Creating an email marketing campaign can feel daunting. Balancing your organization’s needs and those of your contacts is often a challenge. And with email best practices always evolving, it’s easy to feel out of the loop about the “right way” to approach your email marketing strategy. The good news is, there’s a great deal of information available from people who happen to specialize in this kind of thing. Here, I’ve assembled recommendations on how to get the most out of your email marketing campaign.
There are a few email practices to avoid
There are certain factors that may lead to your email hitting the spam folder, including using things like ALL CAPS in the subject line, or too many exclamation marks. More foundational than that is ensuring you’re not sending to users who’ve unsubscribed, sending image-only emails, or sending too many “spammy” emails which could lead to getting blacklisted.
Regularly cleaning out your list, allowing users a clear path to an unsubscribe, and being transparent about who your organization is, is a great way to ensure your emails are being delivered fairly. A good rule of thumb is to always ask yourself if your emails are adding value to your audience. If your answer is yes, you’re likely in a good place.
There’s no silver bullet best practice for the timing of your email marketing
So many marketers are searching for a big secret that frankly doesn’t exist. The only thing that matters is understanding your audience, creating benchmarks, and optimizing based on previous results. Timing on emails may be different for a B2B organization vs. a retail organization for example. An audience for an outdoor recreation company may have more early risers than one for entertainment and nightlife. An organization focused on working moms may thrive during different times than one geared toward college students might. For the sake of a key takeaway, weekends are probably the worst times to send your emails. Plenty of data points to 11am as a great time for open-rates on emails, while some others point to late night or early morning due to less clutter from other senders. Moral of the story: have a strategic starting point, and make it a habit to test and learn from your particular audience.
The kind of CTA you use makes a difference
Effective calls to action have low barriers to entry (ex: a brief form vs. one that requires too many fields) and are clear and concise. Ideally, the call to action should add value to the reader, as well as your organization. The better the payoff for them, the more likely they’ll take the next step you’d like them to. Finally, make sure you stick to one CTA per email. More is not merrier in this case, and it can lead to confusion and lower conversion rates. You can, however, include your chosen CTA in multiple places if possible (ex: a hyperlink within your copy, and a button above the signature).
Your email marketing campaign is only as successful as the landing page you send them to
Landing pages are incredibly important to help your users convert (or complete your call to action). Just like streamlining your CTA in your emails, landing pages allow for a more streamlined user experience based on the objective. It is essentially a simpler version of a page on your website, that provides the user with information and a clear path to convert (inquire, purchase, etc.) Having product or service-specific landing pages helps the user get straight to the source and not become distracted by other options. Landing pages also help with digital marketing tactics like paid search, by helping optimize a page for the keyword and specific paid search ad you’re using. This helps make costs lower and results stronger!
We recommend the following steps to email marketing campaign success:
1. Align on your goals
The best way to get great results is to understand what you’re hoping to accomplish
2. Determine measurement plan
What kinds of KPIs will you use to determine if your campaign is reaching your goals?
3. Plan your approach
Are there particular segments of your list you should be targeting? How many times do you think you’ll need to contact them before they can take the step in your call to action (aka convert)? Create an outline based on this kind of questioning that tells you how many different emails you may need to write, and the timeline over which you will send them.
4. Map out your content
What is something valuable you can provide to your audience to get them to convert for you? Do you have offers for them that could be enticing? Are there photos or written pieces of content that might make your message stronger? Indicate what you will share with users and when—according to your approach outline + timeline.
5. Draft content
Set everything up in your email service provider (Mailchimp, ConstantContact, etc.) and review it (bonus points for asking help from a colleague to review). If you feel comfortable, try and do some A/B testing of things like subject lines or CTA buttons. When you’re all set up, schedule for launch.
Congrats! Now it’s time to wait for the results to roll in.
What was your open rate? Did you get unsubscribes? Non-deliverable emails? Did anyone convert? Using your measurement plan, evaluate how your campaign performed based on your KPIs.
Identify areas you need to improve and find tangible ways to do so. Learn from your A/B tests and implement winning elements in your next campaign. Continue to monitor ongoing campaigns and aim for continuous improvement!
Ultimately, your email marketing campaign will work hardest for you if you’re adding value. Value can present itself in a number of ways. Sometimes a coupon or discount, sometimes a notification of a new/improved product or service, sometimes a helpful stat or fact, and sometimes just a way to brighten a great customer’s day with a personalized message. Take the time to read your message through their eyes and make updates to the voice, message, and ask.
Sarah Johnson is the Director of Digital Marketing Services with Incentric. She’s a recreational sports enthusiast and is driven by the opportunity to connect people through truly impactful digital strategies. You’ll know it’s her by her “irresistible” fake British accent and steady stream of quips.