Social media is unquestionably the marketer's tool of choice when it comes to generating engagement and increasing brand reputation, but whatever happened to good old-fashioned email marketing? Well, not much in short; it's still the primary driver of traffic and e-commerce sales. Brands that see social media as a replacement for traditional email marketing are frankly missing a trick, as the most fruitful strategies encompass all areas of digital, with email marketing firmly at the heart of operations.
Before listing what I consider to be the ten most important aspects of a successful email marketing strategy, it's worth considering some of the statistics that make overlooking this form of marketing a big mistake for brands. 94% of daily email users are subscribed to at least one marketing message, with 74% of all online adults stating that email is their preferred method of commercial communication. 88% of B2C firms currently use email marketing, and 71% of B2B firms employ the tactic. These figures are set to increase by 11% and 13% respectively by the end of 2012.
On top of these facts, advancing technology means that 82% of Smartphone users now check and send emails with their device as opposed to their desktop, and 27% of emails are opened exclusively on a mobile device. That means that over one quarter of your target audience are viewing your email on their mobile device; is your email campaign designed with that in mind? Below I've listed ten of the most important factors in achieving a successful email marketing campaign.
1.) Only ever send emails to persons who have requested to receive them. This is called Permission-Based Email marketing - as opposed to unsolicited, non-permission based email marketing.
2.) Be specific with your content. If a user has requested only specific areas of communication, don't bombard them with irrelevant marketing messages which will quickly alienate them.
3.) Design a sending frequency, and stick to it. Whether you plan on sending your emails daily, weekly or monthly, it is important to adopt a strict sending schedule. Recipients will be far more inclined to open your email if they are familiar with your sending schedule.
4.) Build your send-list at every opportunity you have. The most common way of doing this is adding a newsletter signup form to your website, and publicising it. If you have a retail location, add a point-of-sale sign-up form. When you attend conferences or events, bring a paper sign-up form or have a laptop with a sign-up form set up and available for interested parties.
5.) Whatever you do, include both a plain text and an HTML version of your newsletter. Users with devices that can't/won't process HTML messages will see a blank email, and that includes a wide range of companies who specifically only process plain text emails as a form of spam-blocking.
6.) Don't go crazy with caps lock or exclamation marks. If you were trying to entice a customer in your store into buying a product from you, would you scream at them? No? Good. DON'T WRITE EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS THEN!!! It's not only rude; it's also a sure-fire way of triggering anti-spam software into blocking your email.
7.) Deliverability is key. You can boost your email's chances of being delivered by simply adding a message at the top of all your communications, saying something like: "To ensure receipt of our emails, please add [email protected] to your Address Book or approved senders list."
8.) Personalise your message. Ideally you want to individualise each email, but this is not always possible with larger campaigns. At the very least, set the 'From Name' for your messages as either your company name or the name of a visible staff member at your company. Once you've decided on your From Name, stick to it. One of the most decisive factors in whether a user opens your email is their familiarity with the name of the sender - if they see something like "[email protected]," you're fighting an uphill battle.
9.) Back to your sending schedule; make sure that you are sending your emails at a time when they will be most visible. For example, don't send a marketing message at 2am on a Friday morning. The general consensus is that B2B emails are best sent Tuesday through Thursday, and it's sensible to avoid sending B2B emails after 4pm or on weekends. B2C emails are more suited to either evening delivery times; primarily between 5-8pm, or weekends.
10.) After you've done all of that, you'd be wise to track your data. You have access to all manner of useful statistics such as email open rates, the number of click-throughs and even the conversion rate your email campaign has achieved. Over time, analysing this data will massively increase your understanding of email marketing and what has yielded the best results for you.
The original article can be found on the Big Dot Media blog, and the full whitepaper document on email marketing will be available shortly.