Email Marketing Best Practices: How to Drive Traffic, Engagement and Sales
Although email marketing has been around for quite some time now, it still proves to be a very effective content marketing strategy. Whether it’s in the form of a whitepaper, video, webinar or infographic, fantastic content is the lifeblood of any great email marketing campaign. No matter the type or size of the company that you’d like to reach, your content is the thing that can open doors and win relationships (and sales).
In fact, a recent iConsumer survey reports that emails account for a greater share of acquired customers than social media—almost 40-times more than Facebook and Twitter combined. Let me repeat that, Email accounts for more customer acquisition than Facebook and Twitter combined. Numbers like that make you stop and think for a bit.
In another ding against social, a recent study from Custora reveals that email customers are often the ones who are ready to stop, shop and spend. Conversion rates to purchase are projected to be 17% higher than social media, says eMarketer.
For many marketers, email marketing can be a tragic love story. One moment, your customers are head-over-heels in love. And the next, they disappear. Or rather, you disappear from their inboxes forever.
Increasing unsubscribe rates are a constant dilemma for email marketers. While email remains an effective tool in reaching out to customers, many marketers agree that this relationship is the most difficult to maintain. Low click-to-open rates are one thing, but if they are actually scrambling out of your email list, then you might be in serious trouble.
Applying a combination of email marketing best practices and the knowledge of what not to do will maximize your campaign’s chances of success.
Why People are Hitting Unsubscribe
You Come on Too Strong
Research reveals that the top reason your customers opt out of your email list is that, quite simply, they’ve had enough of you. Bombarding customers with emails here and there will not only drive them away; it can also mess up your chances of doing business with them in the future. It is important for marketers to send their emails at appropriate times and intervals. Evaluate your email deployment days and times vis-à-vis the behavior of your target customers.
They Don’t Know You
If your subscribers are new to your email list, it is best to develop a series of onboarding campaigns that will run for a few weeks or months (depending on the length of your sales cycle). Once your subscribers have completely warmed up to you, you can start personalizing your content to boost engagement. Relationships and trust are incredibly important factors when it comes to B2B marketing and sales.
Your Emails are Self-Centered
A random “Dear User” message and a tiny “Buy NOW” button just won’t make the cut. You need strong, quality content that will grab your customers’ attention, as well as clear and actionable call-to-actions. There needs to be a bit of quid pro quo… some give and take. Stop making it about your brand and start making it about the customer. Focus primarily on their needs and building a strong relationship before asking them to do something for you.
It’s Not Personal
It’s likely that your customers cannot connect with you at all. Could be that you are promoting a product a customer is already using, or that the customer simply doesn’t care about it. Make sure your emails are targeted to certain buyer segments. Gather data about your customers—occupation, location, interests, etc.—and group them accordingly so you can easily create targeted email messages. Moreover, staying attuned to which part of the buyer’s journey they’re in will help you tailor-fit your messages to your customers’ wants and needs.
You’re Not Mobile-Optimized
Nearly half of all emails are being opened on mobile devices. And an alarming 30% of customers will unsubscribe if your email doesn’t read properly. So, if your emails look messed up on a mobile device, you’re potentially missing out on a lot of opportunities to generate leads.
Email Marketing Best Practices
Establish Content Goals
Who are you writing for? What is the aim of your content? Are you trying to spread awareness about your company or product? Or are you courting prospects who’ve discovered a serious problem facing their business and are looking far and wide for solutions to solve it? Or, are you going after more elusive game, targeting prospects who are looking to purchase as soon as possible?
The truth is that you need content that fits into all three of these areas so that you can cast the widest net possible for potential prospects in your market. Your content “net” should effectively address all stages of the sales cycle, so you can go from building awareness to converting sales, and finally move on to driving loyalty.
Identify Your Target Audience
Company size, job level, industry and job title are all different ways you can target your prospective leads. Remember that a great content campaign should reach leads at all levels of the buying journey. When trying to spread awareness or solve general business problems, it might be wise to leave your campaign filters as open as possible so that no prospective sales slip through your fingers.
When researching your target audience, remember that it’s all about audience centricity. By allotting time and energy to your unique audience through better content, you can build audience loyalty, which in the long-term translates into better relationships and brand advocacy.
Create Great Content
Videos, infographics, and webinars are all well and good, but when it comes to email marketing, we’ve found that nothing beats a good, old-fashioned whitepaper. A great whitepaper hits the ground running with an intriguing headline and an arresting title page.
It should be about 3-6 pages in length, visually engaging, with a good text to white space ratio. It should have a strong premise and an engaging theme. We’ve seen some great themes in our time. They’ve ranged from The Wizard of Oz to the Ten Commandments, to the TV show 24, and each of them was compelling in their own right.
Just remember, when creating content, you’re writing to someone who’d preferably like to learn something interesting, get help for an existing problem, or be entertained. The best whitepapers manage to do all three. So don’t be afraid to get creative!
Be sure to sum it all up with a slam-bang conclusion that revisits the main points, includes a call-to-action and highlights contact details for more information. Boom! You’ve got yourself a great whitepaper.
Use Compelling Subject Lines
Your email’s subject line is the first thing a user sees when it reaches their inbox. This is the best (and possibly the only) chance you’re going to get at making a good first impression. If you’re not successful here, your email will most likely go unopened. Most people’s inboxes are filled with clutter and constantly getting worse, so you really have to stand out to perform well.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to know that a third of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone and 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line. So, make it compelling but don’t make it sound like clickbait. It’s a fine line but finding that sweet spot will help you maximize your campaign’s results.
Keep Your Email List Sparkly Clean
Keeping your email list clean simply involves making sure your CRM data is updated and accurate. On average, email lists decline at about 22% annually, which means that 22% of your entire list will become inaccurate after a single year. When you send emails to invalid email addresses, they result in bounces. The more bounces you get, the lower your sender score, which affects your domain’s sender reputation (email providers assume that responsible email senders keep their lists clean and accurate to avoid invalid sends).
Another reason to clean your list is to remove unengaged contacts. These email recipients have shown that they’re not interested in reading your emails and will be unlikely to engage with them in the future. Removing unengaged contacts reduces costs (less marketing emails sent) and significantly improves your open and clickthrough rates.
Track, Analyze, and Improve
Similar to just about every other type of channel, email marketing is a continuous process that requires constant tracking, analyzing, hypothesizing, testing, and improving. No matter how good you think your campaign is, chances are it could be improved further. And if you want to improve, you’ll have to identify what works and what doesn’t.
Obvious email metrics to track include bounce rate, open rate, clickthrough rate, and conversion rate. But it’s even more useful if you expand your analysis to include list growth rate and overall ROI. These insights will help you identify the best possible strategies to fit your audience’s needs and scale your email marketing efforts.
Producing quality content and targeting the right audience are vital for successfully attracting quality leads but equally important is consistency in promoting content. This is where a well-thought-out email marketing strategy takes center stage and must include these key components: Fostering a strong brand reputation online, engaging further with your prospect companies, driving sustained traffic to your website, and converting prospects into loyal customers.
Eager to learn more about how you can get the most out of your email marketing efforts? Get your FREE email marketing checklist below!