Email marketing may not get as much press as search engine optimization, social media, or pay-per-click advertising, but it is no less powerful or persuasive when it comes to driving sales and traffic via your website. While some associate email marketing with spam or junk mail, it is still a productive, efficient, and worthwhile tool capable of making a real difference to your ROI online.
Making email marketing work for you demands some creativity, and it’s this commitment to making your messages stand out that will push your e-shots over into a viable marketing initiative. To measure the success of email marketing against SEO or PPC, you need to put in just as much effort and man hours as you do managing your paid search budget, tweaking keywords, or building relevant links. If you’re guilty of sending out uninspiring emails and billing them as ‘email marketing,’ try these tips for raising your game with the minimum of extra effort …
1. Make sure you’re not spamming
One of the first challenges you’ll face in shaping a powerful email marketing shot is getting the recipient of the message to actually read your email. Security firm Symantec estimates that around 200 billion spam messages were sent every single day last summer – that’s a lot of junk mail clogging up the world’s inboxes, making it that much more difficult for your email to be deemed worthy of reading. Most of us are so used to junk mail that we dismiss the majority of messages we receive, particularly if they are from an unknown email address or with a suspicious subject line.
Even if your mailing list is opt-in and has been painstakingly built up over time, there is still a danger of your message being labeled spam by anyone who forgot they agreed to receive updates. A smaller, engaged list is more valuable than a list of thousands, the majority of whom don’t read your messages. Particularly if you use an email distributor that charges for each recipient, it may be worth cleaning your list – you can filter out those who last contacted you more than two years ago for example, or try an initial email confirming that the person still wishes to receive updates before sending out your first proper email shot. Cleaning your list means you’ll only be sending emails to interested parties, costing less per send and increasing your chances of clickthrough and conversion.
2. Add some color
Most spam emails are simply blocks of text – of course, most emails are blocks of text anyway so kill two birds with one stone by injecting some color into your mail-out. Not only does this set your message apart from the majority of junk mail, it also catches the eye of the reader, making it less likely that the message will sit around unread. If you have a distinctive logo, make that one of the first things your reader sees when the email loads up. Likewise, consider investing in a session with a professional photographer to capture your products in their best light. Or, if that is out of your budget, try purchasing a few stock library images that dovetail nicely with your company image, products or services. If you’re lucky enough to have a web designer as part of your team, ask them to come up with some interesting graphics to dot around the mail shot.
3. Crank up your copywriter
Because writing emails is something we all do every day, there is a tendency to approach email marketing in the same way. Rather than write a message as if it were a note to a friend or colleague, ask a copywriter to draft your e-shot content. You need the text to be well thought out, easy to read and with a great opening hook. Don’t make the mistake of making your mail too sales-driven or pitch-y – you don’t want to sell in a few sentences, rather you want to encourage the reader to click through and visit the website, which is where they will make their final purchase. Messages that set out to sell straight off are very uninspiring and show lackluster creativity. Think of a strong opening line; could you tie in to an upcoming holiday for example? Do you have an interesting stat, fact or figure? Is it the last chance to enter a competition? Are you offering a flash sale?
4. Make your subject stand out
Writing the subject line of an email shot is often done at the last minute with very little thought put into it. If you’re finding your emails are not being read, approaching the subject line in the same way you’d write a title for an online press release is a useful strategy. The subject can help a reader determine if a message is spam or simply unworthy of their time, so you need a title that tempts. If your e-shot is about a sale or special offer, lead with that in the subject line. Something uninspiring like ‘January Newsletter’ can do a real disservice to the content within, so spend time crafting a subject line that accurately conveys your message yet also encourages the recipient to open the message and take action.
Start with the above four tips to spruce up your email efforts. Making sure you are welcome in the inbox and adding a little creativity to the product will really help boost your open rate!