Email! Once a novelty for faculty and students at colleges and universities, then a privilege for those lucky folks connected to the newfangled thing they called “the internet,” it’s now a daily necessity for just about everyone.
Even if you never send a message or expect to get a note from a friend in your inbox, your email address has become, in a lot of ways, your identity online. Thanks to the fact that every single email address in the world is truly unique, online platforms almost universally use email addresses as the main identity key in their user databases.
All that by way of saying that your audience, your leads, and your customers have email addresses and use them, whether for work, personal connections, recreation, or just so that they can have a Facebook or Amazon account.
Email marketing has been around longer than any other type of digital marketing practice but is no less effective for its age. In fact, according to one email marketing firm, the average ROI for email campaigns is $36 for every $1 spent.
In this definitive guide, we’ll explore the whats, the whys, the hows, and the whens of email marketing so that you can see the benefits of this cost-effective tool and gain some insight on how best to make it work for you.
What Is Email Marketing?
Our oldest employee at M&R came into this world in 1979 – a little over a year after a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp. named Gary Thuerk sent the first ever email marketing message announcing a DEC product launch event to a list of 393 recipients. While we’ll get a little deeper into Thuerk’s strategies later, there’s no question that email marketing has been around literally longer than anyone who works here.
On its surface, email marketing is pretty simple: using email to communicate marketing-focused messages to a business’s prospects, leads, and customers. One message to a handful of leads announcing a special offer on your company’s new product? That’s email marketing. A massive campaign featuring dozens of emails sent at strategic times to specially sorted lists and producing detailed tracking information for in-depth analysis? Also email marketing.
There are dozens of ways to use email messages to build your brand, each one of them offering unique advantages and use cases:
- Welcome messages that greet a new customer after they create their account or place their first order.
- eNewletters that regularly update customers and leads with company news, new products, promotional offers, or even just fun facts about your business and the people who work there.
- Promotional emails that let customers know that if they purchase more than $100 worth of products this weekend, you’ll give them an extra 15% off your already-low prices. (Or something like that.)
- Lead-nurturing emails that engage with potential customers and offer them even more reasons to go ahead and pull the trigger on converting to customers.
- Customer feedback emails like surveys or review solicitations.
- Milestone emails, like customer birthdays or anniversaries. (There is literally nobody in the world who doesn’t love getting that email from Chewy on their pet’s birthday.)
Email marketing campaigns can be simple or complex, are easily scaled to fit your company’s size and audience, can be handled by a staff member or be almost fully automated, and can provide you with incredibly detailed information about campaign performance, audience behaviors, and other data to drive future marketing decisions. A specific campaign might look something like this:
- After seeing a social media ad, an internet user visits your website, recognizes that they might be interested in some of your products one day, and clicks the subscribe link on your home page.
- They get a welcome message, telling them a little bit about your company, highlighting a few of your popular products, and offering them a coupon for a future purchase.
- Over the coming weeks, the user receives a regular eNewsletter announcing new products and promotional offers, until one day they see something they like and click on a product link in a newsletter.
- Still not quite ready to buy, the customer views the product on your site but continues shopping. The next day, they receive another email from your company, offering an additional 15% discount on the product they viewed yesterday. Who can pass up an offer like that?
- Not this customer. They head back to your site and convert, placing an order for the product. They get a confirmation email, offering them heartfelt thanks for their business, providing them with a BOGO offer for a related product, and prompting them to post a glittering review online.
Why Should I Explore Email Marketing?
Email Marketing Has a Huge Reach
It is so tempting to fall victim to the groupthink that “email is dead,” “young people don’t use email,” or “nobody reads their email, anyway.” With social media platforms boasting high user counts and engagement figures, it’s easy to forget the power of the simple email.
But the fact remains: email is the most-used digital platform in the world. Period. With more than four billion email addresses in the world, email continues to be the one platform that nearly every connected individual in the world has access to.
