Guest post by Willie Pena
While new marketing trends tilt toward social media platforms, the tried-and-true email marketing campaign is still the most effective tool for wooing customers and growing your business. And the data backs it up: Email has ranked highest in terms of ROI compared to other marketing strategies, and 78% of consumers rank email as the most preferred communication platform.”
But email marketing is only as good as the tactics behind it. Here are five ways you can optimize email marketing for small business owners by heeding for maximum return.
ABG: Always be growing (your email list)
Your email list you should always be growing. We won’t bring in Alec Baldwin as a ringer, but repeat after me: “A” always, “B” be, “G” growing. A growing email list is a healthy one. An anemic email list is not worth the effort of your best email campaigns.
Here are some ways to grow your list:
- Have your visitors register for every action, whether it's saving to a shopping cart, purchasing, or establishing an account
- Create contests and giveaways that require filling out a short form
- Make landing pages for free lead magnet downloads with forms to fill out
- Host a webinar that requires registration
- Offer enrollment in reward clubs or coupon clubs
- Have a forum or community that requires registration
- Allow comments on the blog section of your website and require an email confirmation before the comment is posted
- Have a newsletter sign-up box
Remember to play nice, and to avoid bad email habits. If you’re collecting email addresses for the purpose of marketing, you need to make sure people know they’re opting into receiving emails from you.
Work every angle
Many small businesses focus so much on running dedicated email campaigns that they forget to put other email interactions to hard work. When sending emails like welcome notices, account approvals, and shipping confirmations, seize the opportunity to recommend additional goods and services, and encourage participation in polls or social media.
This is especially effective because these types of transactional emails have the highest open rate and are at a moment when the reader is most open to interacting with your brand. For example, welcome emails they result in four times higher open rates and five times higher click-thru rates, as well as nine times higher revenue.
Test and assess your campaigns
Testing can provide crucial information at every level of your email marketing campaign. Without testing, you have no real insight into whether your efforts are working or not. With testing, you can hone in your campaigns to maximum effectiveness—which means more sales and more money.
- Before finalizing the email design, use focus groups or surveys to test its appeal.
- Before broadcasting your email blasts to your list, send them first to employees and executives. Have them open the messages using different email clients and different devices to make sure all the features show up in different browsers and email programs.
- Use A/B testing to gather metrics on the open rates and conversion rates. Make improvement based on data collected.
Provide value, not just sales pitches
The old metaphor stands here: No one wants to hang out with the guy who talks about himself the whole time at the party. Likewise, your email subscribers don’t want to hear about how great you are and be continually pitched on products and services.
Your email subscribers just aren’t that into you. You need to provide value for them and a reason to continue the relationship. A good rule to follow is the 80/20 rule: “80% of your content should be devoted to valuable and useful information, and 20% should be devoted to your offer or sales pitch.”
Why is this important? According to research from GetApp, a digital resource for email marketing software, two of the top three reasons people unsubscribe are due to the appearance of spam (17.2%) and irrelevant content (15.8%).
Send your emails at the most opportune time and frequency
And if the stats above weren’t concerning enough, GetApp's research shows that 46.4 percent of unsubscribes are due to simply receiving too many emails. Every list is different, so do some testing to see how changing the frequency of your emails affects your metrics.
Additionally, research by Experian reveals that not all times are good times to send an email blast. Open rates vary by industry, but in general, the highest opening rate for email broadcasts (21.7%) occurs in the evening after people have left work and had dinner, such as between 8 p.m. and midnight. Such times also had better conversion rates.