The death of email has long been prophesied and has never seemed to materialise. Social networks, OTT technologies like What’s App and the iMessage have changed the way we communicate Peer 2 Peer but email is still the primary channel for businesses reaching consumers and businesses talking to other businesses. After all the advent of TV didn’t kill the radio. Email done well can be your key revenue-generating channel, done badly it can cause serious damage to your reputation. Below we have listed five key points to consider when developing an effective email strategy:
To develop an email marketing strategy you need email addresses. Not any old email addresses, the email addresses you send to need to have explicitly opted in to receive communications from you. For a B2B business this can be from a sign-up form for newsletters or collected from trade shows, or call centres. For B2C businesses we would suggest that the emails you collect should be from your opted in customers, or from newsletter subscribers. And, once you have this data, make sure it is managed regularly. A good ESP (Email Service Provider) like MailChimp will regularly clean unsubscribes and hard-bounces. Our golden rules are:
- Never buy lists
- Never share lists
- Never assume an opt-in
- Have a process for un-subscribes (automation)
If you sell to businesses, do all of your customers buy the same product from you? Probably not. Similarly, do all apparel eCommerce websites sell identical products to identical people? If so great, if not, segment. Create different lists within your email database and create a strategy for each. In both a B2B and B2C context you could segment by spend, product category or demographic. Develop a contact strategy for each segment based around relevance. Like your Mum always used to say ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’.
Be clear whom the email is from
Never send emails from @noreply or @sales – a sender’s name is one of the biggest drivers in the email opening prioritisation processes. Remember, without opens you can’t get clicks and without clicks you can’t get sales. Our advice would be to personalise a piece of email communication as much as possible, both in the sender name (from you) and in the body of the email. Remember the advice of Seth Godin (the Godfather of permission marketing), the objective is to turn strangers into friends and friends into customers. No one wants to be a friend of ‘[email protected]’.
Test, test, test
The old accepted wisdom on the best time and day to send emails is between Tuesday and Thursday and between 10 – 12pm and 2pm – 4pm for B2B and between 7pm and 9pm for B2C. However, the advent and proliferation of mobile devices has completely disrupted these assumptions. More emails are now opened on mobile devices than desktops. The split will obviously vary between B2C and between B2B and types of customer you want to engage with. The only way to know how you can truly increase the open rates for your business is to try. Split test on send time, on headline, on message copy and design. A good tip we find is that ‘click-bait’ subject lines tend to work best. Ask a question and answer it in the email, then truly answer the question by directing people to some engaging content on your website. Take advantage of effective communication techniques to get your message read and understood by your audience.
An off the shelf ESP will allow for an incredible level of insight. As well as the split testing features mentioned above, you will also understand what time of day people open your emails, where they are and even who they are using the assumed geo-demographic information inferred by the ESP. Analysing these reports after a period of testing will help you not only shape the content that resonates with your email audience, but your email strategy itself. The reporting features will instruct what content, at what time and day should be sent to maximise your business objectives.
The points above are non-exhaustive. You also need to consider your email design, testing on different mail clients as well as a whole host of data storage questions brought about by the impending GDPR legislation.