10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing


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¿Podrían sus campañas de email marketing sea más eficaces? ¿Estás cometiendo errores comunes de marketing por correo electrónico que reducen el éxito de sus campañas?

Creemos que el email marketing exitoso comienza con 10 reglas que ayudan a maximizar sus resultados, evitando los errores que dañan su reputación y se comen los beneficios.

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10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing

  1. 1. 10 0 {the guide} RULES for Successful Email Marketing
  2. 2. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing Are your email marketing campaigns leaving cash on the table? Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective and therefore profitable online marketing solutions available to today’s entrepreneur. Its simplicity and speed, combined with its low cost and transparent, easy-to-understand reporting, make it a popular driver of business for companies and organizations of all sizes. Despite this, many marketers fail to maximize on their potential from email marketing. Could your email marketing campaigns be more effective? Would you benefit from a quick review of email marketing best practices? Are you making common email marketing mistakes that reduce the success of your campaigns? We believe that successful email marketing starts with 10 easy-to-follow rules that help you maximize your results while avoiding those “rookie” mistakes that damage your reputation and eat into your profits. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 2
  3. 3. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } 1 # RULE Keep It Relevant When individuals give you permission to add them to your email list, they do so with the understanding that they will receive relevant email marketing messages based on their previous interactions with you (e.g., a purchase, request for information, or subscription). It is imperative that you get to know your subscribers and tailor your messages to their individual needs. Irrelevant and therefore unwanted emails will damage your reputation, reduce open rates, and potentially drive recipients to unsubscribe or, worse still, mark your campaigns as spam. Example: A fashion retailer selling men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel will want to segment its email marketing lists according to previous purchase patterns. There is little point in sending an email campaign featuring summer dresses or ladies shoes to a customer who has previously bought only men’s fashion. The campaign wouldn’t be relevant to the recipient and has the potential to confuse or dilute the impact of future campaigns. However, because your customers may occasionally wish to buy clothing for someone else (perhaps a family member during a gifting season), it may be possible to feature alternative product ranges as a secondary call to action (i.e., not the main subject of the email). In such cases, you should monitor which subscribers click on these secondary links, add them to an additional targeted subscription list, and send them relevant campaigns in the future. Case Study: Tackle Discounts (www.tacklediscounts.co.uk) is an online fishing tackle retailer. Over the years, Tackle Discounts had built up a significant email marketing list but had failed to segment its subscribers according to the type of fishing they were interested in (e.g., course and match, game, and sea). This meant that Tackle Discounts’ email marketing campaigns were either very general, featuring a random selection of products, or were completely irrelevant to a large percentage of recipients. The company needed to start segmenting its list. Tackle Discounts was able to segment a significant proportion of its list by running a simple email competition that asked the question: What kind of fisherman are you? A small prize draw incentivized recipients to click on an icon representing the different styles of fishing for the site. Within 48 hours, the retailer understood exactly what “floated the boat” of 18% of its subscribers. Although it represented a fairly small percentage of the entire list, this group of engaged subscribers represented the group most likely to make a repeat purchase. By learning what interested its customers, Tackle Discounts was better able to segment its list and to send campaigns that drove a significant increase in sales. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 3
  4. 4. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } 2 RULE # Remember That Less Is Definitely More Email marketing campaigns are best kept short and to the point. You should try to keep any scrolling to a minimum and, through the use of clear calls to action (e.g., Buy Now or Learn More), direct recipients to your website as quickly and efficiently as possible. Compared to the limited functionality or control in the email environment, a website visit will better enable you to track a customer’s journey across your products or services, capture more detailed data, and carefully guide or influence potential conversions, such as sales or lead-generating opportunities. Keep in mind, however, that the concept of “stickiness” (i.e., the length of time a user stays on a website) does not apply to your email marketing. Optimizing your website landing page (i.e., the page your subscribers arrive on after clicking on your email campaign) by stripping out unnecessary links and navigation will help increase conversions. Try This: Select just one offer per email campaign, and segment your list accordingly (see Rule #1). If you have a range of complementary products, focus on a hero product, and add simple links or thumbnail images to promote the additional items. If you have segmented your lists and made the effort to tailor your campaigns to your recipients’ needs, you will be rewarded with improved open and clickthrough rates as well as conversions. Real-World Example: Think about your email campaigns in the same way you would a menu in a restaurant. If there are too many dishes to choose from, nothing looks appetizing. The best restaurants understand this. By limiting their menus to a few choice selections, restaurants help their customers make well-informed, quick decisions while also serving them more efficiently and profitably. Similarly, your email marketing campaigns should include clear calls to action and should get straight to the point. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 4
