6 tips to jumpstart your email marketing efforts

While many businesses today have shifted their attention to social media, email marketing remains an absolutely essential component of any organization’s outreach efforts. With an effective email-based strategy, you can increase brand loyalty, entice lapsed customers to return and grow your business.

Here are six strategies to better utilize email when marketing your business.

email11. Give gifts
For any email marketing effort to prove successful, you need to gather as many potential customers’ email addresses as possible. Typically, this is achieved via voluntary signups on your company website. But most people will be wary of providing this information. Unless they already know that they are eager to receive coupons and other offers, there isn’t all that much obvious incentive for them to give you the information you need.

That’s why you need to give gifts in exchange for email list signups, as business expert Denise O’Berry of The Little Big Show recently advocated. This doesn’t have to be a physical item – it can just as easily be access to an otherwise unavailable video or report or white paper. Or it can be a discount for the site visitor’s first or next purchase.

As O’Berry explained, shoppers today receive so many emails from so many companies that they are really loathe to open up another stream of messages to their inbox.

Additionally, they now realize that their email addresses are valuable assets for companies, and so are not willing to part with them so casually. You need to give them a good exchange rate.

2. Write a regular newsletter
Email marketing is only effective if used frequently. It is not enough to simply send out the occasional, random messages for either specific updates or offers. While there is value in sending out such messages, the real utility of email marketing is that it helps you to make sure that your company maintains a prominent place in your customers’ minds.

That is why you should commit to producing a newsletter regularly, according to O’Berry. A newsletter does not have to take a lot of time or effort to create, and it provides the perfect excuse to send regular content to your subscribers.

You don’t have to deliver hugely important news with every message – just enough to hold the reader’s interest and justify the time spent reading. If you don’t have much to report from your company, you can comment on noteworthy industry updates.

email23. Focus on personalization
As EConsultancy contributor James Critchley recently asserted, personalization is an incredibly valuable component of any email marketing effort. Personalization is so important because it enables your company’s messages to stand out from the competition. As mentioned before, most consumers receive a tremendous number of messages from businesses on a regular basis. A lot of these messages are inevitably deleted before they are read.

However, the recipient is far more likely to actually read through the email if it’s been clearly personalized in some capacity. Furthermore, such messages are more likely to have a major impact. Critchley noted that a recent study found that more than four-fifths of participants said that they are more likely to make a purchase if they receive emails that factor in their preferences and shopping behavior.

Beyond being more appealing to recipients in terms of the content included, personalized emails are more effective simply because they indicate that your company cares about them as individuals, rather than as random names in a database.

Of course, in order to achieve personalization, you need to have a robust data collection and analytics system in place. The more information you can gather and the better you can leverage that raw data, the better you’ll be able to break down your offers and other email messages to best appeal to specific demographics, and even individuals.

4. Highlight calls to action
Calls to action should also play a big role in your email marketing efforts, Critchley asserted. While an email marketing campaign largely centers around maintaining a relationship with your customers, you obviously also want to use these occasions to make sales. The call to action is key in this capacity, leading readers forward through the sales cycle. Without this prompting, many will immediately move on to other activities after reading your message, and that can be a missed opportunity.

The call to action can be any number of things. Maybe you simply encourage readers to revisit your website. Maybe you ask them to share the contents of your newsletter via Facebook or Twitter. The best course of action will vary from company to company. In every case, though, you want your subscribers to take some action.

As Critchley pointed out, the content of the call to action is only one part of the equation. Additionally, you need to pay close attention its placement. The writer emphasized the importance of making sure the call to action is placed prominently within the email, not surrounded by other images or other potentially distracting contents. You want your readers to easily see your call to action and know exactly why they should go through with the action in question.

email35. Look ahead
One of the best ways to upgrade your email marketing efforts is by paying close attention to timing. If you can link your emails to a particular season or holiday, they will immediately become more appealing to subscribers than a generic, anytime message. For retailers, this is particularly important when it comes to Christmas shopping season, but the same reasoning applies to any particular time of year.

But these timed email campaigns need to be prepared far in advance to be effective. If you don’t develop your plans carefully, you won’t likely see much of a bump to your email marketing metrics. A lazy or haphazard connection to a particular holiday or season is not likely to have much of an impact on anyone.

6. Think mobile
The rise of mobile devices is one of the most important tech trends in recent years, and one you need to take account of when designing an email marketing campaign. Consumers are increasingly reading their emails on their phones and tablets, rather than via desktop or laptop. Within a few years, mobile email reading will be far more common than the latter. You can’t afford to ignore mobile users any longer.

This is critical because people demonstrate different email reading habits depending on the device used. Notably, smartphones’ smaller screen size means that less text is visible at any given time, and this can make it easier for email recipients to stop reading and delete a message before reaching the end. And it also makes them less likely to open an email if the subject line does not immediately catch their attention.

That’s why you should aim for brevity with most of your email marketing efforts. Short, intriguing subject lines will lead to a lot more read messages than vague or lengthy ones. You want to get your point across quickly and clearly.

This doesn’t mean that you need to abandon lengthy content altogether. But it may be wise to use your email marketing as more of a lure to bring readers to your website, where they can read a longer blog piece at their leisure.

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