In today’s world of disruptions and techno-fads, the surprising news is that one of the best marketing tools has been around since the 1990s. Email marketing was rated the second most effective tool in a recent American survey, helping businesses to engage with people and supporting big-ticket marketing activities like advertising, public relations and media. Here is Liquid Creativity’s guide to email marketing best practices.
1. Build your contact base
After 25 years of consulting, one of our most common findings is that many businesses pay little attention to building and leveraging their contact base. Yet a well-maintained and growing contact base is a critical asset, allowing to reach out to the market and gather crucial intelligence on what they want – and don’t want. Take our suggestion and avoid doing it the hard way; invest in one of the easy to use and relatively cheap CRM platforms available. These will allow you to capture, sort and communicate with all the people your business knows or has dealt with. And capture is the word. Make sure your list is comprehensive, including prospects and customers but also suppliers, distributors, even friends; and include critical aspects such as names and contact details, but also attributes like how you came to know them (source) and whether they have bought from you.
2. Plan your email campaigns
Now that you have a robust contact base, it’s time to start nurturing and driving value from it. The best email marketing programs have several elements in common and top of the list is that they are planned. Pick a theme to last over a 2-3-month period and map out topics which draw on aspects of your brand story. The number of times you email will vary from business to business, but it can be as frequent as fortnight to every six weeks, timed to support other items in your marketing calendar such as advertising or an appearance at an expo. And send it to everyone even suppliers and personal contacts in your base who may be in your market – or pass it on to someone who is. The crucial thing is to ensure your emails are relevant to your audience with topics tapping into your brand story.
3. Write an effective message
One of the oldest methods to write a marketing message – and still in our view the best – is termed AIDA, an acronym for Attention Interest Desire Action. For Attention, think the subject line of your email – important as it will need to stand out amongst busy in-boxes and grab the attention of your audience. Think of Interest as the first paragraph of your email and Desire as the one or two paragraphs that follow. A call to Action should be your final line with an offer using a click thru hyperlink to your website. We find that special offers based on the relationship and a definite end-time work best. Most of the paragraphs in your email will only be a line or two with the exception of Desire which frequently takes a little bit more- but your email should be short and to the point. How short? We recommend being ruthless – 150 to 250 words at most in easy to read sentences.
4. Track your results
You hit send and sit in your office waiting for new clients to appear and start buying up big. Well it never really happens like that; in fact, the industry average response rate for email marketing is just 1%. That sounds like a paltry return but effective email marketing has the potential to build brand awareness and significantly expand your contact base over time. If you’re using a CRM, you’ll be see what’s happening in real time. The results tend to come in thirds – the first third in the first hour, the next third coming over 24 hours and the final third spread out over a week. So, after a week, use your CRM to sort responses by contact type and source type, keeping an eye out for the best response of all, the pass-on. Over time you will start noticing some message types get a better response rate than others. That’s critical knowledge which you use by killing off the messages which don’t work, working on the ones that do, and experimenting with your marketing stance based on this feedback.
5. Review, renew and re-calibrate
Over time, this process of communicating, analysing the results and getting to understand will begin to be a small but significant source of sales and a solid contributor to brand awareness and marketing support. As your brand story spreads out, you should start working all sorts of other content into your emails – including product launches, new sections on your websites, staff profiles and the like. And you can use a variety of tools like hyperlinked pop ups and embedded videos, – anything which your growing body of feedback shows your audience is interested in. Every six months, it’s important to sit down and carefully review how your email market program is working out. Concentrate on three key metrics – contact base growth, response rates and return on investment to see where your program is going well, where it isn’t and what that can tell you about your marketing strategy.
Get in touch
So there you have it; Liquid’s guide to email marketing best practices. If you want to know more, you can send us one of your marketing emails (and see if we notice) or contact us for a confidential chat.