You've Got Mail: How Email Marketing Is Changing the Game of Direct Marketing

You've Got Mail: How Email Marketing Is Changing the Game of Direct Marketing

What Is an Email Marketing Service?

Everyone's gotten at least one email with any of the following subject lines: 50% Off Weekend Sale! Buy One Get One Free! We've Moved!

Why has everyone shared in this? It's because email marketing helps businesses connect and engage with large numbers of contacts at once to share information, increase social engagement or increase sales. And while you may find that email in your inbox a little annoying or repetitive from time to time, research shows that 72% of people prefer to receive promotional information through email.

Brands are five times more likely to engage with customers via email versus Facebook. And on the subject of statistics, email also sees the highest conversion rate (an average of 66% across all industries) compared to social and snail mail direct mailers.

The success of email marketing, as you know, means that inboxes are packed. So how do you stand out from the crowd to stay innovative and add value? Let's explore that.

The Why of Email Marketing

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of email marketing is that it is relatively free. You do have to spend money growing your prospect and customer lists, designing eye-catching layouts and creating copy that resonates with your readers, but sending the actual email itself costs nothing. Basic email marketing services are almost always free (until your list reaches a certain threshold, and then monthly fees become associated based on list size). Another top benefit is the ability to track almost everything. This includes being able to see who opens your email, which links are being clicked, who forwarded your email, bounce rates and how many (and which) readers unsubscribed.

You and I live in a mobile world, making email marketing even more valuable for business owners because it allows you to reach consumers on mobile, any time of the day, without investing in new technology or software. Over half of mobile users in the U.S. access emails from their phones and a growing number of people are accessing emails on tablets. A strong majority (over 60%) of the U.S. population have used coupons received via email, which translates to increased revenue for businesses of all kinds. The statistics say it all: One in three consumers prefer to receive discounts and coupon codes on their mobile devices.

Who are the Big Email CRM Players?

There are a number of tried and true CRM systems that help you manage lists, design beautiful newsletters and track EVERYTHING. Some of the top players are: Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Benchmark, Active Campaign and iContact. All of the major CRM systems offer drag and drop editing tools, complete tracking tools and website integration to make things simple. Some even offer the ability to build landing pages and integration with a sales CRM. Consider your goals to decide which system is best for you and your business.

Email Marketing Best Practices

Now that you've picked your CRM, it's time to get down to the actual work. Ready, set, e-blast!

1. Create a Personal Connection

Sometimes you can over design, but lack connection. Casual design can be sufficient, and emails that read like a friend or colleague can be quite effective. Personalized subject lines alone are 26% more likely to be opened. Companies also found that using a signature that appears to be from a team member or employee increases click through rates. But personalization doesn't just have to be limited to a person's name. Nearly half of US online retailers used personalized product recommendations (44.9%), about a third added the customer's name and/or a unique welcome message (31.5%) and a quarter of the respondents reported adding shopping cart reminders (27.6%) to cover all of their personalization bases.

Another way to customize is to segment your contact lists. You can segment by location, age, position in sales cycle, preferences, past orders, etc. Segment based on your campaign message, and personalize campaign messages based on segments. It's also smart to purge your subscriber lists of folks who aren't opening your email lists, because low open rates can seriously hurt email deliverability.

2. Set Up Autoresponders

Autoresponders can be set for behaviors such as cart abandonment and reengagement. Emails that call customers back to the website with some lighthearted copy can nudge potential buyers back into the sales cycle. It can also remind them of value and your USP.

3. Use Clever Copy

Copy works best when it is brief, clever (everyone loves a good chuckle!) and aligns with your brand. Make your message standout by using thoughtful language. A side note for making copy have even more impact - white space strategically increases comprehension by 20%.

4. Use Videos and GIFs

Who doesn't love a good GIF? If you're not using moving images, you're behind! Video content increases open rates by 40%. Easy to consume, GIFs are eye-catching and they can show your brand's personality in a fun and lighthearted way. Video content is also better at creating an emotional impact than static images or copy.

5. Include a Call to Action

Every time you ask your mail recipients to spend their time opening your mail, there has to be a clear purpose. Include a call-to-action that is easy to understand and simple to complete. Keep in mind that every email doesn't have to sell. Other call to actions can be to follow on social, complete a review, answer a short survey or refer a friend. Don't just email for the sake of emailing. Understand what you hope to get each time you enter your customers' inboxes.

This article was originally published for Inc. Magazine, you can read the full article here.

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