While social media may be getting a lot of press these days, email marketing is alive and well across a variety of industries as an effective channel for communicating with customers and prospects. However, inboxes are more crowded than ever. Many emails are deleted without being looked at while others never make it past spam filters. If direct marketers want to capture the attention of their audience, they should make sure they know these five new rules of email marketing.
1. General Is Out, Specific Is In
It’s not enough to send your entire audience the same email communications—unless your audience is completely homogeneous, which is highly unlikely. To be relevant to your audience, you must send specific emails, personalized to their needs and interests. This takes more effort, but will deliver better results.
To get more specific, segment your email list. You can do this in a number of ways, from simple to complex. Here are some ways to segment your list:
- products owned or services used;
- customers or prospects;
- markets (geographic or industry);
- behavior (based on the types of links clicked on or offers accepted); or
- job role.
Once you segment your list, you can create emails with content targeted and relevant to the reader. Another way to get specific is to personalize emails using the name of your recipient in the subject line or in a greeting in the body of the email. Also, try personalizing the ‘from’ line by having the email sent from a person’s name that your recipients will recognize, such as their account rep or a company executive.
2. Service Providers are Affordable and Dependable
There are a multitude of email marketing service providers that can offer expert services at a reasonable cost. If you are still going it alone on email marketing, you might want to consider using a service provider. Email marketing service providers can perform a lot of the work that will increase the effectiveness of your email communications, including:
- managing relationships with ISPs to ensure the deliverability of emails;
- offering spam checking tools to improve emails prior to sending;
- providing integrated social tools for sharing email content on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites;
- offering a large portfolio of email templates that can be easily customized to your brand; and
- reporting on statistics that allow you to easily track the performance of email campaigns
3. Optimize Email for Different Devices
Users are in the habit of accessing email anytime, anywhere—from home, at work and on the road—and from a variety of devices—desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones. Plus there are dozens of email programs in use, from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail, Yahoo and others.
You must optimize your emails for reading in different programs. A good practice is to have a link at the top of your emails allowing users to access a web version in case the content does not render well in the program they’re using. You may also want to consider optimizing email for viewing on small screen devices as well as for larger screens.
4. Testing Is Timeless
Email testing is not new, but it is more important than ever if you want to continually improve the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts. You can test various components of your emails and make adjustments based on what you learn to increase your results in terms of clickthroughs and conversions. It’s best to test one variable at a time so you can measure the impact of that specific change.
Key variables to test in emails include:
- from line and subject line;
- day of week and time of day for sending;
- number, placement and type of links;
- call to action; and
- layout and use of graphics.
5. Try New Tactics For Hard-To-Reach Prospects
No matter how much effort you put into growing your opt-in email list, there still will be a multitude of potential customers you are not able to reach because they haven’t heard of your company or you haven’t met them.
One way to connect with these potential customers is to advertise in third-party email newsletters that your audience reads. You can place advertisements that promote your products or brand and drive prospects to your website for conversion purposes. Another advantage of e-newsletter advertising is that the publisher handles all the work of list management and email deliverability. Look for a publisher with expertise and a respected reputation in your specific market.
Chris Chariton is senior vice president of product management & supplier marketing for GlobalSpec, the leading providers of online marketing programs for companies interested in reaching the engineering, industrial and manufacturing communities. Reach her at email@example.com.