Email marketing is a great way to reach prospective customers, grow your audience, retain existing customers and generally increase both your engagement and your conversion rate. Getting started with email marketing can be a little confusing and overwhelming if you are new to the world of online marketing. There are a lot of things to consider in terms of best practices and customer preferences. Here is a quick look at some of the most important things to remember when you are trying email marketing.
Make Your Lists Double Opt In
It is best practice to make your email lists double opt in. This will ensure that you don’t send emails to anyone who doesn’t want to receive them. Double opt-in means that when someone asks to subscribe to your email list, you send them an email asking to confirm that subscription choice. This is fairly low friction, but it is a gesture that people do appreciate. In addition, be sure to offer a prominent unsubscribe option in all of your email messages, and to act on un-subscription requests promptly.
Time Your Messages Carefully
Try to schedule your messages so that they go out at a time of day when people are at the keyboard. This is less important for emails than it is for, say, text messages, but email timing does make some difference. If people are at their desks when your email comes in they are more likely to respond to it. If you send the message in the middle of the night, then when the person comes to the keyboard your message may be just one of many in their inboxes, and it could be forgotten – unless, of course, you use an eye-catching subject line.
Offer HTML and Text Messages
Believe it or not there are still people who use text-only email clients, or who have highly bandwidth-restricted data packages on their phones, so prefer to get text-only emails for that reason. Offering both HTML email messages and text-only messages will ensure that everyone is happy.
Don’t Send Too Many Messages
Try to limit the number of messages that you send to a maximum of two per week. Follow a consistent schedule with your messages so that people know when to expect to get mails from you. If you wait too long between messages, people may forget that they subscribed to your mailing list, and erroneously brand you a spammer when you send another mail out to them. In contrast, if you send out messages every day you will annoy your subscribers. Most people have only a limited amount of time to deal with emails, and they don’t want to get a lot of emails every day.
The only time it is OK to send daily or more frequent emails is if the subscriber knows in advance that they will get those emails. If you do this, make sure that there is a clear purpose behind each email, and offer the option for digests if it makes sense to do so.
Add Value With Every Message
Your subscribers are doing you a favor by letting you into their lives via their inboxes, and you should make it abundantly clear that you appreciate that. Make sure that every message you send to them adds value to their lives. Make them laugh, teach them something, or give them a discount or a freebie that they will appreciate. Don’t just market your products – if you do that then you will alienate even the strongest advocates for your brand.
If you’re uninspired for ways to add value, look at the mailing list for the drinks company Innocent Drinks – they have an amusing and entertaining mailing list that has worked wonders for their brand. Follow that formula and your list will grow quickly.
Include a Strong Call to Action
At the end of each email, include a call to action. That call could be “print this voucher and take it to the store” or “pre-register your interest for this new product”. Whatever you do, make sure that you suggest that the user takes action. The call to action is a simple step in online marketing, but it is something that a lot of people forget to do. Without the call to action, all you’re doing is taking up space in someone’s email inbox. They’ll read your message, they may even appreciate it, but when they get to the end they’ll just move on and open the next message. That won’t help you to increase your conversion rate or your income.
Email marketing doesn’t have to be complex. If you follow the formula outlined above, you should find that people join your list and stay subscribed. Once you master the art of creating entertaining and engaging emails, the rest should come naturally. Send out a series of educational, informative or amusing emails, and end that series with a sales pitch. If you have done your job well your subscribers should have a positive view of your brand, respect your opinion as a niche expert, and be willing to entertain your sales pitch. You can’t expect every single subscriber on your list to convert, but your list should be full of hot leads, and you should find that a good percentage of your subscribers do turn into paying customers – and hopefully pass on your messages to their friends and families too.