post dogIf you’re looking for top tips on email marketing or want to learn best-practice email techniques, then you’ll be spoilt for choice.  There are workshops, seminars, forums, briefings, breakfasts and full-blown diplomas dedicated to the practice of digital marketing.
With so much discussion and advice out there, it must be the case that effective email marketing is a dark art or a complex science, right?  Maybe.  Or perhaps best practice is a lot about plain old common sense too.
To find out, let’s take one forum full of email marketing practioners. Ask them to describe, in one sentence, their top tips for effective email marketing.  The result?  Not a complex and mind boggling array of technical processes.  Nor a subjective art.  Just a handful of key principles and a large dollop of good marketing sense.
Follow these top tips and you can’t go far wrong.

 

TOP TIP #1     Quality not quantity

Email marketing is cost-effective compared to other paid-for marketing channels but that doesn’t mean it should be used and abused.  People will NOT suddenly decide to buy your latest gizmo just because you’ve sent them 100 emails telling them that they should.  Likewise, sending a generic email to everyone you’ve ever met, won’t guarantee a sudden uplift in business.
Instead, make sure you target your database intelligently and take care over your messaging.  Send more relevant emails to fewer people.  Consider the level of engagement you get as a key measure of success, not the number of people on your list.

 

TOP TIP #2     Test, Test, Test

Find out what your customers respond to the best. Try different tactics and see which delivers the best results.  For example;
– When is the best time or day of week to email?
– How often should you email?
– Who is the most responsive?
– Does subject line A or B work better?
Keep testing and learning as you go. Adapt your strategy to suit your customers and your emails will work much harder for you.

 

TOP TIP #3     Grow your own database

Beware bought-in email data.  Regardless of how credible the supplier or the source, or how well targeted the list appears to be, third party data is never as responsive as a home-grown database.  Poor data can also be harmful to your sender reputation, potentially affecting how many emails get delivered to their intended recipients.  A bad sender reputation takes a long time to repair.  Worse still, continued use of bad data, over emailing or spammy content could get you blacklisted.  Not good.
Think of email marketing as a way of building a relationship with your customers.  Nuture your own database, look after it and keep it clean.  It will become your most valuable asset.

 

TOP TIP #4     Use segmentation

All customers are not alike.  Just because someone has bought your gizmo in the past, doesn’t mean they want to receive the same information as every other Tom, Dick and Harry who also purchased it.
Take opportunities to get to know the people on your database better.  Consider the times and places you could reasonably ask them to provide more information about themselves.  Make it worth their while (offering a free guide, some useful advice or a discount work well).

Segmenting your database needn’t be complex.  We’re not all Tesco Clubcard wannabes. Start with the basics and go from there.  For example;
– Who always opens your emails?  Who never opens them?
– Who has bought something in the past and who hasn’t?
– Who has purchased gizmo A, but not the bits that go with it?
– Who lives within a 50 mile radius of your next big shindig?

By breaking your database down into chunks of similar people, based on their past engagement with your or the information they’ve given along the way, it’s much easier to craft relevant email copy.  The more relevant, the better the response.  Segmentation is also a great way of finding your most valuable and engaged recipients and weeding out the ones you’re wasting your time with.

 

TOP TIP #5    Make it relevant

Put yourself in the shoes of your intended email recipients.  What do they want to hear? (This is not always the same thing that you want to tell them!). There is no point sending a beautifully designed email to your carefully chosen segment of people if the content isn’t relevant to them.
Don’t waste time trying to sell gizmo X to people who have only ever shown an interest in widget Y.  Instead, remind them why widget Y was such a good choice in the first place and suggest they check out the new range of mini-widgets and latest must-haves for people like them.

 

TOP TIP #6     Structure your content

Keep your message simple.  Keep it concise and include an obvious call to action. Make sure your most important bit of information is at the top of the email.
Try and make your email copy as personalised as possible.  You might not be able to write on a one-to-one basis, but at the very least you can address your recipients by name (no ‘Dear Customer’ here, thank you) and use the sort of language that appeals to them. Remember that your subject line is your foot in the door, so give the wording some careful thought. Generally a straightforward subject line works best.  People with busy inboxes don’t want to play guessing games.

 

TOP TIP #7     Pick the low hanging fruit

There are certain email marketing campaigns which are just too good to miss. Two of the most effective and most commonly overlooked emails are the Welcome Email and the Abandon Basket Email.
The Welcome Email is about engaging with the engaged.  Someone has chosen to do business with you, so strike while the iron is hot and send them a friendly email to make them feel good about choosing your company or gizmo.  It will kick start your relationship. They’ll be in the right frame of mind to hear about other relevant products or services, and will more readily tell you more about themselves – ideal for segmentation.  Even the smallest of companies can implement an effective Welcome email campaign.
The Abandon Basket email is a brilliant tool for online retailers.  It’s a way of converting those sales you thought were lost.  To do this you need tracking on your website to identify the people who disappear mid-way through buying something. Once you’ve got that, you’re good to go.  If someone abandons a purchase, ping them an email sharpish before they decide to buy elsewhere.  Include a little extra incentive to choose your company, or just a helpful reminder about why you’re better than the next guy.  You’d be amazed at the response.

 

Summary

From personal experience, I know that the above tips WILL get you results and improve the effectiveness of your email marketing.   Over 170 other email marketers agree.
Of course, email marketing and all that it entails can become more complex.  Your aim is to produce highly segmented, highly personalised email content.  In the meantime though, simply following these few bits of advice is a great starter for ten and help you to get better results.  Good luck!

 

If you want help drafting relevant, structured and engaging email content for your campaigns, give me a shout.