Most of us have tried email marketing for our business. We have all been on the receiving end of it. You have all unsubscribed from more email marketing than you have probably responded to, right? Me too.
Have a single call to action. There’s no need to cram multiple messages into one email communication. Ian Laverty, Ingenuity
Does that mean that it has had its day? Not yet. It remains a vital component of your digital marketing and, when executed properly, can still bring you more leads per £1 of marketing spend than SEO or social media.
My favourite definition of email marketing defines it as “…all about leveraging the speed and convenience of email to communicate important messages, updates, tips and promotions to recipients that have opted into receiving such messages.”
There are some simple tips and techniques that can help any business get the most out of email marketing. Let me run through my top do’s and don’ts to help you maximise the response you get to your emails.
Firstly, let’s think about that definition. Particularly the section “to recipients that have opted into receiving such messages.” The importance of this cannot be emphasised enough. If someone has subscribed to your email list, or at least given you permission to communicate with them via email, they are at the very least interested in your company or the services that you offer whether that’s property purchase, rental, management or sale.
Do not buy a list, particularly in this industry sector. The chances of you buying a list of email addresses that have a significant proportion of individuals interested in your services is low. Very low. If you have compiled a list yourself from customers, enquirers and referrals then you know you have an audience that is (or has been and could be again) interested. Immediately you have overcome the spamming problem. If you have permission, if you are known to the recipient and if they are interested in your properties or your services then you are not spam.
Pick an email software provider that enables you to create well designed and professional emails. There are plenty of free or low cost options that are perfect for most businesses. We use one ourselves without paying a penny. Options include Mailchimp, Constant Contact InfusionSoft, Dotmailer and Aweber. These software providers are web based and enable even the most technophobe amongst us to craft emails that appear to have been produced in a design studio. Remember, your marketing communication is a representation of your brand. Looking professional is a must.
As well as enabling you to design emails that look professional and well designed, these email tools also enable you to track your campaign success. All of the providers listed above will enable you to track your send, receive, open and click-through success rate. At its simplest level it lets you know which of your messages get the best interaction and can inform future marketing activity. At a deeper level you can use it for lead generation but I will come back to that later.
Make it funny, interesting or cryptic – but ask yourself, “Would I read this?
Next, make your emails useful and informative and get the content right. When designing emails for marketing communications the 80/20 rule works well. That is 80 per cent text, 20 per cent images. Do not cram too much into each email. Have a single call to action. If it is a database of recipients who want to hear from you then there is no need to cram multiple messages into one email communication. Create campaigns and use email to support marketing messages that are consistent across all of your marketing media (social media, web, posters, flyers, direct mail, and so forth). Marketing works best when it is joined up and email is an important component of this.
To give your email the best chance of being read it has to stand out in the inbox. The first challenge is to get into the inbox. That means avoiding words in your subject heading that are often used in your typical spam fodder. Words like ‘sale’, ‘guaranteed’, ‘Act now’ and especially ‘free’ are almost certain to see your message filtered out by any reasonable junk mail filter. Similarly, using ALL CAPITALS in the subject heading is a big no-no. If you are using one of the email marketing tools mentioned earlier then they will enable you to test a subject heading to give you an indication of its likely success rate. Make it interesting, funny or even cryptic but as with all marketing give it the real acid test: Ask yourself objectively ‘If I received that would I be interested?’ If you answer ‘no’ to this then so will your customers.
Call to action
Do have a clear call to action. This stands alongside having a single marketing message rather than multiple messages in each communication, but what do you want the recipient to do as a result of receiving the email? Get in touch? Arrange a viewing? Have you come round and value my home? Whatever that call to action is, make it obvious and make it easy.
Link your email communication to additional content such as your website (or a Facebook page or Linkedin Company Page for example). We have very short attention spans when it comes to digital media. We do not have a lot of words to hook somebody and if we think an email looks loaded with too much information we will not even try to digest it. There is therefore a requirement to say enough to generate an interest via the email but then offer additional information via a click-through to the web. Again, the email marketing software tool will enable you to track those that have clicked through to additional content so you can see which messages are working for you and which ones get little or no return.
Do ensure that the email marketing tool that you use enables mobile optimisation. This is absolutely essential. According to Experian in June 2014 around 48 per cent of all emails are now opened on a smartphone device. If the email is not optimised for the device it is opened on then the same research shows that it will be deleted rather than maintained for perusal on a laptop/PC at a later time. Most of us adopt the ‘use it or lose it’ approach to emails that we receive on a smartphone device. We do something with it there and then or we remove it from our inbox via the delete option. Having the email received via a smartphone is a good thing for us as businesses. When we are browsing on a smartphone device we are considerably more likely to do something with information when we receive it if it appeals to us. According to Google 86 per cent of us take an action when we interact with a business’ website on a smartphone device if it is mobile optimised. This is referred to as action oriented browsing’. Having mobile optimised emails and mobile optimised web content is vital for businesses today therefore.
Email marketing should not be a stand-alone activity within a business. It should support marketing campaigns but it should also stimulate sales activity. In the modern world we can’t expect to send out a marketing communication via any media, whether it is email, newspaper advert of direct mail, and expect the phones to ring of the hook. That just does not happen very often to small local businesses. It needs to be followed up by your sales effort. Again, that is where these email marketing tools can be extremely beneficial. When you use one of these tools to send an email marketing campaign the tracking element becomes a key identifier of potential leads. At the most basic tracking level these tools will let you identify who has received the email and who has opened it.
Taking it a level further, most of these tools will tell you how many times that email has been opened by each recipient. The campaign results report will then give you the opportunity to filter and sort the data by how many times a recipient has opened an email.
We can sort recipients by the number of times that they have opened a marketing email we have sent out with the highest at the top of the list and those that have not opened it at the bottom.
As a general rule in our business, if a recipient has opened an email twice or more we will follow that up with a phone call. If a recipient has opened it once that could be to look at it before they delete it. If they open it twice or more then there was something in it that caught their eye and made them return to the email… That is a potential lead.
Email is still an important part of the digital marketing mix. It must be used with a database that you have confidence in and that you have collated yourself. The recipients must be interested in your products, your services and/or your company or you will just be spam.
When they are however it remains the most cost-effective way of keeping up profile for your business and putting important information in the hands (literally with the proliferation of smartphones) of your customers. It should look professional and well designed and it should be informative without being too pushy. It should support other marketing campaigns and it should be followed up with proactive sales activity. If you can get the basics right then the results will follow.