Each year our clients ask about the effectiveness of email marketing and each year our answer is the same. Email is only getting more powerful. Not only does research show the ROI of email to be on the rise, but the sheer number of emails being sent is enough to force us all to pay attention. The Radicati Group’s latest Email Statistics Report forecasts the number of emails being sent and received to grow to over 333 billion by year-end 2022. Yes, billion. Not doing email is risky business.
With that many emails sent, it’s hard to know how to stand out in your customer’s inbox. So many factors go into an effective email strategy, and we often hear that our clients just don’t know where to start. They may have an existing list of contacts, but no way to differentiate what kinds of customers they are and what they need most from their business. The result is low open rates, minimal click-throughs, and a bunch of unsubscribes. It’s discouraging to say the least.
In order to make the most of the list you already have and set your business up for successful email marketing in the future, we have some simple questions you can ask that will lead to a deeper understanding of your audience and what drives them to make a purchase.
1. What is the Goal of Your Email Marketing Strategy?
We know that the goal of all marketing efforts is to increase customer base and revenue, but that’s not a clear enough answer to create an effective email marketing strategy. You need to base your goals on the kinds of actions an email subscriber can take.
Start by analyzing how your email list is currently behaving. Look at what subject lines get the most open rates, consider what CTAs get the most clicks. Spend some time understanding how many sales come from email marketing and which users are most likely to make purchases. Once you understand exactly how your current list behaves, you can begin to understand the kind of goals you can achieve with your email marketing strategy this year, next year and 5 years from now.
A single email campaign to your entire audience won’t be the answer. For example, you might find that your team identifies the following goals for your email marketing strategy:
Drive 25% of sales
Increase customer base by 10%
Improve customer engagement by 5%
That’s perfect. But a single email marketing strategy for a single email list isn’t going to get the job done quickly. Your team needs to segment the current audience based on those behaviors you identified earlier and create the right messaging to connect with each list. It’s time-consuming work, but it’ll be the difference in reaching your goals this year and coming up short for the next few years.
2. How Should I Measure the Success of My Email Marketing Strategy?
Now that you have goals set up, you need to have a plan for measuring your success. Key performance indicators, much like your email marketing goals, should be specific and focused. There is such thing as too much information when you’re trying to execute on an email marketing strategy, so keep your KPI list to less than 5.
Let’s go back to our goals. Say your team is trying to determine the best KPIs for improved customer engagement. To figure that out, you have to define what engagement means for each of your segments. New customers who subscribed to your email list in the last 6 months have a lower bar for engagement than long-time customers. For example, a new customer engagement might mean an opened email and a single click. But an established customer engagement would require an open, click and share.
Each segment of your email list needs its own measure of success. Take some time to think about the action you want each segment to take and identify which metrics would tell you whether or not they are taking that action. And make sure to only focus on those metrics. Don’t get caught up in metrics that aren’t telling you anything about your goal. It’s a waste of time and resources and will be a constant source of frustration for you.
3. How Can You Segment your Future Email Subscribers?
Now that your current email subscribers are segmented into the correct lists, it’s time to set up a system that will automatically sort all of your future email subscribers. The easiest way to do this is to add more than one field to your subscription forms. Don’t just ask for their email when they opt-in. Gather information on their interests, how they heard about your company, what company they work for, or what their job title is. The more you know up front, the better you can understand their motives and how to deliver the most useful information to them.
If you find that adding more fields to your subscription forms decreases your conversion rate, try collecting the information using the first couple emails in your welcome series. Show the new subscribers a variety of new content and try to understand what their priorities are from their clicks. Always be sure to add tracking parameters to your email links so that you get a full picture of each new subscriber’s behavior as they move through your welcome series.
The more you test with your email marketing campaigns, the better you’ll start to understand your users and the faster you can reach your goals.
4. What Information Are My Email Subscribers Missing?
With all the mechanics of your email marketing strategy set up, your next focus should be on the information you’re delivering. Each segment needs different information. Someone who signed up to get notified each time you have a new sale probably doesn’t want information on your company’s philanthropic efforts. But someone who signed up from your company’s blog might be very interested in the charitable work you do.
Take a look at all the information you’re currently sending out via email to your subscribers. Compare that to each audience’s journey and look for gaps in information. Does each audience segment need a unique welcome series? Are you missing any information that is relevant to each audience segment? What information is universal?
Make sure that any assumptions you make about who needs what information can be backed by data. Remember, the goal is to get laser-focused on what each email subscriber needs from you in order to reach the goals you identified. If you feel like certain audience segments aren’t getting every single message your marketing team has, you’re doing it right. They should only see what they’ve proven is important to them.
5. What’s the Best Content to Include in My Email Marketing Strategy?
Now, you’ve come to the fun part. Once you’ve established your goals, your important audience segments and the information they need, you are ready to create your email content. This could be anything. You could make include links to videos, use images and infographics or straight text. Whatever performs well should be included.
Make a point to analyze your monthly reporting every quarter to start to see bigger trends in your data. Are there themes that your email subscribers love? Can you take the most popular content pieces and turn it into a lead magnet to get more email subscribers? What insights can you pull from your data that go beyond your email marketing goals? As long as you make a habit of asking yourself these questions, your content will continue to improve and you will reach your email marketing goals.
Special thanks to Mckenna Bailey and Krystina McCabe for their input on this post.
Written by Lynze Shuman