Feb 11, 2022 / Email
Tried and tested techniques for email marketing
Simple steps you can take to improve your email marketing.
There are a number of different strategies to help email work harder for you. In this email marketing blog post series, we will be taking a look at some of those strategies. Today, our focus is on content, and how you can make it work harder for your business. And if you don't currently have email in your marketing mix you should probably read ‘Is email still the best ROI digital marketing activity in 2022?’ before you read on.
Email marketing, like all forms of marketing, needs a plan. A good starting place is to identify what you are trying to achieve, or in marketing terms ‘decide what success looks like’. The automatic assumption is that email marketing is just about generating sales but there is more nuance to it than that. Email marketing should play a part in every stage of your customer journey. Starting with awareness all the way to purchase then on to the holy grail of marketing; customer advocacy.
Identify and build your audience
The first stage of any marketing campaign is to identify your target audience, and email marketing is no different. Back in the olden days, you used to be able to buy mailing lists of both addresses and email addresses (some marketers still do that today), this was a bit like black hat SEO, a quick fix that might provide some short term gains, but normally ended with long term pain.
The better way is of course to identify your audience and build your database through targeted marketing. Keeping an up to date CRM with some good quality data will make it easier to segment recipients and send them appropriate content based on factors like age, location or customer profile - whether they’re retail or trade etc.
Understanding your audience, working out what makes them tick, then providing the type of content that they want to consume becomes easier the more you know about them, so keep your CRM up to date. Creating content that resonates with your audience is all about finding the topics that provide that sweet spot between what you want to talk about and what is interesting to them:
As you build your database, and their interaction with your content you can stretch the topics further towards the things that you want to talk about, but to start with, play it safe! Build trust gradually.
Write marketing emails for your audience
It is not just important to get the topic of your content right, the tone of voice and language is important too. Imagine that you are Adidas, the sponsors of Team GB at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, you could be mistaken for thinking ‘they are all Winter Olympians, we can talk to them all in the same way but that would be a mistake. Figure skating has a different language to speed skating, which in turn has a different language to luge, big air or ice hockey.
Your audience is likely not too different, but each group may have a different way of speaking. It is your job to identify that style and make sure that your content mirrors the terminology and make sure your tone of voice is appropriate for each of your audience segments.
What is your email call to action?
Once you have identified your audience, along with the correct vocabulary and tone of voice to engage them you need to focus on what action you want them to take.
It is very rare that a piece of email marketing is an endpoint in itself. Far more common, it is part of a journey that leads the recipient to:
A website purchase
A blog for more in depth content
A form for more details
Your YouTube channel for more content
A prompt to get in contact for a more personal or expert experience
Identifying the right call to action is key to making your email marketing a success. Putting it together with the right content and the right tone of voice and you are starting to get there.
A picture paints a thousand words
When building your email, don’t get lost in the written word, content is more than just words. Consider including other elements in your email marketing where appropriate, such as GIFs, Images, Infographics audio or video clips. All of these are now commonplace in email marketing and can be used to great effect. (They can also be terrible!) As the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words, so the right picture can do a lot of the hard work for you. Choose carefully, combine your imagery or video with the right words and you are almost there.
Personalising your marketing emails
The icing on the cake is personalisation. One of the simplest ways to make an email more personal is to include a name; if you don’t have this, include a first name fallback that is appropriate to your audience. All good Email Service Providers offer a function that lets you do this, it is not there accidentally, it is to encourage you to start the journey to better personalisation.
But don’t stop at ‘Hello Gemma’, personalisation is more than just knowing someone’s first name, it is about knowing what they like. Think of the experience of going into your favourite coffee shop, being greeted by name and being brought your favourite drink. That is personalisation!
You need to be just as good as that barista, the one who knows that you are a traditionalist, you like a cappuccino but never after 11am, and now that you are a little older you also only go for decaf after lunch, but still like to round the day off with that double espresso (decaf obvs). With email it is as it is with coffee, know your audience, know how they interact with your content, know what time times of day work best, and even on what type of devices they consume your content on, add it all into your CRM, and use it to improve each and every email.
Measure, iterate, improve
Like all marketing, email should be measured, but unlike some forms of marketing, email lends itself to measurement. You can track open rates, click-throughs, forwards, and heaven forbid unsubscribes. But it should not end there, every click through to your website or blog should be the start of a journey that you are measuring through the use of tools like Google Tag Manager (and the right permissions) to build a much better view of what works, and what doesn’t.
Although it’s possible to get a feel for your email marketing performance by comparing to industry-specific data, your campaigns are unique to your audience and so it’s important to keep testing and analysing the performance results to find a balance. Carry out A/B testing to see what content gets a good response and segment if you can.
Don’t worry if some of this is a little alien to you, our next blog in this series will be about metrics and data!
Email marketing, like most marketing, is part creativity, part data analytics and part process. Make sure you are tracking results and continually iterating and your email marketing activity will not only continue to deliver incredible ROI, it will also teach you things about your audience that will help you build great content for all channels.