Email Marketing Workshop
with Michael Stebbins of Market Motive
Email marketing has a higher return on investment than any other marketing tactic according to the Direct Marketing Association. For every dollar you spend on an email marketing campaign, the ROI is $45 on average. However, email marketing is a tricky business as there is increased liability, decreased delivery, and growing alternatives such as social media and RSS.
So why do it?
Email is still our default method of business communication. Most people are sending and receiving email Tuesday through Thursday. It's a great way to push precise messaging to segmented targets. It's easy to measure. And it's a very cost effective marketing method.The Email Funnel: Goals
Here's the process of how effective email marketing flows:
Get the people
- get people
- get in the inbox
- get the open
- get the click
- get a conversion
- get the sale
- life value
Build an email list in some kind of database and be sure to segment your audiences. The first step in building your list is offering your target audience something of value. Beyond your unique selling proposition, offer a members only section, discounts, and other promotional ideas. Reach the right people by getting yourself, your product/service, and your expertise out there through press releases, articles, and blogs. A faster, but more expensive way, to start quickly is to rent a targeted list or advertise on a targeted site.
Once you've got some traffic coming in, you need to start collecting their email addresses. While you can offer a contact email where they can sign up, it's much more effective to offer a simple form where people can enter their name, email address, and click subscribe. You can also include some great control options such as choosing to receive updates daily, weekly, or monthly.
A great way to make a really bad form? Include too many options and too many information fields that people will take one look at and hit the back button. Never require users to include too much personal information beyond their name and email. If you want to try to collect it, make it optional! Also keep it at just one page. Many people will quit if you send them to a second page with additional requests and information.
Tips for creating your list:
- at least use Excel (comma delimited CSV)
- at least include first name, last name, and email
- de-dupe (auto)
- capitalize names
- create a never-send list (anything that bounces, anyone who complains)
Automated list building tools
- email folder (in Outlook or other email client)
- file on server
- CRM or email management systems such sugarcrm (not good for bulk, but is free for individuals and is free), salesforce.com (more full-features), EmailLabs or any automated provider is your best bet.
get the right people, offer an incentive, manage your lists*Important Legal Note:
It is not
illegal to send an email to someone who hasn't subscribed. It is generally bad practice, however. It is
illegal to send an email to someone after they have unsubscribed from your list. Don't mess with it; you'll get in big trouble with potentially huge fines that are at least $250 per single offense! Also, you need to be aware of international email laws because they can vary.Get In The Inbox
Using the BCC is a big don't. The old, quickest and easiest way to send a personalized email to your list is to use the BCC feature, or blind carbon copy. However, this is generally filtered out as spam unless you have an email history with the sendee. It can also get filtered by your OWN
server! Avoid using this method at all costs.
Bulk email programs are another don't. They:
- send from your PC
- merge features
- are fast and easy
- HTML with preivew test
- dirties your mail server's IP
- your ISP may block or throttle
The reputation of your email sending server can stop your email from being delivered. If you've been block undeservedly, you can work with your ISP to authenticate email only from your sending domain. That will get you through many issues. The easiest way to fix this problem, and to ensure the success of your email marketing campaign, is to use an email service provider.
It comes down to this: use and email service provider. The benefits are:
- trusted IP, white-listed IP, thus better deliverability
- segmented list managment
- behavior based trigger and API systems
- fully integrated systems
- full service systems
A few services to check out include MailChimp
, Constant Contact
, or Vertical Response
What' the best day and time to send emails? It depends. Avoid clusters, or times when people will be getting large amounts of emails at one time that they are going through and reading are clearing. The key is to use your own stats to avoid clusters. Look at the time they signed up for your emails; that's a great indicator that that is when they are interested and available.
Avoid spammy content:
- words punctuation (avoid words like "free" and "fantastic", repeat punctuation like $$$ !!!, starting a subject with a $, all caps, and red text)
- Use testing tools like MailingCheck, Mail Chimp, or EmailLabs
is a great tool that checks ISPs and email clients and tells you ahead of time how good your deliverability will be. It's expensive, but useful if you are heavily into email marketing.
