“Email is dead!”
If you search Google for more than 5 minutes on the subject of email, you’ll see more than a few claims (and obituaries) about the ‘death of email’. While some of the arguments are valid, email is still very much at the heart of our working lives. Now, whether this is good, or bad, is a debate for another time.
A new study by Adobe of 4,000 people in the UK, France, Germany and the US found that while email in the workplace is becoming less formal, workers spend 50% of ‘their working on email’. Even with the proliferation of new technologies helping us to do our jobs and the popularity of instant messaging, video, texting and social media, email is as prevalent as ever.
In the UK alone, British workers are spending just over 4 hours a day checking their messages. As a nation, we came second on average yearly consumption, with 90 days a year spent reading email (France led the way with 99 days!), and according to HubSpot, email use worldwide will top 3 billion users by 2020.
So, what can we read into these numbers? Simply, email still plays a huge part in our daily 9-5, and for marketing professionals the newsletter is still a hugely valuable medium to reach an ever growing digital market.
With that in mind, how can you create a great email marketing campaign that your audience will love, not loath? First up…
1. Know Your Audience
It may seem obvious for an email campaign that you should know who you’re writing for, but you’d be surprised how many companies forget this crucial step. Knowing your audience is the first rule of marketing. Always ask yourself, “who are you talking to?” or “will this appeal to our audience?”.
In B2B you should think about the level of your audience: managerial? C-suite? Junior staff? Worker drones? You need to tailor your content to the right party. An employee at an earlier rung on the career ladder won’t be interested in the same material (or even have the authority to act towards your call to action) that a high-level exec will.
2. Write Better Content
Do you know what engages people? Great content. Whether it’s ads or emails, we all broadly dislike being condescended, being bored or having our intelligence insulted by bad copy. It doesn’t have to be wall-to-wall jokes (God forbid), but it should be to the point and professional (i.e. without spelling or grammar errors). If you’re running an email campaign, then make sure you write it properly:
• You should always strive to tell a story.
• Educate your audience.
• And show (if applicable) how you or your company can solve it better than anyone.
3. Benchmark Your Efforts
Understanding what has (and hasn’t) worked in the past is essential for your marketing progression. You wouldn’t begin a diet without checking your weight before you started, would you? Knowing where you stand is the first step to knowing where you want to go. There is so much data available to us these days that figuring out your best strategy is no longer the guess work that it may have been at one time.
For your email campaign, open rate and click rates can depend on the time of the day and the day of the week you hit send, not to mention the format of your mail, etc. Remember: send, tweak, check, repeat.
4. Create A Killer Subject Line
You can write up a razor sharp and content-packed newsletter with all the right links and calls to action, but if you can’t get people to open the email in the first place, what’s the point? That’s where subject lines come in. Subject lines get read without your email being opened and they have the power to increase your open rates.
In fact, they are one of the biggest influencers on whether your email is getting opened or not. 33% of email recipients open emails based on subject line alone. Emails with “Free” in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without. Emails with “Quick” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without. Here’s a couple of tips: Localise and personalise; keep it short and sweet; convey a sense of energy.
5. Always A/B Test
Closely related to writing subject lines is the ability to split test our email subject lines. When you split test an email, you send two versions to a small test group of your email list. The email that does better – as in, gets more open rates over a set period – is automatically sent to the rest of your list. Split testing allows you to see what’s working and what’s not.
You can set up an automatic response to be sent to a recipient of your email, if they click on certain links within your email – these responses are typically short and sweet ‘Thank You’ notes. The biggest brands in the world do it, from Nike, to Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, so you should certainly consider it. Make sure these responses are not too generic, and as with all our tips, be personable – a little charm goes a long way. Just don’t overdo it.
7. Segment Your Lists
This ties in with specific content and not simply sending the same generic message for everyone. Sectioning your list into different, specific groups is an important move. If you’ve made some great connections at an expo or road show, sending them marketing material that’s not relevant to them will be the first big step in losing their potential custom. Segmented lists will help you tailor your emails properly so all your leads feel special.
8. Formatting For Mobile
This might sound like an unsexy point to end on, but correct formatting is one of the most important aspects of successful email campaigns. The thing is, 68 percent of emails were opened on a mobile device this past quarter and so it’s essential to make sure that your content works across all screens. So when creating your newsletter, avoid big paragraphs of text, keep simple and keep concise.
For many marketing professionals, creating impactful and meaningful relationships with our audience and finding new ways to reach them is pretty high on the priority list.
Your email newsletter, when done well and with thought, is a great opportunity to talk to the people that matter most to your business, so why not give them the very best you can offer?