Email marketing has changed dramatically during the past few years. The new email marketing reality looks nothing like the landscape of a few years ago, and ongoing changes look poised to present new challenges in the years to come.
However, it remains a critical piece of any well-rounded marketing plan. To effectively position your business for the new reality, follow these easy, cost-effective email marketing tips.
1. Add a Personal Touch to Your Email Marketing Materials
One of the biggest email marketing challenges centers on the increasing sophistication of inbox filters and folders. This doesn't mean spam and suspicious message filters. Done properly, aboveboard email marketing materials shouldn't be confused with spam, phishing and other scams.
However, filters explicitly designed to separate notifications and promotional emails from "real" emails can and do catch legitimate email marketing materials in the dragnet. Gmail's well-known filter is quite adept at doing this. Although it's difficult to determine the exact percentage of promotional emails that the filter successfully pulls into its "promotional" folder, anecdotal reports from Gmail users suggest that it succeeds in the vast majority of cases.
Combating this issue is a straightforward if time-intensive proposition. The key is creating marketing emails that look and feel like personal emails. While it's not practical to eschew email marketing software, you should definitely send all promotional materials from a personalized email address such as "firstname.lastname@example.org," not a generic address like "email@example.com." You should also address all prospects by name and include a personalized message that speaks directly to each one. Natural language is a plus as well.
Touches like these require more creativity and thought than formulaic marketing emails, but the effort may get you out of the dreaded promotions folder trap and into your prospects' main inboxes.
2. Refine Your Email List to Focus on High-Value Prospects
Another major and continuing change to the email marketing landscape involves increasingly marketing-savvy prospects. When it comes to emailed material, people simply aren't as credulous as they used to be. The prevalence of spam, phishing scams and other deviant email practices means that many consumers and business decision-makers view unsolicited and even solicited emails with healthy suspicion. When many or most of the prospects on your email list feel disinclined even to open your emailed material, reaching those who do feel a connection with your business can be a formidable challenge.
The most cost-effective way to address this problem is to constantly scrutinize and edit your marketing lists. Regularly check conversion statistics for each campaign, noting prospects who actually seem to engage with your marketing emails. If you don't see any signs of engagement within a set period of time, you can conclude that email marketing isn't effective for that particular prospect and remove him or her from the list.
Keep in mind that you can still market to non-responsive prospects by other means. By removing them from your email list, you may actually boost their chances of converting: If they don't have to deal with what they believe is a barrage of marketing emails, they're apt to give you the benefit of the doubt and back up that goodwill by entering your sales funnel through other portals.
3. Use A/B Testing to Measure What Works and What Doesn't
A/B testing entails simultaneously trialing two solutions to the same problem, and it's tailor-made for testing out email marketing techniques.
Rather than blindly choosing one of two campaign alternatives, utilize the principles of A/B testing to run both in parallel. Simply segment your prospects into two equal-sized groups with equivalent demographic and buyer history makeups. Set your marketing software to deliver materials from the first campaign to the first group and the second campaign to the second group.
At regular intervals, analyze engagement and conversion data to determine which campaign is more effective. Once you have enough data to make a conclusion, roll out the "winning" campaign for all prospects.
4. Switch to Punchier, More Frequent Emails
When it comes to the frequency of email marketing receipts, every prospect has an upper limit. That said, many prospects' limits are higher than you may think. If you have a legitimate reason, like a new promotion or release to send out, don't hesitate to do so.
Although you know your customers better than anyone does, increasing the overall quality and appeal of your email marketing materials may help you "get away" with more frequent emails. Focus on crafting shorter, punchier emails that get right to the point without sacrificing wit or personalization. If possible, keep each email focused on a single issue or topic, such as a particular sale or announcement.
If your emails are appealing enough, they'll stick in prospects' minds. In turn, the single-issue nature of these successful emails will make it easier for them to refer back to them in the future and quickly take advantage of whatever's being promoted. That's the very definition of a win-win.
5. Offer Email-only Deals
If you're struggling to find ways to entice prospects or even previous customers to open your emails, consider offering email-only deals. Make it clear in the subject line or first sentence, which is typically visible in recipients' inboxes, that the email contains a special promotion that's not available anywhere else. To reinforce the message, promote said emails through your social media accounts, which can be great for pushing prospects to open emails that they might otherwise ignore.
With email marketing rapidly changing, it should be a key role in your Inbound marketing plan. The email marketing strategies and tips above will help position your business for better results when implemented effectively. But if you find yourself needing assistance, we can help by putting together an email marketing campaign for your business from the start of the first initial send to the finish of the lead-nurturing follow-up and closed sale.