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Email Marketing, Pt. 3: The Top 10 Things You Need To Know

HDM Admin - Thursday, April 03, 2014

Creating the perfect email marketing campaign is no easy task. It's truly a science as well as an art form, and effective recipes are inevitably going to differ between each business and industry. However, there are good guidelines to follow, and a set of rules you should be playing by, no matter who you are. Below, we've organized a concise and comprehensive list of things to keep in mind as you embark on your Email Marketing odyssey.


1. Website Content


How does the content of your actual website read? If you haven't given it much love lately, you might want to revisit it before drafting any email campaigns. After all, the end goal is to draw people back to your website. If your marketing campaign hooks them and brings them back to mediocre content, all will have been for naught! And we can't have that. So make sure the foundation you lay is as sturdy as it can possibly be before inviting people to explore it.


2. The List


You want your message to reach the best audience possible. This doesn't necessarily mean the biggest audience possible. We're after quality, not quantity, and most of the time, it's not worth watering down your message to appease a broader circle. So you need to choose carefully. But where to find the kind and volume you're looking for?


This comes from market research, and developing an understanding of your target audience. If you already have email subscribers, try to identify how they came to be subscribers, and why. Make use of social media outlets and client referrals. Get people talking and making comments on your blog. Plus, it never hurts to do some real-world scouting in the interest of the almighty list. Always remember, there's no better teacher than trial & error.


3. What Kind of Content?


There are a lot of avenues you can pursue to this end, but it should ultimately be a reflection of what kind of business you are. Your readers may get more out of straight-forward written content. Or, your readers may get more out of pictures of your latest products or events. Depending on who you're marketing to, your content will inevitably change. Trial & error comes in as an effective teaching tool here, as well, and you should keep this question in mind as you develop the idea of who exactly your target audience is. The possibilities are virtually limitless, so have yourself some fun as you tinker around with different ideas.


4. Less Is More


This refers to both the text, as well as the graphics. Studies show that people respond better to plain text emails rather than fancy html shenanigans (that's what your website's for, after all). And with attention spans at a steady decline, it's best to try and use the smallest amount of words possible. It's challenging to be informative and concise at the same time, but if you can use smaller sentences that pack a punch, you'll be far better off, and the call-to-action will be much clearer. When it comes to emails, you must be sensitive of people's time (or lack thereof).


5. Treat Them Well


The people who are going to respond to your campaign, and ultimately sign up for a newsletter certainly don't have to. So you have to make it worth their while. In fact, you should be treating your subscribers like royalty. Whether this means alerting them to specific sales or events before anyone else, or providing exclusive content, you must reward them for following you. Don't just drone on about your business – only discuss things that will ultimately benefit them. Otherwise, why else should they care?


6. Know Your Goals From The Get-Go


Are you trying to bring readers back to your site? Are you trying to showcase an exciting new product? Perhaps you just want your readers to tell their friends by sharing it on Facebook. By knowing the ultimate end-game of your email marketing campaign, you can craft the body of your text, and more importantly, your call-to-action, around these objectives.


7. Make A Schedule, And Stick To It


The frequency with which you send out emails may change and develop over time as you find yourself settling into a comfortable newsletter routine. However, the sooner you reach a spot where you're delivering consistently, the better. A good rule of thumb when starting out is to try and send an email to your subscribers once a month. This will give you plenty of time to craft the perfect message, and you won't be overwhelming any inboxes.


As you go on, you may find that you've got enough to say and showcase to be sending out a message every week. A lot of sites will even send out small updates or novelties every other day. You need to find the pace that's right for you, but more than anything, once you find it, commit to it. Consumers like consistency.


Finally, once you have the details of your sending frequency nailed down, it helps to integrate this work into your day-to-day routine. Tinker with it for ten minutes every day before lunch, or for the last hour before leaving the office. Consistency in the creative aspect of it will help maintain the content's potency and cohesiveness. It will make it easier for you to work on, and easier for your recipients to read.


8. Measure Open Rates & Click-Through Rates


What a world we live in. Marketing was a lot less quantifiable a few years ago, when all of those tangible letters sent through the mail were done so on faith alone. Business owners had to send out their newsletters, never knowing how many of them were opened or how many led to an effective call-to-action. Now we can know. When you utilize your custom HDM website for your email marketing campaign, you will be alerted to Open Rates and Click-Through Rates.


Open Rates tell you how many people opened your email, and Click-Through Rates tell you how many people participated in the respective call-to-action of that email, whether it was clicking through to your website or watching the video you posted. Later in this series of blog posts, we'll be talking more about how best to analyze and make use of these statistics, so stay tuned. But in the meantime, be aware of all the tools in your tool belt. Never has there been a better way to measure the triumphs and pitfalls of your marketing efforts.


9. Quality Content Over Time


Great email marketing content comes from knowing the wants and needs of your target audience. Pay attention to how people are behaving on your site. Suppose you have an e-commerce function: you can see who is buying what, and how many people may have come close to making a purchase before changing their mind. In this way, your marketing campaign can, over the course of your sending schedule, highlight popular products, or discuss items going on sale or that are nearly out of stock.


If you have a blog on your site, do your best to foster community participation. There you can identify what topics people are responding to, and model your campaign around that. Talk about new events that are happening, and try to get people to RSVP on Facebook. Or, you can always make videos, perform interviews, or do polls. The possibilities are endless.


Whatever you do, it bears repeating that you must put emphasis on the benefits the recipients will experience by following through with your call-to-action. A little creativity goes a long way, so just try to think outside the box, even a little bit. If nothing else, you can always take to the Internet for inspiration, where many others have been writing and analyzing effective campaign ideas for years.


10. The Subject Line is Holy


So holy, in fact, that the first two posts in this series centered solely around the 40 – 50 characters that comprise a subject line. There's a bit to be said on the matter, so we invite you to check out the earlier posts in our blog if you haven't done so already.


EmailMarketing, Pt. 1: The Subject Line


EmailMarketing, Pt. 2: Subject Line Research


For now, it suffices to restate the simple truth that: the best email campaigns in the world can get sent straight to the trash bin or marked as spam if the subject line makes a poor first impression. That being the case, this facet of your campaign deserves an enormous amount of attention.


We hope you found these ideas helpful, and we wish you the best as you hone your email marketing skills. Stay tuned as we continue to explore the science / art of this vast online tool, and please Call or Contact Us at any point for more information.

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