In a world where spam runs rampant and the use of ad-blockers is at an all-time high, email gets something of a bad rap as a marketing tool.
Too often, when people think of mailing lists, the first thing that comes to mind is junk mail. Irrelevant, poorly-written cold emails flooding into our inboxes from parts unknown.
Don't let that perception sour you on email. The people who send messages like that don't actually understand how to use email to promote their businesses. Leveraged effectively, email marketing is an incredibly powerful engagement tool, one which your business can use to strengthen its relationship and ultimately turn subscribers into sales.
So, what strategies can you use to get the most value out of your email marketing campaigns? The Parkfield Commerce team has you covered.
#1: Consider How You Structure Your Emails
Before we get into actual strategies and tactics, let's start with a bit of housekeeping. Even the best-planned marketing campaign in the world will fall apart if you don't understand how to write an email. To that end, there are a few things you need to bear in mind.
Here's a hot take—using a recipient's first and last name does not constitute personalization. It's the bare minimum for a mailing list, and even that can be done wrong. Overuse a subscriber's name, and you'll come off as a digital version of a sleazy used car salesperson. It's also worth noting how many spam emails start with names and honorifics.
If you're going to take personalization seriously, you need to go beyond the basics, and consider applying the following personalization strategies:
- Use hyper-segmentation: It's a standard best practice to segment your mailing lists based on demographic or location details. Hyper-segmentation takes that a step further, segmenting subscribers based on details like behavior and purchase history.
- Humanize your campaign: It should come as no surprise that people are more willing to trust another person than they are a business. For that reason, you might consider attaching your name to your mailing list emails rather than that of your brand.
- Celebrate anniversaries: This is one way to show a subscriber you care. Reach out to them to celebrate milestones like their birthday, the date of their first purchase from your business, or the day they started using one of your services.
- Keep it informal: No one wants to read an email filled with stuffy prose and business jargon. Keep things as conversational as possible while still remaining within the scope of your brand identity. It should go without saying that no matter how informal you get, your copy should be without spelling or grammatical errors.
- Add dynamic content: Instead of sending the same copy to every subscriber in a segment, why not tailor your emails so that they display unique content for every reader. This could be based on preferences, collected data, or as with hyper-segmentation, purchase history/behavior.
Send At the Right Time
Where email marketing is concerned, timing is everything. You want to send to your subscribers when they're likely to be interested. Although it will vary by segment and niche, OptinMonster recommends the following times:
- 8 AM, for the early risers.
- 1 PM, typically when your audience will be at lunch.
- 4 PM, the last hour of the workday.
- 6 PM, during or after a commute.
Examining survey data from several different sources, OptinMonster further found that Tuesday at one appears to be the best time to send based on peak open rates. Again, though. This is not a one-size-fits-all recommendation—you need to do your own market research to determine when your audience will be most active.
Mind the Subject Line
Most people have no idea how to write an effective email subject line, and it shows. Sometimes, that manifests as long, rambling, and boring copy. Other times, it's borderline spammy nonsense.
Here's a bit of advice to avoid falling into either camp:
- Keep it between 40-60 characters, and no more than five words where possible.
- Focus on the value of the email.
- Phrase it as an open-ended question.
- If relevant, consider adding a deadline.
- Try to avoid giving away too much—treat the subject line as a teaser.
- Stay on-brand, and make it unique.
- When in doubt, use a tool such as Email Subject Line Grader.
Optimize for Mobile
It's estimated that by 2025, 72.6% of people will access the web entirely via their smartphones. That includes viewing email. When planning your marketing campaign, design your emails to be readable on email first and foremost, avoiding overly large files or huge blocks of text.
Write an Effective Call to Action
Your call to action is the most important part of a marketing email. It's the final touchpoint where you turn a subscriber into a sales lead. Ideally, you'll want to position your CTA somewhere in the upper half of your email. Make sure it's aesthetically appealing, obvious, and easy to access for the reader.
Beyond that, as noted by marketing expert Neil Patel, you have a few options when it comes to how you want to structure your CTA:
- Provide a benefit, bonus, or free gift.
- Emphasize instant gratification.
- Explain the value of clicking through without revealing everything.