And despite what the naysayers say, it’s still a well-used platform:
- More than 306 billion emails are sent and received daily
- 99% of email users check their inbox at least once a day; 25.4% check it more than five times a day.
- Smartphone users report that email is their preferred platform for receiving brand communications.
- 50% of people make a purchase from a marketing email at least once per month.
If its incredible reach, 36:1 ROI, or robust automation and reporting functionalities haven’t turned your head, here are ten more good reasons to take a long look at email marketing:
- Shares resources or promotions: Because your email marketing messages are sent directly to your clients and leads, they’re one of the best ways to share information about your resources or promotions.
- Improves retention:Current clients are more likely to engage your services when you find ways to add value on a regular basis.
- Helps convert leads:A strong email campaign will help you convert more leads much in the same way that it helps you retain current clients. When you offer value to someone at no cost, they are more likely to pay attention and move further down your sales funnel. Additionally, these platforms allow you to create separate lists for leads, clients, and other categories so that you can send separate messaging to different groups.
- Increases your website’s traffic:Emails are a great way to generate traffic to your website. Provide an interesting piece of information to draw someone in, then link that to a more informative webpage or the corresponding product in your store.
- Helps you gain more social media followers:If you’re consistently providing useful information and promotions in your email messages, people are more likely to want to follow you on social media. Include links to your social platforms with calls to action that promise more helpful information when they follow you.
- Increases referrals:When people are provided with value, such as a great promotion or helpful information, they’re more likely to share this with friends, family, and colleagues.
- Keeps you top of mind:Not everyone on your list is going to have a use for your services or products at the moment they receive your message. However, helpful and consistent communication keeps you in their mind so that when the need does arise, they’ll think of you!
- Helps you gather information about users:Through your analytics, you can see who opened each email, which links they clicked on, and more. This information can be used to decide when to follow up with someone.
- Provides feedback through surveys:Whether you use the email platform or link to another service like Survey Monkey, surveys can be extremely helpful in determining what your audience wants and needs.
- Is Cost efficient:Email marketing, particularly when done through a reliable and affordable email marketing platform, is relatively inexpensive. The monthly cost is more than made up for by the clients you will keep, gain, and help.
Email marketing is a useful, cost-effective way to promote your business and increase your sales. Once you’ve created a strategy and chosen a platform on which to run your campaigns, it’s time to start using it!
Ready to Get Started Leveraging the World’s Oldest (and Most Effective) Digital Marketing Tool? Call M&R Today to Build an Email Marketing Campaign That Works! 478-621-4491
Spam: It Shouldn’t Be What’s For Dinner
Before we get into the hows and whens of email marketing, we need to address the canned meat product in the room: spam. As we proceed along our journey, one of your primary overarching concerns should be avoiding being perceived as a spammer.
Remember Gary Thuerk? He’s the one who launched the whole concept of email marketing long before anyone outside of tech, defense, or academia had ever heard of email. Unfortunately, Thuerk’s groundbreaking work in marketing was also groundbreaking in another way: it was the world’s first spam message.
Thuerk’s 393 recipients weren’t expecting his email. They hadn’t asked for it. Many of them had never heard of Gary Thuerk before. And his message, while effective in that it created more than $12 million in sales for DEC, was not warmly welcomed by many recipients. The network’s administrators even reprimanded him and informed him, in no uncertain terms, that mass unsolicited emails were not acceptable.
Spam: Frustrating Email Users Since 1978
Email marketing has always had to walk a fine line between “welcome messaging” and “unwelcome distraction.” Nearly half of all email traffic in the world today is spam, and the problem of unsolicited commercial email has prompted email service providers to develop a whole host of solutions to help filter spam out of user’s inboxes, keeping that space clear for relevant, desirable messages. In 2003, the federal government even got involved, passing the CAN-SPAM act that levies fines of up to $43,792 for each unsolicited message a company sends. (And for the purposes of the law, sending one message to 100 users counts as 100 messages.)
What does that mean for you?
