting a campaign, here are a few things worth knowing to do it the right way.

No spamming

This should apply to all areas of your strategy, but it’s something to remember when you use email marketing. Spamming will do nothing but put customers off and could ruin the reputation of your business. In fact, both the US and EU have new, stringent policies making spam not only a nuisance for users but a costly mistake for firms who violate anti-spam legislation. Can-Spam in the US, for instance, assesses extreme fines if businesses send emails to users who didn’t request contact.

So, instead of buying lists or sharing lists with other businesses, which are illegal, you should create content that entices visitors to subscribe. For instance, you might offer a report or free ebook in exchange when a user subscribes to your email list. A pro tip is to code the new subscriber based on which offer enticed them to subscribe so you can send them targeted messaging.

Another way to collect subscribers involves putting your subscription form everywhere. For instance, add a form in a tab on your Facebook page and as a pop-up on your website (a pro tip is to allow visitors to read your content for a few seconds before the pop-up displays to avoid annoying them). By modifying the form to match your branding and requiring minimal information from subscribers, you’ll increase your subscription rate.

Even subscribers who willingly signed up for your newsletter get frustrated (and unsubscribe, which you make easy for them in accordance with legal statutes) if you send too many emails or if your emails don’t contain unique content. Set up a schedule of how often you email each subscriber group, whether that’s once a month or every other week. Test out your timing. If you get a number of folks who unsubscribe soon a newsletter goes out, you might need to back off and send emails less frequently.

Create good content makes great email marketing

You must carefully curate the content in your email to meet the needs of subscribers.

Consider the basics of content marketing and apply them here: your content should educate, inform or amuse subscribers with just twenty percent promotional content and the remaining 80% should interest subscribers. Make reading the newsletter fun or entertaining (depending on your audience) so that readers have a reason to open rather than just having your products shoved down their throats. Do some research on how to write a newsletter if you’re not sure.

For instance, you might collaborate with non-competing brands to offer discounts on their products or search articles that might interest subscribers that you can include in your mailing. Think about media, such as video, GIFs, animations, and other formats that readers might enjoy.

Make it time-based

Emailing offers that are time-based are particularly effective in creating tangible returns. Otherwise, subscribers may put off reading your email or let the open email pile up in their inbox. If you require immediate action, readers open the email quickly and feel a sense of immediacy that motivates action.

So, whether it’s a sale ending on Sunday, a coupon or voucher that expires in a week, or a chance to earn points if an action is completed within a certain timeframe, the call to action creates an incentive for subscribers to act quickly.

Even if you don’t use a time-based call to action, make sure your call of action is clear, hard to overlook (such as with bright colors or an animated GIF), and offers clear instructions to click from the email directly to the appropriate landing page corresponding to each offer. Don’t just link to your homepage and expect customers will click around and find what they need.

Consider subject lines

Getting your email opened is the critical first step to success. If you write the best newsletter and include the best offers in the world none of that will matter if everyone simply deletes the email. For this reason, you need to write powerful subject lines since people will open based on these. Make it clear from the subject line that subscribers need the content of the newsletter. If you’ve followed earlier advice and made your offer time-based, add that to the subject line.

Use an email tool to experiment with different types of subject lines over the months, and monitor open rates (and click rates, since nothing happens if a subscriber doesn’t click) to determine which subject lines get the highest response and click rate.

Keep it snappy

You want to create good content but you don’t want to write a sermon. Keep your newsletters snappy and don’t write too much content- people won’t want to read lengthy bodies of text and are more likely to skim for the information they want, even if they move past the first paragraph.

White space is your friend, so don’t feel like you need to fill the newsletter from side to side with text. Intersperse images with white space and text. Add buttons for readers to click to get the offer. White space also helps organize your content if you have several different items in a single newsletter. Also, try adding borders around individual pieces of content or at least adding lines between items.

Consider timing

If your email list contains business people, you should mail during business hours (in fact, some countries discourage email during private time). If you list contains mothers, consider that they’re busy when the workday is done and might have more time after the kids are in bed.

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