Although marketers often emphasize Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social sites, nothing sells quite like a good email campaign.
How successful can email be? The Direct Marketing Association reports that email marketing campaigns average a 4,300 percent return on investment. Similarly, a survey of B2B marketers found that 59 percent say email is their most effective channel for generating revenue.
This shouldn't be surprising. A study by The Radicati Group found that there are three times as many targetable email accounts than there are Facebook and Twitter profiles, combined. Learning how to get readers to open and act upon email pitches is simply a better use of marketing time and dollars. So how do you become an email marketing expert? Here are 10 tips for designing a winning campaign.
Tip #1: Opt for opt-in
Email marketing is easier when you have a willing audience. Add a sign-up form on your website and limit your pitching to only those who've indicated their interest.
As Seth Godin says: "Most online businesses have news and offers that people will willingly read." Be one of those businesses.
Tip #2: Make it personal
Would you read an email that starts with "Dear Friend" or "Dear Customer"? Of course not. So don't expect your audience to, either.
Use their name and include as much personalized content as your email marketing system will allow. For example, shopping aggregator TopCashback notifies customers when one of their "favorite merchants" unveils a new offer.
Tip #3: Write snappy headlines
An inbox is filled with headlines. Only the most attention grabbing ones get opened, so make sure you don't write something that's generic or irrelevant. "You left something during your last visit ..." beats "Come back soon" for an email pitch to a customer who decided to abandon her shopping cart before buying.
Tip #4: Lead with your strongest statement
Most consumers have the attention span of a goldfish, which means you'll have to open strong in order for your email to be remembered.
If it's a sale, lead with the discount. If it's an invitation to an event, lead with the benefits of attending. Sunglasses seller Dang Shades sent an email pitching 25 percent off on certain items and saw sales spike 600 percent in 48 hours.
Tip #5: Optimize for mobile screens
Over two-thirds of consumers regularly check email via a smartphone. Gmail users are even more prolific, with 75 percent of the 900 million or so checking messages on the go. Further research says that between one-third and half of all email opens occur on a mobile device.
If you aren't actively designing emails that read well on a smartphone or tablet, then you're missing an opportunity. Dang Shades' pitch featured one simple image, three short sentences and a clickable button -- perfect for those viewing on an iPhone.
Tip #6: Use data
Don't guess. Instead, use an email marketing system that knows what gets opened and what converts. Then, track your best emails and learn from them. If your best opens use a one-word headline, try to do more one-word headlines. Good email marketers become great by applying lessons learned from data.
Tip #7: Have a surprise inside
Whether it's exclusive content or a discount offer, you need to give readers a reason to open your email. Tease it in the headline. For example, something as simple as "Your free gift inside" can be remarkably effective for getting clicks, though a more creative angle might do better.
Just be sure that whatever you pitch is appropriate, personal and worth the time your reader takes to scan the email. Offering a book of meaty taco recipes to the reader interested in vegan cuisine is a sure loser.
Tip #8: Make it shareable
Authentic, word-of-mouth marketing carries far more weight than a cold pitch. Make your email easy to share by adding social buttons and inviting readers to forward your message to friends and family. Dang Shades's simple pitch included buttons for sharing the deal to Facebook and Twitter.
Tip #9: Use humor
A quick quip or a snappy joke can go a long way towards improving your clicks and conversions. Nobody does this better than BuzzFeed, which is well known for luring in readers with punchy email headlines that pay off with links to related content.
Tip #10: Create a sense of urgency
There's a reason infomercials use "act now!" when pitching products. As humans, we're wired to respond when a situation feels urgent. Accordingly, adding a sense of urgency to your email marketing can boost clicks and conversions.
How do you do that? Set a time limit on a lucrative offer. Or make it scarce (i.e., "the first three to respond get X"). Or simply use the right code words. "Fast," "quick," "hurry," "approaching" and "instant" are among the various terms associated with urgency.
Expirations that simulate a ticking clock also work well, as Dang Shades found out. "Offer ends on 2-28 at 12 Midnight," the company says in its pitch; hundreds of customers decided they didn't want to miss out. Endeavor to give your own email marketing this same must-have feel. Customers and prospects will let you know what's working.
Ready to implement these strategies to drive more traffic and business to your website? The brand new Weebly Promote gives you all the tools you need to get started with email marketing.