The Complete Guide To Email Marketing – Everything You Ever Wanted To Know
While social media tools like Facebook and Twitter dominating our online strategies, one of the most successful forms of online marketing ever is email and today we have a look at some of the tips and tricks to running a good campaign. When you think about it, one of the first things most of us do every day is check our email. So if you can deliver good, targeted content with a strong call to action, it is going to be highly effective in terms of driving sales.
On the flip side though, many of us consumers have been bombarded by so many spam emails and added to so many marketing lists that it can have a negative effect. In many cases, users block emails as spam or report the company for adding them to a list without permission so it is massively important to do this correctly, creating brilliant content and following all the right procedures. People might be saying that email is dying, but as far as we can see, it still works great and here are some tips on how to get the most out of it.
What Are The Best Times To Send Emails
You could have a brilliant email campaign featuring amazing content that’s fully optimized for people to open and click on your links, but if you send it at the wrong time, you don’t stand a chance. The common knowledge is that the best time is to send it sometime during the working day between Tuesday and Thursday, but that only works if you are in a specific country and your audience is located in the same time zone. It also depends on the product you are trying to sell or the message you are trying to get across.
Making Email Mobile Friendly
Like everything in marketing these days, one of the newest options available is mobile and how that affects what you do. A couple of years ago, the vast majority of people would have opened their emails on their desktops or laptops, but that trend has changed with nearly everybody now using their mobile devices. Most of the big email software companies are aware of this change and have introduced mobile friendly templates and new ways of targeting consumers on their mobiles.
Link Through To A Mobile Optimized Website
Presuming that your email has been opened and that somebody has then decided to click on a link within the content, you will want to make sure that they are arriving on a mobile optimized page. Send users to a page that is full of tiny links, which requires them to squint to see the content and they’re going to leave in a hurry. You can’t just downsize your content for a mail screen. Instead, you should be creating landing pages with mobile users in mind. It could be the difference between a lot of sales and none at all. Go Big On Images
You have to be prepared for people flicking through their emails, and the simple fact is you will be lucky if your email is viewed for more than five seconds on a mobile device. It can be very hard to get a user’s attention when there are apps and social media tools to keep them entertained. The use of images is one way of doing it and we’ve seen large images taking up the entire screen and linking to a sales page performing really well.
The ‘From’ Line Is The Most Important
When viewing emails on a mobile device, the subject line (which is what most good email marketers focus on) is nowhere near as important as the “from” line. As you can see from the image below, the “from” field is by far the biggest font so you are going to have to have something there that people really want to click on.
Building An Effective Mailing List
There are a number of general rules to keep in mind when you’re launching an email campaign, none more important than getting people to sign up and continue receiving your emails. There are a number of ways of encouraging users to sign up and to get the content in front of them, so here’s what you should keep in mind.
Know Your Audience
Knowing who you’re targeting is important as your newsletter or weekly emails will have a theme. If it’s social media, then market it as such. This audience will form the core of your email database so know what they want and market accordingly.
Place A Sign Up Form On Your Site
For your readers to sign up, you need to make them aware that your newsletter exists. However, you must do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt their overall experience. The best way to do this is to place in a prominent location on your site so that it’s immediately noticeable. Normally, slotting it in the sidebar is better as you don’t risk making your page look too busy, which could put some people off.Place A Sign Up Form On Facebook
The same principal to your site applies here, you can place sign up forms on your Facebook page, placing it as a tab on it. There are a number of sites which provide this, one of the more popular examples would be MailChimp, which provides a video and screenshot tutorial showing you how it’s done.
Place a Pop-Up Box On Older Blog Posts
Since a great deal of visitors would arrive at your site through Google and other search engines, the chances are they will visit one of your older posts. This is a good place to place a pop-up box as these visitors aren’t regular readers so they’ll only see it once when they first visit the site. Provided your content is good and it doesn’t appear for regular readers, your sign-up rates will increase.Sign Up Via Purchases
If you’re an online retailer, chances are that including email addresses are already part and parcel of completing the sign-up process. Again, provided you inform buyers that you may send them emails relating to the company, it’s another great way of leveraging emails.
Word of mouth and personal recommendations are the best way to promote something so if you have a newsletter or weekly email, why not encourage people to share your stuff. With different social media outlets out there, it’s worth trying out.
Competitions are a great way to build up engagement and convince people to get involved. Everyone wants to win something so provided that the prize is good and you inform them that you could be emailing them again, then it’s perfect.Purchase Opt-in Databases
This is one option you’ll need to be very careful with, but if you want to inject your mailing list with a new lease of life, then purchasing an email list can help as it will provide you with a targeted list. The only reason we’d be reluctant to recommend this is that there are a lot of spam sites offering the same thing so make sure the site you’re purchasing from is reputable and above board.
