Email marketing is one of the most potent ways you can grow your business, but not without some planning and best practices. What makes email marketing so effective is that it’s a relatively “contained” experience in comparison to other forms of digital marketing. Social media and content play a role in marketing strategy but can make for a noisy user experience, while an email feels more private. Because of this, email marketing is more open to personalization: 82 percent of marketers report significantly higher open rates with personalized messages and offers compared to emails that don’t have them.
But in order for personalization and more advanced techniques to be successful, you need to organically grow your email list and also engage with your subscribers regularly without bombarding them. Here are some best practices for using email marketing to jump-start your business growth and maintain it.
Don’t be shy about getting people’s email addresses on your website.
A pop-up notification with the benefits of signing up for your mailing list will get more traction than a sidebar or header subscription link alone. You don’t want to overwhelm visitors with pop-ups, ads or anything else that makes for a poor user experience, but there are many pop-up plugins that are easy to use with most website management tools. The pop-up can go off once the visitor has been on your site longer than 30 seconds or other timeframes that would indicate engagement.
Give people a reason for signing up.
How can people get value out of signing up for your email list? Provide a relevant e-book, whitepaper, datasheet or other form of content that would be helpful to your customer base. These methods are highly effective at getting people to sign up, but what about long-term engagement? Rather than promising discounts on products or services upon signing up, entice subscribers with something that they won’t get on your other marketing channels such as sneak peeks or early access. Because emails are more contained than other forms of marketing, there are certain things you can do with email that you can’t with other methods, like tell thousands of people about your new product before a press release or ad campaign is released.
You also need to show appreciation for your subscribers. A simple automated workflow that generates a welcome email with the e-book or other incentive will go a longer way than regular campaigns alone: 320 percent more revenue is attributed to welcome emails than any other promotional email.
Subject lines are even more important than the actual email content.
This is because a poorly written or uninteresting subject line isn’t going to make people want to open the email. The two most important metrics to observe in email marketing are your open rate and click-through rate. If your open rate is poor relative to the number of subscribers you have, it’s an indication that your subscribers aren’t interested in hearing from you or you’re not providing compelling subject lines.
Worse yet? If your open rates are really low, this can even get your messages automatically flagged as spam in most email programs. Your email sending score is based on this, and reaching out to uninterested subscribers who don’t open the messages is going to create a vicious cycle. To combat this, you need to determine why engagement is poor and fix it (more often than not starting with the subject line). Every six to 12 months, root out your disengaged subscribers and purge them from the list if they didn’t voluntarily unsubscribe already.
Click-through rates are also important to observe. What are you linking in the email? Why would people click on the link or ignore it? Pay attention to how often people click on links in your messages and which ones get the most and least traction. It can be a matter of placement within the email or you’re not linking to the right places.
Never buy email addresses.
You might get opportunities to buy email address databases from marketing agencies or companies going out of business that are leaving behind a mailing list. This practice is not only illegal in certain states and regions, but it’s also not even going to get you results. Your emails are more likely to wind up in the spam folder and create a poor impression for brand awareness: Why would someone want to do business with a company that buys mailing lists to contact people without their consent?
Email list building should be based on voluntary sign-ups on your website or adding the addresses of people you have already been in touch with, people who have purchased a product from your website, or other forms of voluntary opting in.
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