Design an Email Marketing Program That Keeps Your Audience Reading
Learn how to research and create outside-the-inbox email marketing campaigns that keep your audience coming back for more.
Most brands concentrate their email marketing efforts on promotional emails and discounts. Subscribers expect the same rusty messages in their inboxes. This leads to the dismissal of emails—subscribers ignore, delete, unsubscribe, or worse—report emails as spam. As a result, companies miss powerful, direct connections to customers. A customer should want to read your emails, not just search through their inbox trash folder for deals at checkout.
Making memorable emails is hard. Getting creative can be challenging, and it can be tough to sell and manage a unique email marketing program. But wouldn’t it be nice to deliver a “must read” to a customer’s inbox?
Three Key Components for Email Marketing Success
Before generating and trying new ideas, make sure to have business goals, branding guidelines, and customer research in place. These three key components help ensure a brand’s mission, goals, look, voice, and community are at the program’s forefront.
Goals: Always tie everything back to your brand’s greater goals.
This will help you focus on what types of emails and messages should be considered and help pinpoint where your brand may be missing opportunities.
Company: A B2C independent bookseller
Business goal: Boost return visits
The email: Emphasize the importance of customers reviewing their purchases and then from there, suggest other books customers may enjoy.
Company: An accounting software company with a free trial
Business goal: Convert more customers
The email: Focus on clever onboarding that uses animated gifs to show customers how easy the software is to use.
Branding Guidelines: Let’s be honest: Being creative with a brand can be downright intimidating.
However, most companies do have branding guidelines for both design and voice. These guides cover important aspects of a brand, including appropriate colors, look, feel, and word choices. They assist in making sure branded terms are spelled correctly and logos aren’t abused. Some guides are long and in-depth, while others are only one page. Branding guidelines should be flexible, living documents, but they serve as a lifeline while in the deep end of creativity. Check out some great branding guidelines, shared online, from UC Berkeley, Mozilla, American Heart Association, Blackberry, and MailChimp.
Customer Research: Know what your brand’s customers are looking for and what they’re into, and attempt to predict what they may also enjoy.
While there are many ways to go about audience research, most brands already have a lot of data at their fingertips. For e-commerce sites, a brand knows what customers are purchasing, where they live, and more. With basic website analytics, it’s easy to gauge popular content. This type of data is a goldmine. For example, a B2C outdoor clothing brand may find customers make extremely high-dollar purchases on safari clothing in the first quarter of the year. They can then make sure emails highlight this type of clothing as well as feature safari tips.
If you don’t have enough data, surveying your audience is easy. Tools such as Wufoo, Polldaddy, SurveyMonkey, and even Google Document’s forms are simple to use. And for the company looking to level up, try Qualtrics, Qualaroo, or Foresee. To further drive customer research, a brand can develop personas and use them to classify audiences, break down psychographic variables, and then build email marketing around them.
With key components and knowledge in place, it’s time to decide the types of emails and creativity. At this point, lay out every single email already sent by your brand in order to decide what to revamp, where there may be gaps, what’s outdated, etc. Depending on how many emails you send, it may be important to focus on one type of email at a time.
Test, Polish, and Test Some More
Armed with ideas, it’s time to put them to work. You should test each idea, iterate on it, and test some more. Creative email campaigns aren’t a static project to mark off the to-do list. Customers and brands need change. Continue to be inspired, generate ideas, and make email programs better and better.
Erica McGillivray spends a ridiculous amount of time being geeky, both professionally and personally. At Moz, she’s the senior community manager, wrangling 500,000+ people and co-running their annual conference MozCon. Erica also is a founder of GeekGirlCon, is a published author, and has a comic book collection that’s an earthquake hazard.
Follow her at @emcgillivray.
Do you make the most of your email marketing campaigns? Tell me more in the comments below.
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