• Craig Kent

The power of email marketing

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

This might surprise a lot of people but email is the most cost-effective, targeted & effective channel available to most businesses in 2020. That said, most companies don't get it quite right - for a number of reasons.

The best email marketing programmes are backed up by a strong top-line strategy and driven by a clean, up-to-date, segmented database of contacts.

It's important to have 'clean' data. This typically means that you've stripped out incorrect / old addresses possibly using Brite Verify or a similar email cleansing tool. Without clean data you will have problems with email delivery rates and you may even get caught by spam traps which in the case of Gmail in particular can be very difficult to get out of.

Similarly your email contact data should be up-to-date. This doesn't mean that you can't target old leads & customers but it's a great idea to segment by recency as well as frequency and monetary value (RFM model). That way, you can send campaigns to customers who you know are recently signed-up versus those who have been on record for some time and maybe been less active or not interacted with you all that frequently. It is most likely that more recently acquired emails will gain you a higher open rate than those that have been sat idly in your database for long periods of time.

The importance of segmentation cannot be over-stated. When email first emerged as a marketing channel, most businesses adopted a 'spray & pray' approach to emal campaigns and e-newsletters. A one-size-fits-all strategy is the lazy approach and personalisation is what sets great campaigns apart from those that simply do not work.

A key piece of advice is not to become overly reliable on email metrics in isolation. A great open rate will count for very little if your campaign objective rests on clicking through to your website if the click through rate (CTR) is low. Content may be king, but this needs to be backed up by a compelling subject line as conversely you cannot gets clicks if you don't inspire people to open the email in the first place.

As the World Health Organisation recently advised - Test Test Test! They weren't talking about email marketing but had they been this would be considered great advice. Don't fall into the trap of sending a campaign or newsletter, thinking you've had good results and doing the same thing over and over again as the results will diminish and you may have just got lucky first time around. There are many factors that influence what 'good' looks like and it's worth spelling this out as part of the brief or campaign document when planning your communications plan at the outset.

You should ultimately be looking to test subject lines, CTAs, images, audiences, landing pages and offers. The list is endless really, but whatever you do decide to test, only ever test one aspect at a time - that way you'll know what has worked and you'll be able to optimise your campaigns going forward. It's also a good idea to test the same thing multiple times - maybe use AB subject line testing on a weekday / weekend / morning / afternoon etc until you work out the optimal time to get the strongest result.

Finally, you must have a starting point; a plan. Whether you're starting from a blank sheet of paper or you're taking over someone else's work you must have a comprehensive set of planning tools and processes. It's a good idea to prepare a high level strategy document that spells out what you are trying to achieve, underpinned by a list of KPIs, comprising both metrics (opens, clicks etc) and desired commercial outcomes.

Process is key so that you have a paper trail or record (maybe using Google Docs) where you can plan the sending mechanics alongside populating copy / content and recording all trackable aspects of the campaigns including a breakdown of the audience, send times, objectives and outcomes for post-campaign analysis.

If you adopt all or even part of the above then your email marketing activity is highly likely to be successful. The key part is planning but you must have a clean, segmented database and high quality copy / content in order to maximise your results. You then need to know how to interpret those results to ensure ongoing success, ideally aligned with other channels so that your marketing as a whole is as strong and powerful as it can be.

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