Most small business owners have heard a lot about the power of email marketing. Possibly even stats like:
- Customers spend 138% more when marketed to through email, as compared to those who do not receive email offers
- 86% of consumers prefer to see email marketing messages rather than Facebook ads, TV commercials and display ads
- The average open rate for email marketing messages sent in North America is 19.49%, much higher than the average engagement rates on social
And yet these numbers might not reflect your own experience with email marketing.
Emails often go unopened. People don’t respond to the call to action. Sometimes you wonder if anyone is even receiving them.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are 5 easy ways to improve your email marketing so you can better serve your customers and harness the power of email marketing for your business.
1. Send emails consistently.
Email marketing allows you to foster a more personal relationship with customers.
But just like any relationship, if communication is not consistent, problems may arise.
So to be successful with email marketing, you need to first make a commitment to send emails regularly.
In fact, we recommend clients not implement email marketing if they don’t have a rough plan for the next 6 months that includes:
- How many emails will be sent
- An approximation of when emails will be sent
- What types of emails will be sent (newletters, promotional, etc.)
- Who is in charge of the content of each email
If that sounds daunting, take heart. Quality over quantity is always best.
A high frequency of emails does not guarantee success and could even annoy customers, while a quality email once a month could be wildly successful.
Consistency doesn’t mean an email every day — or even every week. It simply means setting your customers’ expectations and then delivering quality content to them regularly.
2. Clean up your email subscriber list.
Most small businesses have a database of customer emails that have been collected over years – and sometimes even decades.
That’s why it’s a good idea to go through your list of email subscribers every 6 months and find individuals who have:
- Never opened any of your email campaigns, or who haven’t opened any campaigns for the last 6 months.
- Been on your email list for longer than one year.
- Emails that weren’t deliverable.
The first step to a cleaner list is to delete any email addresses in that last category.
For the other two groups, though, we recommend conducting a reengagement campaign and asking subscribers to opt-in again.
This campaign will remind customers why they’re on your list, as well as teasing what future communications will provide (discounts, helpful tips, etc.). Featured prominently in the email will also be two large, easy-to-click options individuals can select to unsubscribe or opt-in.
Here’s a great example from independent data company Peer39. This email campaign was developed specifically because of changing privacy concerns and regulations, particularly in Europe. (Read more about how that affects small businesses here.)
But won’t I lose a lot of subscribers?
It’s a possibility. But with email marketing, it’s much better to have a smaller, engaged audience than a large one that’s not paying attention to your campaigns.
That’s because email providers look at how people respond to emails from you, then decide whether or not your email deserves to go into their inboxes or into the junk folder for spam.
So if you’ve got loads of unengaged subscribers, your campaigns will likely be shuffled into the abyss of the spam folder. And once that happens, the deliverability of future email marketing campaigns will be affected.
A clean list can prevent all that.
In fact, there are so many benefits to maintaining a clean list that you may decide to continue featuring the unsubscribe button in all emails to ensure uninterested parties can opt out rather than marking your email marketing as spam.
3. Create email marketing for customers, not for your business.
There’s a reason market research company Forrester has coined this time in marketing as “The Age of the Customer.” Marketing today must be oriented around the customer’s desires in order to succeed.
This includes email marketing.
Time and time again, the campaigns that work best demonstrate an understanding of who audiences are and what type of content matters to them.
Often the content they’re looking for isn’t an overly promotional email designed for a quick conversion. Instead, deliver content such as product tips or ways to get the most out of your service that will solidify your relationship with the customer. This will keep them engaged and loyal.
This is especially true for companies that provide a service. For example, an oil and gas provider that continually sends hard-sell emails will likely fall flat with customers.
But email campaigns that remind customers of necessary service dates or provide insightful tips about how to better conserve energy will likely garner a higher degree of engagement.
It’s true that an occasional promotional email or hard sell can be appropriate, but most email marketing campaigns should focus on fostering a relationship with customers.
4. Talk like a real person in your email marketing.
No one wants to read an email that sounds contrived and impersonal. So it’s important to step back and analyze the copy of each campaign.
If you’re struggling with this, look at the email campaigns you found particularly engaging or clever.
For example, we like Brian Dean of Backlinko. His emails are simple and conversational. The subject lines are always clear, and he positions one link to click within every email rather than having multiple calls-to-action.
On top of that, Brian’s emails use the same voice that he employs in his videos, providing a cohesive feel to all of his content marketing. (Learn more about powerful brand voices here.)
This may not come naturally at first, so it may be helpful to follow investor Warren Buffet’s approach.
Every year, Buffet has to write a shareholder letter. But instead of writing to the millions of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, he writes the letter to one of them: his sister Doris.
The copy still fits within the brand voice for his company, but his approach helps him to write with a more personal tone. And people love these letters so much that they’ve been published into books.
One last thing to keep your email campaigns non-robotic: Always send from an address that customers can easily reply to.
Nothing says impersonal communication like having a customer try to reply to your email only to realize it came from a No-Reply address.
5. Dig into the analytics of your email marketing campaigns.
If you’re not paying attention to your open rates or click-thru rates, every new email will be a shot in the dark.
However, if you take time to analyze how customers are interacting with your emails, you’ll quickly begin to better understand your audience.
One way to quickly do this is to split your list into two, and deploy an email marketing campaign with one small difference between emails. The difference could be anything, including:
- The subject line
- The image
- The call to action
- The time it’s sent
- The day of the week it’s sent
If split testing is too much to handle at the moment, you can still garner helpful insights from the stats behind your email marketing campaigns.
For example, a higher open rate may signal a more engaging subject line. And a higher click-thru rate could mean that more people are interested in the focus of the email, or that your call-to-action was especially effective.
Either way, the numbers will always help you to better understand your audience so your next email marketing campaign will be even better.
Don’t settle for humdrum email marketing.
As the volume of emails has skyrocketed over the years, customers have become increasingly deaf to email marketing.
Spam folders have filled up.
Deletes have become normal.
But that doesn’t mean the power of email marketing is gone.
Employing these five principles helps your small business to break through that noise and reach consumers.
And that will help you start to see what everyone’s been talking about.