I have a not-so-secret confession: I dislike receiving emails. Oftentimes I feel like certain brands and businesses are spamming me with boring content and information that’s completely irrelevant to my life. On average, I’d say I delete about 70% of the emails I receive before even bothering to open them. These are usually promotional ones offering me discounts on things I neither need nor want, or are simply advertisements with my name attached to make them seem more “personal”. And don’t even get me started on unsubscribing – hitting the “unsubscribe button” and getting another email notification telling me I’ve unsubscribed from a list. Doesn’t that seem awfully redundant to you too? Recently, though, I went through my inbox and cleaned it out. And I discovered something: some emails actually contain really relevant and compelling content, but these are very much outnumbered by the spam-like ones. It’s time for brands to fix this problem.
Email marketing can be used for brand awareness, lead generation and conversion, and customer retention. Social media trends change drastically, and organic reach is being removed as an option on many sites such as Facebook. Email allows businesses to reach consumers organically, and at a level that often feels more personal than with other channels. Companies like MailChimp and TinyLetter specialize in helping people and businesses send great emails, and they send millions of emails every day. Email is crazy cost-effective, and has a ridiculously high ROI to boot: for every $1 spent on email marketing the average return is $44.25, which makes it nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook or Twitter. And just like other forms of inbound marketing, it all comes down to the content in your message. Remember when people used to get excited about having a full inbox (we’re talking Kathleen Kelly, 1990s-level excited, people!)? Well, delivering the right content at the right time to the right segment might get your mailing list looking forward to your messages again, and not selecting “unsubscribe”.
How do you find out what my audience is interested in and finds valuable, you ask? Segmentation and listening, of course! Combining your emails with other inbound channels like social media guarantees contact, as well as looking at your email reports and analytics helps you become fully-attentive and listen to what your leads and current customers are saying. A/B testing anything you can in your emails really helps businesses and brands discover what works and what doesn’t – and you can really split test about anything, from call-to-action buttons to even the text. But this is only part of making your content and emails personal. Tailoring each email to the person who’s receiving it (both in the subject line as well as throughout the copy) deepens your relationship with your recipient and helps them feel connected to you.
Both Hubspot and Constant Contact have lists regarding the best practices of email, and how it can extend your reach and increase your ROI. Here are some commonalities and highlights:
- Treat your contacts like the real people they are
- Keep your subject line short and simple, and to the point
- Go beyond the inbox: Integrate social media, blogs, and more with your email and include links to all these within your copy
- Don’t use a purchased list: Always ask permission, and request that your recipients opt-in (not opt-out)
- Make sure to follow up with your emails, and find out what your readers do and don’t like
- Segment and personalize your list based off interests, stage in the buying process, demographics, and more
- Focus on the benefits! Why does subscribing to your list, getting your newsletter, or buying your product benefit them?
Things like newsletters consistently add value to your recipient’s lives, and give them informational content they can look forward to (as opposed to only the promotional variety); According to The New York Times, “An email newsletter generally shows up in your inbox because you asked for it and it includes links to content you have deemed relevant. In other words, it’s important content you want in list form, which seems like a suddenly modern approach.” This also follows the 80/20 rule of inbound marketing: 80% informational content, 20% promotional. We look to our inbox for a variety of things, such as news, social content, and yes, promotional messages. By optimizing emails to cater and add to that variety of content, businesses extend their reach and turn leads into customers easily and organically in ways that other channels simply don’t allow for.