Email Marketing 101: 6 Things to Consider When Sending Your First Campaign
Welcome to the second installment in our new three-part series on email marketing! If you haven’t read the first post yet, you can catch up here. In that post, things got a little philosophical. We talked about the importance of finding your email marketing ‘why’ and gave some great examples of companies that really nailed purpose-driven marketing.
But now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty: creating and deploying your first campaign. Picking up where we left off in our last post, we’ve pulled together a list of six key factors to consider before hitting send on that first newsletter, in order to set yourself up for success. Like any other content marketing activity, the potential rewards for a job well-done are tremendous -- but unless you put careful thought and consideration into your work, you will ultimately be left disappointed.
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Consideration #1: Your Service Provider
Once you have determined what you want your first email to say, the next step is finding a service that will help you send it. While MailChimp and AWeber are arguably the most popular, there are a variety of service providers to choose from. Here are 10 of the top options, according to the Awwwards team. One service not on this list is TinyLetter, operated by MailChimp. This free service is a great option for those looking for a simple, uncluttered interface.
Consideration #2: Subject Line (AKA the ‘hook’)
The subject line of an email is the very first thing you see, but all too often it is left as the last minor detail that’s hastily filled in right before sending out a campaign. Considering 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone, I think it’s safe to say that that is a mistake.
Your subject line and your preview text (the snippet that appears beside the title of the email in your inbox) signal to your subscribers whether or not your correspondence is relevant, interesting, and worth their time. According to Hubspot, “most clicked lead nurturing subject line words include ‘secrets’, ‘e-sales’ and ‘awesome’.”
Whether you use suspense and intrigue like Buzzfeed (“You’ll never guess what happens next!”), capitalize on curiosity (like President Obama's “Hey” email) or tempt them with a tantalizing sale, those few words need to be compelling enough first to stand out in their inbox, and second to merit an open.
If your subject line and preview text are mere afterthoughts when creating a campaign, be prepared for your open rates to reflect that. When you’re ready to get serious about crafting compelling hooks, our friends at CrazyEgg have you covered with 557 email subject line hacks. Happy writing!
Consideration #3: Formatting
Despite the fact that many service providers like MailChimp offer specific mobile-friendly templates, one of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is failing to optimize their email campaigns for mobile. According to ReturnPath, 88% of people check their email via a mobile phone daily, and they expect a good experience. In fact, a study found that “61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing from their phone, and 40% will go to a competitor’s.”
It might sound a bit dramatic, but think about the frustration you experience when you are trying to carefully pinch, swipe, and slide the screen to read an email or a website that isn’t optimized for mobile… it’s enough to make you want to give up entirely!
While you are developing design templates for your email marketing, here are a few other formatting elements to pay attention to:
- Incorporating your branding: Your email marketing is just that: marketing. That means that your branding, from colors to font to your logo, should be incorporated into each email campaign.
- Images: Beautiful visuals not only capture the attention of your readers, but also set the tone for the message they are about to read. While it would be a no-brainer to include images when announcing a new product line or featuring items on sale, we often overlook images when sending out text-heavy campaigns, newsletter updates or blog posts. If you’re looking for high-quality, royalty-free images to spice up your emails, check out Unsplash and Death to the Stock Photo.
- Social share buttons: Your readers are busy, so if you want them to share your content with their networks, you better make it as easy as possible for them to do so! Social share buttons are one of the easiest and most effective ways to do that. Email service provider GetResponse found that campaigns that included social share buttons “had an average click-through-rate (CTR) 158% higher than emails that didn’t include social sharing.”
- Links back to your site: Again, this one is obvious if you’re selling a product, but if you are sending out content like a weekly blog post, be sure to add links back to the original article on your website, as well as other relevant reads on your own site to boost your click through rate.
Consideration #4: the Perfect Call to Action
Like your subject line, your call to action (CTA) is a small handful of words that can make or break your email marketing efforts. Email campaigns, like all content marketing, is (or should be) designed to drive specific business objectives like lead generation or sales. Your CTA is the way to motivate your readers to perform the action (buying a product, signing up for a webinar, etc.) that you need them to take in order to drive that objective.
Calls to action will look different for different types of campaigns. Here are a few examples:
- When sending out a blog post, you might invite users to visit your website and comment on that post
- When sending out a product announcement, you might be inviting people to sign up for a wait list
- When sending news of a sale, your CTA will encourage potential buyers to visit your site and make a purchase
You can’t force your readers to do anything they don’t want to do, but you can inspire them to take the desired action with a compelling and eye-catching CTA. Here are some brilliant suggestions from copywriter Joanna Wiebe on how to spruce up your CTAs:
- Keep it simple to avoid analysis paralysis
- Make your buttons look like buttons
- Include “click triggers” that directly speak to and help overcome concerns and objections (examples here)
Consideration #5: Timing, Scheduling & Frequency
Scheduling is another tremendously important consideration when planning your campaigns -- but that doesn’t mean that it has to be complicated. There is lots of data floating around on the internet regarding the best days and times to send communications to your list (early mornings are generally best), but you don’t need a degree in statistics to identify the best time to send your missives… you just need to be human.
This infographic created by KISSmetrics with data from Dan Zarella and Pure360 does a great job of highlighting how our email behavior corresponds to our mental state, schedule, and fluctuating needs. For example, between 3PM and 5PM, “job related apathy sets in and consumers start thinking about their personal situation. As a result, more emails relating to property and financial services are opened between 3PM and 5PM than any other type of promotion.”
Their data also revealed that the optimal sending frequency was somewhere between one and four emails per month. In addition, “CTR is the highest when emails are sent less than four times a month.”
The takeaway? When planning your scheduling, put yourself in your reader’s shoes.
Consideration #6: List Segmentation
We touched on list segmentation in the first post in this series, but since it’s such a powerful tool, we wanted to dive in a little deeper. Simply put, list segmentation allows you to target your messaging based on your readers’ interest and needs. For example, you could segment a list by location, ensuring that readers only get invitations to events in their region. You could also segment your list based on frequency of communication (i.e. weekly emails vs. a monthly digest). Or, you could do what clothing line Billy Reid does and offer exclusive sales to your most engaged customers.
Regardless of how you choose to divide your audience, list segmentation has been found to increase engagement and overall performance of email campaigns. Data analysis by MailChimp found that segmented campaigns had:
- Opens 14.444% better than the list average
- Clicks 14.994% better than the list average
- Bounces 0.803% better than the list average
When segmenting your list, the simplest approach to take is to ask yourself the question “how can I make my campaigns more relevant?”
Once you’ve segmented your list, the next step is to monitor the analytics to determine whether or not your segmentations are proving to be effective. But that’s a post for another time...AKA tomorrow! Yep, the third and final post in our email marketing series will be all about analytics and metrics.
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In the meantime, tweet us @Onboardly and let us know which of the six considerations you think is the most important. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
[Photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo]