A Crash Course in Email Marketing

It’s 9 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. You’ve got just two and a half hours to pull together the same old newsletter that you send out at the same time every month, come rain or shine.

Only problem is that you’ve nothing to say.

So you scramble around looking for some half-decent offers, copy and paste some loose news and send out to your entire list without giving any real thought to the subject line. And then … nothing.

If this sounds like your email marketing strategy – you’re not alone. It’s time for a crash course in email marketing.

Rule #1 – Be relevant

A monthly email to your entire list is not a strategy – it’s an afterthought. You need to build a strategy based on relevancy to your target market and the quality of your message. If you’ve got nothing to say, don’t say it – even if it is the second Tuesday of the month.

Rule #2 – Less is more

Select just one offer per email and segment your list accordingly. If you have a range of complementary products, choose a hero product to focus on and add simple links to promote the additional items. Think of your email like a menu in a restaurant – too many dishes to choose from and nothing looks appetizing.

Rule #3 – More is more

Now that you’ve made your campaigns more relevant, it’s time to increase the frequency of your emails. Keep your emails relevant and interesting and your subscribers will welcome the increased touchpoints.

Rule #4 – Headline news (subject lines)

Your subject line should scream benefits. Think of it in the same way a newspaper editor writes a headline. It should tell the full story and entice the subscriber to read more. Give your subject line as much thought as your body text. Your subject line is your first line of defense between your subscribers and the delete button.

Rule #5 – Automate

Set up auto-responders to automatically deliver a predefined series of messages. These could include welcome messages to new subscribers, online courses or carefully crafted sales messages delivered over a specific period of time.

Rule #6 – Take time for text

Make good use of real text (not graphics) at the top of your email. A graphic-heavy email will appear blank until the subscriber has selected to download the graphics. Real text in the message will remain visible even in HTML emails and entice subscribers to open the complete email.

Rule #7 – Get social

Use your email campaigns to encourage subscribers to engage with your social media activity on Facebook or Twitter. Social media will not replace your email activity but will allow you to build your brand across your subscribers’ social networks.

Rule #8 – Test

Whenever possible, test your subject lines and creatives and then optimize accordingly. Split testing does not have to be complicated. Hit 20% of your list with two different emails and monitor the response. Hit the remaining 80% with the most successful email.

Rule #9 – Cleanse

Take the time to cut the deadwood from your list. Remove bounced email addresses and any names that have not opened any of your mails over a significant period of time. Remember, you are paying to target a list of people who want to receive your emails. Old, dead and unwanted emails are expensive and can damage your reputation.

Rule #10 – Understand your ROI

A client once told me their email campaigns did not yield a great ROI. He said a single, untargeted, monthly email to a list of 15,000 names generated only 18 sales (with an average spend of $48). That meant for every dollar he spent, he saw more than eight dollars back or a 692% ROI. I suggested he compare this to his ROI from paid search and then start getting strategic about his emails campaigns.

Written By:
John Hayes, iContact EMEA Business Development Executive