Fresh eyes

Don’t be so quick to dismiss email marketing

Don't be so quick to dismiss email marketing

Written by Mark Brennan,
Head of Digital; Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Freshfield

Some of the most common responses I hear from clients when discussing email marketing include: “I never respond to marketing emails”; “isn’t it just unwanted spam” or “how can we stand out from the masses of junk in people’s inboxes”.

While there is some merit in these criticisms, email marketing is still a valid tactic for most businesses so long as you follow these golden rules.

Bad data equals poor results

If your database is poor quality, as it contains old data, missing fields, very few records or just wrong information – then don’t expect a world-beating campaign. Purchasing data can be an option in some sectors, but the best database is the one you build yourself – copy the relevant details from your billing system, business card stack, LinkedIn account, sign up section of your website and any other sources you have into one file and then go through line by line to thoroughly check this before sending anything.

This is particularly important if you are doing personalised emails – your biggest customer is hardly likely to be impressed getting something addressed to Dear <Customer>! A customer of ours once said: “You put s**t in, you get s**t out”. In the case of database management, this is very true.

Catch the eye with your subject line

Recent research from technology market research firm Radicati revealed that the average business email user sends and receives 122 emails per day. To stand out from the background ‘noise’ of an inbox you need an eye-catching subject line of less than 50 characters. Avoid words like help, reminder, ALL WORDS IN CAPITALS and the dreaded exclamation mark – unless you want to end up straight in either the spam folder or deleted items.

Put as much effort into the subject line as you do with the content, otherwise the content may never be seen at all. Is your target audience more likely to open “Latest news from Smith Widgets” or “Innovative widget will reduce your energy costs”?

Keep content relevant and interesting

Step into the shoes of your audience and ask yourself “am I interested in this?” If not, you need to change the content, or segment your database based on their interests. For example, customers might be really interested to hear about your newest employees, but prospective customers could be more interested to hear about who you work for and recent projects. By including a number of stories from your website in your enewsletter and tracking who clicks on what story you can build a picture of what your audience is really interested in.

Great design can make all the difference

Think about those 122 (or more) e-mails you send and receive in a day. The majority of them are text based and the only image you’ll see is a company logo on someone’s e-mail footer. By using tools like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor you can design engaging e-mails that look great on mobile devices as well as desktops. You wouldn’t send someone a messy looking brochure – so don’t send them an ugly email.

Measure, measure and measure some more

By using an email system and monitoring the impact of enewsletters on your website traffic as part of your digital marketing strategy measurement you can understand how successful each campaign has been and gather intelligence for your next campaign. Also consider A/B testing – if you’re not sure what subject line is best, send one half of a campaign with one subject line and the other half using the second subject line.

The best metrics for you depend on your objectives, but could include:

  • Open to click rate (how many people clicked a link on your enewsletter divided by how many people definitely opened the email);
  • List growth (how many new people sign up for your enewsletter each month); and
  • Conversions (e.g. how many email marketing recipients then made an enquiry, downloaded a white paper or spent at least x number of minutes on the website)

If your email marketing isn’t getting results consider reviewing what you are sending, who to and why before you dismiss this tactic – as there are plenty of businesses getting great results using email.

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