Email Marketing continues to deliver the highest return on investment within the digital marketing space. This is an edited transcript of a 30 min live webinar for The Fold Live, introducing you to the ins and outs of email marketing.
Email is a widely used and accepted marketing channel. It’s been around for a very long time and that’s one of the biggest advantages.
With 4.3 billion users, half our population is using email. Email is all about “on our time”. With a strong history, it continues to deliver the strongest ROI for most marketers.
For every dollar that’s being spent on the email marketing channel, you can expect about $42 in return (DMA 2019).
From my own business experience in multiple agencies, I have seen email deliver the strongest pipeline for business. It does need some basic steps to be successful.
No magic tricks
There are no magic tricks of email whatsoever. The wonderful part about email is you can define the right message at the right time, in front of the right people with the right content, based on what suits the customer. You have to put yourself in the customer’s seat and pull all those three things together, or it’s not going to work. You also need to maintain a level of consistency.
Small Steps = Big Goals
These are the five key steps of email marketing:
Increase each step by just 2% and you’ll see a 40% increase in sales
The above percentages are what typically happens during this five-step process. You may send 100% of your email database, but they don’t necessarily get delivered at the other end. When they are delivered, they don’t necessarily get opened, and so on.
If I was to work off the basis of 10,000 emails being sent and I increased each step of this process, by just 2%, it would equate to a 40% increase in sales on average.
Focus on each of these five steps in small increments to see the biggest possible difference.
If you don’t have an email platform in place, MailChimp is definitely a favorite. It’s really easy, they’ve got loads of tutorials and they even have a free account for up to 2,000 members in your database. Over the 2,000 mark and rates start around USD$25 a month. Campaign Monitor is another very easy platform. If you’re looking for an enterprise level CRM integrated solution, Salesforce who owns Marketo, and then HubSpot as well has platforms – review their inclusions to find the right fit for you.
You have to pick a platform. This is not about sending bulk emails from your Outlook address. If we are going to look at business email marketing and achieving some of the statistics that I’m going through today, you need to be doing this through a platform that is built for email marketing.
One of the biggest benefits of having an actual platform do this for you is that it will deliver terrific statistics that you can build on. I’ve always said – If you’re not looking at the results of your marketing, you’re only doing half the job you have to be looking at what’s working so that you can improve on it.
Without a database, you’re not talking to anyone. You need to build your audience lists, and below are several ways you could go about it:
- Go through your emails and ask your customers to add them to your database
- Look for data in your billing or delivery systems (inc POS)
- Create sign up page on counter tops (actively asking)
- Add a sign-up offer on your email signature
- Create a website popup asking customers to join
- Create posts for social media to ask customers to join you
- Ask you audience to refer a friend
- Customer service enquiries
- Run a competition
- Consider sponsoring content in someone else’s list.
You have to acquire your database within the rules of The Spam Act and the National Privacy Principles, essentially meaning you need permission to add customer details to a marketing database. Having a one-off relationship with your customer does not give you the right to add them to an email marketing database. There has to be what’s called, “a reasonable expectation” from that customer. And if you can qualify a reasonable expectation rather than a one-off interaction with you, that can make a big difference in compliance.
One of the first things you can consider is a welcome series.
When someone signs up to your email, you have a process where the next step is an automatic response to that sign up, confirming their details.
Once you’ve confirmed their sign up, you can start building a profile of them with certain questions. Your welcome series should have dates or time lapse around it, for example, 5 days after the confirmation is sent, your next communication would be encouraging your new contact to follow you on social media channels so they never miss an update. This is integrating your marketing efforts.
The last step is being added to a normal newsletter cycle. You should clearly outline the value proposition – what are you going to give your reader by being part of this email list. Why should they stay subscribed? It’s the right content to the right customer.
Deliverability is one of the bigger problems if you’re sending out a batch of emails and they’re not actually being delivered at the other end.
Look at your database and look for at any obvious spelling errors, eg gmail.com.au. There’s no such thing as an .au extension. Cleaning up errors will help your deliverability, and people may make really obvious errors that you can correct.
Soft and Hard Bounces
A soft bounce simply means that it’s a temporary block to that email being delivered versus a hard bounce, that says that a person is no longer part of that domain name and the email cannot be delivered.
You have to remove hard bounces from your database after every send, as the reporting will say you don’t have a very good sender reputation. You can check your sender score reputation, aiming for a sender score over 90%. It looks at:
- your authority to email this person
- have you emailed from this domain before?
- are you using spam language?
- is your IP address white listed?
Deliverability also looks at spam and junk ratings of your content. If you’re using certain words, symbols, like an exclamation mark, using the word “FREE” in capitals or using 100%, your sender score can be affected negatively.
