Optimizing Your Email Marketing for the Best ROI
by Taylor Veal
Though email seems like a fossilized form of communication to some, email marketing is here to stay and can have an enormous return on investment. Though the tactics will go through some changes as technology progresses, email marketing can both bring new customers and nurture relationships with existing customers in the best way possible.
The key with email marketing is knowing the correct tools to use and the best content to send, as well as dedicating the time to strategize campaigns. It can be tempting to simply send emails to as large of a list as possible and hope for some sort of response, however, skilled marketers know that there are more effective ways to yield conversions with email marketing.
Not Dead, Just Different
For many years the mantra of email marketing has been: “the size of your list will determine your success.” We value both the quality and volume of list size, as well as how email marketing fits into your overall marketing efforts. We also want to make sure you are capitalizing and tracking your email marketing efforts and sending potential customers through the right process to become an active customer. At the end of the day, gaining valuable customers is the name of the game, right?
Getting people to sign up
Consumers are bombarded with offers to sign up for different email lists. To compete today, you need to give someone a solid reason WHY they should give their valuable email to you. This often means giving something away first- whether it be valuable content, a discount, an opportunity to win a big prize or free service, etc.
Targeting is also increasingly important. We now know that companies cannot be everything to everyone – a smaller list of qualified prospects is much more valuable than a large list of unqualified prospects who may never buy. This means it is key to know who is in your best audience. Research who your best customers are. This includes: What they like, why they do business with you, where they come from, what their demographics and socioeconomic backgrounds are, what other companies they are attracted to, and so on.
Email inboxes have changed
Increasing your email open rate is more challenging than before because email programs have changed how they filter both spam and promotional emails.
To increase the likelihood that your email will get pushed directly to a user’s main inbox and not sent through a spam or promotions filter, structure your emails as you would writing any normal email to a colleague or friend. If you are going to use an image, use one simple image as a header.
Email Structure sample:
[One image file]
The body of email goes here. Include only 1 link to an action item in the body.
Name of company
Additionally, emails from a source that are opened frequently by a user will automatically end up in their main inbox. This means that if you set up any sort of automated email after a user signs up for your email list, ensure the first few emails they receive contain content that they need to open. This could include the user having to open to confirm their email or a special percentage or dollar off coupon inside that is valuable to the customer.
Email inboxes are crowded
People are bombarded every day with information coming through their email inbox. As we shared before, even getting your email to the primary inbox of an account takes strategic effort.
Even when your email gets to the right inbox, it still must compete with a variety of other information vying for someone’s attention. This means providing valuable content with consistency and a well-thought-out content plan and promotional campaigns, as well as special attention to email inbox subject lines will be key.
Adding in a touch of entertainment to your content is also helpful, as well as diversifying the information you share via email. This increases your chances of your company’s email catching someone’s attention. Many people are more attracted to photos, videos, funny memes, and other popular online content. If you can intertwine your company’s information with various kinds of content versus a static email, you continue to increase your chances of attracting prospects to you and turning them into valuable customers.
Also consider rewarding your current customers via email by giving them an exclusive offer, discount, or an opportunity for them to give away something to a friend as part of a referral program. Email marketing gives companies the opportunity to continue to service valuable current customers, not just recruit new ones.
Customer experience refers to the beginning-to-end sum of every interaction a customer has with a business. This includes both pre- and post-sale interactions.
When it comes to email, customer experience is critical. Consider the customers on your email list that have been loyal to your company for a lengthy period. They have received numerous emails from your company, possibly multiple a day. Creating a customer experience strategy in the future is going to look a bit different. According to Hubspot, it means one thing: “send less email, but send it better.”
While the email marketing game has changed considerably over the years, it is by no means a tactic to be ignored. In fact, those that continue their email marketing efforts can often see steady increases in their business with a solid email marketing plan that ties into their overall digital marketing and broad marketing plans.
Email Marketing Design
You can increase your open rate and inspire your audience by using these vital tips to design effective emails.
1. Simplify your design
The move to responsive EVERYTHING (including email design) has encouraged simpler emails with a focus on branding and content. More email recipients read their emails on smartphones and tablets, so always keep that in mind when designing.
How do you create a simple design? Just focus on your brand. Using consistent branding in your emails will strengthen your awareness and recognition and create a strong, yet simple design. Include your logo in the same location each time to be consistent.
2. Focus on one message
Trying to convey several messages in one email is not effective and can often result in a diluted response. Many eye-tracking studies have found that the average email recipient is more likely to scan your email than read it word-for-word. So, focus on one clear and concise message in each email. Use bold words to catch the reader as they scan. Bullet points can also help to provide your content in a more consumable way, as well as creating white space to allow their eye to rest. Remember, you can always send a separate email for a different topic.
3. Optimize your preview pane
Use the valuable email real estate of the preview pane to entice your recipients to open your email. Be sure to include your company name, compelling copy and your CTA (call-to-action). This text paired with your subject line is sure to increase your open rate.
4. Clear, large CTAs
Due to the high use of mobile devices to read email, prominent call-to-actions are a critical piece in any great email design. Place them in the top portion of your design, so your reader does not lose interest by having to scroll to find it. Studies show that the top right portion of your email is the best position for your CTA and will receive the most clicks.
Not sure how big to make your CTAs? A great rule of thumb is to make sure they are large enough to be clicked on using a touchscreen device.
Upcoming Email Marketing Trends
With the change in email marketing, we’ve seen a few trends in many successful email marketing campaigns.
Hyper Segmented Automation Lists
Creating custom, hyper-segmented lists for subscribers with different needs, interests, and demographics lead to a higher success rate. Better segmented and targeted automation leads to higher open rates and click-through rates. According to the Direct Marketing Association, targeted emails can drive up to 77% of your overall email ROI.
The best way to accomplish this hyper-segmentation? Allow users to choose the type of content they are receiving from your company. By choosing if they are a small, mid, or large business, if they are interested in certain products, or live in a certain area, consumers can put themselves in “buckets”, making your segmenting job easy!
People love to feel special, which means that personalization in email marketing will continue its popularity. A personal email makes a consumer feel valued, which in turn promotes loyalty and interest in your content. This personalization can be as simple or complex as you’d like, it is still a powerful tool for your email marketing.
Using a Casual Voice
We previously mentioned that a huge component of email marketing is the Customer Experience. A business-like or formal tone to your email is likely to be a turnoff to your customers. If your email marketing is written like a human conversation, the content is more likely to resonate with your audience. Read each email out loud before you send it. Does it sound clunky, awkward, or stiff? If it does, consider modifying your language to bring in a more conversational tone.
As marketers, we believe in the power of storytelling. Your business has a story, your experience is a story, and your product has a story. Beyond that, stories are just downright interesting. Shoving “Buy, Buy, Buy!” down your audience’s throat is not, and never will be, the optimal tactic for email marketing. Stories in email marketing are designed to capture readers’ attention and then relate back to the business point of your email.
Email marketing can be one of the best tools for sales and communication in your marketing arsenal if used correctly. By distinguishing the best audience segments, curating optimal content, and designing an appealing message, businesses are finding increased success with their email marketing efforts. Keystone has extensive experience in designing promotional emails, email campaigns, and automated messages for various audiences. Our team would be happy to help you capitalize on the results of optimized email marketing.