In this guest post, Melle Staelenberg (pictured below), business manager lifecycle marketing at Salmat Digital, offers some top tips to brands that struggle with its email marketing…
There was a time when people predicted the end of email marketing. ‘Email is old-hat!’ they exclaimed as they rushed to invest their marketing dollars in Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.
However, email has well and truly proven itself as the marketer’s most valuable platform. Our own research has found that in 2016, some 61.8% of mid-tier companies (25-200 employees) used email marketing, and this number is expected to grow in 2017. Put simply, email marketing is, and will continue to be, the best performing digital channel in terms of return on investment (ROI), because it allows brands to gain direct access to potential customers and implement a cycle of interaction with personalised content that speaks to their specific interests. This is how you cement a relationship based on trust and loyalty.
Currently, mid-tier companies are getting the basics of email marketing right, but need to go a step further by systematically including essential elements to their campaigns: personalisation, data analytics, automation and mobile-friendly designs. Play your email score with this quintet, and they will help you to achieve the five essential commandments of email marketing to reach great ROI.
Polish your timing and responsiveness
Email is a great way to retarget customers that have showed an interest in a brand, product or service, and offer them a reason to buy. But you need to do that in a timely-manner: within the shortest possible window of time, but also when customers are most likely to read them. Automation enables that, based on historical behavioural data, as well as instant two-way interaction. On your website, if a customer gets distracted part-way through the sales funnel, you can immediately follow up with an email reminding them what they are missing, and potentially incentivise them with a special offer. Automation can also help filter out customers no longer interested in your emails, for a healthier and more engaged marketing list.
It’s nice to receive emails greeting you by your name, but really, personalisation is a lot more than saying ‘Hi Melle’. It’s about showing customers content that is specifically relevant to them to cut-through the hundreds of emails they receive every week. It can be based on browsing and purchase history, or demographic data. This shows respect to the customer, but also makes marketing sense. No one wants to be offered a promotion for a local operator in Western Australia when they live in Canberra. Personalisation also means understanding your customers’ purchasing lifecycle and adapting your offer to their specific situation. Take a baby supplies store: once you start shopping they know your little one’s age and when to approach you for a new pram, or a bed instead of a cot.
Even here, content is king
Everything from subject headline to email content should be dynamic and speak directly to a customer. Dynamic content is a form of personalisation where you treat your email campaign as a template that has different content for different recipients. Think of it as a newspaper where the layout is static but the content changes daily. The content is customised based on user data fields and purchase behaviour. In order to maximise efficiency, A/B testing should be part of every marketer’s practice for every single campaign.
Know your inbox objective
Inbox providers (Gmail, Bigpond, Outlook etc.) constantly reinforce their anti-spam filters and analyse their users’ behaviours. This means that if someone on your database consistently deletes or ignores emails, the algorithm is likely to block you in the future. To avoid that, you should be relevant and transparent: every email needs a clear subject line, a relevant offer, and to be delivered at the right time. It’s a good idea to try to re-entice lapsed customers with a series of offers, but when there’s no engagement, don’t hesitate to remove inactive users from your database.
Protect your customers’ privacy
The success of any marketing strategy is based on trust between the customer and a brand, so privacy initiatives are essential. The origin of your emails need to be absolutely clear to the customer. When signing up new subscribers, it’s essential to disclose why certain personal information is captured, where it is stored and accessed from, and how a person can change their details. They should also be able to unsubscribe easily. Marketers need to make sure they collect only the data they need, and constantly assess their security. We all know that a data breach can have serious ramifications for a brand’s reputation.
Email marketing can be extremely powerful, but without applying the right principles, it can also damage your reputation. Customers are still sensitive to spam, and it’s important that you don’t fall into that category with them.