  5. 5. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } 3 RULE # Consider Frequency and Timing Now that you’ve made your campaigns more relevant and segmented your lists accordingly, it’s time to look at the frequency and timing of your emails. The relevancy of your campaigns will nearly always be more important than the number of messages you send. A single ill-thought-out monthly email newsletter, which offers little value to the recipient, will be less welcome than a more frequent series of targeted, relevant, and actionable emails. The optimum delivery time will vary depending on your target audience. For example, an email targeting a potential business client will best be delivered during working hours, while an email targeting a young mother may return more positive results if delivered later in the evening (once the kids are in bed). Businesses targeting an international audience may also find more success by segmenting and timing their campaigns by geography. Testing will help you optimize your timing and frequency strategies in terms of engagement, unsubscribe requests, and return on investment. Remember: Your subscribers are highly unlikely to be sitting at home waiting for your email marketing messages to arrive in their inboxes. Their concern is not when or how often they receive a message from you. All they care about is how relevant your message is to them and if it offers them the perception of value (which could be a piece of actionable insight or just a great deal). Case Study: The Wine Tasting Company (www.thewinetastingcompany.com) used to religiously send an email marketing newsletter to its subscribers once per month. The sole purpose of this monthly newsletter was to sell tickets to the company’s wine-themed events, and as such, the newsletter had mixed results. After attending a course in email marketing best practices organized by iContact, The Wine Tasting Company changed its approach. It increased the frequency of its campaigns and began to use email not primarily as a sales tool, but to better position itself as a wine expert by delivering relevant, engaging, and interesting content craved by its customers. The company also stepped up its social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to both complement and fill in the gaps between email campaigns. Despite the increased touch points, subscribers remained engaged, there was no increase in unsubscribe requests, and inquiries regarding The Wine Tasting Company’s events increased. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 5
  6. 6. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } 4 RULE # For Subject Lines, Think Headline News Your subject line is your first line of defense between your subscribers and the delete button. It should scream benefits. Think of it in the same way as a newspaper editor does a headline. Your subject line should tell the full story and entice the subscriber to read more. Because of this, you should give your subject line as much thought (if not more) than your body text. Consider This: Your subject line has the power to influence your subscribers even if they have not opened your email. People are busy and, even if they want to, may not have the opportunity to open every email you send. A good subject line will resonate with your audience and may act as a reminder to visit your website at a future point in time. Optimize: Instead of guessing what your subscribers are interested in, why not use Google’s Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal) to optimize your headlines and content? For example, a toy retailer who enters the word “Lego” into the Google Keyword Tool will quickly discover that people are currently more interested in “Star Wars Lego” than “Harry Potter Lego.” This should mean a Star Wars Lego– themed email will offer a greater return than one featuring the boy wizard. Technology—it’s magic! Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 6
  7. 7. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } 5 RULE # Take Time for Text Make good use of real text (not graphics) at the top of your email. A graphic-heavy email will appear blank until the subscriber has selected to download the graphics. Real text in the message will remain visible even in HTML emails and will entice subscribers to open the complete email. As noted in Rule #2, your body text should be both concise and informative, telling the complete story as quickly as possible. Use good calls to action (e.g., Buy Now or Learn More) to drive traffic to your website with the promise of more detailed information. Try This: Experiment with text-only HTML emails. Because email marketing software cannot deliver open and clickthrough data for plain-text emails, you’ll want to create emails using HTML (but with no graphics). A simple text-based, personalized email (i.e., featuring the recipient’s name) may appear less like a blatant commercial message and therefore may be more compelling. Best Practice: Always have a colleague or friend cast an eye over your email text before you send it. Nothing will turn your subscribers off more quickly than a spelling mistake. Remember, even the most highly respected journalists and authors have colleagues review and edit their work prior to publication. It is highly likely you will not notice your own mistakes. However, do not involve too many people in the editing process. As a marketer, you want only to capture mistakes, not solicit opinions from multiple stakeholders on your promotions, content, or style—this will only delay your email campaigns from going out. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 7
  8. 8. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } RULE 6 # Automate, Schedule & Mobilize Email marketing shouldn’t tie you to your desk. Use your email marketing software to automate and schedule email campaigns to reach your lists at a time that best suits your subscribers. You can also use autoresponders to set up a series of emails that roll out over a specified period of time following an event (such as a subscriber joining a list). Autoresponders are ideal for delivering detailed content, such as educational or thought-leadership programs, in bite-size chunks. Think Global: Segmenting your list by geographic location will help you optimize your open and clickthrough rates by ensuring you are delivering your email messages at the optimum time of the day. An email sent at 12:00 pm Eastern Time will arrive in the United Kingdom at the close of the working day and in the middle of the night in Australia. Although these out-of-hours emails will sit happily in recipients’ inboxes, the chance of busy individuals opening them the following working day is diminished. Go Mobile: As well as letting you manage and monitor your email marketing campaigns on the go, mobile devices—such as the iPad, iPhone, and Android phones and tablets—can help you build your list while you are on the move. An email subscription form on a mobile-enabled website will be particularly useful when you are attending networking events and tradeshows, and can also help you collect contact details in traditional retail settings. Entering new subscribers at the point of contact will help you quickly grow your list, reduce your reliance on collecting business cards, and free you from the burden of manually entering contact details into your database once back at your desk. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 8
