The following is a guest blog post by Lindsay McMurdo, VP of Marketing at Topica– a leading email marketing service provider located in downtown San Francisco.
Email marketing isn’t new, but getting started in the email realm can still be a daunting task for large and small business owners alike. With the abundance of email being sent everyday, how do you make your campaign stand out in the sea of other messages reaching your subscribers’ inboxes? Although there isn’t one secret recipe that will work for every business, here are five email marketing tips for campaign success that will surely increase the reach and ROI of your messages.
1. An attention grabbing subject line.
Currently I have open 6 internet browser windows, 2 email inboxes, 2 chat services, a calendar, iTunes, TweetDeck and a Word document- your email campaign has a LOT of competition to get my attention. The subject line of your email marketing campaign is the first thing your subscribers see in their inbox and determines whether that message gets opened or junked. Don’t risk the latter by leaving your subject line as an after thought of your campaign creation! Start thinking about those precious 50-60 characters as soon as you start putting together the content and HTML of your message. Make sure the subject line introduces the campaign and makes your subscribers jump out of their seats, literally (well, almost literally).
2. Sending targeted messages with list segmentation.
You wouldn’t have a conversation about cat food with a strictly dog lover, would you? The same goes for your email marketing campaigns- make sure you are sending the right information to the right subscribers based on their interests and lifestyle. How to get these nuggets of information? Easy, just ask! Create forms that are easy to fill out and include them in the footer of every email you send. Also, ask your subscribers for more information as soon as they are signing up for your list either in the sign-up form itself or with an auto-responder message after the sign-up has been completed. Create audiences based on these specific groups, and send them the targeted messages you know they want to receive. (Psst- our friends here at Rapleaf could help with gathering this information as well!)
3. Content worth sharing.
Everyone hopes that their email newsletter will go as viral as a video of an surprised kitten that loves to be tickled, but you have to give your subscribers a reason and the means to share your content. Start by creating content worth sharing that is fun, witty, and appeals to the masses. (Having a case of email campaign writer’s block? Check out our blog post What to Write About When You Have Nothing to Write About.) Next, include those all too important sharing links such as forward to a friend, Facebook, and Twitter. Finally, give the subscribers who have shared your content a well-deserved virtual pat on the back to encourage repeat sharing through a simple “thank you” email/tweet/message or a coupon to receive a discount for one of your products or services.
4. Clear call to action link.
There’s a reason you are sending this email campaign to a targeted list of subscribers with an eye-catching subject line and creative content that will blow their minds, right? (Wait, what was the reason again?) Your call to action link should be the driving force and reason behind your email campaign. Whether you want to drive traffic to your website, encourage the download of a white-paper, or have subscribers participate in a contest make sure you are announcing this to your audience loud and clear. Also, try to pepper the link in throughout the entire campaign instead of just one large, postcard like button image. This will decrease the content score of your campaign that is used by ISPs to determine if a message is sent to the inbox or junk folder. Also keep in mind that the more call to action links used throughout your campaign the more likely your subscribers are to click.
5. Test, test, and test again!
One of the biggest mistakes email marketers make when it comes to their email strategy is to get stuck in a sending rut and assume they are already doing everything perfectly. Most likely this isn’t so (sorry- truth hurts!), and to keep up with changing trends as well as your subscriber base you should constantly be testing the components of your email strategy. Try playing around with image placement, template colors, subject lines, the day or time of send, or the call to action placement. One way to do this is through A/B testing, splitting your subscriber list into 2 groups and sending one group a different than normal campaign while the other group serves as your “control” group. Another testing method is to take a small sampling of your subscribers, split them into multiple groups each with a different variation of the element you are testing and send them your newsletter the day before. This method works best for campaign elements such as subject lines where you may have multiple variations and for non-time sensitive material. For both testing methods monitor your results, adjust your campaign accordingly moving forward and watch your ROI come rolling in!
Lindsay is the main contributor for Topica’s blog filled with email marketing tips and hints and can also be reach through Topica’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Want to be showcased on Rapleaf’s Blog as a guest writer? Let us know: [email protected].