It means that to be effective, your email marketing must avoid running afoul of the countless spam and junk mail filters that protect your user’s inboxes. It must avoid the tone and feel of spammy messages to minimize the number of recipients who flag your messages as junk. It must not ever meet the standards of unwanted email as defined by the government.
Luckily, the best way to avoid being seen as a spammer is pretty simple: don’t send spam.
While the term “spam” is often kicked around with a wide definition – people will call just about anything spam if they’re in the right mood and the message distracts them from something else – it’s actually got a pretty specific definition: spam is unsolicited and unwanted email communication from a company or other entity.
By ensuring that your email recipients have positively opted into receiving your messages, by avoiding the temptation to purchase mailing lists, and by providing clear and easy mechanisms for users to opt out of future communications, you can stay off the spam police’s radar and keep your messages out of your audience’s junk mail folder.
Do You Want to Hear From Us?
Step one in avoiding a reputation as a serial spammer: don’t send emails to people who don’t want them. Instead of using your entire customer database as your mailing list, provide a way for users who want to hear from you to opt in through your website or perform a very specific action that triggers a limited automation campaign. By ensuring that the folks who get your email marketing messages are the same folks who want to get your email marketing messages, you can stay in compliance with best practices.
Even better than a single opt-in, though, is a double opt-in process. In a double opt-in system, users first sign up to receive messages or trigger an automation. Then, the first message they get from your company contains a confirmation link that the user must click before they can receive any additional messages. This prevents your messages from being delivered to someone who was “volunteered” to be a recipient by someone else.
Put Down the Mailing List and Back Away Slowly.
It’s tempting: just spend a little money and get a lengthy list of potential customers who might be tempted into making a purchase through the application of email marketing tactics.
Don’t do it.
This practice is almost the definition of spam, and it’s a surefire way to end up in every junk mail folder in your service area. Cultivate your own leads by creating an engaging and attractive website and social media presence, providing plenty of opportunities for interested users to opt in, and using your email marketing tools wisely, and you can stay on the Light Side of the Force.
There Are Clearly Marked Exits…
When you get on a plane, you want to know exactly how you’re going to get off it. When you get onto a mailing list, you want the same thing.
Provide your email subscribers with an easy exit strategy. Make sure every email has an “unsubscribe” link. Make sure the customer service section of your website has clear and easy-to-find instructions for users who wish to unsubscribe. Be attentive to social media comments, and always respect a user’s comment or message asking to be unsubscribed. And when someone unsubscribes, send them one last message and give them a chance to opt back in – and then leave them alone.
Sneaky tactics like hiding and burying unsubscribe information, forcing users to unsubscribe multiple times to be removed from multiple lists, or “forgetting” to remove someone from a list for a few weeks after they make the request leaves users with only one recourse: to flag your emails as spam. If that happens enough, you’ll get branded as a spammer, and getting rid of that label is more work than you want to tackle.
How Can I Leverage Email Marketing?
It’s easy! All you have to do is determine your goals, decide on an email platform, set up your event triggers, write your content with engaging messages and snappy subject lines, build out your initial contact list, put subscription links on your website, and then track your performance.
Okay, so maybe not “easy.” But it’s a lot less daunting than you’d think. Let’s take it step-by-step.
Determine Your Goals
This one should be obvious. Without clearly defined, actionable, and attainable goals, you’ll be shooting at a target that doesn’t exist.
Your goal can be almost anything: increase brand awareness, drive more in-store traffic, drive more ecommerce traffic, find new employees, connect with potential brand partners, and the list goes on. There’s almost no marketing goal that can’t be met with the judicious application of well-crafted emails.
But whatever your goals are, they should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. To find out more details about crafting SMART goals, check out the appropriate section in our prior Definitive Guide to Geofencing, but in short, a SMART goal is:
- Specific: Your goal should be to accomplish one well-defined thing. “Grow more business” is not specific.
- Measurable: There should be some way for you to measure progress toward the goal. “Write funnier emails” is not measurable.
- Attainable: It must be something you have a reasonable chance of succeeding at. “Net $3 trillion this quarter” is not attainable.
