Email marketing is more than a viable option for attracting prospects and keeping current customers engaged. While naysayers abound, the hard numbers show that email marketing is effective.
- A June 2016 survey of US marketers conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Demand Metric found that email had a median ROI of 122%– more than four times higher than other marketing formats, including social media, direct mail, and paid search. (Source: eMarketer, 2016)
- It is reported that for every dollar spent on email marketing, an average of $44 dollar return on investment is realized. (Source: Campaign Monitor, 2016)
Email is sophisticated, thanks to advances in technology. Analytics, smart lists, and time zone sensitivities allow senders to give recipients exactly what they are looking for when they need it.
To take advantage of today’s most updated email best practices, it’s important to keep a few basic aspects in mind so that each email campaign will support increased revenues, business growth, and market differentiation.
Below, I run through those basics.
Using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution to launch your email campaigns will give you a bird’s eye view into each customer and prospect’s unique journey with your business, and provide you with a qualitative way to segment your contacts into the most relevant lists.
With a CRM for small business, your sales team can gain access to specific information such as when customers and prospects receive an email, if they delete it before reading it, what CTAs are clicked, and how each recipient moves through your funnel.
CRM systems can range from basic to complex. Depending on your business’s needs, you can leverage a simple database model or a more robust solution that includes sales management, shopping carts, audience behavior, and more.
1. How to Begin
First, know what you want to achieve. This is such a basic requirement that many professionals often forget to pay attention to it. But this aspect of an email campaign is fundamental. So, before you send your first email, decide what your goals are.
Here are a few examples of goals you may want to achieve with your emails:
- Deepen the quality of relationships
- Take prospects through your sales cycle
- Educate prospects and/or current customers
- Promote an event, product launch, discount, upsell opportunity, etc
- Deliver a time-sensitive announcement
2. Copy, CTA, and Sequences
Think through the goals that you’ve defined, and build your campaign around those goals. With each email you send, think about how you want recipients to respond. This will make it exponentially easier to create email copy.
Email best practice suggests that copy be kept short, simple, and to the point. Again, this sounds obvious. But consider how many long-winded emails you receive from solicitors…and how many of those you actually read and/or engage with? Chances are, you send most of those lengthy emails directly to your trash bin.
In addition to brevity and simplicity, keep emails void of “pitchy” sales talk. Instead, focus on educational opportunities and building relationships. Personalized emails perform best.
- The open rate for emails with a personalized message was 18.8%, as compared to 13.1% without any personalization in 2016. (Source: Statista 2016)
- Brands that personalize promotional marketing emails experience 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than those that do not personalize. (Source: Experian, 2016)
- Triggered emails drive 624% higher conversion responses for the same number of sends as compared to “batch and blast” emails. This is driven by a 381% higher click rate, and an 180% higher post-click conversion rate. (Source: VentureBeat, 2016)
When you think about triggered emails, identify your content nurture sequence that new leads will experience as they move through your funnel. For instance, if a prospect clicks on a link in your email a sequence will be automatically triggered to send the prospect content about a similar product or service based on the original link.
- Ecommerce customers who received multipleabandoned shopping cart emails are 2.4 times more likely to complete the purchase than those who receive only one follow up email. (Source: Experian, 2016)
Here are a few campaign examples that are perfect for nurturing through sequences:
- Form submissions
- New email subscriber
- Event invitations and reminders
- Loyalty and customer retention
- Cross-selling or upselling
- Re-engagement campaigns
- Lead nurturing
- Email opens or clicks
3. Focus on Design
Once you know your goals and what content will be used for each email, it’s time to think about design.
These days, so many people view their emails on mobile devices. It’s important to preview each email you create so that you’ll know how your emails will appear on mobile devices. There are a variety of CRM for small business solutions that provide you with preview capabilities. Specifically, use solutions that support ‘responsive’ frameworks. In my mind, CRM best practices include a responsive framework for all email outreach. Personally, I wouldn't feel prepared to press send if I couldn't preview for responsiveness.
- Email recipients who favor mobile-aware email marketing designs rose from 15% in 2015 to 27% in 2016. (Source: Litmus, 2016)
- Litmus’ Email Analytics tracks open emails from over 1.4 billion sent emails and reports that emails opened on mobile devices has risen and held steady at 56% of all emails sent. (Source: Litmus, 2016)
4. Build Your List
When you build email lists, you must only include contacts who have given you their explicit permission to send them information. They could have given you permission by filling out a form on your site or purchasing something from you, for instance. You must also provide a way for people to unsubscribe from your list.
Both aspects of list building are not only email best practices but also CRM best practices...and they are federally mandated. Which is why purchasing lists is the worst way to build your database. Keep in mind that a carefully constructed email with targeted content sent to 50 properly segmented contacts is typically worth much more than sending a generic blast to 5,000.
You can create lists based on a variety of factors. For example, if you’re looking for leads that aren’t yet qualified for sales or marketing outreach, make a search for contacts that have not interacted with your website or content more than once over a one-year period – and tag them accordingly.
It’s best to use tags when working with a CRM for small business, since you can create a sequence for all contacts with the sales qualified lead (SQL) tag. You can also segment contacts if they do not have a tag, meaning if a desired tag is not present, the automation sequence will kick in and send a series of emails (aka drip marketing) to those tag-less contacts until they have become qualified in some specified way.
5. Reporting and Analytics
Reporting metrics are the best way to see which of your emails are most effective. You may be focused on open rates, click-through rates, or bounce rates. Regardless of your focus, you can use reporting metrics to inform future campaigns.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to grow your website traffic, which grows business in the long run.
We all have inboxes full of marketing emails that don’t interest us. Mostly, those emails just end up deleted. If emails sent from a certain business are terribly relentless and irrelevant, we may even unsubscribe from or simply flag the email as spam. Both of those actions aren’t desirable for business, but the last one will cost your business in terms of lost reputation and could result in fines and/or blacklisting.
- The number of email users worldwide is forecasted to rise to 2.9 billion users by 2019. (Source: Statista, 2016)
- The number of email users in the US is projected to grow to 244.5 million by the end of 2017. That number is forecast to grow to 254.7 million by 2020. (Source: Statista, 2016)
So, make sure every one of your email lists receives valuable, relevant content on a consistent basis. This consistency and value will encourage your contacts to continue to let you into their inboxes, which allow you to keep nurturing your database.