Five top tips to improve your email marketing

Five top tips to improve your email marketing

By Oliver Milman
Thursday, 09 February 2012

As email has become a ubiquitous tool for the public, businesses have been able to take advantage of a low-cost, high-reach and easily measurable marketing medium.


However, with an estimated 294 billion emails sent around the world every day, it’s fair to say that your potential customers’ inboxes are already overflowing with messages – some far more welcome than others.


This has caused some savvy start-ups to move to other channels, such as social media, to avoid the impression of being spam-mongers.


But email can still play a key role in your business, as Shoes of Prey co-founder Michael Fox explained in a recent StartupSmart blog post


With the rise in daily deals sites and many retailers looking to shift stock quickly at discounted prices, email marketing remains an important tool. It can also help make your brand feel warm and personal to customers.


Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs get the basics wrong.


“Consumers are quick to unsubscribe from services that deliver irrelevant content or abuse consumers’ trust,” says Stas Belkov, co-founder of daily deals aggregation business


Here are Belkov’s top five ways to improve your email marketing efforts.


1. Provide real value


When launching an email campaign or newsletter, ensure your content is interesting, relevant, and engaging.


Give your users what they were after when they originally signed up to your website or service.


This may be the latest news about your products, curated content about your particular niche, or special offers that cannot be found elsewhere.


There must be a compelling reason for your subscribers to open your email, or they will ignore it.


Ensure the quality of your email is top notch; provide a better email service than your competitors.


Being dynamic can also be beneficial to your email campaigns. Offering the same thing every time will quickly result in many users unsubscribing.


Mix it up by approaching each email alert differently, or by updating your style and content type each month.


2. Personalise your message


Whether you’re providing basic news about your company or promoting your products and services, personalisation can enhance the effectiveness of your email campaigns.


Even before getting to the email itself, the subject headline can benefit from personalisation by including a user's name.


Any piece of data that makes the email feel more personal to the user will have a positive effect on open rates.


The email itself presents many opportunities to personalise content for users.


Information and news can be shown based on user interests, while products and services can be recommended based on previous purchases.


This level of personalisation hinges on the amount of data that is available on each particular user, but if implemented successfully it can have a large positive impact on an email campaign.


The sign-up process is the perfect opportunity to find out about each user’s likes and interests.




3. Ensure deliverability


For an email campaign to be successful, emails must not only be created but also delivered successfully.


Around 20% of legitimate emails do not make it to the user’s inbox, so it is essential to use the proper tools and services to ensure your emails arrive successfully.


Email deliverability depends on two primary factors: authentication and reputation.


The former requires you to use of an authentication protocol and proper email setup. The latter requires you to have a consistently low bounce rates, low spam complaints, low invalid emails, and a consistent mailing volume.


While it can be difficult for a start-up to take care of all these elements on their own, a range of services are available that ensure the reliable delivery of emails.


For comprehensive solutions, services such as MailChimp and CampaignMonitor are able to take care of the entire process from design to delivery.


For more a more customised solution, services such as SendGrid and Amazon SES are able to send vast amounts of email as well as interface with existing websites and applications.


4. Optimise


Optimisation at both email and campaign levels is crucial for email marketing success.


Just like a website, emails can be A/B tested to find the highest performing email design or template.


Experiment by changing email copy, subject lines, and images while measuring click through and conversion rates.


Campaign level optimisation involves managing the subscriber list, email frequency, scaling, and reliability.


In order to maintain a positive reputation as a non-spammer, email lists need to be pruned to remove bouncing and invalid emails, as well as subscribers that repeatedly mark your emails as spam.


It’s also beneficial to monitor subscribers that have not opened any emails for an extended period of time.


A targeted reminder email to these users may regain their interest in your service; otherwise the removal of these subscribers may save on sending costs and improve sender reputation.


5. Stay honest and transparent


From the very beginning, your email campaign should be completely fair and transparent.


Even prior to running the campaign itself, the acquisition of subscribers needs to be done using legitimate methods.


If your subscribers are acquired by purchasing email lists, there is a high chance that your emails will be reported as spam and your entire campaign will fail.


It is vital that your subscriber list consists of people who are interested in your services and have been acquired by legitimate means.


In terms of email content, products and services must be shown with no hidden charges or conditions. Failing to do so may result in higher unsubscribe rates, spam reports, and customer complaints.


Finally, all email communication must present a clear way to unsubscribe from the mailing list, which should take no more than two clicks.


Not complying with this requirement will not only damage your reputation, but also get you into legal trouble.


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