- Relevant: Your goal should advance your business goals overall. If you sell ice cream, “Adopt a puppy” is not relevant.
- Timely: You should set a target date when you will stop, assess, and regroup. “At some point in the nebulous future” is not timely.
So, a SMART goal for an email campaign might read like this:
To offset the cost of a needed renovation (relevant), I will increase in-store sales to existing customers by 10% (specific & attainable), as measured by the increase in total floor sales volume (measurable), over the coming two quarters (timely).
Decide on an Email Platform
There are hundreds of various email marketing platforms out there, each with their own respective strengths and weaknesses. We won’t get into the nuts and bolts of every single platform here, but we will talk briefly about the two we use most frequently (that also happen to be the two most popular platforms out there), and give a short rundown on some features you might want to look for in a platform.
At M&R, we primarily rely on MailChimp and Constant Contact for our clients’ email marketing campaigns. We’ve found that these two platforms offer the best combination of features and value. The fact that they’re also the two most popular platforms means that they’re constantly being improved and updated as new technologies emerge.
MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing platforms for numerous reasons. MailChimp allows you to schedule emails to deliver at specific times, is free until you reach the 2,000 subscriber limit, and integrates with numerous web services. M&R prefers MailChimp because of the useful design features it provides!
Constant Contact is another great platform for your campaigns. It affords you a free 60-day trial, numerous easy-to-use templates, and unbeatable customer support.
Some of the features you’ll want to look for in an email marketing platform include:
- List Management: A robust platform will allow you to have multiple mailing lists, dynamically add and remove recipients to/from lists, and manage your unsubcribes automatically.
- Automation: One of the key benefits to email marketing is the possibility of campaign automation. You want a platform that will allow you to set specific triggers, send messages based on user behaviors, and manage multiple campaigns with minimal input.
- Ease of Design: An email marketing platform should allow you to design beautiful, engaging email messages without having to resort to a lot of manual coding. It should allow you to build multiple templates and then populate those templates easily and modify them as needed.
- Mobile Optimization: Most people now read their email on a mobile device. You need a platform that will send responsive messages that adapt to the device each user is using to read your messages.
- Robust Analytics: A marketing campaign is never fully effective if you can’t learn from it. Your email marketing platform should include robust analytics that provide you with the ability to test different strategies, assess their effectiveness, and adjust as needed.
So now you know what you want to accomplish and the platform you’re going to use to accomplish it. Now it’s time to go do the thing!
Want Some Help Making Email Marketing Work for You? Our Experts Are Ready to Get Started! Call Us: 478-621-4491
Decide on Your Campaigns & Automations
Email marketing is remarkably flexible. There’s almost no marketing goal that an email campaign can’t help you achieve, and there’s nothing preventing you from running multiple campaigns at once. Your email marketing efforts will fall into one of three baskets:
Commonly called an eNewsletter, this is a regular message stream that users join and exit midstream. Your messaging will change for each delivery date, and it will usually follow a standard format. There’s no specific “first” or “last” email. Users join through a link on your website, a different email stream, a social media post, or other source.
ENewsletters are a great all-around tool in your email marketing toolbox. By appearing regularly in users’ inboxes, eNewsletters help keep your business front of mind for leads and customers who haven’t yet triggered their way into one of your other automation campaigns. They are incredible engagement tools, allowing you to share interesting news with your audience, even when that news isn’t necessarily market driven.
Your eNewsletter is the place where you’ll build leads. You can consistently add value for your audience through regular communication – teach them about the ways your products solve their problems, give them reassurance about your customer service and business practices, and grow the relationship that makes it easier for them to convert when they have reached the right point in their buyer’s journey.
These campaigns typically have a specific “trigger” that enters the recipient into the stream and two or more “exits” that drop them out of the stream. These automations have a definite flow of messaging from entry to exit, and users receive each specific message in sequence to drive them towards a particular action.
