Just 25 years ago, email users would get home and excitedly log in to their AOL email accounts, and after the horrible nails-on-a-chalkboard sound of their modem connecting to the internet, wait with anticipation to hear, “You’ve Got Mail!” Back then, electronic mail was new, rare and definitely under commercialized. A lot has changed since then. Today, the average person receives 126 work emails a day. In a world with over 4 billion email users, you might think that interest in email has peaked. However, surprisingly the number of email users continues to steadily grow about 3% each year, and the number of daily emails sent grows 4% yearly.
Despite the growth of social media, instant messaging apps, SMS and targeted media technologies, email use and email marketing continue to grow. In today’s Plain Talk article, we’ll discuss why email marketing may be more important than ever and how to do it well.
So, Why do Email?
The reasons to do email are simple:
1. Preferred Method of Communication
According to one study, an astonishing 77% of Americans prefer to receive communication by email at work. So, email should be an easy decision for B2B marketers, but what you may not know is that nearly half of B2C consumers prefer to get brand messages via their personal email addresses. Half! So, given their preferences for email, it seems silly not to address potential customers by email.
2. High ROI
It’s really easy for brands to forget how important and effective email marketing can be when it’s done right. According to another study, email marketing returns an average of $38 for every $1 spent. That’s a 3,800% return! Let that sink in, and ask yourself if you can afford to ignore email marketing or allow it to underperform.
3. Low Cost
Few, if any, marketing options cost less than email. Depending on list size, email marketing systems can be free under freemium models. More sophisticated marketers enjoy email marketing as a component of their CRM/marketing automation system. The best system for your organization is the one you’ll use. While as an agency we have opinions on CRM systems, the biggest foul we see is companies not using or integrating them properly or to their capacity. If you’re curious, we’ll discuss CRM systems in an upcoming article, but regardless of what you use, email is simply the least expensive way to reach your brand’s prospects, customers and fans.
4. Flexible Format.
Email has no prescribed format. An email can be a personalized note, promotional offer, an article, a newsletter, a long-form whitepaper or even a comic. There are no limitations on what an email can be. The bigger issue is what it should be. Every potential customer touchpoint needs to provide value. Because email is extremely flexible in what types of content it can share and actions it can drive, it’s easy to deliver a good experience to your customers.
5. Direct Response.
Your recipients can respond directly. They can click to read more. They can click to buy. They can reply. They can call. They can unsubscribe. They can share your email with a friend or coworker. Responses are direct and trackable.
6. Insight and Automation
Was your email opened? Who clicked through to your site? Which pages did they visit? Did they start then abandon a form? All of this information and more can be captured and analyzed in detail. This helps you determine what kinds of subject lines and content are driving actions with your target.
With most CRM options, you can (and should) create triggers to send or customize emails based on the recipient’s past activities. An abandoned cart can trigger a coupon. A click to a specific product page can trigger the primary image of your next email to that recipient to be that last visited product. The options are virtually limitless.
Elements of Email Success:
Not only does email marketing offer you an efficient and one-to-one touchpoint with prospective customers, it also offers excellent opportunities to remain top of mind and drive repeat sales. So, what does a successful email look like? There are 5 elements of email success:
1. The List.
Start with a “clean” email or prospects list. Lists bought from low-quality or unknown sources will almost always blow up in your face. To make sure your list grows with quality leads, make sure your website offers a sign-up that’s easy to find. There are no better leads than hand-raisers who sign up for emails. Depending on your business, it might make sense to use your social media channels to build your list or encourage recipients to invite friends with like interests.
2. The Subject Line.
How many times have you heard the expression, “You can’t judge a book by its cover?” Maybe that’s true, but you won’t open an email unless its headline reaches out to you and either teases you or summarizes the value of the offer. To survive the critical moment when a prospect is scanning their inbox, you need a strong, brief and relevant headline.
Researchers recommend email headlines be 6-10 words for optimum open rates.
What value are you providing? Again, on average we’re receiving 126 work emails a day. Many emails are unopened, and many get unsubscribed. If you aren’t providing value, you aren’t earning a permanent and secure place in their inbox. Whether you are providing a chance to win, a discount or just knowledge on a subject, it has to provide value to the recipients on your list.
4. The Copy and Design.
Sometimes the copy, or content, of the email IS what’s being offered in the form of new or useful information for the reader. Other times, it has to communicate an external value like a sales promotion or coupon. In either case, make sure your content skips the hard-sell and spammy lingo. It’s a turnoff for consumers today who have been trained to spot phishing emails and other scams.
Beyond having clear content value, the email has to be visually appealing. It has to look professional and establish trust. It also has to look good on every device. Review your emails in mobile, tablet, desktop and text-only versions before sending them. It’s your responsibility to ensure your emails meet your brand standards, regardless of how they’re opened. 61.9% of email opens occur on mobile, 9.8% on desktop and 28.3% in a webmail client, according to Adestra.
Beyond visual appeal, part of establishing trust is just making sure that your email is clear of errors. You might be shocked (or maybe not) at how many emails go out daily that are loaded with spelling, punctuation or grammar errors. This is just never acceptable, and in some cases, like with professional services such as lawyers or accountants, it can even be seriously detrimental to your credibility.
Finally, provide a comfortable “landing” for your users in the form of a consistent experience between email and other media. If your email is driving a prospect to see more or read more on a web landing page, make sure that page looks and feels consistent, and that the experience on the landing page meets the reader’s expectations.
5. Build Trust Over Time.
If email content is done well, recipients often look forward to your next installment. By repeatedly sending valuable or useful content, you are establishing trust and fostering a relationship. People buy from people and companies that they know, like and trust.
Pay attention to customer feedback. Prospects will tell you what they like and don’t like. This feedback will come in the form of email responses, opens, buys and unsubscribes. You can use this feedback to constantly improve.
Do I Need a Hand With Email Marketing?
If your email readers are not unsubscribing en masse, and people are consuming your content and taking actions, take a bow. You’re doing something right that a lot of people cannot accomplish. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. If you have any questions about upping your email marketing game, give us a call at 520-499-4209, or drop us a note and we’ll connect you with the right folks to get you there.