Email marketing is being used more than ever by SMB companies. According to Forrester Research, email marketing spend is expected to increase from $1.3 billion in 2010 to $2 billion in 2014.
So why are businesses increasing their investment in email marketing? The answer is simple - to stay engaged with their customers and prospects. Gleanster estimates that 90% of website visitors aren't ready to buy when they first come to your website. Email marketing lets you nurture those early-stage leads with relevant information as they progress through their buying process. HubSpot's Will Kavanagh describes it this way, "Email marketing should be part of a larger, holistic view of your entire marketing strategy. This is our means of staying in touch with our customers and keeping them engaged with our brand over time." In order to keep you customers engaged, you need to provide value to them in your email marketing. HubSpot's Mark Kilens says that by providing value in your email marketing, "you build a community of loyal followers. It's all about building lasting relationships."
How Email Marketing Fits Into An Integrated Marketing Campaign
Here is a graphical depiction of how email marketing fits into an integrated marketing campaign.
Image courtesy of HubSpot
Let's take the example of a janitorial supplies company (it could be any industry, this is just an example). They decide to conduct a marketing campaign based around introducing a green (sustainable) cleaning system for businesses. The first part of this campaign is to create an eBook titled, "How To Implement A Sustainable Cleaning System For Your Business."
They then create blog posts around the topic and promote them on their social media accounts. In their blog posts, they include a call-to-action to download the eBook. Interested website visitors provide contact information in exchange for the eBook via a landing page.
This is where email marketing comes in. Remember, 90% of the visitors coming to the website aren't yet ready to buy. Email marketing provides useful information to educate leads and to help them progress through their buying process.
The best email marketing is personal and contextual. This is where creating segemented lists for your contacts allows you to provide that contextual information. The lists can be segmented by a variety of factors - industry, geography, job title, etc.
In this case, an email created specifically for contacts in the healthcare industry will resonate well with recipients. This email includes a call-to-action offering an invitation to a webinar titled, "Best Practices For Medical Waste Disposal."
Once the company has created segmented lists, they can continue to provide emails that resonate with their different vertical markets and geographic territories.
How To Write Subject Lines That Compel Your Audience To Read Your Email
Some consider the subject line the most important part of the email - it's what causes the recipient to decide whether or not to open your email. Here are some best practices to writing subject lines that resonate with your audience.
Be Direct About Your Offer
It's very important to be clear about what your offering in your subject line. If you don't fulfill the subject line promise in the body of your email, you won't create an audience of dedicated followers. Email service provider MailChimp identified the following as the 10 most effective words in getting emails opened when used in the subject line: posts, jobs, survey, week's, newsletter, issue, digest, bulletin, edition and giveaway. Be clear about your offer in the subject line and fulfill your promise in the email.
Personalize Your Subject Lines
Personalize your emails by using the recipient's name or company in the subject line. HubSpot finds that emails with the recipient's first name in the subject line are opened 13.3% more frequently than those that don't.
Don't Use Subject Lines As A Sales Pitch
Salesy subject lines not only won't get opened, they risk being labelled as spam and damaging your sender reputation. MailChimp finds that words like confirm, features, upgrade, magic, raffle, requested and rewards result in low open rates.
Test and Experiment
Test different subject lines and analyze results to optimize your email marketing success. Most email service providers like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp and HubSpot provide analytic packages that let you optimize your email marketing.
12 Email Marketing Best Practices From HubSpot
Will Kavanagh and Mark Kilens of HubSpot recently shared 12 best practices for email marketing.
- Create a SMART goal for every email you send. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. An example of a SMART goal would be: send an email to all contacts offering the new eBook download and have a 15% conversion rate by February 15, 2013.
- Always use a real name and email address as the sender of your email. Don't use catch-all addresses like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, your trying to create a personalized, contextual experience with your audience. How many friends do you have named no-reply?
- Have a clear and actionable subject line. Subject lines should include an action verb and be less than 50 characters. Here's an example of a good subject line: Discover 10 Trends That Will Cause Retailers To Lose Sleep.
- Use a simple email design. Email templates should be 650 pixels wide or less and should make good use of whitespace. Be consistent with your branding - don't confuse your audience.
- Make sure the body of the email fulfills the promise made in the subject line. Write in the second person (you, your, etc.) and include links in your email. Be brief and to the point - keep your emails less than 300 words. As Shakespeare said, "Brevity is the soul of wit."
- Always include a call-to-action in your email. The call-to-action should align with the goal of the email. Calls-to-actions can be image- or text-based. However, keep in mind that most email software like Outlook can keep your image from being displayed. If you do use an image, make sure to also include a text-based call-to-action.
- Include links in your email. Include at least three links and put one in the first couple of sentences. Use bold text and different font sizes to make the links stand out.
- Use images strategically. When using images think about the segment you're targeting and the goal of your email. Align your image with the content of the email and call-to-action. Remember, a good portion of your audience will be reading your email on a mobile device.
- Add social sharing icons. You're providing valuable content in your email marketing, right? Make it easy for your audience to share that great content with their friends and colleagues by including social sharing buttons. Most ESPs like HubSpot and MailChimp make this easy to do within their software.
- Sign the email. Personalize the email by including a signature and photo that aligns with the "from" name of the person sending the email.
- Include a PS. A PS line in your email is a great place to link to your blog or another offer that will interest your targeted segment.
- Create a web version of your email. This allows the recipient to see the email as it was written if it's not rendering correctly in their email client.
I want to thank Mark Kilens and Will Kavanagh for their help both with this blog post and my own email marketing. I can personally attest that their tactics work. Since adopting their advice, I've seen a notable improvement in my open rates and click-throughs in my email marketing. HubSpot not only offers a great all-in-one internet software marketing platform, but they also offer world-class educational opportunities for their customers taught by some of the best marketers in the business.