When it comes to building a brand and converting prospects into customers, email marketing is still one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools. But in an era of one-click unsubscribe and a customer base highly attuned to the ways of marketers, how can small businesses make the right connections?
The days of buying a prospect database are long gone – that approach is a fast track to a bad reputation and an avalanche of unsubscribes.
Instead, firms need to actively capture the email addresses of both customers and prospects; pretty much everyone you come across.
It is also worth considering creating a single database that combines both sales and marketing information. This avoids duplication and errors and it also makes it much easier to track interactions. This way, your sales staff get insight into all the past prospect communications, including which emails prompted click throughs and which did not.
Email marketing is not a one-off event; it is an opportunity to build a relationship. And that means not bombarding individuals with blatant product sales – that will do nothing to inspire confidence or demonstrate value.
Instead, organisations need to create content that is interesting, insightful and indicates an understanding of the market.
It’s well worth running an email marketing campaign once a month. But with each mailing, you’ll have manage all the inevitable email bounces and unsubscribes manually and that can be an administrative nightmare.
You can save a lot of time and stress by using one of the many low cost email marketing tools on the market. Products such as MailChimp can automate much of this process; and if it is integrated with your CRM system, so much the better as that means your database will also be updated automatically.
Email marketing tools provide valuable information about the success of each email campaign – most notably click through rates (CTR).
By combining your email marketing tool with your CRM you can add relevance to that data – correlating the number of leads generated and sales closed provides a direct financial ROI figure that can help you improve your on-going email marketing activity.
Once you have mastered the process of sending regular, relevant and interesting emails, you can further fine-tune your email strategy. One way to boost your results is to split the email campaign between customers and prospects and refining the message accordingly.
If the company has enough insight in the customer database to distinguish between hot and cold prospects, it is also worth considering varying the frequency of the emails; creating a stronger, more frequent relationship with those on the point of purchase, for example.
Email marketing is all about building a long-term relationship and then closing the deal. The key to success is to get the right processes in place from day one and then use the data to improve your return on investment.
Copyright © 2015 Helen Armour, marketing manager at Really Simple Systems.
Image by: The Logo Company
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine working in a large digital publishing company had a debate with a client about whether or not to use a black background in a forthcoming email campaign.
She asked me if I had any research to back her up. Unfortunately I didn't have anything concrete, but putting myself on the receiving end of that email, I knew I would hate getting an out-dated looking email from the 1990s.
This made me dig a little bit deeper into the psychology behind colour and how people react to colour in email.
There are seven main colours and they evoke very different feelings:
But how does colour affect email responses? The best way to find out is to test. We tested these two approaches:
In a driving context, green means “go” and red means “stop”. So which of these do you think had the higher conversion?
The red button outperformed green by 21%. It’s probably not what you had in mind, right?
Which colours to use for calls to action is an age-old discussion. The lesson we must learn here is that even if we do our research, we should always be testing our campaigns.
Every customer is different and their response to each colour can vary depending on their mood, location, device used and many more. So remember: always A/B test.
Copyright © 2015 Amir Jirbandey is marketing lead UK at Mailjet.
Many small firms pour all their marketing time and resources into maintaining social media accounts in order to interact with customers and strengthen their online reach.
But, in order to fully ensure customer satisfaction, it’s important not to neglect social media’s predecessor, email.
Email is still a vital tool for businesses that want to communicate with their customers. As popular as social media has become, the use of email isn’t faltering, and the number of email accounts is expected to increase from over 3.9 billion in 2013 to over 4.9 billion by the end of 2017.
While it may appear that consumers head straight to social media when they’re dissatisfied with a product or service, 42% of people use email as their most common channel for making a complaint.
However, as this infographic shows, businesses are not always equipped to deal with the number of emails that enter their inboxes. Although 41% of consumers expect an email response within six hours, only 36% of retailers respond this quickly. And 59% of businesses take more than eight hours to reply; while one in four take 24 hours or more.
Copyright © 2015 numero is a UK customer service software provider.
There are many reasons that businesses make the jump to a new email service provider; a growing contact list, a new budget or the need for new features. But whatever the reason, a switch can also be an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate your current sending processes and improve your deliverability.
If you’re thinking about switching email service providers, here is a useful checklist to make the transition as smooth as possible so you can spend less time stressing about the migration and more time on email marketing.
Copyright © 2015 Amir Jirbandey, marketing lead UK at Mailjet.
Unfortunately, when it comes to email marketing there are many bad habits and we’ve all seen them — both as marketers and consumers. Here are some of those bad habits that need to be addressed and — importantly — how to do it.
As consumers we have all received badly targeted email, often for products we would never use. When they fill our inbox we view these organisations as a nuisance; even if we have previously used them, it could even deter us from future dealings.
