The one-stop resource for improving your email marketing in 2014
Email marketing is not dead – it has just evolved. While there are some naysayers who claim the enterprise has run its course, these opinions are more the result of their failure to keep pace with this highly adaptable tool than they are the result of proven fact. As it stands, the right email marketing strategy and the right email marketing services have been shown to increase conversion, facilitate easy automation, amp up your sales and leads, and perhaps most importantly, allow you to form strong and meaningful connections with your readers.
Why Email Marketing Services Work
People check their email regularly; not just once every few days or even just once a day. An astounding amount of people check their email multiple times a day. In fact, many people check their email before they even get out of bed or eat breakfast. Email marketing has not gone the way of the Dodo, but it will certainly seem this way if you are trying to employ obsolete tactics in today’s market. It used to be that more email was better. It used to be that emails were relatively unsegmented and contained an overwhelming plethora of information and offers. That’s not the case these days. A lot has changed, and like practically every other digital marketing trend this year, email marketing best practices boil down to one simple tenant: adapt or die.
Email Marketing Best Practices for 2014
Your brand has got a lot of personality, and if you want to engage your audience, you’re going to have to set yourself apart and, above all, establish your email as having content worth reading. This doesn’t mean sending out an email everyday and hitting your readers over the head with offer after offer. Sometimes all you should be ‘offering’ is a friendly hello, a check-in to see how they are doing and perhaps even letting them know what’s new with your company. Along that same vein…
While email marketing services are seriously powerful marketing tools, your message doesn’t always have to be serious. You can let them in on the inner workings of your office. Introduce them to new members of the team and share stories. You can even tell them about the great office bathroom reno of 2014 that ‘back-fired’. Remember, email marketing should connect you to your audience, and the best way to do this is to be personable and meet them on common ground – and there is no common ground that makes for a better icebreaker than that of light-hearted levity.
Timing is Everything.
You want to touch base with your audience regularly, but determining how regularly will depend a great deal on the nature of your business and of your particular email campaign. People in one mailing list, for example, may not want or require as much contact as those you’ve segmented for a different list. Identifying the wants and needs of your audience is crucial to planning an optimally timed email campaign. It’s even more crucial to implementing an effective campaign, period. While you may have correctly identified hundreds or thousands of people as your audience, the segmenting doesn’t stop there. You need to break it down further and identify who is looking for what. You have to have an idea of why they are looking, and you need to use this intel to determine when it’s best to send your emails. (This is when you’ll need to look into smart, savvy and specialized email marketing services. It’s also an example of when you may want to consider hiring a professional to control create, implement and monitor your campaigns.) There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your needs and the needs of your audience will determine the email marketing service that’s best for you.
Segment, Segment, Segment!
You can do it! We have the technology! Today’s email marketing services allow you to break your list down into minute groups. In fact, you can now easily send on a one-to-one basis. No generic content; each email is specifically tailored to each, individual customer.
Short & Sweet = Successful.
Email marketing best practices necessitate that we emphasize this point: your email is not meant to sell anything. The purpose of your email, its method of operation so to speak, is to get a click-through. It’s to pique their attention, to whet their whistle, to make them want to learn more. This way, when they do click-through, they are far more likely to make the effort worth their while by sticking around to peruse the page, and by extension, the site. Curiosity is a powerful tool – use it! Even with open rates dropping and deliverability posing some obstacles, email marketing is still by far one of the very best tools for brand recognition.
Images are important, but you don’t want your email to be too image rich. Many people (around 60%) disable images and/or may be accessing their email through smaller, mobile screens. To help avoid alienating over half your audience, make sure you use descriptive, enticing ATL tags so those who aren’t seeing the image still have their curiosity tickled by an enticing text teaser.
Spoiled By Choice.
It’s tempting to try to jam everything in to one email by using multiple calls to action, but the truth is a single call to action is far more effective. You can repeat this single call to action more than once, but only use ONE. Giving too many options will water-down the effectiveness of your email. In fact, too many options is actually more likely to confuse and conflict your reader.
Back to Basics.
While a lot of old-school email marketing is not relevant anymore, A/B testing is still incredibly important if you want to ensure optimal results. A simple tweak of a subject line, or introductory sentence or image can make a world of difference and significantly impact your click-through. This is pretty basic stuff, but it is easy to overlook when you’re concerning yourself with more advanced concepts.
This is the big one for 2014. A new anti-spam legislation requires that ALL Canadian businesses sending out emails must garner consent and proof of consent to legally send email to individuals. Businesses must also offer a clear unsubscribe option in every correspondence. The fine for not complying is up to $10 million for companies and $1 million for individuals. Receiving consent isn’t a new tactic by any means, it is something we push all clients to do, but it is not a mandatory function in your email marketing execution.
The Best Email Marketing Services
Deciding what email marketing service is right for you will depend on what you need the platform to accomplish. We’ve made a list of our favorites, and even the most basic of these services will do everything you need an email marketing service to do. Then again, your brand may benefit from a more advanced approach. Let’s take a look at a few of our top picks:
Despite the fact they don’t offer telephone support and the user interface isn’t the most refined, Mailchimp is still a great option for beginners who want to get a solid feel for email marketing. It offers a free starter account, pre-designed templates and has social media integration tools. Mailchimp also delivers with good reporting systems for goal tracking, revenue charts, social analytics and more.
We love this email marketing service because it has a ton of support, a free trial, is social media savvy and facilitates integration with apps and other business tools. This said, Constant Contact does dabble in other business services, so their attention is not solely on their email marketing services, which hasn’t affected their quality yet, but could pose a problem as email marketing evolves even further and email marketing services are forced to adapt.
This email marketing services has been around for a long time, and is by far one of the most recognized and reliable forces in the market. Aweber boasts great deliverability, is easy to use and has wonderful customer service. All this comes at a price, though marginal. Aweber is slightly more costly than other services.
Infusionsoft and ONTRAPORT:
If you are looking for more sophisticated options, look to email marketing services like Infusionsoft and ONTRAPORT. These cost more, but offer more comprehensive solutions including shopping carts, third party add-ons and advanced tracking options that give you more insight into customer behaviour. To decide what email marketing service is absolutely best for you, you are first going to have to decide what it is you are trying to achieve.
We know that a solid email marketing campaign coupled with an appropriately matched email marketing service can do wonders to bolster your bottom line, but there are a lot more nuanced considerations than just that. You have to know your audience and the tools you are using.
While you can certainly put the time, money, research and resources into acquiring this information and experience yourself, an equally (if not more) appealing option could involve hiring a professional to take the guesswork out of your strategy. Contact our specialists today to see what options are best for you and your company.