Your company probably uses the Internet to connect to new customers, and re-connect with current ones, in lots of creative ways — Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But even in this era of social media madness, an email marketing strategy continues to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to build a relationship with current and potential customers.
“The goal of marketing in general is to get messages into people’s minds,” says Alek Mirkovich, CEO and co-founder of Toronto-based Campayn, which helps businesses implement their e-newsletter marketing strategies.
“Let’s say our message is Burnt Toast,” he explains. “There are many ways to share that message. We can say the words Burnt Toast in person, we can share the message through social media, we can send a letter in the mail that says Burnt Toast, we can even have someone smell actual burnt toast.”
All those strategies will get the Burnt Toast message into the recipient’s mind, but email, says Mirkovich, is the most cost-effective way to reach the greatest number of people.
According to Mirkovich, the average return on investment on email marketing campaigns is $40 for every $1 spent. Nine out of 10 chief marketing officers say email marketing is their number one marketing channel. And this may surprise you: most emails are now opened on mobile devices, rather than desktops or other devices, according to a 2016 finding by Litmus’ Email Analytics.
Start by writing a basic strategy, says Jeff Ginsberg, Chief Email Operator at Toronto-based The eMail Company. It should answer the following questions: how often are you going to send emails, what do those communications look like, and how are you going to drive traffic to your website?
If this exercise is new to you, Ginsberg suggests hiring a company that helps implement email marketing strategies. They provide the tools and technology—like templates—to get you started. And if you’re struggling with how to write compelling content, hire a copywriter.
Decide when you’re going to email your subscribers: during the holidays, on their birthday, back to school? For every business, the opportunity and timing will be different.
“Businesses get excited when they first start email marketing, but unless they structure themselves, they often stop after a few months,” says Mirkovich. “A good practice is to decide on the frequency, and include reminders in your calendar.” Above all, be consistent.
“The best way to build a list is one name at a time,” Ginsberg says, adding that you should never buy a list. “You’d rather have a small list of good quality than a big list of people who don’t open your email.”
But don’t spend months collecting addresses without sending an email. Eighteen percent of people change their email address every six months, says Ginsberg. A panel of experts at last year’s B2B Marketing Forum cited a similar statistic, adding that an additional 30 percent of email addresses change annually.
Post e-letter sign-up forms on your website. If you have a sales force on the road, make sure they can access the forms from their mobile devices so they can add subscribers in person.
People are busy; they get lots of emails in a day and are quick to click Delete. You only have a few seconds to engage so make sure your message offers valuable information written in clear, concise language.
“Clarity trumps persuasion,” Ginsberg says. “You’re taking up their valuable time, so tell them what’s in it for them.”
Subject lines are also important. According to findings from the B2B Marketing Forum, 35 percent of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone, while another 69 percent of users report an email as Spam based on its subject line.
And remember: if you want your contacts to do something, provide a clear call to action such as a large button, or a link to your company website.
Forty-two percent of marketers design their emails to work differently on mobile devices, according to Mirkovich.
Use a company that provides responsive templates so your email will adjust to the device. Phones have small screens so if you have buttons, they need to be a certain size and the text needs to be single column and readable without the need to zoom.
If you have mobile phone numbers, connect to your customers through text messaging and push notifications.
Most Fortune 500 companies have been implementing marketing automation for years, but now it’s affordable for small businesses. Whether it’s a simple automated welcome email to people who have subscribed to your list, a longer-term training series or automated newsletters, automation is a smart move.
To connect to people who may not have opened your email the first time, businesses can utilize tools like Constant Contact, which let you re-send your message if the recipient didn’t click Open the first time.
Integrate your email application with your management system, and as you get new clients, the system will send them messages, such as welcome emails and birthday greetings.
The Unsubscribe button weeds out uninterested subscribers and keeps your list engaged. But you’d like as few Unsubscribe clicks as possible. Email segmentation is a marketing gem built into many email marketing software applications that allows you to better target subgroups most likely to engage with your content.
Review the analytics from each of your email campaigns. You can learn a lot about what content your audience finds most engaging based on which articles earn the most clicks and shares. Use this data to guide your content for future emails.
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