Email marketing can be a headache for business owners, but it is a necessary tool to reach both current and potential clients. Revamping your email marketing strategy can help customers feel more engaged and also encourage them to interact more frequently with the company through their website or social media accounts.
One critical factor is keeping your company’s email list clean, said Lewis Goldstein, president of Blue Wind Marketing, which has worked with brands such as Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini. “Take people off your email list if they aren't engaging with you,” he said. “Review your list every 30 days.”
Here are other ways you can take your email strategy to the next level and improve your current game plan as it becomes harder and harder to reach people.
Companies should take a step back and revisit the basics so they can take their email marketing initiatives to the next level, said Daryl McNutt, vice president of marketing at TapClicks, a San Jose, California-based marketing technology company for agencies, media companies, brands and enterprises.
One of the challenges companies face is that consumers are missing a lot of their emails because they often end up getting marked as spam when they really aren’t spam.
“Going back to methods that ensure that people are double opt-in is going to give companies quality over quantity,” he said. “While this may potentially lower the number of people on their email marketing list, the reality is that they will be talking to consumers that really want to hear about their product. Using double opt-in will really validate their list to keep them out of spam folders and will make sure that their message is getting seen.”
Another mistake that’s made by companies is not having a well-thought-out personalization strategy, McNutt said. Focus on creating more individualized messages, added Thomas Young, co-founder and vice president of marketing of Rocket Dollar, an Austin, Texas-based self-directed retirement accounts company.
“Marketing automation allows you to send personalized messages at scale, while still making sure that each reader feels engaged,” Young said. “Your client’s subscribers want to feel as though your client knows who they are and is listening to what they need from your client’s brand.”
“While a lot of marketing automation, in theory, is good, the data isn’t connected or formatted in a way that makes people feel like they’re having a personal conversation,” he said. “It’s important to have a clean database when doing marketing automation to avoid making the consumers feel like they’re talking to a machine.”
Improve your emails by adding in a link or quip that is loosely or totally unrelated to your business or product, said Stephanie Casey, CEO of Lovage, a Dallas-based marketing agency. This can be a helpful tip, or something that is fun and will inspire a smile or laugh.
Marketers can take it up a notch if the link is not obvious, she said. If you are giving a home buying tip, for example, you could link to a YouTube clip of a scene from the movie “The Money Pit,” she said.
Casey also suggested instilling a new strategy. Instead of focusing on a straight sell, highlight a happy client.
“In this same arena, you could send an email thanking customers, which could house various social proof reviews in various formats,” she said. “Perhaps tie in an incentive to show the email recipient's own review at the business, such as a hair salon or restaurant, the next time they are in to get a discount or freebie.”
Gaining the attention of customers is always a challenge. Customers who remain inactive on your email lists and rarely click on them are not engaged for many reasons. There are several effective tactics that you can use to reach out to these subscribers and increase their activity.
Start by examining your shopping cart page to see if customers are abandoning it. If a customer on your inactive list visits the shopping page to buy a product, but does not by the next morning, you can send an email to find out what happened.
“Follow up with a total of three to five emails to remind them to complete the order,” Young said. “You can also add discounts, bonuses and anything else you can think of to push them over the fence. By doing this, you help your customer and do not annoy them.”
Utilizing a basic strategy for emails is also effective for many businesses and non-profit organizations. Start by asking for a favor to bring the customer into your business life, Casey said.
An email from a small business, especially one that doesn’t send emails a lot, can simply say, “We appreciate you hanging out with us and your online reviews really help others find us. Would you take a moment to leave us a review at one of these spots?” Companies can link to a button for Google, Facebook or Yelp, she said.
Studies show that more than 70 percent of people read their email in a mobile app.
Another strategy is to send the same email at a different time of day or by changing the subject line, Young said.
“Some companies send the same exact email marketing campaign more than once,” he said.
Implementing this strategy is simple. Send the newsletter to the group of potential customers. Wait a day or two, and then create a new segment where you include only non-openers, Young said.
“Copy the original email and send it to this smaller segment of non-openers,” he said. “All you have to do is change the subject line and hit send.”
Marketers should ensure their message reads well on both desktops and mobiles. Studies show that more than 70 percent of people read their email in a mobile app, so “having content they can read through quickly is important when it comes to grabbing and keeping their attention,” McNutt said.
“Companies can ensure that their messages are translating through mobile by using tools like Litmus that will help them deliver their message effectively on different operating systems and applications,” he said.
Social media is a fantastic way to build your email list, Goldstein said. Give your prospects a compelling reason to join your email list with something such as a checklist, blueprint or eBook.
“Let your prospects choose their own adventure,” he said. “Let them tell you where they already are so you can provide effective solutions to their problems. Give them options so they can tell you.”
Integrating emails with social media should be timely, Casey said. A company could use an email to drive recipients to a contest on an Instagram post or to purchase tickets from a Facebook event.
“When you’re promoting a specific campaign, you would want to have some crossover creative content, such as a photograph, with what you are posting on social media, but also vary the content and delivery some so it is the same but different for viewers seeing the content on multiple platforms,” she said.
Companies can also incorporate this concept with videos and live streaming by encouraging people reading the email to also click on these two options.
For live streaming, Casey recommends taking a timely approach with comments like “right now” or suggestions such as “add us to your calendar!” that show urgency in the subject heading. She recommends sending a “save the date” email and then a follow-up email when live streaming begins.
“You can go deeper and be creative about having folks sign up for additional notification when the live stream begins, so you only target those who want the notice,” she said. “One example of being creative here might be telling those who sign up for the reminder that they will be entered into a contest with a winner announced during the live stream.”
Since putting a video in a personal email is too heavy and can also carry viruses that can get blocked, just provide a link, McNutt said.
“Rather than embedding the video in an email, putting a thumbnail that links to a video in a clean environment is the better option,” he said. “Don’t interfere with the video experience by placing ads and pop-ups, which prevents consumers from placing trust in a brand. Providing a quick and easy video experience will have a more positive impact and build more trust towards a company’s brand.”
One way to encourage people to click through to static videos is by adding an enticing photo and a bit of copy, Casey said.
Marketing emails can be an efficient way of reaching customers and garnering more in the future. Avoid packing in too much information, since attention spans often are not long.
“Keep your marketing emails short, simple and fun,” Casey said. “Visuals are enticing, and be sure to make them clickable to a link related to promotions. Scannable headings and keywords are ideal for today’s ‘short attention span theater’ audiences in all forms of media.”
The bottom line is that a company owns its email list, unlike social media profiles, Goldstein said.
“Treat your email list as one of the most valuable assets you own and it will pay off,” he said. “Never forget that everyone on your list is a person and not a number.”