Email has been around since the dawn of the internet.
To this day there is still a role for email in your online toolkit. It is still an effective vehicle to deliver a marketing message and stay in touch with your customers and prospects.
Email marketing in its simplest form is the process of sending a bulk message to a list of email addresses.
A relevant message, with a good offer to an engaged list can have a tremendous conversion rate. Even when competing against busy channels like social media, there is still no better way of getting eye balls or a click through to your offer than a well written, good looking, personalised email campaign.
Take Ross for example – a very talented furniture designer who makes really beautiful furniture (visit https://www.rossgardam.com.au). He has a small but engaged list (around 1,000 subscribers in total). Due to the appeal of his product people naturally gravitate towards him and want to be kept up to date with changes to his product range. They actively subscribe through his website via a small subscription form embedded on his website. Ross is very selective about what is sent to the list and only sends out a newsletter every month or two keeping people abreast of a new product in his range. His email campaigns consistently achieve an ‘open rate’ of 50%+ (which is well above industry average of around 20%).
6 reasons why email marketing is still so powerful
1. Cost – Once you are set up with a nice template, it is cheap and easy for the business owner to take control of this internally (with no need to outsource).
2. Measurement – Each campaign can be measured and tracked in real time. Factors such as open rates, bounces, website click throughs, forwards and unsubscribes are all metrics which can be reported on. Additionally, Google Analytics tracking can be enabled to measure the conversions and sales deriving from your campaign.
3. Speed – A campaign can be built and sent in just hours giving you the chance to react to a market event or news fast.
4. Segmentation – Depending on how your list is organised, you can send a focused email campaign to a specific segment of your database. This ensures your message goes to the most relevant audience.
5. Stay front of mind – By being proactive in your marketing, assuming your email is going to an engaged audience, your product and brand will stay ‘front of mind’ with the consumer. You can build a relationship over time and connect with your audience. It is one of the least obtrusive ways of keeping in touch.
6. Remember, don’t overdo it – People are already overloaded. Their inboxes have become clogged with hundreds of email messages arriving every day. It is no wonder people are very protective of their email address and what shows up.
In a bid to curb the abuse of email as a marketing tool, governments have legislated to protect the individual. In Australia, Privacy Act legislation compliance states that you must:
- have implicit or implied consent
- clearly identify yourself
- provide a way of opting out of future communications (unsubscribing).
There are serious penalties for any businesses in breach of these rules and they should not be taken lightly.
Different shapes and sizes
Email comes in a variety of different formats and can be shaped and adapted to your specific business including:
Email newsletter – A monthly or quarterly email providing good quality content delivered on a regular basis with links to news announcements, product updates, blog post summaries.
Summary or digest – Assuming you are adding a new blog post to your website every week, this format works well for summarising and linking each of the blog posts in a single list. Quick and easy for the recipient to consume.
Announcement email – Usually one message, one topic. These will go deeper into a specific topic, are text-based and have some sort of call to action, for example click for more information, buy now.
Transactional emails – More functional emails such as sales notifications, welcome messages and order status. Make these personal and fun (so they don’t seem so system generated). A good idea is add in a personal closing, for example “PS. Hit reply if you have a question.”
Email rules you must follow
- Stay relevant – Sure, you have permission to send email to your list but you must keep it worthwhile and interesting. If not, people will unsubscribe.
- Length – Keep it as short as possible. Get to the point.
- Summarise and link – Instead of putting the whole article in an email, provide an abstract summary in one to two lines and link to the full blog post. The end goal is to drive the traffic back to a specific page on your website.
- Frequency – Step into the mind of the end user. If you were a prospect, how often would you like to be informed about the particular product or service? As a rule of thumb, err on the side of caution and opt for fewer emails. You want to nurture the list, not annoy them.
- Never purchase lists – A purchased list is toxic. It has been marketed too many times over, the email addresses tend to be junk and your open rates will be so low it’s not worth bothering. Don’t do it!
- Use minimal images – Most email programs block images by default. Always design your email thinking that your images may not be displayed. This means that there will be greater emphasis on text. The best solution is to use a HTML email format with mainly text.
- Legal requirements – Ensure you clearly identify yourself, provide a physical address of the sender and provide an unsubscribe link. Most mainstream email solutions will cover off on this by default.
- Design – Keep to the same design fundamentals as your website. This will provide visual continuity and a consistent user experience. Ensure the layout also looks good on a mobile device.