Author: Cassie Gasaway
Email marketing was the most effective marketing channel in 2018, beating out social media and search-engine optimization, according to Smart Insights.
Maybe that’s because many point-of-sale systems and email-marketing software programs make creating and sending emails easy.
To learn more about email-marketing strategies, we spoke with Shaun O’Toole, Celerant Technology’s digital marketing manager; and Michele Salerno, Celerant’s marketing director. They explained some basic strategies to learn and follow in the steps below.
Step 1: Determine Your Audience
What type of email are you sending, and to whom? If you’re sending a newsletter, your entire subscriber list might like its content. If you’re sending an email about youth bows, however, send it only to young customers or those with children.
The more personal and relatable your emails, the more likely your customers will convert, which is the process of buying, clicking or signing up through an email. The higher your conversion rate, the better your return on investment.
O’Toole suggests splitting your subscriber list into small groups based on criteria such as age, gender, interests, buying history and brand preferences. Segmenting your list helps you deliver more relevant emails, which improves customer relationships.
Don't bombard your readers with too much information. Try to keep it to the bullet points. Photo Credit: Unsplash
Step 2: Create Good Content
Once you’ve identified specific audiences, send them custom content. Consider what each audience wants and needs, and show them how your business can help. Send emails to notify customers about deals, events, classes, products, workshops and industry happenings. Diversify your content so subscribers don’t get bored.
O’Toole said content should “tell and sell.” Don’t bombard customers with endless offers. Find a balance. Try providing helpful information between featured deals or product updates. Put vital information at the top to ensure customers see it, and link text and images to your website of individual products to increase conversions.
Your emails should also include your company logo, contact information, and social-media links so customers can easily connect with your brand and business. You must also have an unsubscribe button to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, a law governing commercial emails.
O’Toole said creating content is the most challenging and time-consuming part of email marketing, but it’s easier once you get into a rhythm.
Some point-of-sale systems let users set up automated emails that go to individuals after they take specific actions. If a customer buys a product online, for example, you can program your email to automatically send a thank-you message. After a few days, send another email encouraging them to review the product. When customers leave something in their cart on your website, send an automated message reminding them to check out.
Automated emails help you work efficiently. You create and program the email once, and then it automatically delivers itself at opportune moments. Meanwhile, you can create more timely emails.
Don’t rush the process. Before sending an email, direct a sharp-eyed coworker or family member to proofread it to catch broken links and misspelled words. Most email marketing platforms also have a “test email” feature to ensure your system is functioning properly. Run the tests regularly to ensure your efforts aren’t wasted. As a reminder, be sure to find a point-of-sale system that gives you the power to automate.
Step 3: Optimize Your Send Parameters
O’Toole encourages clients to send two marketing emails weekly. He thinks emails sent between 8 and 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are usually effective.
Salerno, however, said smartphones are changing strict rules.
“If a buyer is on their phone and constantly checking their email, those rules won’t always apply,” Salerno said. “More people are checking their email at night or on the weekends, because they have their phone and their email is accessible.”
Salerno advises retailers to send emails at different times using AB Testing to see what works for their business and target audience. AB Testing, or split testing, is an experiment that lets retailers test the effectiveness of specific variables between two audiences. Test the send date, send time, subject line and message content. Analyze your results and adapt.
Make sure you're reviewing your open rates and website traffic after an e-blast. Photo Credit: Unsplash
Step 4: Analyze the Results
In addition to AB testing, retailers should analyze multiple email metrics, including:
– Open rate, which is the number of emails opened;
– Unique-open rate, the number of emails opened by individual recipients;
– Bounce rate, the number of undelivered emails;
– Click-through rate, the number of people who clicked on links within the email;
– And unsubscribe rate, the number of users who unsubscribed from your email list.
Strive for high open and click-through rates, and low bounce or unsubscribe rates. These metrics reveal if your email was a dud, average or successful.
“It’s not enough to send an email,” O’Toole said. “You must follow up to see if you’re getting conversions.”
If your email performed well, mimic it in future communications. If your email performed poorly, try something different until you hit the mark. You can tweak your content, subject line, and the day or time you send emails. If you aren’t sure what you’re doing wrong, survey your subscribers and ask for content suggestions.
You should also analyze your email list or segments regularly to remove inactive subscribers or bounced emails. Cleaning your subscriber list will likely improve your metrics.
Find a platform or service provider with the tools you need to design and send productive emails. Then follow the steps in this article to create an email-marketing plan. If you want hands-on help, hire a digital-marketing expert to handle everything from email conception to delivery.
To view ATA-vetted service providers, log into your MyATA Member Dashboard and click “Download Free ATA Resources” to access the ATA’s Resource Website. Then, click “MyATA Service Providers” from the drop-down menu to explore your options.
Read the ATA article “Email Marketing – Are You Doing It Right… Or at All?” for five tips to improve your email-marketing strategies.
In Part 3 of this marketing series, we’ll discuss social-media marketing tips and strategies. Click here to read Part 3.