- Identify a problem and offer a solution.
- Use a strategic cliffhanger.
- Include statistics and details that pique the reader's need to belong.
#2: Start With Clear Goals in Mind
As with any campaign, email marketing is most effective when it's done with an end goal in mind. It's not enough to simply have some vague concept like 'increase sales.' You need to clearly define the overall goal of your campaign, what you want subscribers to do with each individual email, why you want them to act that way, and how that behavior will benefit your business.
#3: Manage Your Lists
Your mailing list is the lifeblood of your email marketing. It's also where most businesses drive themselves straight off a cliff. Most commonly, this is because they buy email lists rather than building those lists organically.
Doing so is a waste of time and money. You need to encourage your customers to engage with your mailing list of their own volition. Otherwise, you're nothing but another spammer.
But how exactly does one build a list?
By giving your audience something in return.
Maybe that's a white paper gated behind a registration wall, or access to thought leadership content they'd be unable to find elsewhere. Maybe it's notifications about product availability or business updates. Or maybe it's simply the opportunity for exclusive deals, offers, and giveaways.
Whatever the case, you need to give people a reason to subscribe, or there's little point having a mailing list at all.
It's also advisable to regularly prune your list. What we mean by that is that you should pay attention to users who haven't opened your emails for an extended period of time. Consider running a re-engagement campaign to recapture those inactive subscribers.
Remove those subscribers the campaign fails to draw back in.
#4: Use Triggers and Sequences
Trigger-based campaigns and email sequences together represent one of the best tools in your email marketing toolkit. The basic idea is that when a subscriber who's opted-in to receive emails from your business takes a particular action, that action triggers a specific sequence of emails.
- One of your subscribers, Betty, clicks on the call to action in one of your emails. Betty continues along the current email sequence.
- Another subscriber, Bill, either ignores the call to action or doesn't open the email at all. Bill is sent along another, parallel sequence.
Triggers need not be based on behavior, either. They could just as easily be connected to demographic information, time, or location.
#5: Test Your Emails
A/B testing is one of the tried-and-true techniques of marketing, and email is no exception. How it works on the surface is quite simple. Let's say you have two emails, identical save for their subject line.
Take the segment of your mailing list those emails target. Send email A to one half of the segment, and send email B to the other half. Measure which one generates the most opens.
Most mailing list management tools have A/B testing functionality built-in right out of the box, making this quite simple to do. These tools also provide valuable automation functionality that makes applying segmentation and dynamic content far simpler.
#6: Connect With Your Other Marketing Channels
Don't treat email like it exists in isolation from your other marketing channels. Today's consumers demand a personalized, omni-channel experience. That means integrating your email marketing campaign with not just your social media efforts, but also inbound marketing and customer support.
The idea is to establish a single source of truth for each customer upon which people at every level of the sales funnel can draw. It goes without saying that you should also leverage analytics functionality wherever possible. Tracking open rate, clickthrough rate, and churn is important, certainly— but these metrics lose much of their value when examined in isolation rather than being analyzed as part of the bigger picture.
#7: Send Sparingly
Think of the last time you unsubscribed from a mailing list. What was your reason for doing so? If the email campaign was still valuable and interesting to you, then chances are fairly high that it was because you felt like you were being spammed.
It can be tempting to flood your subscribers with emails. After all, these are your most engaged customers. More content means more engagement, right?
Not exactly. In most cases, your sweet spot is one to two emails per week. More than that, and you risk alienating your subscribers. And if you're sending more than five emails per week — or worse, multiple emails per day?
Hit the brakes, because your campaign is about to crash and burn.
#8: Always Offer Value
Ultimately, the one thing you need to remember above all else is that your email campaigns aren't about your business. Not directly. They're about your business's relationship with its subscribers—about how you can make their lives better and strengthen their relationship with your brand.
This, more than anything else, should inform all your email marketing strategies.
Need Help Implementing These Email Marketing Strategies?
Parkfield Commerce can help you turn these email strategies into actionable campaigns designed around automation and personalization best practices.
We have extensive partnerships with leading email automation marketing platforms like Klaviyo, Attentive, Sailthru, and more.
Book a discovery call today and let us show you the power of email marketing automation.