Email is a method of communication. Of connecting with someone, of delivering a message, of having a conversation, but mostly though, email is about engagement. And perhaps that’s why; it didn’t take long for these ‘digital letters’ to morph into advertisement material, flyers, posters, newsletters, coupons and the like. Today, email marketing is an industry worth billions of dollars with its own set of rules, challenges and best practices. In this column, I would like to share a few principles that guide me and my company, Octane, do email marketing the right way:
1. Get Permission to reach the Inbox – This is one of the most important aspects of email marketing and also one of the most ignored. Many digital marketers today seem to concentrate on quantity and the perceived ‘reach’ of lists rather than the quality aspect of them. If someone is receiving an unsolicited email from you, that is, without subscription; then that email is spam! There are no two ways about it. And no one likes getting spam. Most such emails end up in the spam folder, are deleted without as much as a look and this hurts the overall campaign, your IP reputation and your brand value among other things.
Building your own database is time consuming and difficult, but it also has better results and leads to the most effective manner of engagement. That is, connecting to the right kind of people who are interested in your product, features, offers or news.
2. Content is as important as reach – At Octane, what we have seen for emails is that to grab subscriber attention for more than a few seconds, your subject line needs to be the interesting hook complementing the content in the mailer. It is also important to clearly segregate your email as a company brief, deal promotion or a season offer etc. The more targeted the content, the higher the chances of the email retaining attention and converting into business. Image heavy mailers are not recommended and some of the best campaigns use HTML templates with text and minimal graphics. This results in higher inbox deliverability rates and increase in click-through rates as well.
3. Personalization & Targeting – It is always a good idea to address your subscriber by name. To personalise it in this simple manner would immediately separate you from the bulk mailers that tend to be talking to some ‘Dear Member’ or ‘Dear Subscriber’. A nice greeting at the beginning of the email also does a good job at getting attention. Similarly, targeted email marketing is also a prerequisite to successful email campaigns today. If you are sending emails about a vertical IT solution for the manufacturing industry to a work-from-home mom, no prizes for guessing which way your conversion rate will go. Good statistical tracking helps keep track of the preferences of your reader. This, combined with segmentation techniques, can help you drive more business from your email campaigns.
4. The frequency should be just right – So now you reaching the right kind of subscribers with the right kind of content, but how often should you ideally try to talk to your intended audience? Research shows that the most effective email marketing campaigns are the ones that are sent not more than once a week. To retain the interest of your reader, do not send out more than one email in a day and send out at least one great email every quarter. Optimizing the frequency of your communication will also mean that chances of your recipients unsubscribing are less.
5. Provide the option to Opt-Out: So you have been talking to someone for a very long time and they have been interested in what you had to say, but suddenly, they don’t seem care anymore. What do you do? Do you still keep talking to them, or do you wind down the conversation smartly and move on to someone else who might be interested in what you have to say?
Your content might be great, your service or product might simply fit the bill and the recipient might have opted to get your email, but preferences and requirements tend to change and a good email campaign should always provide an easy opt-out option to its subscribers. That way, you have put your subscriber in command of the communication and have also ensured a higher ROI for your campaigns based on relevant targeted engagement. It is always a good idea to explore why someone has unsubscribed and sometimes, incorporating the right kind of feedback even leads to re-subscription.
So, these are just a few of the simplest things that I’ve seen work wonderfully for all kinds of campaigns and clients. As a modern digital marketer, if email marketing is something that is of importance to you, then following these tips will surely get you the results you seek.
Authored By: Samarth Saxena – Co-Founder and COO, Octane Marketing Pvt. ltd.
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