Whether you are new to email marketing or have been refining your email strategies for years, there are seven initiatives that are essential for your continued email marketing success.
Increase Your Segmentation Efforts
Email marketing data offers incredible segmentation power and the ability to take advantage of small audience segments that might otherwise be financially or technically difficult to reach. If you haven’t started segmenting your list and sending more targeted messages based on recipient data or behaviours, start today.Most of the research in the email industry indicates that segmentation yields significant gains in email conversions.
Some typical strategies for segmentation include:
Geography. This is an easy, fairly obvious segmentation strategy. For example, your customer in Florida is unlikely to be interested in a snowmobile. And your customer in Minnesota probably isn’t interested in a jet ski—in the winter, anyway. Geography can also be a powerful indicator of buying patterns and other influences on the purchase cycle. Take the high tech industry, for example. In high tech pockets like Silicon Valley early adopters are far more common.
Demographics. This is another easy one, and can make a lot of sense. For example, we know men and women can interpret information quite differently. Younger vs. older audiences take in information in different ways as well.
Job title and function. Are you emailing potential users with no—or all the—buying power?
An owner or CFO may want to know about ROI. A middle manager may just want to make his or her job easier. And an engineer or programmer wants to find better ways to work. And so on.
Purchasing frequency. Less frequent purchasers may require a time sensitive offer to encourage them to act. Or maybe you want to reward frequent buyers with exclusive privileges via email. Monetary spending. Adjust resources so you’re dedicating your efforts toward customers who spend the most money with your company.
If you have been segmenting your email audiences, don’t stop. Try to find new ways to segment and look at segmentation based on historical email activity, perhaps treating people who are frequent “clickers” or “openers” differently.
Rethink and Refine Your Opt-in Campaigns
Perform a check-up on your opt-in processes. Review everything from the data fields you’re collecting to the confirmation email you are sending afterwards. Small changes can mean big gains in new audiences, as well as setting the proper expectations for subscribers.
- Can you increase opt-ins by reducing unneeded data collection?
- Are you prominently directing Web visitors to sign up for email? Can you place this on more pages, or in locations that are more visible?
- Do you clearly define significant and relevant benefits for subscribers signing up for your email? Does the email you send confirming the opt-in restate the benefits?
- Do you set expectations and ask subscribers to “add this address to your safe list” in the opt-in process?
The language you use, the support graphics, and the staging techniques you employ can make a huge difference—between being totally ignored and creating an evolving, dynamic relationship that can enhance database precision, enrich dialogue, and help you showcase a larger scope of services.
Furthermore, if you’re not using strict opt-in policies, start now. As recipients continue to tire of unwanted email, you’ll continue to see declining response rates if you are not using an opt-in-only process.
Clean Your Lists and Try to Maintain Them
Perform a thorough cleaning of your email lists. This does not necessarily mean blindly deleting a bunch of names, but rather using segmentation strategies to treat historically inactive recipients differently than people who are actively opening and clicking on your email messages. Here are some suggestions for periodically cleaning house:
- Take a close look at your lists and list segments. Are there some list segments you are never using? If so, clean them out.
- Review lists of people who have not responded to messages in the past few months and contact them in a different way than the rest of your list. If they still do not respond, consider removing them. Remember, today’s email success is about quality and not quantity.
- Review any new list segments you may want to make. Are there any ways to segment and strengthen messages to various groups? If so, segment them now and start communicating more effectively to those groups.
Design for Disabled Images and Preview Panes
Audiences are increasingly looking at your messages without images turned on. (It may not be their choice, but rather the default of their email client.) Make sure your messages are still readable and compelling without images. This may mean designing messages using fewer images, or including a short list of articles at the top of your newsletter.
This technique works well for people who are viewing your message through a preview pane as well. Making sure enough content is placed in the upper right hand of the message to give recipients something to act upon will be important to success rates.
Institute Authentication Standards
Email authentication has reached critical mass, and will continue to grow in importance for email delivery. If you haven’t already, make sure you set up SPF records, Sender ID records, and mail using Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) authentication whenever possible. Proper use of these authentication methods will help your deliverability and will contribute to building a positive reputation for your domain.
Your IT department and/or email service provider should be able to provide specific steps on how to set up these authentication methods. They can also verify which authentication methods are set up already if you’re not sure. The chart below shows a very simplistic and conceptual view of email with and without authentication.
Expand Your Email Testing Efforts
One of the best ways to refine your email strategy is through testing. If you’re a beginner at this, the simplest form of testing is splitting your email list into A and B segments, and sending each segment a message where one element, and only one element, is varied: subject line, copy, image, layout, offer, call to action, etc.
Then analyse the results to determine which variation was more successful in increasing response, and optimize future messages accordingly.
Whenever you’re testing, remember the six steps for email testing success:
- Ask a question
- Form a theory
- Create the test
- Segment the list
- Measure and analyse results
- Make changes
If you’re already a testing pro, or have performed some tests in previous years, keep refining what you have learned to continually improve your campaign performance. As with many of the other initiatives we’ve outlined, small and continual gains can provide major dividends.
Rethink Tired Campaigns
Marketers are increasingly seeing the power that email marketing can have when used properly as part of the marketing mix. We encourage you to go beyond the status quo with your over-arching email efforts and aggressively build your campaigns to deliver better results and new opportunities.
Rethink campaigns that have run for a while, and look at analytics to uncover new avenues of content or functionality that your audiences may respond to. Email offers a unique platform to quickly and cost-effectively change campaigns for the better. Take advantage of these unique abilities to maximize your efforts.