Email marketing must do’s
Email marketing is a core part of many small businesses’ marketing activity. But, as a Mailchimp Partner regularly reviewing accounts for clients, we see a lot of strange practices. This article aims to point out those strange practices and give you some guidance on what you should be doing. Here are 11 tips to help you improve your email marketing…
1. Stop sending everything to everyone
This is probably the biggest mistake we see people do. No matter whether you have a few dozen, or many 1,000s of people in your mailing list, don’t send every email campaign you produce to every person on the list. It just annoys people and increases the number of people who unsubscribe.
You sell multiple products/services to multiple types of people who use what you sell in various ways. Each campaign should only go to the contacts it is relevant for. By segmenting your audience, based on the information you have about them, you will:
- Increase open & click-through rates & your email marketing performance.
- Improve the relationship between your business and your target audience(s).
2. Have more information about your contacts
All you need, at least theoretically, is an email address to add someone to your mailing list. You can then start sending campaigns to them. This leads to a range of different problems for you, and your email marketing performance:
- You cannot add those contacts to segments and focus your email campaigns.
- You lose the ability to personalise. How do you feel when an email greeting just says “Hi,”?
- Timing is important in marketing, but how can you time your emails more effectively without any information to use?
Collect more information
Depending on your account type, Mailchimp allows you to use up to 30 (80 for premium accounts) audience fields for each contact. Combined with Groups, Segments and Tags, you can add a huge amount of information to your contact records. Using that information to make your emails more relevant, and therefore useful, improves your email marketing performance. Sending a campaign asking people to update their information can help you with this; it will only take a few minutes to set up and send.
3. Don’t use irrelevant subject lines
Your open rate is affected by the quality of the subject line more than anything else. A poor subject line generates poor open rates – and then impacts everything else too. A new client of mine recently sent out an email to a cold list with the subject line of “A quick catch-up?” The open rate was less than 2% – why would anyone open it?
Grab their attention!
Subject lines need to pique curiosity, especially if it is to a contact list that knows very little about you. I’ve seen people recommend subject lines like “Don’t miss out” or “Take a peek at…”. As we have been recommending you segment your audience, you should know your target personas and be able to draft subject lines that talk about the pain or what success looks like. When we run a campaign to promote this article, the subject line is likely to be along the lines of “Are you happy with your email marketing performance?” or “Get better email marketing results with these steps”.
Testing different lines will give you better results.
4. Make sure you are testing
Email marketing platforms provide A/B testing (sometimes call split testing) options that allow you to test, and improve, your email marketing campaigns. Testing means that most of your audience get the best performing campaigns.
If you’re testing subject lines, write 2-3 (depending on how many people in your mailing list) and then split 50% of your list over those subject lines. Whichever line wins after (usually) four hours is then sent to the remaining 50%. That way the best content has gone to 67+% of your audience.
Test both subject lines and content
You may want to test both subject lines and content, but don’t be tempted to test both at the same time. If you do, how do you know which criteria produced the best results?
5. Make use of merge tags
Merge tags take data from an audience field and insert it into your email. This can be in the subject line, the preview or the main body. Most people will know that their name/company name has been inserted in this way, but when people see their name, it grabs their attention. They are far more likely to then act on the message, especially a compelling one.
Make use of merge tags
But use them sparingly. Inserting lots will have the opposite effect.
6. Don’t add too many Calls to Action
When you send someone a marketing email, you want them to engage. You want them to, for example, click on an offer and buy something. Alternatively, you may want them to read an article. If you put too many links and buttons into your email marketing campaigns, you reduce the number of people who will do what you want them to do. The more opportunities people have to click, the less likely they are to pick the one you want them to.
Add text links and buttons
if your main call to action is a big bold button, add a link, early in the text, to the same place. People often click the first link they come to, so by doing this you increase the number of people who go where you want them to go.
7. Make sure you have some Calls to Action
At the opposite end of the scale, I see campaigns going out with no calls to action, or just email reply clicks. The easier, and less scary, you make it for people to engage with your marketing, the better. With >70% of the sales process often taking place before a buyer talks to sales person, offering only an email link, for example, will put lots of people off.
8. Add a sign off section
When you email someone from Outlook or gmail, you have a block at the bottom, starting with “kind regards” or something similar. So why do you not have one on your email marketing campaigns? People love to engage with people so why make your emails come from a faceless organisation?
For small businesses, this is even more important. The owner of many small businesses is the figurehead. The person people want to engage with; the person they think of when your company name is in their head. As companies grow, they will be more people who become the face of the business, but people still want to engage with people. A sign-off block helps people to imagine that face and your brand.
Multiple ways to get hold of you
We recommend you include multiple ways to get hold of your small business in your sign off block. Not everyone wants to go via your website; some want to talk directly to you.
9. Send the email campaign again
When you send an email marketing campaign, XX% will open it. But that leaves a lot of others who didn’t. Some will see it, but ignore it because of the subject line. Some will simply miss it because of the amount of emails they get and how busy they are.
Sending a campaign again will get more people reading it and doing what you want them to do. But, please, only send it to those who didn’t open it first time! All email marketing platforms have tools that allow you to filter your audience – some are better than others.
You should send this second version at a different time of day and within 24-72 hours of the first one to maximise the success of this one. You should see a 25-50% uplift in email opens.
Your email campaigns are there to get the contacts within your mailing list to engage; to do what you want them to do. But sometimes, especially when you have a high ticket value, they need a nudge. Do you look at what your contacts have been doing and then follow up? If not, you’re missing out on sales.
Choose who to follow up first
Use the contact rating (Mailchimp term) or equivalent to identify the people who are frequently opening and clicking on your campaigns. Call them or email them from your personal account to follow up and help them towards buying from you. Look at what they have been clicking on to identify what is of interest – and therefore what to talk about.
11. Make sure your campaigns go out regularly
As the last of our email marketing tips for improving your email marketing performance, make sure you are sending regularly. Too frequently and you will annoy people (leading to unsubscribes), but too infrequently and you run the risk of people forgetting who you are.
Regularity you can commit to
If you find yourself with plenty of time, don’t increase the frequency of your emails, as people will come to expect more from you. Something you may not be able to deliver when you get busy again. Far better to use the time to generate the campaigns, and then schedule them to go out at a frequency you know you can maintain when you are busy.
We hope these 11 email marketing tips help you to improve your email marketing performance. If you need any more guidance or would like an independent review of your email marketing, let us know. As a Mailchimp Partner, we can review your Mailchimp account without needing your log-in details and without using a precious seat. We do also review other platforms.