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5 email marketing questions

Over the years there are a few questions that keep popping up amongst email marketing users.

After careful consideration, and without wanting to get into one of those endless lists, we have reduced to it to the most pressing five. Those are:

  1. What’s the best email marketing tool for me?
  2. How do I get my audience to open my emails?
  3. How do I keep my emails out of spam?
  4. How do I build an email list?
  5. Which metrics should I track?

 

What’s the best email marketing tool for me?

As always, and as much as some giants in this industry would love to be a one-size-fits-all kind of product, it depends on the size of your business.

Think about the current size of your marketing team and your audience, and also look at the 5-year projection of those numbers: are they likely to stay the same? Are you envisioning an ambitious rebranding that might bring you to a whole new level in terms of volume? Or are you happy where you are and would like to be more cautious in terms of reach?

These calculations will determine the investment and that is also a key factor. There are perfectly good email marketing tools out there in the market that charge literally not a single penny to do a great job out of sending emails. But, if you want to take your email communications a step further, it will obviously cost you more.

However, don’t dismiss cheaper products just because they are relatively affordable: the flashy, more expensive ones don’t necessarily offer better performance or added features, but they might score higher on capacity or customer service.

How do I get my audience to open my emails?

It all comes down to two crucial factors: trust and pertinence.

Trust

If your target user knows the email is coming from you and more importantly, it’s about something they might need or be interested in at that particular moment, bingo. You have an open.

Make sure your From Name is clear and explicit, and that if it’s a variable one, make that variation a logical and predictable , so that target users are not confused.

Pertinence

How do you let clients know about that particular offer before they open the email? Through your subject line. The ideal length is estimated to be around the 28-39 characters, and no, personalisation doesn’t necessarily make an Open more likely. Most businesses will benefit from A/B testing what kind of subject line they have the best success rates with: is it emojis? Is it a cry for help? Is being cryptic the best for your product?

Please be aware that the From Name and the subject line can be mutually complementary: your sender might be a bit obscure but if you have a strong subject line, users might overcome their suspicions and open it anyway!

The secret (is it really?) is to give consistently good content on a frequent basis. That’s the foundation of trust in this scenario. Find a good ratio between your text and images and be as concise or as ellaborate as your audiences need.

How do I keep my emails out of spam?

Build a good reputation. It takes time, common sense, good practices and consistency.

Your content must be:

  • Timely: find out that sweet spot of the time of day your users are more likely to be there, and also what’s the right frequency for them. Daily? Monthly?
  • Targeted: don’t just send anything to anyone, as this kind of trawling approach barely ever works. Speak your customers’ language and they will listen.
  • Relevant: you might have the best content and the best offers but… is it the right time for your customer to invest in that new car if they only bought one a month ago?
  • Valuable: be competitive. Look at your customers’ purchase history and create offers that are tailor-made to them.
  • Welcome: we know GDPR sounds so 2018, but really, do you have permission to send that email? Have your customers opted out of that particular promotion? Make sure your exclusions are perfectly up to date and save yourself an Unsubscribe.

So in the end it’s all about reputation. There was a time when a “free” or an exclamation mark on a subject line would send your email straight to the junk folder, but now it’s more about mass sends that make no sense. Once you get branded as a spammer, that’s it: you might have an award-winning, golden Subject Line, but no one will know because you’ll end up in jail (not literally, you know what we mean).

How do I build my email list?

Three words: capture great data.

At your point of entry, whether it is a stall at an industry event or a pop-up form on your website, ask for the most essential so that you can expand later.

Email and name are the basic stuff but go for more if you really need it, as a requirement (date of birth for products that are unsuitable for underage customers) or for future campaigns (gender might be required if you don’t want to inform your female customers about menswear sales – unless they opt in!).

When your data comes in, it needs to be:

  • accurate: there’s no use in having incorrect information.
  • complete: ask for as much as you need (but stay away of the creepy zone).
  • updated: make sure you synchronise and update your information.

And don’t hesitate to throw in a little added value to that sign-up, such as a discount or a freebie. This might do the trick to sway reluctant sharers.

Caveat: some industry experts advice against purchasing email addresses, and this is not just merely an ethical issue. Some ESPs like Mailchimp won’t let you add a purchased list. Also, this is the equivalent of email cold calling. Your ROI won’t be worth it. A partnership, however, is a great way to bring it one step forward: find a site that fits your focus and build a strong relationship with an industry partner.

Which metrics should I track?

Again, aside from the usual Open and Clickthrough Rates, perhaps you should focus on your own data to see how your emails are impacting sales.

There are numerous inconclusive studies on what makes a successful email, but for different business even in the same industry, this might translate into very different indicators.

If you send a morning email for a product with a higher consumption rate in the evening, perhaps your open rate won’t reflect the actual conversions. You might be sending at a great time for email opens, but not for purchasing activity.

Shifting that sending time to a more pertinent schedule might mean your Open Rates could go down, but your sales would go up. Would that be a negative result? Not really!

Even though email has consistently been reported as the best return-on-investment you can make, with an average return of $44 for every $1 spent, it might need help from other channels. No mail is an island! Send reminders in the shape of Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts to make sure the message gets across, particularly with time-urgent promotions.

Your ClickThrough Rate might pose an equally tricky analysis: if you’re sending an email without relevant links, why should you expect your clients to click on it?

Let’s say you’re sending an offer for a digital product that can only be accessed from the app, but you’re including links to the website. After two or three emails, this might be frustrating for your customers and will probably discourage them from clicking anything in the future.

We hope this post has helped answer some of the most frequent questions we hear in email marketing conversations, but if you need more help, don’t hesitate to let us know.

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