Email marketing is still the best way to increase brand awareness and acquire, convert and retain new customers. Unfortunately, there’s no exact recipe for email marketing growth.
Every business is different. But with the right ingredients, you can approximate your own recipe, tweak it to the tastes of your target audience and successfully grow your email marketing list over time.
Key Ingredients and Preparation
Whether you’re preparing a meal or developing an email marketing campaign, your level of success depends heavily on the quality and compatibility of your ingredients. It’s a delicate balance, and even seemingly small missteps — like adding too much salt or choosing the wrong email subject line — can have a major impact on your success.
Let’s take a look at how the key ingredients in your recipe for email marketing work together.
Bonus Content: Grab a copy of our Email Marketing Roadmap.
1. Marketing Goals
Before you start your email campaign, you need at least one measurable marketing goal. This should go beyond surface goals, such as simply increasing email open rates, and into more specific territory. For example, your goal may be to get a set number of word-of-mouth referrals from existing customers.
2. Targeted Contact Lists
Not every member of your contact list will respond to the same message at the same time. Segmenting your list allows you to develop and send appropriate content to new subscribers, qualified leads, past customers and loyal brand advocates.
If you’re just starting out, you can grow your email list by:
- Adding email sign-up forms to your website, blog and Facebook page
- Displaying a sign-up sheet in your office
- Adding a subscribe option to your email signature
After you take these steps, let new subscribers choose which emails they want to receive. This not only helps you segment your list, but it also ensures that your new subscribers get relevant content, which reduces the number of unsubscribe requests.
3. Email Service Provider (ESP) or Marketing Automation
Marketing automation software helps:
- Keep your database clean
- Segment your contacts
- Build email templates
- Schedule emails
- Keep campaigns CAN-SPAM/CASL compliant, reducing bounce rates and improving deliverability
- Track and measure campaign results
All of these features make your email campaigns easier to create, schedule and track. It’s also what we do for our customers.
4. Email Templates
Creating an email template helps you maintain a consistent visual representation of your brand over time. Plus, by doing the busywork of creating templates early, you save time in the long-term.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing email templates.
- Professional logos, images and brand-consistent color schemes can be used to establish a recognizable brand identity.
- Text should be easy to read. Extreme font sizes and colors are not recommended.
- Sixty-eight percent of all emails are opened on a mobile device, so your email campaigns should be mobile-friendly.
- Recipients must have the option to opt out of emails and be able to edit their email preferences.
- Buttons can be added for easy email forwarding and social sharing.
- Web and contact info should be clearly visible in the email signature.
5. Editorial Calendar
Setting up an editorial calendar keeps your campaigns on a logical, consistent schedule so that you stay top of mind without annoying your recipients with too many messages. It also allows you to match content to your seasonal marketing plans and tie in time-sensitive events and promotions.
6. Strong Email Subject Lines
Email subject lines make the first impression and often determine whether or not the recipient opens your email. You have only three or four seconds to make this impression, so your subject line needs to be short and to the point (50 characters or fewer), yet enticing enough to make the email worth opening.
7. Email Body Content
Body content should satisfy the expectations set by the subject line. Furthermore, content should focus on the wants, needs and interests of the recipient.
The idea is to start and maintain a conversation using valuable content that not only engages your contacts, but also positions you as a trusted friend and industry expert. This keeps you top of mind and increases your likelihood of receiving repeat and referral business.
According to Constant Contact, click-through rates are highest when the body contains 20 lines of text or less and three images or fewer. So save long-form content for premium downloads or break it down into a smaller series of emails.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to test/preview your email before scheduling a campaign. View the email on a mobile device and adjust if necessary!
8. Call to Action (CTA)
Your call to action should serve as the logical conclusion to your body content and give the recipient a reason to click through to your landing page.
9. Landing Pages
Your landing page should provide ample follow up to the CTA, maintaining the tone and look of the email while keeping the CTA front and center so the prospect knows exactly what to do when they get there.
10. Real-Time Data Tracking and Analysis
Once your campaign is live and cooking, your ESP/marketing automation software provides real-time data that can be used to taste your progress and tweak your recipe. The ultimate goal is to use the data from each campaign to improve and grow your email marketing strategy moving forward.
What to Expect Once Dinner Is Served
Unfortunately, we can’t predict the success of your email campaign, but having a recipe for email marketing beforehand is certainly a step in the right direction. Here are a few statistics that show the value of email marketing, done right.
- U.S. businesses average a 4,300 percent ROI on email marketing.
- Companies that leverage email nurturing report 50 percent more sales-ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost.
- Social sharing buttons have increased email click-through rates by 158 percent.
With the proper ingredients, preparation and cook time, your recipe for email marketing has the potential to deliver outstanding results, including new subscribers from word-of-mouth referrals. Just don’t forget to track the data and season to taste!
Updated 1/4/17; Originally published 1/20/16.