I caught a little bit of the Christmas Story on television the other day.
I don't know about you, but the part when Mr. Parker receives the package containing the infamous leg lamp gets me every time.
"Must be Italian, frag-il-e", he says.
I bet if email marketing came in a box, it would be package with equally as much care.
When it comes down to it, producing a quality email marketing strategy is a rather fragile matter. While one delicately crafted email may award you a stream of engagement, one sour email has the ability to cost you a handful of valued subscribers.
While businesses and marketers are left teetering on a tight rope to email marketing success, creating and distributing the right emails to the right people can start to feel like a daunting task.
The important thing to keep in mind is that when executed the right way, email marketing works.
With 82% of consumers opening emails from companies, and 44% of email recipients having made a purchase at least once last year based on a promotional email, it's clear that taking the time to do email marketing right is worth the effort. (Source: Convinceandconvert.com / Litmus)
To make sure that you're able to unlock the potential of this marketing tool, we've come up with a list of email marketing best practices that should serve as a blueprint for your company to build and maintain a strong email subscriber list.
Find the Right Time
The corporate world is responsible for the 89 billion business emails that are sent and received each day. Over the next four years, this number is expected to go at an average annual rate of 13%, which will result in over 143 billion daily business emails by the end of 2016. (Source: The Radicati Group)
With all of this email flying around, how can your company be sure that your emails are receiving the type of attention that you feel they deserve?
The answer is not as simple as we'd like it be, however it does have a lot to do with timing.
They discovered that while promotional emails sent between 7 PM - 10 PM performed really well, a majority of emails sent between 10 PM - 6 AM fell into the "dead zone", proving to be an ineffective time frame.
The second most effective open time fell between 6 AM - 10 AM, followed by a "Do Not Disturb" period from 10 AM to 12 PM where many consumers are involved with their daily workload.
While in general open rates are highest in the morning, their research indicates that certain types of promotions perform better at different times through out the day. For example, holiday promotions saw a rise in open rates during the 5 PM - 7 PM timeframe.
While we wish as simple as declaring a universal time for all marketing emails to be sent, the timing varies depending on your industry and target audience.
Our best advice is to take note of the information put forth by researchers, and utilize A/B testing until you find a time frame that delivers the greatest results for you specific business.
Make Use of Segmentation
52% of marketers say they have a great need to improve email database segmentation. (Source: MarketingSherpa 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report)
The key to successful email communication is careful, and strategic list segmentation, as it eliminates your company's chance of coming off as spam-y.
Even if you only offer one product or service, It's likely that your business caters to more than one type of customer. These customer subcategories are also known as your buyer personas, and they serve as a critical defining aspect of the way you carry out your marketing efforts.
It's likely that your expanding list of email subscribers all fall at very different points within the sales funnel. Let's say, for example, that you are a commercial and residential contractor looking to send out an email about your new eBook, "How to Hire the Right Residential Contractor For Your Home Remodel"
Rather than blast the email out to all of your residential and commercial email subscribers, segment a list for just residential subscribers, perhaps even take it a step further and segment that list into subscribers that have filled out a form on your website already.
By generating a clear understanding of who your buyer personas are, and how they differ, your business can begin to divide your email marketing efforts so that they fall into the hands of the right people. Sending emails that apply and appeal to the audience they are intended for are more likely to garner the results that you expect.
If you still don't believe me, perhaps these stats will do the trick: 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue. (Source: Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report )
Make Sure the Content is Useful
What type of value does your email bring to the recipients? If you're scratching your head, then don't hit send!
To ensure that you are providing your email subscriber list with enough reason to continue on with their subscription, you must learn to place a heavy emphasis on creating the type of content people want to receive.
What does quality content entail? Well, there are a few different ways to go about the email content creation process:
- Pull from your own experiences - Consider the steps your business has taken to achieve the level of success you stand upon today. A newsletter is often a great way to keep people up to date with what's going on at your end. What strategies is your company employing? What resources are you pulling inspiration from?
- Answer your buyer persona's questions - Try doing a little research on social media, or online discussion forums to uncover what pain points are specific to your ideal customers. By answering the questions that they have, you'll be able to effectively prove your credibility as valuable source of information.
- Focus on educational content - If you've got a library of offers, whether it is eBooks, webinars, whitepapers, or infographics, find a way to incorporate these resources into your emails. Knowledge-based content allows your company to set themselves apart, as it highlights your expertise, and works towards making it simple for your subscribers to visualize your worth.
Some Unsubscribers Can't Be Saved
There are currently 3.3 billion worldwide email accounts in existence, and this number is expected to increase to 4.3 billion by the end of 2016. (Source: The Radicati Group)
That's a lot of email accounts, but lets face it, they're not all going to love you.
The cold hard truth is that despite your best email marketing efforts, you are bound to lose a subscriber every now and then.
Like a bad break-up, sometimes it's hard to move on. However, you don't have to make it harder than it needs to be.
Whenever you lose a few subscribers, take the time to sit down and take a look at your current email marketing strategy. Try to identify what areas need improvement, and what areas seem to be delivering the best results. The "it's not you, it's me" cliché doesn't necessarily apply to each and every subscriber lost, in fact, sometimes there is nothing more or less you could have done to prevent it.
Rather than let a few unsubscribers get you down, use it at motivation to continue to create, innovate, and produce email content worth reading.
Find a way to end things on a positive note. Sometimes a touch of humor can go a long way, for example, HubSpot came up with this witty way to handle their unsubscribers: