Email Marketing | A Starters Guide
Breaking the Stigma
Email marketing sounds like a gimmicky cliché straight out of 2003. It doesn't sound innovative, or useful, or even practical. Some argue that Twitter has successfully been able to replace sending out an email blast, or even an RSS subscription (although many seem to be talking about its decline as well).
At least that's what seems to be the overall trend in recent years. However, email marketing can provide many beneficial solutions to increasing your business conversion rates and brand building. We're going to briefly go over a couple reasons why your business (be it small or large) should be using email marketing. Yes, even still in 2012. (Oh man, is it already almost 2013?)
The Numbers Don't Lie
Email marketing… what is it? For those completely unaware, email marketing encompasses all forms of sending out publications and notices (think newsletters or announcements) to users via their email addresses, which have been collected via sign-up form fields.
We've written before about why you should be using email marketing for your business. All of the points previously stated are still valuable, but since then we have managed a large amount of email marketing campaigns for a wide range of clients. We've learned quite a bit.
Our experience shows that no marketing channel consistently returns a better return-on-investment than a properly implemented email marketing campaign. Email marketing remains highly profitable, especially when used for customer retention. External research has shown this as well.
- Loyal email subscribers (the 40 per cent of customers "who would go out of their way to patronize a company whose permission e-mail programs they like") make more purchases and spend more online than those customers who do not feel the same loyalty. [Source: Quris Research]
- Customer retention email campaigns account for the greatest share of permission email marketing spending. [Source: Jupiter Research]
- Repeat customers are clearly the most valuable. They convert at the highest rates (20%), spend the most time on your website (7.69 seconds on average), look at 16.83 page views per session, and spend the most: $180 on average. [Source: DoubleClick]
If you are not interested in converting leads (for whatever reason), you should still be sending out the occasional email newsletter. Sending out an email blast every so often, be it weekly, biweekly, monthly, or a larger interval, will keep your business on your clients' mind. Always being right there can be the difference between a getting that lead conversation or not.
Ultimately, you can design your email newsletter however way you'd like. Traditionally, an email newsletter will have a fixed column width of ~600px wide to accommodate the viewing pane of email inboxes, but we've seen this break away slightly. We now have to consider optimizing for mobile devices, where 41% of email are read on a mobile. Best practices include:
1. Accommodate your viewers: let them know why they are receiving this email. It can be small, but a brief reminder will help build trust. Give them the opportunity as well to view the email in their browser of choice. Some email viewers will break the email's view, especially if the email isn't built correctly.
2. Be genuine: Think of your email blast as a personalized email to one individual. Provide a real return address, and write a non-spamming subject line. MailChimp provides an excellent analysis of writing a successful subject line.
3. Reinforce your brand: logos, colours, imagery, tone and style of writing, etc. Use your brand identity's guidelines to build an email newsletter that enforces brand association. In terms of layout, you can treat your email newsletter almost as a landing page, with the major difference being a focus on content. Adding call-to-actions can provide further participation from the viewer.
4. Content first: Get your content visible. If someone were to have their email reader's styling features turned off, would your email still be readable? Make sure to test a plain text version of your newsletter before sending, without any HTML or CSS styling. The substance of your email newsletter is what is important, treat it as such.
5. Clarity in hierachy: Offer any additional information about the email itself in a footer. Make sure to include an unsubscribe field. There is nothing more frustrating that being unable to opt-out of a service.
MailChimp to the Rescue
We use MailChimp for most of our email marketing services. Alternatives exist, namely Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor among others, but we've found MailChimp's service to be most fitting to our requirements: analytics and tracking, easy-to-use design, reusable templates, etc. They are an incredibly witty company, creating a wonderful experience to use their product.
One of the most incredible features of MailChimp is their Resources bank. They provide a tremendous amount of guides, how-to's, and information assembled in beautiful succinct formats for perusing. If nothing more, the resources bank should be bookmarked for future use, as it provides invaluable statistics and best practices for reaching out to your audience.
Last week we rebooted the Custom Fit Online "Web Advisor" newsletter. Our biweekly publication is to be used as a mean of reconnecting with some of our past friends and partners, sharing our latest information, and keeping Custom Fit Online fresh in our subscribers' minds.