Email marketing advice is all around us — a dime a dozen.
You’ve heard all the contradictory tips.
Send marketing emails often … Don’t send marketing emails too often.
Focus on the content, not the design … Design can make or break your campaigns.
You may just want to ignore it altogether, but there’s good reason not to give up on email.
Email marketing works. It was one of the first forms of digital marketing, and it’s still one of the most effective ways to produce tangible results that improve your business.
What’s old is new again
In 1978, seven years after Ray Tomlinson sent the first email, Gary Thuerk sent the first mass marketing email promoting DEC computers.
Email marketing pre-dates banner advertising, PPC, SEO, SEM, social media — basically every other form of Internet marketing.
According to Experian, for every $1 spent on email marketing, $44.25 is the average return on investment, elevating it head and shoulders above any other form of digital marketing.
And what about that pioneering email Gary Thuerk sent?
It earned about $13 million in revenue for DEC.
But is there anything else to learn about a marketing medium that is nearly four decades old?
A lot, actually.
Here are five contemporary ways to maximize email marketing’s potential for your brand.
1. Learn about customer behavior
We all measure every aspect of our online marketing platforms — page views, CTRs, conversion rates, etc.
You can also analyze email activity to help you understand your customers — their actions, motivations, and preferences.
Email marketing and analytics tools, such as GetResponse, allow you to test aspects of your emails and view user interaction. The goal is to improve your marketing efforts with more precise targeting.
For example, Hostelworld improved its CTR by 280 percent through using multivariate testing on its emails to achieve the most optimal message.
Use A/B testing, click tracking, heat maps, and eye tracking in your email campaigns to gain deeper insights into user behavior.
2. Conduct surveys
Just as analyzing the emails you send out gives you deep information about your customers and how they interact with your emails, you can use email marketing to directly ask them about their needs, views, and opinions.
Your email database is a captive audience perfectly qualified to guide your marketing or product decisions, as it is made up entirely of your users and potential users.
To test your brand’s likability, email your audience surveys about customer satisfaction levels, interests and needs, or potential product ideas — the options are limitless and help you establish relationships with your readers.
3. Combine email and social media
Many people make the mistake of only putting social sharing and connection icons in their emails. Don’t get me wrong, emails with social sharing and social connection buttons do have a CTR that’s 115 percent higher than those that do not.
But that action alone is a little like expecting people to walk into your store and make purchases just because you laid out a “welcome” mat outside the door.
Instead, you can both integrate social media into your email marketing in a smarter way and use social media to gain more subscribers to your email database.
On your social media homepage, add a dedicated “sign up” tab or include a “sign up” link when you post updates. You can also increase user engagement and arouse your social followers’ curiosity by offering sneak peeks into exclusive email newsletter content.
The reverse works equally well — write email campaigns that help you gain more followers on social media.
4. Encourage customer engagement
Email marketing can be just as effective as social media — if not more so — when it comes to engaging customers on a personal level. Even better, it’s measurable, and can be linked to actual dollar values in terms of engagement and sales.
Get creative with email to engage with your audience.
Think beyond product updates, company news, industry news, and other such yawn-inducing email strategies.
Why not encourage them to voice their opinions? Why not excite them with interesting polls and contests with enticing prizes? How about pop-quizzes about their likes and dislikes that help you build a more complete customer profile?
5. Retarget emails based on site activity
Retargeting shows promising results in PPC marketing, and even Facebook now offers retargeted ads.
With email retargeting, you can focus on various customer actions that trigger automated emails from your end. These actions could include an abandoned shopping cart or incomplete user registration.
Send out your triggered emails within an hour or so of the trigger event, and clearly outline the action you expect the customer to take.
For example, describe the abandoned shopping cart in detail — sometimes a visual reminder helps overcome indecisiveness and triggers a purchase.
Do not include freebies in your retargeting emails. Reserve those offers for
follow-up emails if your first one does not get a response.
For a typical retargeting campaign to be effective, it needs a set of at least three emails.
Over to you …
Email remains one of the most important web technologies. And when used correctly, email marketing can be a powerful tool.
Even in this age of social media mania, 91 percent of all email users worldwide check their emails at least once every day.
Even better, according to McKinsey, email marketing is three times more effective than social media.
Don’t squander email’s potential with mundane content that leaves your audience uninspired.
Take bold chances with your email communication. Remember, it costs nothing to get creative on email, but the rewards of an effective email marketing campaign can be more than you ever expected.
How do you make email work for your business?
What techniques help you connect with your readers and establish your brand’s authority?
Let’s go over to Google+ to discuss new ways to take advantage of email!
Image credit: Kim Daniel Arthur
About the Author: Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of E2M, a digital marketing agency and OnlyDesign, a creative design firm. He’s passionate about fitness, start-up marketing, entrepreneurship & all things digital. You can find him on twitter @DholakiyaPratik to discuss on any of these topics.