  9. 9. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } 7 RULE # Get Social To encourage your subscribers to socialize your email content and to share your email marketing messages via their social networks, add social media sharing buttons to your emails and landing pages. It is also a good idea to publish your email campaigns directly to your own social networks. Cross-Pollinate: Use social media to fill the gaps between your email marketing campaigns. Social media provides a great platform to stay engaged with your friends and followers. It does not, however, provide a great sales venue: leave this for the more formal environment of email. In an ideal world, your social media followers will also be your email subscribers and vice versa. Use your email and social media campaigns to drive both subscriptions and social media engagement, and you’ll have two bites of the cherry at keeping your customers and prospects engaged with your brand. Think Big: The average Facebook user has around 230 social media connections. Because birds of a feather flock together, it is highly likely that your email subscribers and social media followers will share a potential interest in your company with a number of their friends. This means a socially shared email has the potential to reach many more people than the size of your email list would normally permit. Thanks to social media, email marketing has evolved from a retention tool (as it was traditionally positioned) into something of an acquisition tool. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 9
  10. 10. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } RULE 8 # Test You might already consider your email marketing to be pretty successful, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be better. Take time to split test your subject lines, designs, body text, frequency, time of send, etc. Split testing does not have to be complicated. Create two different emails, and send one to 10% of your list and the other to a second 10%. Monitor the response, and send the most successful email to the remaining 80% of your list. Important: Only test one component of your campaign (e.g., subject line or time of day) per test, and make a note of your findings, so you can incorporate them into future campaigns. Remember, there are no bad ideas (but some ideas are better than others). You will learn which ideas work best by testing. Testing Checklist: If you are struggling to come up with ideas for split testing, use the following checklist: Subject Line: Test different versions, action words, % vs. $ savings, etc. Content: Test text-to-image ratio, button text and color, column placement or width, shorter/longer content, or text/image size. Also, try changing the call to action, but keep it in the same place so that the test is valid. From Name: Try testing different from names. Clickable Areas: Try different size images, buttons, and links. Layout: Test the number of columns, image position, and pre-header. Time: Test the time and day. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 10
  11. 11. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } 9 RULE # Understand Your Return on Investment (ROI) It might sound crazy, but many marketers just don’t understand how to calculate the ROI from their email marketing campaigns. This lack of understanding, combined with unfocused, irrelevant, and badly timed campaigns, can often leave a bad taste in marketers’ mouths and lead them to believe that email marketing doesn’t yield the kind of results they were expecting. However, targeted, relevant, and well-timed campaigns have the potential to exceed expectations. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s The Power of Direct Marketing, email marketing returned $40.56 for every $1 spent in 2011. Anecdotally, seasoned email marketing professionals may tell you that they saw a far greater return. Remember: There is no such thing as cheap or expensive marketing. There is only marketing that works and marketing that doesn’t. Free online tools like Google Analytics can help you understand your ROI from all online marketing activity as well as help you optimize your campaigns and website to deliver more positive results. Without this insight, your marketing campaigns may be based more on luck rather than a concrete strategy. Compare and Contrast: Analyze the ROI from your email marketing, and compare and contrast it with your other online marketing channels (including paid search, comparison shopping, and online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon). This should tell you how much more profitable it is to retain existing clients via email than acquire new ones from other channels. Remember, if you are driving repeat business from an acquisition channel such as paid search, you are paying the same high rates every time you re-acquire that same customer. Calculate how much you can afford to spend on acquiring new customers and then get more strategic in your approach to email marketing. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 11
  12. 12. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } RULE 10 # Cleanse Take the time to cut the deadwood from your list. Remove bounced email addresses and names that have not opened any of your emails over a significant period of time. Remember, you are paying to target a list of people who want to receive your emails. Old, dead, and stale email addresses are expensive and can damage your reputation. Re-engage: Take time to understand why subscribers are not opening their emails. Could you target them better? Could a change in frequency improve your open rates? Are your subject lines compelling enough? Before you remove inactive subscribers, try to re-engage them by asking them if they are still interested in receiving your messages or how you can deliver more relevant content that matches their needs. Rules of Repetition: Remember that just because an email isn’t opened doesn’t mean that it is not effective. For example, a family might be in the market for a summer vacation only once per year. The fact that they see an email from their travel agent in their inbox every few weeks will remind them to think of that travel company when they next come to making their travel arrangements. This is why it is so important to invest time in writing informative, engaging subject lines that tell the full story. Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 12
  13. 13. { 10 Rules for Successful Email Marketing } About iContact Since 2003, iContact has helped small and medium businesses share their stories, ideas, and products through email and social marketing. We take what we know about our favorite small and medium businesses—a trendy boutique hotel in South Beach, the online poster store that helps us decorate our cubicles, even the local coffee shop you’ll find us in on Saturday—and we build the online marketing features we know those businesses need to succeed. We then pair our tools with award-winning support and expertise, so our customers never have to go it alone. And we top it all off with great personality, energy, and a commitment to creating a positive wake in our community. iContact is a service of Vocus. For more information, visit us online at www.iContact.com, on Twitter @iContact, at our LinkedIn Group, and at our Facebook page. Connect with us: Copyright © 2012 iContact LLC | www.iContact.com Please don’t print me! 13