How Can Small Businesses Improve Their Email Marketing Campaigns
Digital marketing has developed rapidly in recent years, especially with the emergence of social media. As a result, new channels of advertising and communication have emerged and radically changed the landscape of marketing.
Email – the king of ROI
However, one thing has remained constant and reliable as ever – email marketing. It has not just survived the turbulences in the world of digital marketing, it could even be said that it came out on top. Email still boasts more users than any other digital marketing channel, with 4 billion global email users. In comparison, the most popular social network, Facebook, is currently at the 2.4 billion mark.
Even more importantly, the cost-effectiveness of email marketing has been unrivaled by any other digital strategy. The research by DMA has shown that the average ROI of email marketing is as high as $32 per $1 invested. It’s extremely important for any business owner to have this in mind, especially those who run small or medium companies. When every dime counts, a strategy that gives back 32 times more than you invested is something worth considering, to say the least.
Obviously, not any kind of email campaign will result in such a large ROI. You need a sound and well-thought strategy in order to get the most out of it. Here are some tips and guidelines on how to maximize the success of your email campaigns.
Building the list
The first question that comes to mind when talking about email marketing is – how do I even get people to subscribe to my list? Why would my emails be valuable to them?
And this is probably the key to building and maintaining a successful email list – thinking about the value your messages provide to your customers and prospects. What’s in it for them?
There are certain common lead magnets that can accelerate the growth of your list. The most obvious ones are discounts, special deals and other incentives you can offer your prospects in exchange for signing up.
Another way to go is by distributing exclusive content via email to your subscribers. Of course, first, you’ll have to offer a little teaser or the entire first episode/blog post in order to make people interested. Then you can simply promise them the rest of it once they subscribe and deliver this content in several chunks.
If you’re going this way, make sure it’s high-quality content relevant for your target group. This can include industry-related topics, tutorials, courses or even a detailed presentation of your coolest product. And whichever method you choose, it’s important that you state very clearly what exactly the users will get if they subscribe. And of course, deliver what you promised.
Putting email to work
Naturally, getting people to subscribe is only the first step. If you fail to maintain the list properly, keep people engaged and, ultimately, sell your product, then it’s all been for nothing. There are several important things to have in mind here.
One of the features of email marketing that mustn’t be overlooked is list segmentation. Delivering all messages to all people on the list isn’t going to do any good for you. Namely, segmented campaigns bring in 7 times more revenue than unsegmented ones. Hence you need to divide your list according to several key criteria.
These criteria will depend on your industry, your product, your audience , and your business goals. You can make use of personal info such as age or gender, but you’re probably going to need more than that. A detailed record of your customers’ online activity and their purchase history can tell you a lot about what kind of message you should send to which particular users. They need to get only offers and messages they find valuable and relevant. And they need to get it at the exact right time.
Here it’s essential that you learn how to make smart use of customer data that you collect through your website or your opt-in forms. Having a decent CRM software can save you a world of effort here, so be careful when choosing the right one.
Apart from communicating the right message, you’ll also need to know how to communicate it.
People have their inboxes buried with all sorts of promotional emails and you need to use every second of their attention. Keep your emails short, concise and on-point. Use the language and tone that’s well-suited for the person or segment of the list you’re targeting. And don’t forget to make your CTA buttons clear and visible.
As a matter of fact, the whole email has to be easy to read, scan and understand. And if you wish to communicate a large amount of info anyway, offer your subscribers an option to read more on your website or social media.
Especially pay attention to subject lines. They need to grab the users’ attention immediately so that they would even think about opening your email. It’s advisable that you make these personalized, direct and short. But not too short – it seems that the optimal number of words would be 3-5, while the optimal number of characters is somewhere between 17 and 24.
All this content, including subject lines and preview text, also has to be easy to view and read on mobile devices. As much as 75% of consumers stated that they use their smartphones more often than other devices to check their email.
In general, mobile browsing has exceeded desktop traffic a couple of years ago and the gap between the two is most likely to be widening in the following period. Not having your emails fit users’ mobile screens or having your subject lines cut off looks messy and unprofessional. Don’t let it happen.
Use of videos
A special type of content you need to look into when seeking for that competitive edge is video. Over the last few years, with larger bandwidths and better connections, everyone has started watching videos, everywhere. Today, 75% of all traffic is video traffic, and in 2022 this number will grow to 82%. This has had immense consequences for digital marketing in general, and of course, this goes for email marketing as well.
For instance, a video in your email can increase CTR by as much as 300 percent. Including videos in your landing page or even just including the word “video” in your subject line can also increase conversions, click-through rates , and open rates.
Small businesses now have a great opportunity to boost their marketing efforts with the smart use of videos. Making a video has become simpler and cheaper than ever. So creating how-tos, tutorials, educational programs or product reviews in video format is definitely worth considering.
FOMO and scarcity principle
We live in a society permeated with a very strong “fear of missing out” (FOMO). This fear is mirrored in the way we use social networks, obsessively looking out not to miss a single event, tweet or post that might be even remotely relevant for us.
Now, in case of products, FOMO means people will buy products they may not even need, just because they’re about to expire, or there’s very few of them left in stock or simply because their friends bought them. It’s almost synonymous with the “scarcity principle”, which describes the need to buy things only because we won’t be able to buy them in the future.
How can you use this to your own advantage? Well, you obviously shouldn’t lie about your product or service disappearing forever, but don’t miss out on a chance to emphasize when you’re becoming short on something or whenever a certain special offer is about to expire.
For instance, creating a sense of urgency in an email subject line can generate substantially higher open rates as well as transaction-to-click rates. In other words, you don’t need to lie… you just need a skilled copywriter who is able to provoke a sense of urgency whenever there’s room for it.
Bottom line: provide value
At the end of the day, the crucial lesson is – always try to provide value. Targeting people with messages that are relevant and interesting to them is the only way to keep them engaged. Even when the primary purpose of the message is to generate hype, you still have to maintain relevance and credibility in order to even remotely intrigue your subscribers.
Finally, never forget to thoroughly test your campaigns and modify your strategy according to the feedback. You can’t predict every little problem that can occur, but what you can do is acknowledge people’s reactions and revise your tactics whenever it’s necessary. All this doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s a great foundation stone for your email marketing strategy.
Daniel Bishop started off his career in digital marketing working for a few local marketing companies. After a year or two learning different aspects of marketing, he moved on and worked for DesignRush for about ten months. Right now he is working for ReallySimpleSystems as an assistant editor and marketing consultant. Other than that he enjoys good coffee, homegrown tobacco, and Otis Redding.