- US Federal Law: CANSPAM - illegal to continue to send unsolicited email after someone has unsubscribed
- State laws may differ (generally informed by federal law, but are sometimes more strict)
- International laws matter
The Safest Route
Get the OpenThe "From" line
- clearly identify your company contact info and the purpose of all subscription-based email
- make it easy to unsubscribe
- ensure that once unsubscribed, a recipient can NEVER receive an email from you again
is often the first place people look, and thus the most important for getting your audience to open. Use your company name, and focus on the first 11 characters. And if your "from" line is effective, you won't need your company name in your subject.
Content preview text
is another way to grab your audience. Outlook and others use text body for preview. Most email tools enable sending both. A personalized preview works well and the open rate is much higher - especially if their last name is included they think this is something they asked for!
To get content preview text:
- text email: first sentence
- HTML email: first sentence or "code"
- HTML multi part: email client dependent (include plain text option to get preview text)
Activator + Call to Action
- 50 characters
- do this right or fail entirely
- "pull me in"
- "be honest"
- avoid spam words, CAPS, !!, $$
Categories that will grab attention include:
- how to
- numbers (top 10)
- bold claims
To create basic activators, ask yourself two questions:
- under what circumstance does the target recipient start to think about buying what we sell?
- what things are imnprotant to the target recipient when buying what you sell?
In other words, what do they want and what do they want to avoid?
test your subject line! Two days before your send, take 10% of your target list. Send Subject A to 50% of that subset, send Subject B to 50% of that subset. Give it a day or two and see which one outperforms the other. Use that subject for your main send to the rest of your list. Get the Click
A few tips for your content body that will encourage your recipients to click through to your website:
- shorter content performs better
- "I know what the point is in the first few lines"
- super insanely obvious call to action
- Lots o' links to your landing pages (one report discovered that 14 was the optimal number of links! Michael's experience is that generally more links perform better)
- personalization performs better
- be sure your subject relates to your content
- relevant to your target recipient, relevant to the subject line, and coordinated with your landing page
HTML Content Body
- if you are doing an HTML email with images, make sure it looks good with images off and that there is text in the upper left
- use image alt atrributes - use keywords and calls to action
- be sure it doesn't break in popular client viewers including Outlook, AOL, Gmail, Yahoo
(if you haven't, read Cluetrain Manifesto
to learn how to have a conversation with your audience)
What can work: long, narrow emails;bold, sexy subheads; pull eyes for further scanning;get reader to scroll so they are invested; sensationalist and stunning writing.It does convert, but at the cost of your reputation!
Get the Conversion
Getting the conversion in an email marketing campaign is all about the landing page. You must continue the "scent." Is the look and feel consistent? Is the offer the same? Is my copy message and voice consistent?
Use a compelling call to action above the fold in an obvious and contrasting color
.Measure Your Goal
Before you can measure your goals - and before you even begin the campaign - you need to establish what action you want recipients to take. That becomes the focus of your email and what you measure for your campaign.
Goals upon reciept are recorded by your email service provider:
- delivery rate
- click-through rate (number of recipients that clicked on a link)
- unsubscribe rate as a percentage of emails sent
- referral rate (how many emails were forwarded to others)
- reported open rate (not always a clear indication of emails read)
You can look at industry averages to see how you are doing, but it is more important to study how your goals for a campaign compare to your own previous campaigns.
You can also study your goals after the click:
The Email Funnel: Success
- landing page bounce rate (people who left without viewing any other pages)
- landing page conversation rate (most important metric)
- transactions for this email
- revenue for this email
- ROI/profit for this email
- add parameters to your links so that you can track recipient behavior on site in your analytics program
- list building
- subject + preview
- landing page
You create the ultimate success of building a relationship with your customer by building trust and facilitiating a worthwhile conversation. To do so, be sure that you are managing expectations, sending to a targeted list, and offering ways for your audience to dialog with you. In the end, this will creat an expectation of value in every mail your audience receives from you.
If you do one thing, remember that each email is not only an opportunity to acquire something, it's an opportunity to lose somebody and to set expectations. Always be relevant, honest, and polite.
September 23, 2008