Got a great email marketing solution? Got a solid opt-in and scrubbed contact list? That’s half the battle to a great return on your email marketing investment. Here are six simple tips you can use to improve almost any email marketing effort.
1. Remember why it’s called a “message”.
If you think of your email campaign as an ongoing dialogue with each prospect, it will change your strategy. For instance, in a dialogue, you have to keep the conversation going – and that means listening to the people you’re talking about. (How are they responding? What actions are they taking?) It also means staying relevant. (If they visited your blog after your last email, but have never been to the products page after several messages, stop sending them messages that try to drive them to the products page – offer them an incentive to take some other action instead.)
2. Automate the process so you can focus on strategy and great creative.
In the post-recession economy, is there any marketing team that’s operating at full strength, with all the help they need? A marketing automation solution can become the extra marketing resource you don’t have – use it to set up automated campaigns based on event and behavioral triggers.
3. Test, don’t guess.
Testing is fast and easy – and it makes a huge difference in return. All you need is two subject lines, two versions of an image, a piece of copy, or a promotion, and you’re on your way. If you don’t test, you’re guessing – and you can’t be sure what will work at a particular time with even a well-scrubbed list.
4. Add periodic “check in” emails (with or without surveys) to improve your relationship with prospects and get feedback continuously.
Recently, an experienced marketer was overheard telling someone that he was reluctant to send an email asking customers for feedback for fear of a high unsubscribe rate. What a sad commentary on his knowledge of his customer base (and the quality of his email list). Most prospects and customers will appreciate a “check-in” email every once in a while. Ask them what you’re doing right – what they’d like to see more or less of – and how their interest levels in your company and product vary over time. Yes, some will unsubscribe – most will do nothing – and a valuable few will respond with important information you can’t get anywhere else.
5. Deliver consistent quality – but mix up the style & content to maintain interest.
We all know how important it is to deliver messages from a real person (or a corporate persona like Betty Crocker who seems real to customers). But did you know that experimenting with a variety of email campaign types can make your audience more receptive and engaged? Vary your HTML messages with Outlook emails, marketing messages with messages from sales or customer service, and use your metrics (click-through, open, and online activity) to identify new ways to interact with your audience. (And don’t forget other ways to communicate with customers. Sending a hand-written thank-you card, especially after a large sale, is always a good idea.)
6. Go beyond “standard” segmentation approaches to improve data quality.
Chances are you know whether your prospect is a current customer or not — and if they are a customer, you know what they’ve purchased in the past, and what kinds of contact they’ve had with your company. But what else do you know? Do you know if they’re male or female? Married or single? Living with kids or in a child-free home? Home owners or happy renters? What about their interests — sports, hobbies, pets, movies, music — and their social media usage? It’s true that the more you know about your audience, the better your messages and interactions with them can be. It can be as simple as the kind of illustrations you use for your marketing materials, or the color scheme on a landing page — or it can be as specific as segmenting your list by age, lifestyle, or specific interest. One of the most important factors is understanding how your customer prefers to be contacted. A preference engine like the one from Gryphon Networks or a social media profile from a company like FlipTop can help you segment your target audience in ways that can dramatically improve your results.
What other tactics do you use to improve your email marketing results? Share them with us — in the comments section, or as a guest blogger for The Distributed Marketing Blog. Contact us if you’d like to share your marketing tips with our readers!