Email marketing continues to be a sensitive subject for marketers and business owners. I’ve been using mass email as a marketing tool since 1997 and it surprises me how many people are still afraid to send email to their prospects and customers.
I want to share some important research from report published by Aberdeen Group: Email Marketing: Customers Take it Personally (Dec 2010). Here is a quick summary of points that may impact your business.
The best-in-class companies:*
- deploy technology solutions far more frequently and at a much greater rate. (translation–they are using software programs to help them automate and analyze their email marketing campaigns.)
- use technology solutions that very clearly support the top strategic goals of tracking and reporting email campaign results and personalizing content to speak directly to customers and prospects more effectively. (translation–they pick the right tool to help them accomplish their goals.)
- turn to marketing automation and campaign management more readily because of its ability to execute marketing programs efficiently and report on their results more effectively.
- avoid the fundamental error of just “shooting out an email.”
- expand success by employing technology to deliver powerful messages to the best targets at the appropriate time in additional incremental steps.
- study and predict what customers want by using analytics.
- invest more money in their overall email marketing efforts.
- measure their email effectiveness 1-2 times per week.
- alter email content more than once a week.
- ensure contact databases are cleaned and optimized.
What can you start doing today?
1. Review Email Marketing Plan
Review your assets, tools, and strategies to make sure that your plan aligns with your business goals, assets align with your customers/prospects, and tools are capable of providing the delivery options and data you need to succeed.
2. Nurture your leads
Use auto-responder series (i.e., drip campaigns) effectively throughout your sales channel. Don’t be afraid to sift out your better prospects with a longer series (15+ emails).
3. No Spray and Pray
Do not just “shoot out” emails. Create a plan and think ahead to what your prospects are looking for. If you have a monthly newsletter, make sure you send out at least 1-2 emails in addition to your monthly newsletter to keep your list attentive.
4. Always be compliant
The research showed that 34% of the Laggard* organizations were not following the regulatory standards. This is a lazy and reckless approach. The standards are not difficult to follow and the punitive damages are high. See CAN-SPAM Act
5. Test your subject lines
A great email tactic is by resending the same email to your unopened list with a different subject. They didn’t open the first one but they may pay attention to a different headline. If you have low open rates try being more creative.
Example Subject: Dr. Dentist January Newsletter
Changes to: I bet you didn’t know you had this hiding in your teeth
6. Try out different content
Who says you need to stick to the same format for every email? Use images in some and only text in others. If your open rates are low you may have too much content. If you’re sending out articles, only include the first paragraph with a link out to your blog (yes — you should have a blog).
7. Clean up your database
Remove contacts with inaccurate and undeliverable email data. This will give you better data when reviewing your campaigns for success.
8. Spend money
Don’t be afraid to spend some money and hire talent that can help you get your act together. Email marketing is a specialty and your graphic designer is not going to have the expertise to help you make the critical decisions necessary to accomplish your goals.
Keep emailing and refining your plan to take advantage of every opportunity throughout your sales channels. Don’t just focus on building newsletters. Integrate with your sales process by offering free content to prospects and add them into a series of auto-responders (i.e., drip campaign) to build their interest and then make the call at the appropriate time. Send out offers, letters, and most importantly send “Thank You” emails to your top customers. You can’t afford not to be using email in your marketing toolkit.
*see report for distinction between Best-in-Class, Average, and Laggard.