Why is email marketing important?
Email has transformed how we do business and it has been recognised as the technology that has had the greatest impact on how we work over the past ten years. Email also is vastly more effective at acquiring new customers than social media – almost 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.
However, on the average contact list around 60% of emails are inactive. This means that less than half of your contacts are probably receiving your communication and have a chance of opening it.
What I find amazing though is how many forms and checkouts don’t use real-time validation to improve data quality at source. This is a false economy as ‘Donald.Duck@outlook.com’ is unlikely to become a valuable long-term prospect.
1. Improve how you gather, manage and clean your email addresses:
Review your sign-up and email capture forms to ensure that if possible you have real-time validation integrated into the process and consider asking new customers to confirm their email address via a welcome email. This will almost certainly reduce the number of sign-ups you get but you have to question the intent of those visitors who try to register with bogus or inactive email addresses.
It is better to start a relationship with a customer on even terms rather than allow people to take advantage of a poorly implemented customer contact form. Otherwise you may also be opening yourself up to potential fraudulent activity that could cost you more than the price of a validation solution.
You should also consider regularly removing customers you have not opened emails and dormant customers of over 3 to 6 months to further improve your contact database. For more seasonal businesses you might want to extend this to a longer period if you have evidence to support this. You can view 13 email cleansing and verification solutions in a separate post.
2. Segment and prioritise your customers to improve targeting and response rates:
Try to consolidate all the data you collect from customers into a database so that you can begin to use it for email marketing. This will allow you to improve the quality of your contact database and segment your customers according to value and needs so that you can begin to target customers with more relevant and timely communications. This should allow you to improve open-rates significantly. Providers like Segment.com can assist you with this process.
3. Set up transactional & event-based emails:
Customers are most engaged when they complete a transaction on your site and so this is an ideal time to contact them with an email. Setting up transactional emails to confirm a customer initiated activity provides a great opportunity to deepen the relationship by including relevant content, such as cross-sell or up-sell messages and/or promotional offers.
For customers who register with you or meet other criteria (e.g. abandon basket) it is important to set up automated email cycles to deliver relevant and timely messages to provide revenue generating opportunities. You can use solutions such as GetResponse to create automated transactional and event driven email campaigns.
GetResponse allows you to establish event-based email cycles triggered by actions such as opens and clicks, change in contact preferences, birthday or other important dates, contact sign-up or another email cycle. This means you can set up email cycles that are adjusted for your audience profile and ensure they are received at the optimal moment in your customer’s journey.
4. Mobile optimisation is important:
According to statistics from the US Consumer Device Preference report almost three quarters (66%) of emails in the US are opened on smartphones and tablets. This means email marketing is especially good at reaching mobile customers and so content needs to be fully optimised for small screens. Most users who view an email on mobile will delete it if the email doesn’t look good on their mobile device.
Don’t assume your customers have perfect eyesight and check your emails on a real phone rather than an emulator. From a consumer’s perspective email marketing has the advantage over SMS texting as sometimes texting can result in a charge to the recipient.
Before embarking on email campaigns it is a good idea to consider all of these strategies as otherwise there is a danger your email campaigns will fail to deliver their expected return on investment. Although it is one of the most effective methods of digital marketing unless you do the necessary preparation work you could be throwing your money down the drain.
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You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.
- About the author: Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked with brands such as Deezer.com, Foxybingo.com, Littlewooods.com and partypoker.com. He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback. The objective is to ensure the aim of each webpage is aligned with the organisation’s business goals. This helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.