Remedy: Use the information you hold on your existing clients to better target them and future new prospects.
When selecting or sourcing a distribution list for your email marketing, it is important to appreciate that sheer volume of data is not the key to a successful campaign. Sending to large volumes of email addresses not only suggests that your targeting is weak, but it can have a detrimental effect on the number of Inboxes you reach overall.
Remedy: Send your emails to a smaller, higher quality list to yield better results.
Buying inaccurate (often cheaper) data is a real issue in the industry and the reason some inexpert people say “never buy data lists”.
Remedy: Use a reputable supplier whose data is relevant, up to date and accurate — they can also help you select and target the best prospects.
People are often disappointed in the results of their first email campaign, but you shouldn’t pass judgment too quickly — a single email can be only so effective.
Remedy: Your email campaign should be part of an ongoing series of communications, by both email and other media, to generate and nurture leads.
Most marketing professionals will use a platform suitable for email communications. However, we do still come across some organisations that try to use systems such as Outlook to send mass email. This causes issues with limited send capacity and spam filters blacklisting your company, as well as creative limitations. On top of that, without being able to monitor open, click and other response statistics, you never know exactly how your email and list is performing.
Remedy: Use a dedicated email marketing platform.
This may seem an obvious point, but putting significant effort into both the design and content of you email will pay dividends. A poorly designed email and content that doesn’t appeal to your target audience will damage your reputation.
Remedy: Generally speaking, if you are promoting a product, less is more in terms of copy; make it easy for the recipient to glance over then read more detail if the content is of interest.
When you send your emails, the timing can be as vital as the design — but the best time to send will vary, depending on your target audience. Get it wrong though and the response will be disappointing.
Remedy: The best way to ensure you send your email at the most appropriate time is to test (and test again) — then opt for the one or two times that you have found give the best open and click results.
If you don’t even reach the Inbox of your client or prospect, then your email campaign will not deliver results.
Remedy: Make sure you are aware of spam filters and what they react to, ensuring your content is not blocked from reaching the intended recipient.
Virtually everyone is aware that email is not a high cost mode of communication, so it does not automatically make a client think “this is a reputable company” when they receive an email — especially if you are displaying any of these other bad habits too. This is another reason that email should be just one element of your marketing and communications arsenal.
Remedy: Combine email with direct mail, social media, web presence, print/TV/radio and any other advertising medium that is appropriate for your business and budget.
In the end, every business and product is different; hence you may find that email promotion is not right for a particular product in your range or a particular branch of your business.
Remedy: Always monitor and respond to results and tailor your media as well as your messages.
Tim Holt is the managing director of Data HQ.
At the start of any new year we are often tempted to make a fresh start. Businesses frequently do the same thing — giving their websites a bit of a refresh, changing their policies, targeting new audiences and even updating how they get in touch with their customers.
So what’s in store for email marketing? It has been a key business tool for some time and it should continue to grow, but by how much? And what are the key trends for 2014?
The amount of money being spent on email marketing has been increasing for some time and 2013 saw a significant rise — 20% in fact. That’s a pretty hefty figure but current predictions suggest that email marketing spending will keep growing. Budgets are likely to increase by about 10% this year.
But what will that money actually go on? With more and more people using mobile devices, there will be an increase in spending on mobile optimisation for websites. Having a site that is mobile-optimised is likely to bring in more customers and the same can be said for emails. If businesses want to increase their open rates, they need to make their messages as mobile-friendly as possible.
This means that businesses are going to have to look closely at where the rest of their finances are going. And the likelihood is that companies are going to scale back on printed marketing material because everything is going digital.
Even if customers purchase items in-store, rather than online, there is an increasing chance that the transaction will be completed online. Digital receipts could be given out, so customers don’t have to worry about losing a little piece of paper.
Companies are increasingly encouraging people to buy online by offering them offline deals that push them towards the internet. In-store promotions, for instance, can ask customers to go online to receive a prize or more information. As retailers encourage more customers to shop online, the number of people signing up for email marketing is likely to increase.
Email marketers are constantly sending us all kinds of content. The problem is, for the most part, it's not useful to most of us. Yes, we will get the odd gem and an amazing deal that is perfectly suited to our preferences but a lot of companies just create a general email, hit send to all and hope for the best.
This year, customers are not going to stand for that and marketers are going to have to up their game as a result. Statistics have shown that 43% of emails are opened on mobile devices so it's simply unacceptable for businesses not to get on board with this. Emails need to be optimised for mobile use but the messaging must also undergo a makeover.
Rather than the generic, one-size-fits-all model, businesses will increasingly use data to drill down to specific interests and requirements of their subscribers. More carefully targeted campaigns should result in more sales.
So, there’s no doubt that change is on the way — the question is, how much impact will it have on conversion rates?
This is a guest blog from Lauren Sutton