Example automations include things like:
- The welcome campaign is designed to introduce the brand, demonstrate value propositions, and add other contact channels (like social media). The analytics from a welcome campaign will give you insight into user interests and behaviors that can inform other campaigns.
- A welcome campaign is typically triggered when the user fills out a form on a website or landing page: “Fill out this form to find out more about our award-winning landscaping services!”
- Welcome campaigns usually contain between 4 and 12 messages, with 2-3 days of delay between them. The more expensive your products/services, the longer your welcome campaign will need to be.
- The first message in a welcome campaign is almost always the most-read message a company ever sends, with open rates north of 80% in a lot of cases.
- A nurture campaign “warms” leads, providing deeper information about your value props and building goodwill between you and the recipient. These messages typically are solely informational in scope, educating users about the benefits of doing business with you.
- Just about anything can trigger a nurture campaign: a form, making a specific email inquiry, or engaging with a link from a welcome message or eNewsletter.
- Nurture campaigns are typically similar in scope to welcome campaigns, consisting of 4-12 messages, with a new message every 2-3 days. Other nurture campaigns take on a “tip of the day” feel and drop one new message daily for 30 days.
- A sales automation is exactly what it sounds like: a push to get the recipient to buy a product or service. These are the highest-risk messages you’ll send, as sales automations tend to lead to the most unsubscribes. As such, they should only be triggered for users who are already “warm” to your brand.
- Triggers for a sales automation could include things like showing interest in an item (particularly an abandoned shopping cart), completing a welcome or nurture automation, or a demonstrated engagement with sales-related calls to action on your site or prior emails.
- These automations are typically shorter than welcome and nurture automations and usually only run for 4-6 messages on a 2-3 day delay. A great way to organize these messages is to focus on a particular value proposition in each message.
- Sales automations are at their most effective when they don’t look like sales messaging. Storytelling is a great way to accomplish this – providing social proof by telling how your products helped one particular customer overcome a particular challenge is engaging and effective without feeling sales-y.
- After a customer converts, a post-purchase automation provides a follow-up to both ensure customer satisfaction and solicit feedback through an online review or testimonial.
- Post-purchase automations are always triggered by a completed purchase. (Pro-tip: For products that have to be shipped, set the trigger to fire shortly after the product is marked as “delivered” by the package carrier, if your platform allows carrier integration.)
- These are typically shorter automations that only last 2-4 emails with a wide spread between them to allow the customer time to use the product.
- For post-purchase automations, text-only emails are a great way to add authenticity to your campaign. Make sure that the “From” line contains an email address with someone’s name in it.
- Sunset automations are a great way to remove unengaged subscribers from your rolls, improving your overall open rate and deliverability.
- If a user fails to open any of your emails for a set period of time, they will trigger a sunset automation.
- This is your last-ditch effort to re-engage the subscriber. Provide discounts, the biggest value add you can offer, the funniest taglines you have – try anything. If they still haven’t engaged after 2-4 messages sent across a couple of weeks, purge their email address.
There are literally infinite additional options for automation campaigns, so this is a good place to get creative with new ways to engage with your audience.
A special message is a single message or short sequence of messages that aren’t part of a periodic or an automation campaign. These might be new product announcements, changes in leadership, special limited-time promotions, or other “targets of opportunity.”
Now, Write Some Emails!
Your campaign goals are established, your automations are set up and ready to roll – now, you just need some content. The best practices for email marketing content are very much in line with the best practices for good marketing content in general. Your content strategy should focus on four specific areas:
- Writing exceptional and well-organized copy
- Optimizing your delivery rate
- Maximizing your open rate
- Growing your conversion rate
Writing Good Copy
Copy is still king when it comes to email marketing. Even the most beautifully designed message in the world won’t drive conversions if the copy is bad – or worse, boring. Keeping five things in mind will help you craft email-worthy copy every time:
Make your copy a “slippery slope”
Like those great TV dramas where every single episode ends on a cliffhanger or bombshell discovery, always leave ‘em wanting more. Your subject line and preview text should entice them to read the headline, which should draw them into the first content block, which should entice them into reading the rest of the email.
