Email marketing is a critical component to building any business. Being at the forefront of your customers', and potential customers' minds, and those of your potential customers, plays a vital role in generating sales. Plus, keeping in contact with current customers helps make for repeat business, which leads to higher profits. For an email marketing campaign to be effective, you need to look at it from the same standpoint of any conversion related element, and break it down into smaller parts, known as micro actions, starting with each individual email.
In the past I have talked about micro vs. macro actions, and how they all play a part in driving the final conversion, the macro action. A an example of this concept would be trying to increase conversion on an ecommerce website by focusing on the checkout page, when it is clear that most visitors are not even making it that far on the site. Thus, focusing on the checkout, while it is a vital element, will do little good until the micro action of getting more user engagement (beyond the home page in this example) has been addressed.
Email marketing is no different. You cannot expect to get the macro action to complete if you first do not understand and pay attention to the micro actions that lead up to it. In other words, you cannot increase sales from an email campaign if you do not break the whole process down into simpler components, and understand the job each component has.
If an email campaign is built around a series of emails, then simplifying the entire campaign starts with a single email. Taking that a step further, an email is composed of a series of components, and each component has a specific job it needs to perform. These jobs must work in an ordered sequence, yet as one, for the ultimate objective, or the macro action, to be reached. The four jobs, in order, that any single email has are: Get Delivered; Get Attention; Get Opened; Get Clicked. I refer to this as DAOC (Delivery, Attention, Open, Click). The order is important. Similarly to the ecommerce checkout example, you cannot expect to get a click if the email first does not get opened. Likewise, you cannot expect the email to get opened if it never arrives at its destination. Let's look at each of these four jobs in more depth.
1) Get Delivered
Sending an email is not enough. For an email to even have a chance, it has to be delivered. By delivery, I mean it arrives in the inbox of the intended target. This starts with choosing the right email management system. Do you stay in-house or use a third party email provider like Constant Contact, aWeber or Mail Chimp? Third party professional service companies offer some great reporting and bounce management capabilities, amd the companies do their best to stay on email whitelists. If you prefer to go in-house with your email marketing, keep in mind the following:
- If you are on a shared server you are not only sharing space with hundreds of other sites, but you also likely share the same mail server. So, if just one of those hundreds of other sites ends up being marked as a spammer, the entire mail server could end up on a blacklist, even if you personally follow all the email rules. The result is that your email has less of a chance making it to the destination because it is flagged as spam.
- Some hosts put restrictions on the number of emails that can be sent in a given time period. This could result in a large portion of your emails never even being sent.
- Most in-house systems do not provide adequate bounce management, automation rules, or the reporting needed to manage an effective email marketing campaign.
2) Get Attention
Once the email arrives at its destination, you then need to make it stand out from the rest. It needs to win the recipient's attention, and this starts with the subject line and "From" sections. Oftentimes the best "From" line is the name of the business or store, like Overstock.com. This allows the recipient to quickly identify the sender and leaves the subject line open to extend an offer. The subject line should get to the point by stating the offer in the form of a benefit to the recipient, creating curiosity, and when appropriate, urgency. An example might be, "50% Off All Women's Swimwear. Limited Time Only!"
The presence of the 50 percent off promotion gains the attention and provides the benefit, the inclusion of "Women's Swimwear" creates relevancy, assuming this bucket of emails was sent to the female customer segment, and the "Limited Time Only!" portion creates urgency. All three combine to make a powerful statement that does the job of gaining attention.
3) Get Opened
After gaining the recipient's attention, we now need them to open the email. Once again, the combination of "From" and subject lines are what makes this happen. We create relevancy using the "From" line. We create interest in the subject line, which now needs to be crafted in such a way that the recipient is intrigued enough to open the email and find out more about the offer. This is harder than it may seem; in our example it is the combination of "50% Off" and "Limited Time" that does the trick. Half off promotions always work well to attract attention. The limited time portion makes the recipient want to click to not only see the rest of the offer, also see how limited the offer is. You can also help the open effort by including a call to action directly in the subject as well, to prompt a response.
4) Get Clicked
Each job to this point has been completed. Now we need the click. The click is the main type of recipient engagement we are looking for. Clicks can lead to any number of areas; largely based upon the contents of your email and the objective of your campaign. Think relevancy first if you want your recipients to click. Once the email is opened, the reader should be able to quickly identify the offer stated in the subject line within the email itself. This is relevancy. If you are having a hard time doing this, think of restating the subject in a similar form as the heading of the main email content.
Follow that up with additional content that supports the promotion-things like product images, pricing, etc. Finally, always include at least one, usually more, strong call to action. These could be in the form of buttons under a product that say, "Add to cart," or even hyperlinked text and images that might say something like, "Save Now! Hurry, while supplies last!"
Now you have the knowledge to run more successful, more profitable email marketing campaigns. Before you ever send another email, make sure you have examined each email's makeup and checked off the items on this list to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Eric Leuenberger is an ecommerce expert, founder of eCommerce Amplifier, and owner of Voom Ventures, LLC whose products and services help stores increase traffic, maximize ROI, decrease expenses, and increase revenue. He can be contacted online at voomventures.com, or by phone: 1-866-602-2673.
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