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Email Marketing — Part II: It’s the best way to market your business.

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Welcome back!

In this continuation of the discussion on Email Marketing, we will look at some of the specific details and tactics that go into effective email marketing.

But first, a question: Are you aware that, according to hubspot.com, it costs five times more to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one?That’s a big reason to be serious-minded in your planning for the development and execution of a successful, and invaluable, email marketing campaign.

Once a shopper has opted-in for your emails, promotions, whatever, it’s extremely important, and cost-effective, to nurture and develop a lasting relationship with them.

Now that you have a contacts list, what’s next?

Hopefully, you have acquired a healthy list of names. So, the first thing you want to do with the list is to give it some special attention. It contains a lot of names, but the one thing that needs to be recognized upfront is that each of these names represents an individual who is unique and different from all the others on the list.

Email List Segmentation.

What you want to do initially is to divide the list into groups of people with similar likes and tastes. This is called segmenting your list. This is the first step in personalizing your connection with your customers.

Personalized email campaigns are the most successful form of marketing. These segmented and targeted emails can generate up to nearly 60 percent of all revenues.

In segmenting your list, you will divide your list into smaller segments based on different sets of criteria. Segmentation is simply a technique to personalize your emails to deliver timely and relevant information to your subscribers based on such things as their location, interests, purchase history, and much, much more. The variables are limitless and can be aimed at defining the personas you’ve created.

The segments are fashioned so that you can cater explicitly to each diverse email list and to the individual interests, rather than creating one mass message for everyone.

So, why is email segmentation so important?

It enables you, the entrepreneur, to learn more about your customers. To be able to successfully segment your list, you need to know as much as possible about the people you want to establish a connection with and have a conversation.

And segmentation of your mailing lists will help you clarify the goals of your email marketing campaigns. It is much more expedient to concentrate your goals towards closely connected groups with common interests, rather than trying to blanket all of your subscribers with a one-size-fits-all message.

It also encourages you, the business owner, to maintain a robust email database—one that is alive and active. In order to properly segment your emails, you need to put the contacts into some kind of logical sequence and eliminate those subscribers who don’t show any signs of activity. Without this segmentation, your database will become an indistinguishable collection of names, especially, when you have thousands of contacts.

Segmentation will improve your efficiency. A segmented mailing list will cause your email marketing campaigns to be targeted and much more powerful. It has been shown in many studies that segmentation increases open rates and click-through rates extensively, in comparison to non-segmented email campaigns.

It can strengthen the reputation of your business. Emails containing targeted and relevant information tend to find more natural engagement with an audience. Statistics reveal that shoppers like having high-quality content in their inboxes…one survey shows that up to 70% of consumers enjoy quality emails from a company they know and respect. They trust them and rely on them to provide them with valuable information and actually look forward to receiving more.

Individualizing the email list establishes a foundation for two-way communication that is beneficial to both parties.  Email segmentation creates a pleasant experience for the shopper that makes it seem less robotic and more of a personal relationship with your business. That’s because that’s exactly what it is— and that is your purpose—to establish that personal relationship.

The effect of segmentation.

Eliciting a response to your marketing message through the use of the email is the whole point of segmentation. Again, you accomplish this by sending targeted and relevant information to very specific people on your list. These consumers on your list have already responded once to a portion of your message by opting-in. Now you want to nurture and feed them with more information to encourage them and begin a long-term relationship. You accomplish this by paring your list down to any given number of criteria or conditions: purchase history, age, geographic location, or previous email campaign interactions…anything that will engage them and keep them engaged.

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) segmented campaigns perform far better than non-segmented campaigns. They claim that marketers can realize a 760% increase in email revenue from properly segmented campaigns. And, this makes perfect sense—the more meaningful and personal a message is, the more likely the reader will respond to the call-to-action.

What should your emails look like?

Some of the basic elements that your emails should include are:

A Subject line: It should make your email stand out in the customer’s inbox. Be creative! Stay true to your brand in voice and tone and don’t get pushy or gimmicky. Try different approaches that draw attention to your email and its message and find several that give the best results.

Complete the From line…tell them who you are: You don’t want your contacts thinking that they are receiving a random email. It will most likely end up in the trash folder…unopened! Always ensure that your subscribers know who it is that’s emailing them. Include your brand logo or name to help them recognize you. And again, be creative and try different things to find a few ideas that work well and can be linked back to you. Then be consistent.

Include a Preheader:  The Preheader is a short summary directly below the subject line in an email to give readers an idea of what the email is about. The impact of the preheader is often undervalued—it’s an efficient way to summarize the content of an email. It works especially well on mobile devices.

A Call-to-Action: We covered CTAs in Part I, but again, they are an invaluable component in all aspects of your marketing plan. When you develop them, be definitive in what it is you expect your readers to do after reading your email…and keep it simple. Statistics show that emails with a single CTA can increase click-throughs-rates by over 300% and increase sales 10-fold.

These are the basic elements you should include, and keep in mind, something this simple can make the difference between a reader opening your message or tossing it in the trash. What the recipient does with your email can provide you with real-time, in-depth insights into your target audience and will allow you to tweak your marketing strategy. From the very beginning, with your first email campaign, keep an eye on your metrics to understand whether they are helping you to successfully meet your goals. It’s a learning experience that allows you to change and adapt your plan.