Make your copy skimmable
As much as it pains your high-school English teacher, most readers don’t actually read many things word-for-word, especially when it comes to email. Don’t fight it. Provide short blocks of text, and use a hierarchy of headings, bulleted lists, and bolded text to call out the really important points that readers must take away for the message to have impact.
If you read only the headline, subheadings, bullet points, and bolded text, do you understand the general gist of the message? If so, congratulations – your message is skimmable.
Make your copy about your benefits
It’s easy to get caught up in the awesome features your product has: the incredible 1000 Gbps download speed, the 3.8 liter dual overhead cam engine, the artisan icemaker. Yes, those are selling points, but only for people who understand the value of those things.
Make your copy instead about what your product will do for the customer: “Download new games in half the time,” “Enjoy better acceleration with higher fuel economy,” “Large, spherical ice keeps drinks cooler longer!”
Make your copy simple
Emails should be written on about a 5th-grade level. It’s not so much that people can’t understand more complex writing, but rather that more complex writing requires more processing, which makes emails longer to read and reduces their overall emotional impact – every second we spend “thinking” about what we’re reading is a second where we’re not “feeling” what we’re reading.
If you’re unsure about your writing grade level, try an app like Hemingway to test your copy’s reading level.
Make your copy as long as it needs to be
Don’t be that one kid in class who wants to know exactly how many pages each paper needs to be. There’s no “ideal” length for an email. If you can effectively communicate your point in 100 words, great. If you’re selling a complex, expensive product that requires several paragraphs to adequately showcase and explain, that’s fine, too.
When you hit the point of running out of interesting things to say, you’re at the end of your copy.
Optimizing Delivery Rates
A particular email’s “delivery rate” is simply the percentage of intended recipients who actually get your email in their inbox. (Getting it in their spam or junk folder doesn’t count. Nobody ever checks those things.) There are two main reasons emails aren’t delivered:
- The email address no longer exists, is full, or is otherwise unable to receive the message (bounces)
- The email is shunted away by a spam or junk mail filter and is either never delivered at all or is filtered into the dreaded spam folder.
There are a few practices you can follow to improve your delivery rate, starting with making sure that you’re abiding by all the good advice in the spam section above. In addition:
- Each email domain has a “sender score” which is a rating from 1-100 of how your readers like your content (check scores for free here). Email service providers (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) filter low scores out of their users’ inboxes. The metrics used to create your score are the number of your messages users marked as spam and your company’s overall unsubscribe rate.
- Don’t saturate inboxes – try to keep any one subscriber from ever receiving more than three emails in a single week.
- Allow users an option less drastic than a full unsubscribe. A “Want fewer emails?” link in your message footer will let users opt out of some message streams without removing themselves from your mailing list entirely.
Maximizing Open Rates
Open rates are one area where you can almost always move the needle by using best practices. By writing good subject lines and preview text, thinking about your “From” lines tactically, and paying attention to the scheduling of your messages, you can dramatically improve the rate at which recipients actually open your messages.
- Your goal is to entice the reader to open the email without misrepresenting the content of the email.
- The most effective subject lines are those centered around purchases, like “Purchase Confirmation” or “Shipping Update”. You should take advantage of these open rates. It’s common to cross/up-sell in these emails.
- Not even the smartest writers can consistently predict which subject lines are best, so you should constantly split test new subjects.
- Consider symbols and emojis to stand out, however these can also flag as spam, so test them and research a bit first.
- This is just like a second chance at a subject line.
- You should view the subject line and preview text holistically and think about how the preview text can emphasize the interest the subject line creates. For example:
Subject line: Learn How Sarah Cured Her Cataracts
Preview text: She couldn’t believe how easy it was.
- The “from” field can be a sneaky way to add variety to emails and trigger an open.
- This usually is used when it fits well with your subject line or just when you want to have a little fun. For example:
Subject line: Thank You!
