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16 ways to improve your email marketing this year

By: Chris Auman
Editor: Dr. Soumitro Das

I believe in the power of email marketing software if it’s used properly. That should include everything from properly setting up a double opt-in system, to effectively writing content that actually drives website traffic. Part of the mission of my web development and marketing company here in Ohio is to provide a vehicle for effective email marketing and to show how to use email marketing effectively. I’d like to start off the year by offering sixteen suggestions on how to improve your results. This is not a “best of” list or the final word on email marketing best practices, but a list of suggestions to jump-start your campaigns.

1) Improve your Opt-Ins – Converting clicks to customers.

Before you focus on any other issue, you need to build a decent list of subscribers. The idea being to eventually convert those subscribers into customers. So, what to do?

Promote your email newsletter in all your print materials and other advertising venues.

Send out press releases about relevant aspects of your product or service and then encourage people to sign-up.

Work hard to provide effective sales copy. Volumes have been written on the art of persuasion – use them and model your message off the masters! (This is a great place to start reading)

Provide incentives for signing up, but don’t make the offer too big or extravagant. It needs to appeal to your target audience, not freebie-hunters who have no interest in your services.

2) Avoid being accused of spamming:

Once you’ve worked hard to build a list, the last thing you want is people opting out or worse yet, marking your message as spam. So the delicate dance of getting your message to the masses can be a tricky one if you don’t know the best practices for sending out a legitimate email marketing campaign. For those of you who don’t completely understand the basics, let me be clear – we call it “permission” email marketing for a reason. You HAVE to get permission to send emails. And yes, that even means when you feel the recipient REALLY would be interested in what you have to say or sell.

In short, get permission, don’t send your messages too often or not often enough, personalize your message, use appropriate sales copy in your title and body that will get you in the front door but not flag your email message as spam.

3) Build rapport and trust – become a trusted friend:

Show that you’re a trusted and reliable friend. The most critically important element of making a sale is to build trust between yourself and your potential customers. How you structure and present your message is important here. You want to appear truly interested in a mutually beneficial relationship. Make your customers feel important. Personalize, target, show they’re special in some way, give them control, say “please” and “thank you”, and frame your message as “help” rather than another company trying to take away their hard earned dollars. If you can show that you can be trusted, you’ll get subscribers and customers.

4) Demonstrate that you provide value:

I’ve learned a lot over the last couple years about selling value and I believe that it’s a great way to present your sales message. Talk about value in every aspect of your presentation and back up your claims. Most consumers really don’t care how much they pay for something. Just as long as they’re getting what they want and need in the end.

5) Focus on our subject line:

Your key to the successful email marketing kingdom is your subject line. It’s the big decision-maker when it comes to whether your potential customer even opens the email, so take the time to get it right. Getting it right involves two things – a) choosing the right words and, b) knowing which words may flag your email as spam. There is a delicate balance here that involves knowing what sells and what’s considered a typical spam term. I’ve spent some time in the past showing examples of this but, for example, words like “free” in your subject line will almost always flag your email as spam so look for other words and creative ways to say the same thing. Also, spend some time testing. Test and get opinions, test to make sure your email makes it into the inbox, test to make sure that the email looks the way it’s supposed to in various email clients and popular web-based email services, etc.

6) Timing is everything.

If you’re after someone who might sign-up for a business service, you obviously want to send that email during the work week and on a day that may not be as busy like a Wednesday or Friday around mid-morning. If you’re looking for someone to use your coupon to buy a pizza then you might send that on a Monday or Friday afternoon when people might be thinking about an easy dinner after a hectic day or to pick up dinner for a Friday night card game.

7) Study your campaign stats

Studying your reporting stats to find out what works and what doesn’t when you send a newsletter to your subscribers is an often overlooked aspect of your email marketing. Study how many emails were opened, what they click on, which headlines result in more clicks and more conversions. When you try different layouts or headlines, you’re able to analyze how each new tactic did its job. Then you have good data about when to change elements of your future email marketing campaigns.

8) Build an effective landing page – Invest in your conversion creative

The most successful permission marketing campaigns aren’t just accomplished in the email that’s sent to the potential customers, but on the page that they land on after you spark their interest. This page should hardly ever be your homepage. You should construct a page that specifically works with your email campaign. This is called the landing page.

This page should be a continuation of your email message so try not to repeat too many things. Use this as an opportunity to take the sale to the next level. It’s a good chance that the user clicked on a link that promised something so give it to them, don’t just repeat yourself. If you promised more information then don’t beat around the bush and make them work for it.

8 more suggestions before concluding:
In closing, here are a few extra suggestions on how you might be able to improve your email campaigns and grow your subscriber list.

1) Include a link to refer a friend or prompt the user to forward the email to a friend. (hint, hint)
2) Occasionally send surveys to your subscriber base and ask them how you can improve your services and what they’d like to see more of.

3) Segment your subscriber database so that your message is as relevant as possible.

4) Prompt the reader to bookmark your landing page or flag the email for reading later.

5) Give them a deadline. (Act now!)

6) Make is REALLY easy to sign-up and show that it’s easy to unsubscribe so there’s no risk.

7) Post your newsletter or articles on other sites around the net and link back to your site and newsletter subscriptions.
8) Write well, write offen and target a very specific niche.

I’m sure we’ll have more time to discuss email marketing because I believe it’s a great way to stay top-of-mind with people who are really interested in what you provide. In fact they’ve probably already purchased something from you and you’re looking to sell them more! That’s why I believe so strongly that you should make the effort to subscribe to an affordable email marketing software service like SMG’s Client Connect that allows you to collect data and emails from the people that you drive to your site.

There are a lot of email marketing software and services available on the web and the prices range from affordable to downright expensive. I believe that we’ve provided our clients with a highly effective, easy-to-use solution that allows you to accomplish all the best practices we’ve set forth and fortunately, the price is right. For more information about our permission marketing software, please click the link or call 330.266.1188.

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About Chris Auman:

Chris Auman is a veteran digital marketer with over 25 years of experience in the trenches. As Sanctuary’s founder and President, Chris has successfully guided online marketing efforts for companies large and small.

Learn more about Chris.

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