Getting started with email marketing is like looking under the hood of your car. Even if you’re not a mechanic, you likely have a general understanding of what you’re looking at-the engine, the battery, the windshield washer fluid reservoir.
Similarly, even if you’re not a marketer, you’re familiar with the basic aspects of email-sender name, subject line, body and so on.
And just as you wouldn’t start fiddling with any part of your car without learning more about it first, you shouldn’t dive into email marketing before you have a thorough understanding of the proper way to execute it.
We asked Erik Severinghaus, VP of Strategy and Architecture at Rise Interactive, a digital marketing agency specializing in media, analytics, and customer experience, for his take on some of the most common questions about email. If you’re interested in learning more about email marketing, this article is a great place to start.
1. What is the best way to build an email strategy?
There are three steps to building an effective email strategy:
- First, identify what your specific email marketing goals are. Are you using email for customer retention? To upsell or cross-sell? To convert prospects into paying customers? Determine the quantitative and qualitative aspects of these goals.
- Next, make sure each part of your email marketing aligns with the overall digital marketing strategy of your organization.
- Finally, establish a process for continuous improvement.
2. How should I test and optimize email campaigns?
Severinghaus suggests taking a scientific approach to optimizing your email campaigns:
- Ask a question – how do I improve engagement?
- Formulate a hypothesis – will sending emails earlier in the day result in higher levels of engagement?
- Test the hypothesis by sending one set of emails in the morning and one set in the afternoon.
- Analyze and document the results to see if your hypothesis is correct. Did the emails sent in the morning have higher levels of engagement than the emails sent in the afternoon?
- Learn from the results to improve future campaigns. If the performance was better during a certain time, send future emails at the time of day that performed better.
Then repeat. This simple method can be used to test a number of variables.
3. How do I know if an email campaign is successful? What kind of metrics should I use?
Every brand considers different metrics the most valuable-you have to decide which is the best indicator of success for your particular campaigns, based on your unique goals. The most important thing is to analyze a series of consistent metrics. Looking at any metric in isolation isn’t a good idea because it’s usually easy to improve a single metric. If you look at multiple metrics, you’ll have a better idea of performance.
4. Why is personalization in email so important?
When it comes to email, you’re typically going to have far more customer data than you do in almost any other channel. So email should really be the place where you drive the most personalized experiences. For the amount of time and energy that it takes, the return on investment of email is off the charts.
When you send your subscribers messages they care about, they’re more likely to remain your customer. The people interacting with your emails are generally going to be the most loyal, the most engaged and the most valuable.
Everybody gets so much email that we generally only pay attention to those from the companies we care most about. You want to make sure you provide an excellent experience so your customers continue to be advocates for your organization.
5. What is the best way to use data to segment and target customers?
Severinghaus shares that often brands try to boil the ocean when starting email personalization. In other words, marketers make the process unnecessarily difficult. They will split their customer lists into too many different segments, resulting in unmanageable campaigns that have little impact.
Instead, start small. Choose one audience segment-for example, based on behavioral data or demographics-create one or two specific user journeys based on that data and then begin improving the experience of that particular segment. If you try to tackle everything in one fell swoop, you’ll get overwhelmed.
6. What is the most crucial aspect of building email campaigns?
The QA process is vital. After you hit the Send button, it’s next to impossible to change anything. If there’s a misspelling or the messaging is incorrect or if the terms and conditions are missing, the results can be disastrous. Create a pre-send checklist and have someone other than the email writer proof the content.
We hope this helps! Feel free to check out the rest of the TowerData blog for more advice.
The first step to effective email marketing is having plenty of data. Find out how Email Intelligence can help make your emails engaging from the beginning.