Don't miss out on potential sales because you failed to optimize your mailings - here are seven strategies that will help you to get the most out of your email marketing campaigns.
Pinterest might be flashy and Twitter might be trendy, but old-school email is still the best in the business when it comes to generating customer interaction and sales. When you send an email to a list of customers or clients, you're reaching targeted individuals who opted-in to receive your content. That means they're already primed and ready to follow through on whatever you're offering.
However, your email campaign is only as good as the follow-through you give it. Don't miss out on potential sales because you failed to optimize your mailings.
1. Use a Newsletter Service
If you're not already signed up for an email marketing service provider, such as MailChimp or AWeber, you're doing yourself a disservice. These companies make it easy to create beautiful, mobile-optimized emails - a hugely important factor considering almost 40 percent of users access email from mobile devices.
The benefits don't end there, though. You can also manage email lists, integrate forms and sign-ups on your website, and track email analytics. If you've been trying to manage every aspect of your newsletters in-house, it's time to free up some manpower and let a cloud service take some of the work off your hands.
2. Test Your Subject Lines
According to stats compiled by Impact Branding & Design, 33 percent of email recipients open their email based on the subject line alone. Your subjects should be concise and informative, giving the reader a reason to click through. This is no easy task. That's why many email marketing services allow you to send out two versions of the same email, each with a different subject line - enabling you to test which one garners more opens from readers.
3. Personalize Your Message
Readers understand that email campaigns are sent out to the masses, but that doesn't mean they want to feel like just another name on a list. When collecting emails from customers and clients, try to harvest as much additional information as you can, such as their names, ages, addresses, interests, and social media information. Be sure to leave these fields optional, though, as many people navigate away from a page if it requires too much work.
When composing your email campaigns, use customizable fields to personalize each message. For instance, if you customize the "To" field, the reader can receive a message that says, "Dear John," instead of an impersonal, "Dear Customer." It's little details like this that go a long way toward engaging your audience and encouraging follow-through.
4. Segment Your Emails
To personalize your message further, segment your email lists into smaller, niche customer groups. Email marketing services make it easy to set up this type of list, creating groupings based on location, gender, past purchases, and more. The goal here is to provide a particular customer group with deals and updates likely to resonate with them.
For instance, if you own a sporting goods line that markets primarily to coaches and teams, you could segment your list into groups based on sport - football, basketball, baseball. Then, when you're running a deal on football helmets, you could send out an email targeted only to football coaches, rather than to your entire list. Not only is this likely to make the football coaches happy, but you're less likely to annoy the other coaches on your list by sending them information they don't care about.
5. Reduce Text and Optimize Calls to Action
Customers and clients want to spend as little time as possible reading through their emails, so they're likely to open up your campaign, give it a quick scan, and decide within just a few seconds whether to delete it or click through. That's why you want your message to be short, sweet, and to the point. Cut down on long-form text, and focus on short messages that call the reader to action. Be a little bossy (in a nice way), and tell them what they need to do next.
For instance, if you run an office supply company and you want to increase printing supply sales, focus your entire email on one single call to action - buying more printing supplies. You could do this by offering a quick tip on getting more out of your toner, and including a coupon for a discount on paper, but the overall message and all links you provide should be focused on a single call to action, "View our hot printing deals now!" Your call to action should be obvious and visually appealing, leaving no room for doubt about what the reader should do next.
6. Provide Visually Interesting Campaigns
Many email recipients prefer viewing email marketing in HTML, fully optimized with images, custom fonts, and styles. Because you only have a few seconds to generate a response from your reader, the more visually interesting your campaign is, the more likely the reader is to stick around. Include images and graphics that support your overall message - and avoid generic stock images and choose ones that "tell the story" of your email. For instance, if you're providing a coupon to readers, go ahead and put an image of it in the email with a clear call to action, "Click for your coupon," below it.
7. Provide Means for Social Sharing
According to statistics provided by Impact Branding and Design, emails that have social sharing buttons generate a 158 percent higher click-through rate than those that don't. If your goal is to initiate action from your reader, then you absolutely must include a means for the reader to share your newsletter with their own social following, as well as a means for the reader to follow you on your social networks. Many email marketing service providers make this step incredibly easy - all you have to do is add the social widgets and include any appropriate links.
I'm sorry to say that as I developed my own business, I focused much too hard on social media for far too long, failing to understand the importance of a healthy mailing list. However, now that I'm focusing on building a list, our traffic is up and our readers are more engaged, coming back to our site more often. Don't make my mistake - understand the importance of your mailing list and focus on optimizing your emails immediately. You won't be disappointed.
What tips do you have for optimizing your email lists?
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David Bakke is an Atlanta-based social media strategist and contributing member of the MoneyCrashers.com team. He is the author of the personal finance book, "Don't Be a Mule" and writes about small business marketing tactics, money management - including banking and credit cards, careers, and methods for people to get out of debt.
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