Create Different Email For Different Audiences
If you’ve built up a good database and have email addresses that are associated with different sectors, then you can send more targeted content to these people. Providing variety is a good way of reaching more people, but make sure it’s something you have the time to do in the long-run. It’s pointless to start sending out four different newsletters only to cancel three of them because of time-constraints.
Release eBooks Or Reports
Providing value for readers and visitors is the best way to get followers and if you release valuable content like ebooks or reports for free, people are bound to download it. While you’re doing that, get visitors to provide their email address so they can download it.Be Transparent
We mentioned this in one or two earlier points, but it’s worth repeating again as trust is vital to success. Clearly state how a visitor’s email will be used (newsletters, monthly emails, product updates, etc.), and you’ll find that most will respond positively.
If you’re writing blog posts for different sites, you can include a call-to-action and link in your author byline. This allows you to promote your services through other sites.
The Legalities Of Email Marketing – How Not To Spam People
There is nothing more annoying than getting spammed by a company that you didn’t sign up to, or not being able to opt out of their email updates once you have signed up. Luckily, you are protected by some pretty important rules that companies should be adhering to (although many don’t) so make sure that you’re doing things the right way. The main rules you should keep in mind are:
1) Make sure the content and reasons for emailing are clear and easy to understand.
2) Provide users with an easy way to opt out or unsubscribe from emails.
3) Create a double opt-in to ensure that all subscriptions are from the person in question and not someone using someone else’s email address without their knowledge.
4) Never sell or disclose personal details or an email list to a third-party.
5) Send a confirmation email when someone subscribes or unsubscribes.
6) Don’t’ spam users, make sure your emails are consistent and relevant.
7) Provide a valid email address for those who want to contact you directly.
8) Promptly deal with complaints or queries that may arise.
9) Build up your email list organically through site opt-ins and subscriptions.
When you think about creative marketing campaigns, it is always sexier tools like Google, Facebook and Twitter that spring to mind, but there are many cool things that can be done with email as well. Some of the biggest businesses in the world are powered by email marketing so coming up with creative ways of doing that is always essential. Here are three examples of creative email marketing campaigns that you can take inspiration from.
Digital Accomplice – Video Campaign
Digital Accomplice ran this campaign after hosing a webinar on B2B video marketing, sending out a video email. The email directed them to a page with an embedded video offering a free strategy assessment and a call to action, getting them to fill out the form underneath.
Image via Digital Accomplice
Within the space of a day, the email received twice the industry average for opens and clicks, 34.1% of its email were opened, while 7.3% were clicked on. While the results only correlate to one day, it’s worth considering if you’re thinking of including multimedia content and are targeting a specific demographic.
Jewellery maker and retailer Artbeads.com wanted to peruse targeted email marketing, but wanted to make sure that different demographics were catered to. So it tested a number of targeted emails over the year by writing the email in a personal tone (including the CEO of the company), made the email specific to the user through using their first name and thanking them for their purchases, offering an exclusive discount and placing a deadline on it.
The result was that the email achieved an open rate of 20.25% and a CTR of 4.36%. The overall conversion rate was 0.71%, and was 208% higher than their previous efforts which ranged from 0.04% to 0.23% depending on the period.
Back in 2010, insurance group Ecclesiastical wanted to target existing brokers to alert them to its new online service. So to catch attention, it created an email campaign featuring a finger sprint race video in the style of Chariots of Fire. It also worked with a company called Vismail whose proprietary software enabled graphics and embeddable videos to get past firewalls and ensure that the video actually played when the email was opened.
Overall, the cost was £14,000 but after 5,084 deliveries, it had an open rate of 21%, the email was refowarded on average 3.5 times – meaning the total number of times it was opened was 3,556 times – and its CTR was 10% (552 times). The results showed that the video was reshared to large groups of people (5+), with one contact having their email opened over 106 times.
Case Studies And Other Resources
While we have created a good list of things you should and shouldn’t be doing, here there are some other great articles and posts out there on the topic from some of the biggest players in the game.
– Forbes provides 15 helpful email marketing tips for small businesses.
– Denise Wakeman provides an quick and handy overview of email marketing, as well as a infographic providing ten useful tips.
– Chris Brogan shares his own email marketing tips and what you should keep in mind.
– Infusion Soft provide 25 different email tips that are certainly worth taking into consideration.
– Circle Research provides a large infographic that shows the popularity of email marketing, and ways you can ensure most people see your email.
– Artegic give 11 tips that you should apply when you’re creating an email campaign.
– SEQ Legal shows you what you need to do to ensure that your email campaign is legal and above board.
– INC. gives its own houserules for creating a good email campaign and how to keep out of trouble.