By Vlad Vidaeff
If you’re someone who loves to constantly tinker with your content marketing strategy to optimize your results, email marketing is one of the most fulfilling and exciting mediums out there. Compared to other mediums, email stands out as one that puts a lot of tools at your disposal if you know how to use them effectively. Take your email marketing to the next level with these four best practices.
Let’s assume that you have an active email marketing presence where you send your entire subscriber list emails consistently. However, all of your emails follow the same cookie-cutter approach. While it’s great to have an active presence, it’s time to experiment.
Tinker with your layout. Try out different copy. Select different images. Switch up your call-to-action as far as size and placement. Experiment with your header and footer. Change your subject lines. Conducting split testing allows you to see what resonates with your subscribers. You’ll be surprised at all you will learn. Insights gained from split testing can then impact your strategy going forward.
When conducting a split test, make sure that you only test one variable at a time. Testing multiple variables at once clouds your results as you can’t nail down which variable is making an impact on your results. Also, make sure that you conduct your split test for enough time so you can gather enough data. At least a week, or several weeks, is best.
Beyond split testing, segmenting is one of the most effective strategies to improve your presence, and ultimately, your results. If all of your emails go to your entire subscriber list, you’re missing out on an opportunity. The more you personalize your content, the more likely you’re going to engage with your subscribers in achieving your desired action.
There are many ways to segment based on your company and the industry you compete in. For example, if you’re a retail company, group customers into specific buckets based on their prior purchase history. Amazon has used this strategy masterfully. They send you emails based on your prior purchases by offering another product you may be interested in buying. Based on your sales, you will need to make some assumptions. Perhaps a customer becomes an auto customer if he or she has purchased three or more auto products. All of this is based on the scale of your business.
Another popular way to segment is based on the demographics of your subscriber base including gender, age, geography, etc. The demographics you choose to use are similarly grounded in your business and what makes sense. We’ll cover another popular way to segment in our next section.
Asking for Preferences Directly
While you can segment based on characteristics of your subscribers or their past behavior, another great way to segment is by asking your subscribers directly for their input. Through this strategy, you may discover some hidden nuggets. You may have a subscriber who has never purchased auto products but tells you that they’re interested in auto products. You can now subscribe them to your auto emails, a list they may not have previously been a part of.
When asking for preferences, you’ll have to create the lists to include. This takes some brainstorming. From there, don’t expect a response from 100% of your base or anywhere close to it. The easier you make the process, the more responses you’ll get. However, even with this, it’s best to offer an incentive to motivate people. People can be lazy but if there’s a discount in the mix, or some other attractive offer, your response rate will rise rapidly. The better the incentive, the better you can expect your response rate to be.
Growing and Maintaining Your List
Growing your list should always be a goal. Hopefully, your list will grow organically to an extent if you have an email subscribe form on your website. However, you should take action beyond this to amplify your list. One way to do so is to align your efforts across mediums. Run a campaign where you encourage your social media followers to join your list. Offer an incentive or create a contest that ties social media and email. There are great synergies to be had when you structure things effectively.
If you never clean your home, it’s going to resemble a pigsty after some time. The same can be said of your list. Conduct spring cleaning on your list like you do on your home by periodically trimming the fat. While the frequency you should do so is based on the size of your list and the frequency with which you send emails, twice a year is a good rule of thumb. Look at the data and establish a rule. Again, this should be grounded in the frequency of emails you send. Let’s say that you have an active presence where you send at least one email every week. Let’s say you have a percentage of your list who haven’t opened an email in three months. Email these subscribers and ask them if they’d still like to remain on your list or if there’s anything you can do to improve their experience. If they don’t respond, unsubscribe them. Along with those who proactively unsubscribe, maintaining your list will ensure that only those who are interested in your brand will continue receiving your emails. In turn, this will have an impact on your open rate and click rate.
Lastly, send out an email from your CEO once or twice a year asking for suggestions. You’ll be surprised at how honored subscribers will feel to receive an email from the leader at your company. They will be motivated to respond which will provide you with useful information to use as you best see fit. Phone calls also work as a supplement or replacement for the “CEO email.”
Email marketing takes a lot of effort, a level of experimentation, and a data-driven approach if you want to use the medium to its fullest. However, doing so will lead to more impressive results. By split testing, segmenting, asking for preferences, and growing and maintaining your list—you’ll likely be way ahead of your competitors. Now, go out there and rock your email marketing!
Vlad Vidaeff serves on the board of AMA Houston as the VP of Communications. As a content creator, strategist, and leader, he specializes in areas of digital marketing including social media, email marketing, blogs, brand management, and web copy. With experience on both the agency and client side, Vlad has collaborated with companies in industries such as healthcare, retail, ecommerce, non-profit, hospitality, and professional services. He is an avid sports fan, a movie junkie, and a frequent live music goer.