If readers continually not to receive or open your email marketing, your sender score would mean emails stop appearing in the audience inbox all together. Once you have delivered it, you need to make people open it.
There are certain factors to consider for opening success. The day of the week and the time of day can make a big difference depending on your audience.
For travel, Fridays and Mondays work really well because on Fridays, people are looking for what they’re going to do over the weekend. And Mondays, it’s “get me the hell out of this office. I need to get on another holiday.” The “from name” and the “from address” needs to have trust. I should be able to reply to the name and recognise the name.
Opening the email comes down to your subject line. 80% of decision making on whether or not someone’s going to read your email comes from the subject line. Keeping it short and descriptive, avoiding the uppercase and the question marks, yet including emojis.
Putting in the value proposition: if I receive an email that says today’s webinar is available, yet I can’t make it, I’m unlikely to even open the email. Readers don’t need to open the email to decide if they’re going to read it. Think carefully about your subject line.
Creating a reason in your subject lines that aligns with your customer can be things that raise curiosity, personalisation beyond using someone’s name, serialisation eg Monday Wrap Up, Friday Fun eg. Serialisation means people become really accustomed to expecting it, they anticipate it. If they don’t receive it, they start looking for it.
And that’s a fabulous place to be in email marketing. When people anticipate the arrival of the email in their inbox.
Content & Design
Once opened, you want your customer to read it. More than 65% of all emails are opened first on a mobile device, before a desktop. Consider what your email looks like on a mobile phone. Your copy and the visuals need to both link out – because some people will click on an image and some will click on linked text. Headlines and sub-headlines make it easy to read. Limit large blocks of text.
Not all emails have a reason to click through to another destination, as many simply provide the relevant information in the email itself. Consider what your content is and whether or not people need to click.
Design of your email should match your brand. If you’re an interior designer and sending out an email, I would hope that it’s as beautifully designed as your interior designs are. Otherwise your brand and my customer expectations and not aligning at all.
Images can be blocked in email marketing, so make sure you have a ratio of copy text vs imagery. Email as a channel has evolved, and platforms like Playable allows you to embed video in your emails. Part of your content becomes interactive and making readers take more notice.
Clicking on content
The next step is driving readers to click through from your content, a common destination is clicking through to your website. This means design needs clear “call to action” buttons that tells people what you want them to do.
Testing the color of those buttons can actually make a big difference. If you’re always using red, red to most people means stop. A lot of people will try green because it means go and I’ve seen tests where orange outperforms green.
Words on buttons can bring big differences in performance. BUY NOW vs REGISTER NOW vs SUBSCRIBE NOW vs JOIN NOW, all have different perceptions to different people.
Subscribe Now can feel as if there is a fee associated with it, whereas Join Now feels as though there’s participation involved.
When readers do take that click, they go to a landing page. That design needs to match your email design, or readers are going to be confused. Make sure that the same colors, the same headlines, the same image that you used from the email is actually represented on the landing page.
For ecommerce sites, you should implement an abandoned cart process. The customer behavior is known: if a customer adds to their cart, they will receive an abandoned cart email that will give them a discount to finish the same purchase they always intended to complete.
Part of your automation are these triggered communications. Triggered communications mean that you can set up an automated response when a certain action takes place. For example, if I were to download a particular document, I might be sent an automatic email from that company saying, “ because you read X, you might be interested in Y”. Another example is the post-order delivery tracking.
The win-back email is where you can identify if you haven’t heard from a customer in a certain amount of time (a time delay), you’re going to try and lure them back to you, usually with a promotional offer.
Make sure all the links in your email campaign work – that they go where they’re supposed to, that the send name works, that the reply address is active and that it’s displaying correctly on all your devices.
Lastly, ensure to measure your success based on your objectives:
- Delivery rate – How many of the emails you sent actually get delivered into the inbox
- Open Rate – How many of the emails successfully delivered where opened
- Click Through Rate (CTR) – % of people who opened the email and clicked on your content
- Soft Bounce – Temporarily undeliverable
- Hard Bounce – Permanently undeliverable
- Unsubscribe Rate – % of people who unsubscribed from your database
- Conversion Rate – % of people who completed a conversion
Click through rates vary by industry and there are fantastic industry benchmark reports available. You can’t measure a retail email against a financial services email. They are very different industries. The consumer interaction is highly different.
Conversion rates will vary by dependent on the individual website. A 3% website conversion for retail is at the higher end of the scale. You have to determine what a ‘conversion’ is, as it might a sale, or a sign up to a newsletter, or watching a video. The best benchmark is one that you create from your own data, and aim to continually improve on it.
Everyone can do email marketing successfully, if you follow these steps outlined. Take one step at a time and you’ll become a master in no time.