New-fangled marketing tools can make email marketing seem a bit old-hat, but underneath the increasingly ubiquitous nature of our relationship with email lies a treasure trove of marketing opportunities.
But with priority inboxes and spam filters creating ever-higher barriers to effective communication, how can the modern marketer properly utilize email?
Before you even put pen to virtual paper, you’ll want to spend a significant amount of time researching.
However, this isn’t just a fire-and-forget process, so be prepared to fight a never-ending battle in terms of keeping your email offering optimised.
The first key steps are to identify your target audience and if possible, find out what their relationship with email is.
A good starting point is to check out include what devices they are using to interact with their digital correspondence and how your emails and rich media will appear on these appliances.
As with much of marketing, you’ll want to put yourself in the shoes of your key demographic and cater every aspect of your communications to their needs.
Make sure you’re crafting your content with this in mind and optimising headlines, text, links and images.
Avoid being labelled a spammer
Spam filters are getting more and more stringent as the battle against unwanted communication escalates and to bypass these bastions, you’ll want to be as organic as possible.
There are innumerable tips for avoiding the spam label out there, but some key areas to consider include:
Opt-in: Making sure your prospects opt in to your email communications is a good starting point, but will by no means be a guarantee of delivery.
Clear unsubscribe option: Frustrated users looking to opt out of your email communications will often just flag it as spam.
However, by making the unsubscribe option as clear and visible as possible, you’ll drastically reduce the chances of this occurring.
Choice: New tools have made it easier than ever to segregate what content your audience receives – so why not ask the user what types of emails they’d prefer?
Build me Up Buttercup
The way you build your lists will have wide-ranging effects on your email marketing campaign, so make sure you’re doing it in the right way.
The two main options are to a) build your list organically or b) purchase an existing list from a reputable vendor.
I’m a firm believer in organic growth and there are innumerable opportunities to capture information from users, particularly if you’re using several marketing platforms in conjunction.
For instance, why not incentivise opting in to your email list with a promotion? Similarly, you can plaster clear subscribe functions across your site, or even go so far as to capture data at the point of transaction or enquiry.
Engagement is the holy grail of modern marketing and there’s a range of tactics you can use to promote this in your digital correspondence.
First off, you should be aiming to tailor your headlines and text to the needs of your target audience.
In terms of rich media, current email filters will often refuse to display images (unless your address is added to a whitelist), so bear this in mind and try not to assign more than a quarter of the email’s space to these.
Another easy step to promote engagement is to not use a ‘noreply@’ email address. This can give the impression of ignorance and frustrate those looking for an easy way to get in contact, if not landing your correspondence in a junk folder.
In fact, contact information should be clear and visible – particularly in your call to action.
Like GLaDOS from Portal, testing should be your top concern. You’ll want to pick apart literally every aspect of your email practices to ensure they’re optimised and well-targeted.
There is no end to the elements you can inspect, but some common favourites include:
Length: You shouldn’t be vomiting information on your audience, nor should you be terse with your text.
Getting your correspondence to the right length is a perennial concern – fortunately, your target demographic makes a great focus group, so why not ask their opinion?
Frequency: As with comedy, timing is everything in email marketing. It can have a significant effect on both your click-through rate and whether or not you’ll be labelled a spammer.
If your frequency is too high, subscribers will become desensitised andif it’s too low, its importance could wane. There is no perfect time to send an email but proper testing will highlight how well or badly you’re doing in this regard.
Don’t use in Isolation
In email marketing, integration should be your watchword. There’s a range of opportunities presented by linking your social media offerings, blog, website and real-world promotional materials to your campaign.
Take a holistic view of your marketing efforts and start marrying stuff like an out-of-control pastor.
Email marketing is a tried and tested method that has yielded much success for those willing to take the bull by the horns.
However, email marketing is both resource and time-intensive, so make sure you’re adequately prepared for the effort, as a lacklustre effort is bound to attract a similarly fruitless return.