Don’t forget about the mobile element.

Nearly 60% of all emails are now opened on a mobile device of some type.  Ensure that everything you do and create is mobile-responsive. If a message is hard to read, difficult to understand or is visually unattractive, the reader will become frustrated and won’t give the email a second glance…in the trash it goes!

Create your emails to be deliverable.

This sounds like an obvious point. So why mention it? There are a couple of things that could, indeed, cause your emails to not be delivered.

Size is the first thing to come to mind—size can have a huge impact. Extremely large emails can take a long time to load and can get cut off by some email clients.  On some servers, super long emails can even time out. Any number of things can go wrong with extra-long emails.

Another key thing to remember is knowing the appropriate size for images. Being able to find the right balance between images and text is crucial to ensure that your readers see the message just as you intended for them to see. Paying attention to details such as these helps keep your emails out of the SPAM folders.

Email workflows versus campaigns.

Before we get to email sending strategies, let’s take a quick look at a couple of terms that keep popping up when studying and researching email campaign practices and strategies. I found these two terms often used interchangeably in many discussions. But a little more research revealed that there is a subtle difference between them that is nice to understand. The two terms are email workflow and email campaign.

What Is an Email Workflow?

The workflow represents a series of automated emails to be sent — or not be sent — based on a potential customer’s behavior or contact information. With a workflow, you can trigger actions based on any single piece of information you determine about your subscriber(s). This allows you to respond with an appropriate message with proper timing to the designated person, or persons.

The Email Campaign.

The campaign entails a pre-determined set of individual marketing messages delivered at specific intervals and with an overall objective in mind. The campaign provides an opportunity for each new message to build on previous successes. They are delivered at specified intervals with the goal of intensifying the discussion relative to making a purchase.

I understood this to essentially imply that the workflow is predicated and directed toward specific individual reactions (behavior) whereas the campaign is designed toward predicted behavioral responses.

Strategies for sending your emails.

In order to get the most out of your email campaign, that is, get the most opens, clicks, and engagement, you should understand that it is all about timing.

Just as there are rush hours in the brick-and-mortar retail world where customer interaction is maximized and times when there are no customers in sight—the same can be said about emails.

A lot of research goes into determining when the best time is to send emails so that they are in front of the subscriber when they check their emails. So, is there, in fact, a time when your audience is most likely to jump into their inbox and check their emails?

Let’s take a look at some data:

  • Experian studies found that emails get opened the most on Saturdays, followed closely by Tuesdays.
  • A study by Customer.io shows Tuesday afternoon as the most optimal day of the week to send your emails.
  • Wordstream data revealed that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the “favorite days” to send emails.

Several different studies showed the weekend, Saturday and Sunday, to be the best time.

So, what does this all say! This data tells us that there is NO perfect day nor time to send your email campaign. It tells you that the optimal send time is… subjective!

It’s subjective based on your;

  • Industry
  • Business
  • Subscribers
  • And many more additional factors.

Only testing, and more testing—trial and error— will provide conclusive answers for your specific business.

Campaign Timing

As ambiguous as the data above is, timing is a critical element of your email campaign strategy. Again, research and testing are going to be important steps in your campaign development.

You may be located in one time zone and many of your subscribers are scattered about in other time zones. An ideal time for you may be inconvenient for someone three time-zones away. The time of day subscribers receive their emails can affect performance indicators such as open-rates and click-through-rates. So, in segmenting your contacts list, one consideration should be the time zone the recipient is in so that they receive your messages at a time that is convenient for them.

If you’re wanting to maximize the customer’s engagement and potential response to your emails, but aren’t sure just when is the best time to send, try considering these three core time slots:

Early morning, while your subscribers are commuting or have arrived at work.

Around mid-day, while they are on their lunch break.

And in the evening when they are home.

Also, think about the consumer’s lifestyle and habits. By creating personas of your ideal customers, you’ll have a good handle on this aspect.

And, if you have conducted previous email marketing campaigns, study the data provided by your email provider and see when subscribers are most likely to check and open the emails you sent out.

Frequency of Campaign

Along with proper timing of your email campaign, the frequency at which you dispense your messages plays a key role in the campaign’s effectiveness.

Most of your campaign emails will have a short “shelf life”. But this does not mean that you should send a new email each and every day. This practice tends to result in a bunch of “please unsubscribe me” requests.

The era of email blasting is over! Consumers have developed email fatigue, and in most cases, they won’t even open your message if they are consistently overwhelmed with a flood of emails. A simple fact is that the more messages you send…the less effective they may be.

Many experts agree that keeping your emails limited to two per week at the most will help ensure that you’re still reaching your subscribers and not creating excessive clutter in their inbox. Sometimes, depending on your industry, only sending an email twice per month, like a newsletter, works very well too.

Testing = Strategy

The bottom line is that your sending strategies are the result of testing, and more testing; then analyzing the metrics to determine the best course of action.

Each industry and business cater to unique and individual customers who rarely fit into any specific mold. So, test, test, test, and study your data…then be creative and flexible!

*****

And remember…Chelsea and Rachel are email marketing wizards. They employ the top e-commerce-friendly email providers and are proficient, experienced, and ready to help you start and manage your company’s email marketing campaign. Contact them today!

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