Email is the workhorse of Internet marketing. It’s the connective tissue of digital marketing. It’s the glue that holds it all together. You get the idea.
And that’s not just my opinion. McKinsey reports that email is about 40 times better at customer acquisition than social media.
So how can you you get your email marketing to work that well?
One of the most important things to remember with email marketing is to add value, not ask for it. Make sure you’re sending content that is valuable to the recipient versus just asking them to buy.
Granted, you’re using email marketing for a business purpose, but to be successful, your emails should be so useful, helpful and/or entertaining that your prospects and customers would notice if you stopped sending them.
Here is a checklist of 12 ways to make sure your email marketing is strong and effective:
- Identify a Goal – Why are you sending email? The answer to that one question can dramatically improve your email marketing. For instance are you trying to generate new leads, follow up on an offer download, collect audience feedback, increase awareness of a new product, nurture leads, facilitate the sales process?
- Send your email from a person, not a company. People prefer to do business with other people rather than companies approximately 100% of the time. Test after test has shown that email open rates increase when the sender is identified by name. That doesn’t mean you can’t include a company name along with a persons name, of course.
- Use personalization. Think of this as a form of digital eye contact. Include the recipients name (and company), make reference to what they’ve downloaded, have the email come from the sales rep with whom they’ve perhaps already spoken. According to Aberdeen Group research, over 75% of email revenue is now generated by alternatives to generic one-size-fits all campaigns. Further, personalized emails see 14% higher click-through rates and 10% more conversions.
- Get to the point! Rambling on and boring your recipient does not actually work. Instead, create subject lines and email copy that get to the point. Focus on the benefit to the recipient and pique their interest enough to get them to want to open the email. But keep it short – try to keep your email message under five sentences.
- Speak directly to the recipient. Use the word “you” and “your.” Address the recipient as if you’re having a one-on-one conversation.
- Use actionable language. Incorporate verbs into your in-text calls-to-action (CTA) and your CTA buttons. It makes the message stronger and helps the recipient understand that they need to complete an action (e.g. “download now”). Another way to include actionable language is to let them know what they can get by clicking CTAs (e.g. “generate more leads”).
- Focus on benefits, not features. Black and Decker doesn’t sell drill bits, they sell holes. Scotts doesn’t sell grass seed, they sell green lawns. Let people know what they are going to get by using your product or taking whatever action you want them to take (e.g. don’t tell your prospects what is in your ebook, tell them what they will learn and how they will benefit).
- Leave no call-to-action behind! You only get so much real estate in email so use it wisely. Use each component of your email as a CTA. For instance, include alt text in case your images don’t load when the email is opened. Add CTAs to your signature. Use images as CTAs by linking them to landing pages or wherever you want people to go in order to take action. You can even use your preview text as a CTA – get them to open your email by explaining why they should.
- Encourage sharing. If you’re using email for lead generation, you want to encourage sharing. Many email tools allow you to enable social sharing buttons in the editor. Also, make sure to use a tracking code so you can tell where your leads are coming from. You can also encourage sharing right in the body of the email.
- Edit the plain text version. Not everyone is going to see the beautiful HTML version of your email and will instead receive a plain text version. Make sure to clean it up and simplify it to make it more aesthetically pleasing. For instance, you might need to remove the social sharing options from the plain text version because they can get really messy.
- Optimize for mobile. According to Litmus, 48% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. So you need to make sure your emails look right on mobile devices and tablets. You can also use responsive email templates which fit to any screen size. Before sending your email, preview it on a mobile template (or send a test to your mobile device).
- Analyze this! Run A/B tests for things like subject line optimization, email templates, offers, length, images, copy, CTAs, etc. Make sure to measure things like delivery rates, open rates, click-through rates, contact churn, and hard/soft bounces. Also, analyze how effectively you’re able to get someone to complete your goal (see #1 above). Analyze behavior like URL click popularity, unsubscribes versus email preference changes, social shares by channel and CTA click rate.
Use these 12 steps as a pre-flight checklist for your next email marketing effort and you’ll start to see your email marketing pack a serious punch and get the results you want.