Email marketing—it’s still crushing it. Of all the digital marketing channels, including search engine marketing and social media, email marketing remains the no. 1 driver of revenue and conversions.
- The average office worker checks their email 30 times an hour. (Statistic Brain)
- Email remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined. (McKinsey & Company)
- 60% of respondents indicated that email marketing is currently producing an ROI, and 32 percent are confident it will. (MarketingSherpa)
- 73% of marketers agree that email marketing is core to their business. (Salesforce)
- In 2014, for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return was $44.25. (emailexpert.org)
So despite inundated inboxes, spam filters and short attention spans, email marketing continues to deliver results. Here are seven tips from our smart pandas for getting the best possible results from each email you send:
1. slice and dice
Companies that send targeted emails to different segments of their audience get better results. Can you divide your database into groups based on particular attributes or website behaviors? For example, we helped a hotelier client design an email campaign aimed at their “snowbird” clientele, looking at historical reservation patterns to determine what time of year those emails should deploy. Customers who have browsed your site but never made a purchase are another example of a segment that would benefit from a targeted email strategy —this time reengagement.
While there are many ways to slice your data, we don’t recommend getting carried away—look at the big picture your data presents and find the segments that are most meaningful to your business. The better you know your customers and their buying habits, the more creative you can get with your email communications.
2. put it to the test
At smart panda labs, we’re big on testing—huge, in fact. And there is no simpler platform for leveraging testing strategies than email. Most email service providers make it easy to pit two variations of the same email against each other to see which drives better results. Be sure your test is fair by only testing one variable at a time. From subject lines to button colors to the time of day the email is sent, even the slightest variations can have vastly different results. Building on the data you collect, testing allows you to continuously improve the results of your email campaigns over time. To learn more about testing strategies, download our free white paper, “Put your digital marketing to the test: data-driven decision making with a/b testing.”
3. mind your hygiene
Database hygiene, of course. While you might be good at purging your list of hard bounces and opt-outs, there is more you should do to keep a clean and optimal database. Look at open rates over several months—are there customers who haven’t opened an email in six months? Longer? Perhaps they found their way onto your list by accident and have yet to opt-out. It’s time to re-engage them or remove them from future mailings; in the meantime, they are skewing your results. One strategy for reengagement: send an email asking them how frequently they’d like to receive mailings from you.
Our smart pandas have seen a lot of email campaigns, and based on what we know, roughly 30 percent of email recipients check their email account every 24 hours; another 25 percent will check it within four or five days. An email that goes unopened for more than five days generally stays that way—perhaps because the recipient was on vacation or inundated with email that day. A week after you deploy them, revisit your campaigns and resend to the customers who didn’t open them. Consider tweaking the message or changing the subject line when you do. Many companies avoid this strategy for fear of opt-outs, but the risk is minimal compared to the potential 20 to 30 percent new open rate.
5. get to the point
You’ve only got a few seconds to get your email recipients engaged in your message, so be sure to grab their attention right away with a strong subject line. Use active words that imply value for the customer, like “get” and “receive.” Less obvious but equally important: don’t ignore the super subject line, a.k.a pre-header. This is the first line of copy in the code that appears after the subject line in a recipient’s inbox. It’s an opportunity you shouldn’t squander on “view in your browser” links, for example. Push active words to the front of that statement and make sure important information is not cut short.
6. make it automatic
Trigger emails are a great way to move the needle. In addition to your regularly scheduled marketing emails, automation emails are pre-programmed to deploy based on specific triggers, such as purchases made, birthdays or upcoming event reminders. While they require some up-front effort, they take little effort to manage and optimize—and the ROI is substantial.
7. if you love them, let them go
The way to win customer loyalty is not through entrapment—make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your list. Some businesses are tempted to obscure their opt-out links as much as possible, but the risk here is that recipients will find it easier to flag the email as spam—which can damage your reputation. Some businesses now include an opt-out link at the top of the email template. Wherever you choose to place the link, make sure it’s easy for people to bid adieu.