The good news is the audience is already there: 91% of the US population has at least one email address they check daily, and 71% of email users use their primary email address to sign up for marketing and advertising emails. This means that more than two thirds of outgoing emails are landing in actively maintained inboxes.
This surge in constant email use delivers the benefit of a large audience – but also offers challenges to marketers. One of the most important: Buyers have higher expectations of the emails they receive: More than 70% of consumers expect that brands will deliver marketing information specific to their purchase history and tailored to their current interests.
The beauty of email marketing is that you can customize the messages to fulfill those expectations. Here are four simple steps that can endear your buyer and put you ahead of your competition:
1. Customize the Subject Line
The subject line of your email is the single most important 50 characters of the entire email – it is your first point of contact with the buyer, and it can singlehandedly win or lose a lead. Creating a good subject line depends on three key elements:
Keep it short and sweet: Choose succinct words that pack a punch – you have the rest of the email to inform your buyers of your intention, but only a few words to grab their attention. Active, descriptive words will catch their eye and hold it long enough to get the email open.
Appeal to their needs: Consider these two subject lines:
“Studies show simple and effective methods to personalizing email marketing help businesses increase their numbers”
“Get 20% better email results: Act-On shows you how”
- The first is 99 characters long; the other is only 42 (That’s less than half as long, 58% shorter).
- The first is impersonal, third-person; the other reaches out to you as the recipient.
- The first one is abstract; the second makes a specific promise to a specific person: you.
Personalize your subjects: Take the second subject line above and add the recipient’s company name: “Jackson Lumber Brokers: Get 20% better email results.” Suddenly, the email sounds like it’s from someone who knows the company and has insight into what they want. Buyers enjoy feeling as if they’re in on something exclusive, and adding first names or company names can do just that by using some simple coding and a well-maintained list.
Another important element to consider is the preheader – in most email clients, the pre-header shows up with the subject line, and gives you the opportunity to embed a call-to-action before the buyer even opens the email. Don’t waste this valuable space.
2. Make Content Relevant and Segment Your Lists
Make your content relevant to the recipient. Remember: 75% of consumers expect content to be related to something they bought or did; relevance to the buyer can make your emails stand out and be noticed.
List segmentation is an easy way to send relevant emails to prospective buyers. It can be simple or very complex, but it’s a good idea to stick to the basics:
- Gender, age, title, industry, and geographical location can indicate specifically what information they might be interested in – for example, Bostonians won’t be too thrilled to get an email about swimwear in November! But Australians could appreciate it.
- Tracking buyers’ past behaviors and demonstrated interests. If they tend to buy commodities at certain times, you could forecast when that next buy will be and perhaps upsell them. If they bought computers, maybe now’s the time to pitch an upgrade or a complementary product. If they always visit a specific product page on your website, send them a targeted special offer.
3. Use the Right Frequency
Walking the line between effectively reaching buyers and bombarding them is a constant challenge. Too few emails can fail to properly market your brand; too many emails can scare subscribers, create email fatigue, and ultimately disengage buyers.
Personalizing frequency by the type and immediacy of the information presented keeps buyers engaged and responsive. Bulldog Reporter outlines three frequency types for optimal email scheduling:
- Daily newspaper
- Ideal for 24-hr/flash sales
- Send the night before or day of to encourage a sense of immediacy
- Beware the balance of frequency! If everything is important, nothing is
- Weekly or monthly catalogue
- Ideal for weekly/monthly promotions
- Used in place of daily emails to relieve email fatigue
- Subscribers expect weekly emails, and are more likely to engage
- Monthly newsletter
- Distribute useful information – without the intent to sell
- Content-driven to extend your brand’s voice/persona
- Use to show your expertise within the industry and build trust
4. Optimize Email for Mobile
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? However, 42% of email marketers rarely or never optimize email campaigns for mobile, leaving the 88% of buyers checking emails on their cellphones out of the loop. In fact, 71% of the buyers using a mobile device will simply delete emails that aren’t optimized for mobile, leaving less than 30% of the original mobile audience engaged.
Optimizing emails for mobile is trickier than it sounds – simply shrinking the content to fit smaller screens can leave content illegible and badly organized. Creating narrow design to fit a mobile device will look sloppy on desktops, diminishing the desktop users’ experience and engagement.
A responsive layout, however, adjusts based on the user’s screen size, meaning the email is just as accessible and well designed on mobile as it is on a desktop. With a responsive layout, you can design so that the mobile viewer gets mobile-only content (e.g. custom call-to-action, link to open an app) and doesn’t see desktop-specific information (e.g. link to open email in your browser).
Future-Proof Your Email
Email marketing will continue to evolve. But these steps should be good for a long time, helping you create more effective email marketing campaigns to reach your buyers in a way that’s meaningful for them – and to engage more subscribers for longer, more loyal relationships.
And if you are ready to move past the basics of email marketing, Act-On has a great guide to help get you started. The Amazingly Effective Email Guide will give you five easy steps for more successful and more profitable email campaigns.