From: Tim – Founder at [company]
Subject line: [Company] Lawn Care
From: Your Lawn’s Best Friend
- Send emails during the workday. Most people check their emails in the morning and then at lunch. This results in the 8am-10am and 12pm-2pm windows being the best times to send.
- However, if you’re running a limited-time promotion that ends at midnight, you’ll want to break this rule and include emails closer to the promo end time.
- According to Mailchimp and Word Stream, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the best days to send emails.
While your copy will probably be the driving factor behind most conversions that happen directly from email, there are a few other tactics that can up your campaign’s conversion rate:
One call to action per email
Focus an entire email on a single call to action instead of pulling the reader in several directions. This is less applicable to eNewsletter style emails, since they will have several news events to touch on. It’s more about not asking people to read a blog post in the middle of a sales email or not asking them to follow you on Facebook in a review capture email.
Repeat your CTA
While you don’t want different CTAs within an email, you do want to have your CTA repeated multiple times in the email. A common rule of thumb is to have a CTA in each mobile fold. So, if your reader decides to click, they never have to scroll first to find a button.
Use thoughtful images
The product or service should bring a transformation in the user’s life. Using images that portray these stages can help the reader envision the change your product brings. Lifestyle images naturally do this.
Leverage dynamic content
Some platforms offer “dynamic” blocks in which the content changes depending on the user. You can have multiple images that vary to match the demographics/interests of the user.
Try text-only messages
Text-only emails are a way to increase intimacy and variety. You often use text-only when it makes sense for the “from” to be a person, and when you want to give a personal feel. This is commonly used in post-purchase emails – the owner will send a personal thank you letter.
Sent. Now What?
Aw, come on. If you’ve read enough of our Definitive Guides (and if you haven’t yet, you really should), you know what we’re about to say. You can even say it with us:
Your next step is to track and assess your campaign’s performance.
Your campaign isn’t complete until you’ve tracked its performance and know what worked, what didn’t, and what kind of return your marketing dollars earned for your business. Otherwise, your future efforts will be shots in the dark, and you won’t be building on the successes of or learning from the failures of your previous work.
Fortunately, most email marketing platforms provide incredibly detailed and actionable data for nearly every aspect of your campaign. Tracking, in a lot of cases, is as simple as building a report template that contains the metrics you’re interested in and then running that report regularly.
Even if you only take advantage of a few basic metrics that nearly any platform can provide, you can still glean a remarkable amount of insight into your campaign’s success:
- Delivery rate: How many email addresses actually received your message. This speaks to the quality of your mailing list, how effective you are at avoiding spam filters, and your domain’s sender score.
- Open rate: How many people actually opened your message. This speaks to user engagement, the effectiveness of your subject and preview text, and gives you incredible comparative analysis of what topics readers want to engage with.
- Engagement rate: How many people read and then engage with your email by clicking on a link, visiting a social media page, replying to a message, or taking another action. This speaks to overall efficacy of your messaging.
- Click-through rate: How many people click through to your website after reading an email. This speaks to how well your content drives conversion-ready traffic.
- Conversion rate: This is the big prize – how many people actually convert (however you’re defining that term) based on your emails. A campaign with a high conversion rate is where you’ll see your best ROI.
But those are just a few of the metrics that you can use to gauge performance. Scroll actions, open or dwell time, unsubscribe rate, and hundreds of other measurements can help steer your future marketing campaigns.
Email is also a great place for testing. A/B or split testing via email is easy – segmenting or randomizing your audience to try out different subject lines, copy strategies, imagery, calls-to-action, or any other aspect of an email campaign is one of the least-expensive, easiest, and most-effective assessment tools available.
Email Marketing Wrap Up
Incredible reach. Incredible ROI. Incredible flexibility. And analytics that help you shape your business’s future marketing strategy. Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools your company can use to move the needle for every step of the buyer’s journey. From building an audience and growing engagement to developing leads and converting them into customers, your email marketing efforts can take you to the next level!