High performance email marketing – the direct approach

PUBLISHED 11/01/2021

Direct, trackable and delivering amazing ROI, email marketing is an approach no business should ignore.

In a business world where social media marketing is a hot topic, email tends to take a back seat. It’s been around forever, after all. Email has taken on something of a mundane image, a bit like the desktop telephone. But for those willing to give email the attention it deserves, it can be a powerful tool to help drive strategies that lead directly to sales.

So, what advantages could email possibly have that social media doesn’t? Some real strengths, as a matter of fact. The first thing that you need to know is all about comparative performance, an area where email marketing really shines. Email is a heavy hitter for ROI in the digital arena. In fact, a 2021 survey showed that email marketing returns around $42 for every dollar invested. That’s a number bound to get anyone’s attention.

Secondly, your email list gives you an enormous level of control. Unlike social media, where distribution to individuals costs the earth and steering a contact between one platform and the next is a shot in the dark, email allows you to contact an individual at any time you choose and then keep track of what they do next. Think about that – you connect with a single person at every step and have an opportunity to develop a relationship through just one channel.

If you didn’t already place a high value on it, hopefully this information has you seeing your email list in a whole new light. It’s a precious asset that’s capable of channelling enormous value into your business when used to its full potential. You can track the content your contact connects with, see what they click on and follow their entire customer journey.

If you’ve been under-using your email list – as many businesses do – let’s look at some ways you can reinvigorate email to deliver the enormous value that it’s capable of for your business.

Every campaign needs a plan

Your email list is right there, and you don’t really need any special tools to jump right in and start to use it, but just like any marketing exercise, you’ll never see its full potential unless you map out a clear strategy before you get started. There’s a lot of great tech available to help you amplify the effectiveness of your email, but investing in it before defining your goals risks putting the cart before the horse and wasting money.

Look at the overall marketing activities of your business and use these as a reference point – after all, fragmented marketing is inefficient and confusing. Consider the product or service you’re promoting, the budget you invest in other areas, who you’d like to reach and a timeframe you’re willing to commit to. Set some realistic targets and think hard about how you’ll measure performance. Don’t be wishy-washy, nail your strategy down to specifics just like you would when creating a marketing plan using any other media.

Content – put yourself behind your contact’s keyboard

Again, it’s easy to get excited, quickly type out a promotional email and smash that ‘send’ button. Before you do, consider how many emails most people receive in a day, how much spare time you think they might have and what might grab your target person’s attention long enough to engage them. In this context, engagement means actually opening the email, reading it and possibly even clicking on the action link in the body of the email.

Attention is the new currency, and you’re asking a lot of your contact. So plan each email carefully. Your goal is for your message to wind up in your contact’s inbox (rather than spam), be opened, read and clicked. All this can be tracked, from whether the email is opened to how much time is spent reading it.

Carefully consider what your audience is expecting to receive from you, and what type of subject line is most likely to get your email opened in the first place. Reference your social and other marketing – what’s getting the most likes or shares right now? Chances are that if you cross-pollinate this theme or tone into your email, it’ll prove equally popular. Remember that it can work the other way, too – what’s performing via email can be fed into your socials. Make informed choices and always do your best to see your planning from the consumer’s perspective.

Warming up the crowd and growing your subscriber list

Email lists are dynamic. Your list will shed subscribers over time, so needless to say you must endeavour to constantly attract more than you lose in order to expand your list. That means welcoming new subscribers, usually over a series of brief, warm emails where you express gratitude for their signing up, tell them a little bit about the advantages your business offers and what they can expect from you in the future.

Having just given you their email address, these new subscribers are possibly as engaged as they’ll ever be. The series of welcoming emails that you send them at this stage is a golden opportunity to ask a few questions about what they’re interested in, what drew them to your products or services. You can include images to help prompt responses. You can make these welcoming emails interactive and use them as a chance to personalise communication right from the start. By all means include links or buttons and simple, one-click choices or questions.

Remember that there’s no need to fly blind – be sure to compare the information you’ve gained from a series of welcoming emails once you have gathered a good number. The trends you see can help you learn about timing, which subject lines performed best and which content prompted engagement. Apply these learnings and you’ll likely see performance steadily improve.

Regular pruning – habits to grow a healthier list

When you’ve managed to gain some email marketing momentum and you’ve created a steadily growing list, it’s time to remove some of the ‘dead wood’ – those emails that are either invalid or simply no longer active. If you’re lucky enough to have a list that’s growing fast, you’ll need to conduct list hygiene purges quite often.

It’s important to keep your list free of invalid addresses that can sometimes prove to be spam accounts that are high-risk addresses – sending to these accounts generates problems with deliverability and can even lead to your emails being blocked altogether by the big email providers, eroding the credibility of your business. There are online tools available that can help you to conduct quick, simple list checks to spot any potential problems – a quick Google search will lead you in the right direction.

Of course it’s always best to determine 100 percent which email addresses are suspect right from the start as part of your ongoing email strategy. You can do this by using a Double Opt In approach, simply sending an initial email to each new address, asking for a confirmation click prior to them receiving the offer they’re interested in. If you’re concerned that some of your subscribers might not go to this effort, Google reCAPTCHA is a quite popular alternative that can help confirm that you’re sending to a human being rather than a potentially malicious robot.

AMPing up email

Email marketing is an ROI winner in its current form – and there are technologies in the pipes to make it even more powerful. AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is one of them.

AMP brings more interactivity into the body of the email, with the potential for you to carry out the whole product selection and purchasing process without ever leaving the inbox. On one hand there are the potential benefits of a more immediate sale. On the other, the recipient has no need to visit your website. It’s early days for AMP but seeing as it is already supported by Google and Yahoo!, the big names can clearly see its potential.

Summing up

Direct, trackable and boasting high ROI performance, email marketing is something that no progressive business can afford to ignore. In a business world that’s in love with social media, email is often seen as a poor cousin, but this is a huge misconception. Integrate email into your overall plan, develop the right strategy, refine your communication and it’s an immediate media that can pay dividends today, with even more performance promised in the near future.

If you’d like to know more about how email marketing could benefit your business – and how to get started – simply contact us today.

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