10 Do's and Don'ts for Successful Small Business Email Marketing Campaigns
The success of email marketing is not slowing down, in fact, quite the opposite. In 2015 Constant Contact reported that the return on investment for email marketing was $38.00 for every one dollar spent. In 2018, ESPs are now reporting an increase in ROI to $44.00 per $1.00 spent.
Need more encouragement to focus on email marketing? There's this datapoint to consider: "90% of customers prefer to receive company updates via newsletters over Facebook updates," according to research from Nielsen Norman Group. That same research shows at least 50% of subscribers made a purchase that was influenced by content in an email newsletter.
Understanding best practices and inherent pitfalls is critical to the success of your email marketing campaigns.
Here's how to maximize your email marketing investment, and what to avoid:
Some additional email marketing tips:
1. Grow your own email lists.
Buying a list is an email marketing shortcut that may hurt you in the long run. Here are a few alternatives for growing your own email list:
2. Automate your welcome emails.
Almost every ESP (Constant Contact, MailChimp, Emma, etc.) provides a feature to create a welcome email to be automatically sent to new email sign-ups. Take advantage of this feature. You can even create personalized messages and tailor welcome communications to respond to the type of content or social media post that generated the new lead.
3. Tease your email content and increase your open rates with your preheader text.
Effective preheaders depend on a good subject line. According to Constant Contact, the subject line should be "short, catch your readers' attention, and stand on its own for those who can't see the preheader."
To work in concert with your subject line, the preheader text should offer some additional detail to support the subject line and further tease the email content. The overall effect is to both inform and create a sense of urgency to take the desired action - which is to open the email.
Focus on the first five to eight words in the preheader text since anything beyond that won't appear in the recipient's inbox. Here's an example of a subject line and preheader combo as it appears in both desktop and mobile settings:
4 & 5. List segmentation and personalization will help your ROI.
It's all about getting more targeted with your communications. The best way to improve your open rate and click-thru rates is to segment your lists and personalize your email communications. Here are some ideas for ways in which you can segment your lists:
6 & 7. Nurture the customer journey and use dynamic content to keep customers and leads engaged.
Much like personalization where the recipient's name and other demographics are used in email copy content, dynamic content is another form of personalization.
Once you've segmented your list, you can serve up customized images, and other forms of content based on location or interests. Proceed with caution on gender-based customization as this can be a huge turn-off for some users as the Bic pen company found out the hard way.
8. Timing matters.
Most ESPs will offer an option to auto-schedule your email drop. This advice should not be ignored. ESPs want your campaigns to be as successful as possible and they track open rates and click-thru timing as well as volume. So why not take their suggestion?
Also be sure to note where your recipients reside. If you're auto-scheduling for 8:00am EDT this may work against your audience in the Pacific zone. Consider segmenting and scheduling for best open rates in both time zones.
9 & 10. Always be improving.
The suggestions in the above infographic to check every aspect of your email and review your campaign results are probably the two most important tips laid out here.
Always send a test email to yourself and to various email clients - Outlook, MacMail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc. and review on desktop, mobile and tablet environments. You may not be able to solve for all issues, but shoot for best performance on mobile and on PCs.
Also you can look to your statistics provided by your ESP to see how many recipients opened on a mobile device vs. a desktop to be sure you're serving up the best experience for your particular audience's behavior.