One of the best ways to stay in touch with your customers, and to encourage them to regularly return to your site, is through building an email list. This list will be a valuable part of your company as you grow, and how you manage this list may determine just how much of a sticky community of followers you build. Keep in mind, most countries have strict rules around data protection and privacy, so it’s important to play by the rules and let your customers know that you do respect their information.
What Kind of Email Marketing?
Once you start to build a list of customers and prospective customers, you need to decide just what kind of emails you will be sending them. If you are a daily-deals site it might be expected for you to email these people daily (or even multiple times per day), but if you’re a retailer of specialty products with a long purchase cycle you might only be able to justify emailing once per month.
After you determine the frequency of emailing, you want to determine just what to send your customers. Will you be writing a regular newsletter with helpful content, or will your eDM be a pure sales brochure of what you’re selling this week? Either way, taking time to write out a calendar of planned emails will help you clarify just what and when you will be communicating to your customers. Remember; it is much easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to sell to a new customer, so keep your existing customers happy so that they don’t unsubscribe.
Segmenting Your Lists
Before you begin a one-size-fits-all email campaign, think about how your customers might be different from one another and segment your lists accordingly. Not every customer is the same, and being treated with more personalised service will result in happier and more satisfied customers in the long run.
For example, you may segment your email list into: repeat customers, customers who purchased one time only, and prospective customers. You may choose to email each of these groups a different themed email, and with more or less frequency depending on your strategy. If you have customers who purchased different product categories, you may want to segment by these categories to better tailor your offers, or you might segment by a number of other factors such as gender, age, location, or previous activity levels. The key here is tailoring the emails as much as possible to the customer, and thus ensuring better open rates, click rates, and more sales from your email marketing campaigns.
How to Optimise your Open Rates
When you start emailing your list, you may initially be disappointed to see the small amount of emails being opened. The reality is people get so many emails it can be hard to stand out. Other factors such as aggressive spam filters, and customer initiated filters, mean that 70-80% of your emails may never actually be opened. Email marketing is a science and an art, and getting higher open rates on email campaigns is a book topic in itself, however you can greatly increase your results by following a few simple rules:
1. Use a professional mail server such as Mailchimp or Aweber. Using a service like these will ensure your email deliverability, and will allow you to send large amounts of email without being labelled as a spammer with the major email providers (gmail, hotmail, yahoo etc).
2. Work on your subject lines. An email must have an attractive subject line in order to be opened. Usually the shorter your subject line is the better it is, and avoid using spammy sounding words or phrases, or too much punctuation; this is a sure-fire way of being labelled as spam. You might try to put the person’s first name in the subject of the email, and make sure the subject is interesting and relevant. Having a time-specific call to action can also encourage people to click through to your email’s content.
3. Look at who you’re sending ‘From’. By this I don’t mean Mailchimp or Aweber, but within this software you can specify the ‘From’ name that people will see in their inbox. Should you give your email a persona and a human touch, or simply the name of your business? This is probably best decided according to the specific business you are running, but worth thinking about as the customer will notice these things.
4. Write an attractive preheader. What’s a preheader? It’s the small preview of text seen after the subject line in your email provider, and effectively another selling point for people to open the email. This is often ignored by email marketers, or left with a standard ‘Can’t see this email?’ type phrase, which won’t do your open rate any favours. Think about how you can customise this snippet of information as a helpful teaser enticing people to open your email and learn more.
How to Get Killer Click Through Rates
The second major statistic that email marketers look at daily is the click through rate; this is the percentage of people who received your email and actually clicked on one of your links within the email. As you might expect, this is the whole point of most emails; to encourage people to visit specific web pages and hopefully result in sales for that particular company. Here are a few ways to bring up your click through rates:
1. Get people to open your emails. It might sound obvious, but you can’t have good click through without a solid open rate, so work on getting high levels of opens on your emails first. Once you have people reading your emails you can then try to funnel them toward the next steps.
2. Include a strong call to action. Make it obvious what you are trying to get your readers to do! If you want them to visit your site, put the link near the top of the email so it is one of the first things your readers see. Include a number of links on images, text, and in multiple places to try to capitalise on as many clicks as possible.
3. Avoid one big image; have a balance of text and images. If some of your customers have images turned off on their phones or browsers, your message will probably not be getting across to them. Try to have a good balance of short, concise text, and attractive images that serve as links to a relevant page on your site.
4. Pay attention to design. People on your email list probably know your site and what it looks like, so pay attention to your email design and make sure there’s some continuity between what you’re doing online and what you’re doing with email. Try to observe the basic rules of colour themes and layouts, and it will be less of a challenge for people to move from your email to your webpage.
5. Keep it fun and interesting. Spamming your readers with daily sales pitches for different products may or may not get the results you are looking for. Instead, why not keep a healthy mix of newsletter-type helpful information alongside your list of favourite products for sale? Linking snippets of blog posts to their actual page on your site is a good way to encourage people to move from inbox to online, and while they’re on your site you then have the chance to move them toward a sale.
6. Use heatmaps to see where your customers are viewing and clicking. A heatmap basically shows you where there is the most to the least activity happening on your email eDM. Use this customer activity data to determine where to place your links and calls to action to get the best click through results from your campaigns.
At the end of the day, each email list (and customer base) will be different and expect different things. It’s up to you to keep testing new ideas to increase your open rates and click through rates, and you’ll eventually find what resonates with your customers. Try to be fair and consistent, and seek feedback from your customers when you can. Done properly, an email marketing campaign can help boost any business’s bottom line for a relatively small investment of time and effort.