Is Your Email Campaign Missing the Mark?

from Net Atlantic

To achieve success, targeted email marketing campaigns take time and patience. Many marketers make the mistake of thinking that they can just blast out emails to everyone on their email list. However, a well-planned marketing campaign should take place before you hit the send button. Ask yourself a few simple questions: Is the content relevant to my subscribers? Does the email look good? Does it reflect a positive image of my brand? Am I getting the right message to the right subscriber at the right time? Would I respond to the message if I got it?

To answer these questions, you’ll want to:

  • Develop an understanding of your audience;
  • Consider the types of messages they would likely respond to; and
  • Determine when and how frequently the messages should be sent.

In this article, I’ll discuss what makes an effective campaign and how you can optimize your campaigns through testing.

When planning your email campaign, follow these 16 critical techniques to help you hone in on your target and get the results you want -

#1. Update your email list to keep it accurate
Don’t worry about the size of your list. The quality of your list is more important than quantity. Focus on building a list of interested, engaged subscribers by offering your subscribers real value with unique and interesting content. List quality is what drives ROI.

#2. Write a compelling subject line
The subject line of your email is the first thing a recipient reads. People who get a lot of email scan the subject line in order to decide whether to open, forward, save, or delete a message. A good subject line will help your email standout from the crowd. Since your message isn’t the only one in your recipient’s inbox, take a moment to review the subject line to ensure it accurately reflects the content.

#3. Use welcome emails
A welcome email is the best and most important way to introduce your company and services to new subscribers. It should be sent immediately after sign-up, so you’re still top of mind. Be sure the content adds value and include links back to your website (e.g., opportunities to purchase, donate or subscribe).

#4. Provide helpful links
Providing helpful links makes it easier for recipients to act upon your offer. Backlinks guide recipients to where you want them to go next along the conversion path. They can include coupons, buttons, or additional relevant information that will entice them to go to your website. As an added benefit, you can track recipient engagement (opens, clicks, forwards, shares, etc.) so you know what is interesting to them. Ensure that all links for completing a form, transaction, or download are working properly, and double check that you are giving the correct date for an event, the correct pricing, and the correct product information.

#5. Keep the message focused
Keep your message focused and clear and speak directly to the offer(s). Put only one or two offers in each campaign, and link each offer back to your website. If your email contains multiple messages that are only loosely related, split them up into two campaigns.

#6. Design strong creative
Avoid creating messages that are entirely images, and use images sparingly. Since many email clients block images in emails, the recipient has to voluntarily click to download images. Although there is no hard and set rule as to what a safe ratio is, a good rule of thumb to follow is for every image you want at least one paragraph of text. Add an enticing line or two explaining what is in the email and don’t forget to add title tags to your images. Basically, key content should be displayed even with images blocked.

#7. Have a clear call-to-action
A call to action (an action that you want the recipient to take) should be prominent without having to scroll. Whether it’s getting them to register for a webinar, clicking on a text link to get additional information, or responding to an event invitation, a call to action should be prominently displayed and the text should be relevant to the action taken (e.g., Download Whitepaper; Request Demo; Submit Form).

#8. Avoid spam triggers
Generally speaking, spam filters look at a long list of criteria to judge whether or not your email is junk. They include specific words and characters in the subject line, low text-to-image ratios, repeated use of ALL CAPS and exclamation points, and repetition of target words within the body of the email.

#9. Target your audience
Move beyond the one-size-fits-all model. Today’s organizations must gain a better understanding of their target audience. Those who ‘spray and pray’ with untargeted, mass “email blasts” will see diminishing returns and a negative impact on opens, clicks, conversions and unsubscribes. A company that treats all customers and prospects the same speaks to everybody, and thus nobody. Rather than using a “one size fits all” approach, identify the most likely targets for a product or service. Use email to get to know customers better, and then serve them content (personalized messages) they’re likely to read and respond to.

#10. Segment your customer list
Segment your email list to deliver tailored email content to your subscribers so they feel like you understand them and are working to serve their needs. By implementing segmentation tactics, you will increase subscriber satisfaction and retention, and drive results. Start by dividing your list into smaller groups of people who share certain characteristics and send each group a focused, targeted and personalized communication. Segmenting your list allows you to stay relevant with your subscribers via ongoing customer-centric communications that resonate with specific interests or business challenges that these segments face.

#11. Proofread for typos
If you’re about to deploy a campaign to dozens or thousands of people, take an extra minute or two before you hit “send” to ensure that you’ve caught all typos and grammatical errors. Send a draft around to colleagues as a double and triple-check.

#12. Test before you send
First impressions count, so be sure to test your campaign before sending it out to subscribers and potential customers. Send an email to yourself and to all of your test email accounts. Do all your links work? What does the email look like in the most popular email clients (Outlook, Hotmail, Apple Mail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, etc.)?

#13. Establish the right frequency
Another key issue is sending frequency. Frequency isn’t just about how often you want or need to send your messages. Generally, subscribers will not mind receiving emails from you if the messages contain useful, valuable content. Subscribers that read your emails, click on links, and convert to customers are the ones you can send emails to more frequently, but only if the emails contain relevant information that is anticipated and/or will be viewed favorably by the recipients. Since email campaigns with stale content will turn your readers off (leading many to opt out), it’s important to establish the right frequency. Schedule your send dates to coincide with new information worth sharing.

#14. Measure performance
Engagement-based deliverability metrics, like open rates and clickthroughs, are increasingly important for email campaigns. Engagement metrics such as interest scoring, shopping cart abandonment and sales cycle analysis comprehensively assess how effective your campaigns are at retaining your audience. Raising your level of engagement is the key to sales growth and increased response.

#15. Integrate with other channels
As customer communication evolves beyond email to include blogs, social, SMS and mobile, consider integrating email with multiple customer-facing channels to increase engagement levels. Simply put, a single channel approach to customer engagement is not as effective as multichannel engagement. Meeting customer and subscriber expectations will be the key to maintaining long-term customer relationships and loyalty.

#16. Optimize for results
It’s impossible to hit the mark each time. What worked last year or even last month may not work with a current email campaign. By actively using multi-variant testing to understand your audience you obtain a fresh perspective and can improve your results by incorporating “lessons learned” into future campaigns. As you gather more actionable data, you can continually test different variables such as: offers and incentives; timing and frequency, email creative, audience segments, subject lines, landing pages, and message content, including images.

These are just a few tips I have put together on this topic. Most importantly, be sure that your content is relevant, useful and timely for your subscribers. If you follow these tips, chances are your email campaigns will be successful!


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