Learning how to create a persuasive email marketing campaign to entice your customers can be tricky. We all receive gentle nudgings in our inbox every day from dozens of businesses who would love to sell us something. We ignore most of them. So what is the secret to luring customers into opening your emails?
- Sharpen Your Focus
Honing in on the purpose of your email campaign should be relatively easy if you’ve done any other marketing. Simply let that focus spill over into your email marketing plan. If your focus is to make people more aware of the product or service that you offer, let your email marketing enhance this. For example, you can send them updates on new products, sales, offer coupons, information on industry trends, and even links to blogs or websites.
- Select a Reputable ESP
The options available for an email service provider (ESP) are quite large. There is Constant Contact, Mailchimp, iContact, Benchmark Email and Evenbrite, to name a few. Some offer a free trial and they are fairly low in cost (starting around $9), depending on the size of your contact list.
Research the options online, keeping in mind both your budget and purpose for sending emails. For example, if you want to send coupons periodically or offer customer surveys, make sure you find a provider who can give you that option.
- Set-Up for Success
To increase your open rate, make sure your return email address is not generic. You set this up when you create your account with your ESP. For example, (username)@(businessname).com gives a better impression than (username)@yahoo.com. If the email looks like spam, recipients will treat it as spam.
You’ll want to set up the tracking tools offered by your ESP. In doing so, you will know how many emails were opened, as well as the exact number of opt-outs, clicks, reads and more. This valuable information with help you plan future marketing campaigns.
Select a template and make sure your logo, location address, phone number and links to your website and social media are included and that all links are functional.
- Create Stronger Email Lists
The generation of your first customer list is relatively easy. Anyone you have done business with can be added to your list, according to MailChimp’s “Examples of Compliant and Non-Compliant Lists.” Now let’s take it a step further with “list segmentation.”
List segmentation is simply grouping your customers into categories according to their interests and/or location. For example, if your landscaping company takes care of Mr. Wimberly’s lawn and also designed his patio, you will want to tag him in both “lawn care” and “hardscaping.” That way, when you offer special on brick retainer walls or walkways and choose the hardscaping customer list, Mr. Wimberly will be included. Location segmentation works much the same way.
Segmenting your email lists give your campaigns a personal touch. Customers feel like you know them. It builds credibility and relationships.
Stephen Antisdel, manager partner of PreceptPartners.com in Buchanan, Michigan, discourages businesses from shooting emails to everyone. “Pray and spray … without regard to market segmentation” is one of the most common mistakes made by rookies. Blasting the same email to everyone results in customers growing irritated with emails they consider irrelevant or, worse yet, spam. The end result is an increase in subscribers opting out of future emails.
You also want to grow your list over and above your current customer base. Do this by:
- Making sure you offer opportunities for visitors and new customers to sign up for your email updates on your website, blog or social media. Want to give them additional incentive to partake of your exceptional email correspondence? Offer special treatment, services, products or resources to subscribers only.
- Asking potential customers for their email address at tradeshows or conventions. Have a giveaway that people have to sign up for and include their email address. Be courteous by sending them a one-time opt-in email first, asking if they want to continue receiving correspondence from you. Your consideration will be appreciated.
- Leveraging your business card. Add an offer on the back of your card that gives people the incentive to sign up.
- Never purchasing a list. Antisdel cautions that buying a list is the same as spam since it is considered unsolicited email.
- Energize Your Subject Line
Make it relevant and clever. You can often spruce up a subject line simply by adding an engaging action verb. For example, “Help CMS Fight Alzheimer’s” is much stronger than “CMS Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s.” One is simply an announcement while the other is an offer for customers to participate.
Also feel free to play with puns, add a sense of urgency (Last Chance to Save!) or ask a compelling question (What If You Had to Do This?). Marketing experts, such as those at CampaignMonitor.com, recommend you keep your subject line between 41 and 50 characters.
You also have the option to choose add a “preview text.” A preview text is that extra glimpse that some email servers show in addition to the subject line. If you play it right, you can use it to enhance your subject. For example, “Warehouse Blow-out Sale” subject with a preview “With prices so small you might need a magnifying glass.”
- Design Engaging Content
Remember the purpose of the email. Get to the point. Keep it short, precise and compelling. A study by Constant Contact revealed that more than 20 lines of copy and more than 3 images leads to more turn-offs.
Antisdel noted that the type of content “varies with the type of business, the target audience, the recipient’s expectations, and the sender’s business objectives.” He emphasized that “emails that are truly relevant to the recipient and designed to help the sender achieve a specific business objective are very effective.”
You must include a “call to action.” Insert a link that encourages your customer to click (or, aka, take action). The link can lead to a blog post, lead to a coupon, or offer the opportunity to sign up to be a VIP. A call to action engages your customer and you will be able to track their activity through the tracking system set up through your ESP. Not sure which call to action to use? Go through your own email or do some online research for a never-ending list of ideas.
- Test Your Creation
Be aware that email services may display your emails differently. For example, your email could look great in Yahoo, but the design might be discombobulated in Outlook.
Some ESPs offer email testing as part of their package. If your provider does not offer testing, sign up for additional email testing, like PutsMail. Additionally, you could create several email addresses with different email providers yourself and shoot a test email to all of them to see how well they translate.
Your customer correspondence is a direct reflection of the professionalism of your business. Make sure it looks good and is edited correctly.
- Ready, Set, Launch
Choose the list(s) of customers your email is intended for. Do not send it to all of your customers, unless you have content relevant to all of them.
Decide on what day and time you will launch your campaign. With most businesses, if you want optimal exposure, you won’t email your customers on the weekend. Any time during the business day is a fairly safe bet for most businesses. Your ESP’s tracking system will reveal the times and other habits of your customers. Note those times and tweak the timing of your future emails accordingly. Some of your EPSs, like MailChimp, give you suggested send-off times based on data they’ve collected.
- Study Your Data
In your ESP’s data tracking information, observe how well your content is received and processed. Pay special attention to the “opens,” as these reflect the success level of your subject line. Second, note how many customers clicked on your call to action. If you have one that receives a lot of action, make note to possibly revamp it for future campaigns.
- Plan in Advance
Now that you have the hang of this, start building an email marketing strategy. Set up a schedule of emails to be released. Remember, too many will turn customers away. Too few will cause them to lose interest. Each business is unique based on what it offers in product, service and email content.
Author: Cindy Lynn Sawyer
Cindy specializes in writing features, how-to articles and informative pieces on topics of interest to entrepreneurs and homeowners. She owns and operates her own company, Capitol Hardware, LLC, with her husband. As an experienced business owner, she has developed expertise in various areas of entrepreneurship, but emphasizes, “There’s always something new to learn.”