It may have long lost its sheen as the hot new technology on the block, but email remains a channel that digital marketers ignore at their peril. Nevermind the fact that, in digital communications terms, it is positively geriatric, or the mutterings about email being superseded by instant messaging.
The fact is, more people use email worldwide than all social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc - put together. There are also more email subscribers than smartphone owners. What is more, the number is still rising, with the number of actual email accounts ballooning significantly thanks to the tendency for people to have multiple email addresses.
But even if email wasn’t arguably still the most commonly used form of digital communication, there is something else about it that marketers cannot ignore. As a marketing channel, email still performs extremely well in terms of click-throughs and conversions, certainly better than social media according to the majority of analysts.
Email remains an excellent tool for driving traffic to your website and even for converting direct sales. But as with any marketing tool, it only works well if it is used effectively. So how do you create an email that will have your subscribers hovering over the ‘find out more’ link, rather than the bin button?
Here are three essential tips for creating an effective electronic mail out.
Establish the purpose immediately
The fact that email is such an easy, cheap, accessible communications channel is, from a marketing perspective, both a strength and a weakness. The weakness stems from the fact that, due to the ease and low cost, everyone is at it, and email users routinely get bombarded with messages they are not interested in and don’t really want.
So pervasive has this problem become that it even has its own name - SPAM.
The first law of email marketing is to do everything you can not to become SPAM. This is difficult, as what is and is not SPAM is really in the eye of the beholder - if a recipient receives a message they don’t want from a brand, they will consider it SPAM.
The only solution is to work hard to make email marketing communications relevant and useful to your target audiences. Not only does this take careful segmentation of campaigns, it also means using your subject line to full effect. Most users will decide whether to bin an email, or assign it to the junk folder, without even opening it, based on the subject line alone. You have to establish interest and relevance here to get people to even open your message.
Personalise each email
This is again tied in with avoiding the dreaded SPAM filter - impersonal unsolicited emails impress no one, either recipients or junk mail detectors. At least using a person’s name establishes a sense of rapport, and suggests you have got their details through legitimate means, such as asking them to sign up for a newsletter or fill in a customer feedback survey.
It is essential you are careful how you personalise mass mail outs, however. Careless use of mail merge functions can easily lead to emails being sent with the wrong name on, or with misspellings and messy confusions between first and surnames. Nothing turns off recipients quite like seeing what is obviously a circular with the wrong name on it in their inbox.
Focus on a simple Call to Action
Back to purpose again - when you send out a marketing email, you are effectively asking to intrude on recipients’ precious time. They will be as little impressed by a communication that is long-winded, overly complex or vague as they will be by something they see as irrelevant to them.
Whatever it is you are asking or offering, they do not want to spend several minutes working out what it is after opening your email.
Making a straightforward call to action the focus of your email will avoid getting drawn into long-winded explanations and give your audience an obvious reason for engaging with you. It could be a case of ‘click below to read the rest of our newsletter’, or ‘visit our website to learn about our new service’, as well as more direct offers and promotions.
The point is to give your audience the choice - if they want to engage, they will make the decision to do so quickly. Email is not the medium for trying to persuade, it is about putting an option forward and letting recipients make the decision on how they respond.
For more advice on getting your email marketing just right, get in touch with our digital marketing team, who will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.