The rise of social media and blogging have led many marketers to question whether email is still a relevant channel in their marketing strategy. So let’s look at the numbers. Worldwide there are almost 3 times more email accounts (4.4bn) than the number of users on Facebook (1.1bn) and Twitter (500m) combined. Email is also a more active channel than Facebook and Twitter, producing 45bn emails per day, against 4.7bn shares of Facebook content, and 400m tweets, and that’s not including spam emails.
It is safe to say that email is alive and well. So if you want to reach a large audience, email marketing is a valuable tool that shouldn’t be ignored. Here are five essential top tips for effective email marketing:
1. Manage your database
Poor quality data is probably the biggest barrier to effective email marketing. Your client database is the most powerful tool you can have as an email marketer, so make sure you’re using this information to tailor the content and relevance of your emails down to a customer level. Segment your data into as many groups as your resource can manage, and send each group emails that are relevant to them. It is also important that you keep your database up to date, and clean. Process any unsubscribes, and remove hard-bounces and undeliverables to make sure you email reputation isn’t harmed.
2. Optimise your emails for mobile
Mobile data traffic is skyrocketing. In 2012 mobile data traffic was nearly 12 times that of the entire global internet in the year 2000. It’s predicted that mobile data traffic will increase by 300% by 2017 and as of January 2013 mobile represented 43 per cent of all email opens. But while companies adjust their websites for mobile visitors, few are doing the same with their emails. Emails not optimised for smartphone and tablet viewing give your recipients a very bad experience, and often get deleted. With this is mind responsive design is the best approach, and makes your email look good on all screens in all sizes – mobile, tablet and desktop.
3. Timely and relevant content
Being relevant is still relevant! The most important moment to you as an email marketer is the point at which your customer’s attention is at its peak – for example, immediately after signing up for emails, or abandoning their shopping basket. This is when a personalised event-driven email containing relevant content and a clear call to action can make all the difference not only to your opens and click-through rates, but also ultimately to loyalty and retention levels.
4. Test, test, test
Testing is possibly email marketing’s worst kept secret. And yet so many businesses still don’t do it. It’s difficult to know what to do next if you don’t know what’s working (or not) for you now. Unless you are sure beyond doubt that the time of day, day of the week, subject lines and other elements of your email campaigns are working as hard as they can for you, then you should have a testing plan in place. Split-testing is the most effective way to learn more about your audience and improve open and click-through rates.
5. While we’re ‘on the subject’…
Your subject lines are fundamental to your campaign open rates. They are the interface between your email and your customer, and are one of the primary drivers behind your customer’s decision to open your email or not. Days of work on responsive design templates and content could all be for nothing if your customer never actually sees the thing. So what makes a good subject line? Keep it short – subject lines under 35 characters perform best. Keep it relevant and accurate to what’s inside – don’t frustrate your customers by fooling them with a misleading subject line.
Keep it relevant, timely, don’t forget to optimise for mobile. And when in doubt, test.
Keredy Andrews is an account director at Punch Communications. Serving a wide range of clients, from start-ups to global brands, across the integrated disciplines of SEO, PR and social media.