With mobile, social media and big data (still having a problem with it?) maturing into mainstream trends, it seems traditional email marketing is bound for the history books.
Or is it? Amid all this innovation and game-changing, there is a strong case for our humble mailing lists remaining the best digital channel for generating revenue.
The Year of Email Marketing?
2013 was the year of mobile, and 2014 the year that big data adoption went mainstream. But according to eConsultancy, email is not going anywhere.
In their recent industry census of over 1,100 in-house marketers, 68% of respondents rated email as “Excellent” or “Good” for ROI.
This is not surprising in light of the following about email marketing:
It is a one-to-one medium
Email marketing thrives on the personal touch. Being one-to-one, it can be used to build more personal relationships at all stages of the funnel. Even in B2B, people make decisions – and emails are a good way to address them directly. LinkedIn’s InMail feature also works along the same lines.
It does not require huge investments
Emails require less cost, time and manpower when compared to other marketing channels like videos and direct mail. Nor does it need constant management like for social media channels. Email creatives also tend to be quicker to produce as per eConsultancy’s insights, allowing for more agile campaigns.
It allows for better tracking, measurement and improvement
The one-to-one nature of engagement allows for more accurate tracking. Depending on the audience size, you can filter out recipients who have opened your email or clicked on a link inside it. You can then take individual conversations forward with reminders, acknowledgements and even more focused, targeted emails.
It is permission marketing in action
Email is a non-intrusive form of marketing once a relationship is established. After first contact with a prospect, emails let you showcase your offerings in the privacy of your recipient’s inbox – where many tend to be more receptive.
How To Reach Inboxes The Right Way
That is not to paint too rosy a picture of email marketing. Only 42% of the eConsultancy census participants rate their email campaigns as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’. There is still a lot of room for improvement. How can make your emails more effective?
1. Keep emails short and snappy
With the content deluge, increasing on-the-go content consumption and decreasing attention spans, no one reads emails word-to-word, least of all Millennials. State the main point of the email and the readers’ pain points you are trying to address up-front. Use ample white space to keep the email content digestible.
2. Keep email subject lines short and snappy too
Surveys show different results for the optimum number of words for better open rates. But as a general rule, keep it between 6-10 words, make it attention-grabbing and avoid special characters.
3. Personalise for better open rates
Emails with the recipient’s name in the subject line have a 10% better chance of being opened, as shown by an Eloqua survey. Even in the email body, addressing your recipient directly can snap them out of any distractions and pay attention to your words.
4. Experiment with timing and frequency of emails
Weekends are generally the best time for sending emails. You could also try sending at other times of the week occasionally and observe the click-through rates. Also experiment with the frequency of your emails to find the optimum balance between click-through rate and leads.
5. Automate to optimise
Automate your emails to respond to your prospects’ behaviour. Pre-set triggers for website sign-up, acknowledgement, newsletters and product releases – and save a lot of time and resources for your email campaigns.
Automation also helps create more relevant communications by gathering information about your active email recipients – 83% of companies cite this as the main benefit of marketing automation, according to eConsultancy.
6. Keep testing to find that perfect email
The best-designed email with the catchiest copy means nothing if it is not opened. Conduct A/B testing by sending out different versions of the same campaign to different portions of your database. Analyse the open rates for each portion to see what works best. Use the test results in your next campaign and repeat for continuous improvement.
7. Capture the booming mobile market
With emails now being read on-the-go, you can’t afford to not optimise your emails for mobile, to cater to ‘one thumb, one eyeball’ users. Keep the copy length to two scroll-downs, call-to-action prominent and at the top, and the design easy to navigate. Make sure your image file sizes are suited to device screen for quick loading. Invest in responsive templates which offer various options for each of these.
Unlike many social media pundits and mobile marketing gurus would have you believe, email marketing is alive and well. It’s just a question of how far you can take it to drive revenue. And the answer is – as far as you want.
What is the status of your email marketing efforts? How do you aim to utilise this channel more effectively in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments below.