Email Marketing Strategies that Actually Work

Jameson Ballinger
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Statistics show email marketing can absolutely affect order size, frequency, repeat sales and overall revenue.

Additional benefits include relationship building and fostering an engaged customer base, and realistically, as long as you are leveraging your campaign correctly and respecting your subscribed customer while offering them something of value through your emails, there really isn’t a down side to an email marketing campaign.

There are, however, a number of strategic points worth remembering.

Get permission

Before diving straight into the actual email, establish up a firm base. Do not ever make the mistake of sending emails to customers who haven’t subscribed or opted in to your campaign, this could actually harm your business and reputation.

Permission doesn’t equate to success, but it keeps you from being labeled as a spammer by the majority of your recipients.

Pay attention

Be interested in your subscribers’ needs and interests. Spend time examining purchase history data and related products. Don’t be afraid to ask customers what they’re interested in outside of their purchase history.

Personalize with care

Consider personalizing your campaign, but unless you have a smaller company and sound relationships with your clients, reconsider using names.

Although some email marketers insist using names is great for personalization, it can actually turn some subscribers away as cyber security concerns grow. Additionally, although using a name may feel more personal it can come across as spammy when the person goes by their middle name or has recently become divorced. Instead personalize emails by referencing purchase history and related interest.

Understand the geography

Additionally, pay attention to your markets in consideration to geographic locations. For example, if you’re based in Miami, FL consider sharing local news, events or interesting developments with your audience. Or, if you’re based in Miami, but the audience your emails are reaching are on a more national level, consider sorting recipients based on location for another opportunity to personalize emails based on more than just a name or purchase history.

Timing is everything

Decide what time and how often you will send out emails. A minimum of once a month is absolutely necessary and once a week is preferential. Be aware of time zones, research peak open times and become familiar with the patterns of response: time of day, day of the week, months, seasons …

Determine what the prime sending time is for your market. There are varying opinions concerning optimal sending times, some argue if the email is lengthy or focuses on non-work related activities it should be sent on Sunday, whereas if it’s business related Wednesday or Thursdays are more successful.

However, a 2012 Experian Marketing study found the best time to send email with a decent open rate is actually between 8:00 p.m. and midnight. When the study was released it was the least used time and your message has a better chance of avoiding inbox crowding and has a better chance of being seen and opened.

Experian also found emails sent over the weekend have a higher success rate—even though at the time this study was released weekends saw a lower volume of emails being sent overall.

Content is king

Determine what kind of content you are going to share with your subscribers. Are you going to provide new product information, industry news and developments, saving or coupons only available to subscribers? If you do offer product information, make follow up purchasing easy and efficient for readers. If you have the customer’s name, address and credit card information consider setting up a prefill form on the purchase landing page linked directly to the email.

Danger zones

It pays to be aware of the danger zones as far as subject lines and target times are concerned. Something as relatively simple as the subject line of your email can have a huge impact on open rates. Adestra researched subject lines and found short subjects—49 characters or less—tested well as did subjects over 70 characters. Furthermore, subject lines with 10 characters or less saw a very high open rate at 58 percent.

The words you select are just as important as the number of characters used, however. Many people have automatic filters set up to send emails with exclamation marks, dollar signs and all caps to trash. For more ideas of subjects to avoid, take a look at your own spam folder, what sets off warning signs for you?

Analyze

Have an analytics system in place. You want to continuously test, measure and adjust your strategy. Track click-through, bounce rate, open rate and conversion. Consider tracking customer satisfaction by including occasional surveys or focus groups.

Pay attention to what your analytics are telling you. Are emails offering free products, templates or tools opened more frequently? Or, on the reverse side, are certain emails or specific subject lines being directed to the trash?

Ask, listen and respond

Analytics can be enormously helpful in pointing to flaws in your campaign, but don’t underestimate the power of tapping directly into your customer base and asking them what they want. They can tell you things analytics can’t. Always respond quickly to your customers and remember to keep emails focused on offering them something of value.

In my experience addressing each of these factors gives any email marketing strategy the greatest possible chance of success.

What would you add to this list?

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