Sales and marketing

10 Email Marketing Essentials: How To Get That Mail Opened

Your marketing strategy may include social media, traditional advertising, media exposure, affiliate marketing, event marketing and celebrity endorsement, but the only essential method it must include is email marketing.

Email marketing acquires new customers at 40 times the rate of Facebook and Twitter combined, according to McKinsey & Company. They also report that buyers spend 17 percent more on email-initiated purchases than those originated through social media. Even more enticing is that email marketing is relatively cheap in comparison to most marketing alternatives.

Obviously email marketing has fantastic potential, but to truly maximize your results, you should incorporate these 10 email-marketing essentials into your strategy.

1. Make Subscribing Easy

Encourage consumers to subscribe to your emails by posting opt-in forms prominently on your website, social media and everywhere. Preferably, gather only the name and email; other consumer information can be requested later. Generally, the more fields in your subscription form, the fewer subscribers you’ll obtain.

2. Know CAN-SPAM

In 2003, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission established the CAN-SPAM Act, which applies to all commercial emails, regardless of the number of emails sent or whether they’re sent to businesses or consumers. Under the law, each separate email violating the act is subject to fines of up to $16,000.

Thankfully, complying with the CAN-SPAM Act is really quite simple. Make the header information as transparent as possible by including the sender’s name and business name, including the originating domain name and using an email address obviously associated with your company. Secondly, be just as transparent with your subject line and avoid any misleading verbiage.

Clearly identify your email as an ad, and incorporate a physical postal address. Every email should provide a simple opt-out method. You can give recipients the option of discontinuing only certain types of email, but one of the available options must be to end all commercial messages. Your opt-out method must function for at least 30 days after delivery, and opt-outs must be honored within 10 business days.

Finally, entrusting your email marketing to another company is not an acceptable excuse for noncompliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. Even if you outsource email marketing, you are still responsible for ensuring your emails comply with the law.

3. Go Mobile

In January 2014, mobile use officially surpassed PC use, as reported by Search Engine Watch, so if your email isn’t optimized for viewing on a mobile device, you could be alienating more than half your potential client base.

Ensure your text displays at an appropriate size on mobile devices. Keep your subject line short, so the entire line appears without an ellipsis. Optimizing your design to comply with mobile devices may take some time, but it’s worth it to have your images display properly and to provide text that doesn’t require zooming or scrolling back and forth.

If you don’t take the time to make your emails easy to read on mobile devices, mobile users won’t take the time to read your message.

4. Be Reader-Friendly

When faced with a large block of text, readers usually hit the delete button rather than attack what appears to be an enormous challenge requiring great effort. Instead, keep your emails brief, and break the text into short paragraphs.

Brevity is easier when considering that the goal of most emails is to drive readers to your website, as opposed to making a purchase on the spot.

Images and graphics immediately capture your audience’s attention and can be excellent methods for succinctly expressing the purpose and content of your email. Plus, they help break up the text, making your email more enticing to read.

5. Personalize Your Emails

Use dynamic placeholders (e.g., [first name]) to feed in the first names of your email recipients. Your readers know you didn’t actually type in their first name or write the email specifically for them, but people love reading their own name.

In this same vein, use personal pronouns such as “you” and “your” in your message, as opposed to addressing your recipients as a group, such as “my list members.” This simple word choice makes your message more compelling.

6. Segment Your Subscribers

Not everyone joined your email list for the same reason. If your organization is a nonprofit, for example, you may have volunteers, employees and donors. Therefore, segment your email list as strategically as possible, and only send your messages to interested subscribers.

For example, if you’re offering a discount on Product A, only send the email to subscribers who have yet to make a purchase or have yet to purchase that particular product.

7. Provide Engaging Content

You do not engage subscribers by simply sending regularly scheduled emails. You must be both consistent and compelling. If your message lacks substance, it can actually do more harm than good.

Email your subscribers on a consistent basis, but ensure the content is interesting. Be humorous and informative while providing content with value.

8. Be Genuine

Write your emails as you would a message to your friend. Although this is simple advice, many email authors go into marketing mode and use over-the-top promotional speak that simply doesn’t engage readers.

If you’re focused on providing fascinating, valuable content, being genuine in your emails will come naturally.

9. Create a Content Calendar

Develop an email calendar and editorial strategy. Determine your goals, and plan soft-sell and hard-sell emails accordingly. Email your subscribers regularly and diversify the type of message with discounts, Q-and-A's, how-to's, top 10 lists, news updates and product reviews.

For each email, plan time for brainstorming, researching, writing, proofreading, revisions, sending and, most importantly, analysing the results.

10. Track Your Efforts

Your email efforts don’t end with the “send” button. Afterward, make time to analyze your results, including bounced messages, your read rate, opt-out rate, click-through rate and the results of any split tests you may be running.

Also, check your Google Analytics or other website analytics platform to evaluate what your email subscribers did after visiting your website. By coding unique URLs in your emails, you can track website conversions back to the source.

With these statistics, determine whether you should revise your email strategy, and how. Determine which type of email content is most successful, see what day of the week produces the best read rates, use a split test to see if photos fare better than graphics and experiment with other email components to improve your strategy.

As you use your statistics to continually improve your email marketing efforts, don’t forget to also continue your email marketing education. To learn about avoiding spam filters, writing subject lines that get emails opened, and the optimal email send rate, check out this post all about email marketing.