This is a training presentation I did at a local chamber of commerce session. It covers some of the basic principles of email marketing, as well as the key best practices to help you succeed in kicking off your email marketing program (or take it to the next level).
You might want to put the presentation in full screen to be able to read some of the smaller font — the deck was originally created for a large projected screen.
I’ll start with declaring that I would consider email a “mature” marketing channel. Yet, there are still many out there trying to figure out how to do email marketing right.
After years of experience doing email marketing, I would say that there are 4 key elements to maximize the ROI, and take email from a nice-to-have tool, to the must-have tool in your marketing mix!
Test, test, test
As I’ve said before, one of the great values to online marketing is the ability to measure. But, online marketing and email marketing is still about the customer–human beings who make unpredictable choices. So, make sure whatever infrastructure you’re setting up, it is implemented to include robust testing capabilities.
Make sure you’re doing A/B testing and multivariate testing. Test your subject lines. Test your content. Test your segmentation strategies. Test your email cadence.
Then, gather all that data, and make sure you have solid analytic talent on your team to help you drive insights into your ongoing efforts. Unlike direct mail or other traditional marketing channels, you can measure how your email marketing is doing. And then, you can fine tune and imrpove.
Learn from others
As I said before, email marketing is a mature channel. This means thousands of companies are already doing email marketing, and there is countless resources that provide insights into lessons learned. The bottom line: follow best practices. These should include external sources of best practices and what has worked within your industry, but it should also include best practices from outside your industry. But, most importantly, go back to the first element (Test, test, test) and determine what is working for your email campaigns.
Most of the big players in the email marketing industry publish extensive amounts of data and learnings. One of my favorites is The Email Institute. http://www.emailinstitute.com/ Search the internet and make sure your email creative are optimized for mobile experience. Make sure you’re taking the impact of image suppression into account. Make sure your email lists are kept clean, and follow industry standard opt-in process for your list building practices. And, please, please please–don’t ever do email appends!
Last thought: one of the essential parts of email marketing is the deliverability. This area of email marketing can be highly technical, so make sure whoever is your Email Service Provider is also providing you with strong ongoing deliverability support, and that they have good relationships with the major “postmaster desks”.
Integrate your marketing efforts
I believe email marketing and website content marketing are quickly becoming the center spoke of any good marketing effort. Because email is not usually the only marketing channel in the mix, you want to make sure you’re measuring your other channels. You want to have a clear picture of how each channel is impacting your marketing efforts.
Today’s consumers are becoming more demanding than ever and their expectations of advertisers are huge. The average consumer expects a very unique, targeted, and custom experience. Measure across all channels, and make sure you know your customer’s prefered communication channel, cadence, and message.
This takes me to my last key element of smart email marketing. One of the best ways to ensure your communications are relevant and well-targeted is to set up and use rule-based emails. Once your website, as well as other marketing channels, are integrated with your email program, you can trigger emails based on website behaviour, shopping cart actions, or any number of other tracked interactions with your customers.
For example, you could set up a rule-based email campaign that triggers an email to customers after they visit your brick-and-mortar store. Or, you could trigger an email after a customer support call. The number of options are limitless.
Finally, part of getting smart is actually making use of all that data you should be collecting. You might have heard about “Big Data”, which is just a catchphrase for the analytical treasure trove of the digital revolution. What it means for you is that you can look at what your customers are doing, and develop pretty good insights into their preferences. This is going to require pretty strong analytical talent, which will be worth every penny you spend.
So, do you have these 4 elements in your email marketing program? If not, which one are you missing? I’d love to hear about your challenges in email marketing.
In June of 2013, I had the opportunity to present a workshop to a group of local small business owners and entrepreneurs in the Cecil County area. The presentation focused around the basic principles of email marketing, and covered basic steps to getting started with email marketing.
The presentation is embedded below, but I thought I would write out my thoughts and share here what I shared then.
The 5 Benefits of Email Marketing
One of the biggest changes to the business environment today, regardless of industry, is the incredibly shorter cycles by which businesses are required to operate under. This is particularly true if you are a small business, but it is true for the larger corporations as well.
The Internet has empowered your consumer-base with all the information needed for the buying cycle, and the proliferation of review sites means that both the negative and positives of your product or business will get wider dissemination. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As an entrepreneur or business owner, the key is to jump in and embrace these same online tools for yourself. There is a lot that could be said about the many varied social media platforms, as well as digital marketing channels available, but today I’m focusing on email.
The following 2 benefits (and the next 3 in future posts) assumes you’ve done the leg work in order to effectively use email as a marketing and communication channel. So, once you have a clean, opted-in list of your customers, and you’ve set up clean, mobile-optimized, branded email templates, and you’ve accurately set your customer’s expectations as to what sort of value you will provide via email, you should be able to reap solid ROI on your time invested.
Compared to traditional channels like TV, print, or outdoor, email marketing affords you a much shorter turn around from the moment you decide you have something you need to share with your customers, to the moment it’s on it’s way to your customer’s inbox. Most email service providers provide the ability to save your email creative or template. And even if you’re planning on having a designer create a unique piece for each campaign, the process for creating, coding and testing an HTML email is substantially shorter than it would be for a print-piece.
The bulk of the time investment is going to be when you first start.
Measure, measure, measure!
The greatest blessing internet marketing has brought to businesses everywhere is the ability to measure the direct impact of your efforts. The most common mistake I see, even among high-paid digital marketing professionals, is the lack of clarity about what measurements matter. Don’t get caught up in the razzle-and-dazzle of digital metrics that do more for your ego as a digital marketer, and end up doing little to help you determine if you’re getting the results you’re looking to get.
If you’re running a brick and mortar shop, connecting the dots between your online efforts and your offline results may take some creativity and effort, but it is essential and it is possible. Think about using offer codes in your email, link to a printable coupons, or even social media tools like FourSquare to bring things together.
At the end of the day, you want to measure each campaign in terms of it’s effectiveness as a communication tool. Key metrics should include delivered, unique opened, clicked and most importantly unsubscribe/spam-complaints. The first 3 help you know when something is working. Unsubscribes or spam complaints help you know when you’ve missed the mark, or when you’re over-communicating with your customers. But, with the use of a basic analytics tool, you should also measure actual conversions (sign ups, online purchases, or even offline purchases). Make sure that for each campaign, you have a business and bottom line dollar value you can measure.
Be a Learning Organization
One last step needs to happen when it comes to measuring. Do something with what you learn. So many marketers fall prey to the stress of daily work grind and the pressures of deadlines, and once a campaign is out the door, they move on. You must build a standard, repeatable process by which you can study your metrics, and determine what is working and needs to be different going forward. This might include monthly touch-point meetings to review past campaign learnings, and to develop new testing strategies.
Check back in a few weeks for the second part. In the meantime, take a peak at the original presentation, and if you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments. If you are already doing email marketing, share a tip, success story, or favorite tool.