Email Marketing

3 Tactics to Graduate Your Email Marketing to the Next Level

06.26.2014 4 Minutes

Email marketing is far from dead and remains one of the most valuable and cost-effective channels available to marketers. But many companies are no longer seeing results, having never graduated from entry-level email programs and tactics they started with years ago.

The Direct Marketing Association cites email marketing as having an ROI of 4,300%. And while email is not nearly as en vogue as social media, a recent study from McKinsey & Company concluded that email is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. But as with everything else in marketing, in order to realize results, you’ve got to have the right strategy and approach. And what might have worked in the past, is not likely to generate results today.

So if you feel like you’re still “doing” email marketing the same way you have been for quite some time, and if your open and click-through rates are less than stellar, it’s a safe bet that you need to consider graduating to the next level of email marketing. Here are 3 tactics to consider.

Segment your email marketing lists to boost engagement and conversion

Content is king, but not if context isn’t queen. Do you send your entire list of contacts the same email “blasts” all the time? Unfortunately, this approach creates what I call the “boy who cried wolf” syndrome. If most of your messages are only relevant to a segment of your list, not only will it lead to a high rate of unsubscribes, it will also cause your contacts to grow accustomed to ignoring your emails. This means when you do actually send them something valuable and relevant, they’ll ignore it because of your previous track record of sending them irrelevant emails.

So don’t make this sophomoric mistake! Instead, segment your email contacts to target different groups so you can send them more relevant information. At a basic level, you can segment based on profile attributes such as status (customer or prospect), industry, location, job title, product/service interests, etc. Even better is to segment by profile attributes combined with criteria of observed behaviors (specific web pages visited, specific content downloaded, particular event attended, etc.) and a specified time frame (last week, month, etc.).

According to research from Gleanster, 87% of top performing marketers say targeting campaigns to audience segments and individual consumers is the largest value driver, with 78% saying list segmentation is the #1 marketing automation capability they can’t live without. So ultimately, list segmentation makes your messages more targeted, personal and relevant, which will boost your opens and clickthroughs and ultimately lead to higher conversion rates (and happy readers).

Perform A/B testing to optimize your email marketing campaigns

A/B (split) testing is a way of comparing two different email options to determine which will be the most effective. The gist of the idea is that you send version A of an email to one group and version B of an email to a different group. After measuring the results of the emails (opens, clickthroughs, etc.), you can see which email was more successful and determine what factor made the difference. There is a lot of research out there for email best practices, but A/B testing allows you to test to see what works best for you. Mailchimp reports that people who A/B test their email campaigns get 11% better open rates and 17% more clicks.

By A/B testing an email with a small sampling of a segment, you can very quickly test the success of your emails before you send them to the entire segment, which allows you to optimize your efforts in real time. There are a number of factors that can greatly impact the success of an email, so the opportunities are endless for testing. Try testing different subject lines, “from” addresses, call-to-action buttons, shorter messages vs. longer messages and different layouts as well as different times of the day.

Utilize automation to enhance your email marketing programs

The impact of your email marketing efforts can be greatly enhanced through the use of marketing automation. It helps leverage prospect intelligence in order to create automated email marketing programs that send ongoing, context-driven emails and speak directly to the needs and interests of your prospects and customers.

Lead Nurturing Drip Programs – Leads captured on your website through a form or landing page should be entered into a lead nurturing drip campaign that sends a series of automated emails to prospects and clients at scheduled intervals. They educate and inform prospects as they move through the buying stages of the customer lifecycle. In addition to providing prospects the information they need at each stage of the lifecycle, they also keep your products or services top of mind. Prospects are rarely ready to purchase once they visit your website or fill out a form, so rather than letting a prospect forget about you, drip campaigns allow you to “nurture” the relationship until the point when they are ready to purchase. Research from DemandGen Report found that B2B marketers who have successfully deployed lead nurturing programs average a 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured leads versus non-nurtured leads.

Triggered Email Programs – These are automated emails that are triggered by a specific action or a time-related event. They acknowledge a prospect’s actions such as downloading an eBook or registering for a webinar. Examples include thank you emails or registration confirmations. According to the Direct Marketing Association, triggered emails score 94% higher open rates and 122% higher click rates than Business as Usual (BAU) messages.

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If you are ready to graduate your email marketing efforts past a basic “blast” mentality, these 3 tactics will help you improve your efforts and achieve measurable success. They all work towards making your emails more targeted and timely, keeping your company top-of-mind as you nurture leads through the buying stages of the customer lifecycle while also strengthening relationships with current customers by sending them relevant email messages.

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