Trying to parse all the e-mail marketing tips being bandied about these days can be overwhelming. Simply Google “e-mail marketing strategies” and you’ll bring up millions of posts offering conflicting recommendations on everything from when to send emails and what terms should or shouldn’t be included in subject lines to the impact of mobile devices and responsive design.
No doubt about it: In order to achieve results in today’s crowded e-mail marketing arena, you need to get a handle on how to effectively employ a complex array of tools and techniques.
So what advice should you buy into and where should you focus your efforts?
Before you start randomly applying tips obtained online, which may result in a larger but less active list, first zero in on the segments of your current audience that show the greatest engagement and conversion and target your messages to them.
Start by asking yourself a few questions:
1. Is our mailing list up to date? Periodically purge inactive e-mail addresses from your list to optimize engagement. While the major e-mail platforms automatically strip out bounced e-mails after several unsuccessful delivery attempts, you’ll need to manually delete those that are successfully delivered yet rarely opened or clicked. If you plan to purchase a list, vet the seller to ensure they will provide valid e-mail addresses from people who have provided authorization to receive the type of content you intend to deliver. If not, your campaigns could land in SPAM folders, or worse – your domain could be blacklisted
2. Are we sending the right message? Using the shotgun approach to e-mail marketing is a recipe for failure. Instead, take the time to analyze subscriber activity and determine who clicks, what they click on and when and how frequently they click, then segment your email campaigns based on these findings. Also keep in mind that open rates are increasingly unreliable due to a number of factors, including increased use of mobile devices.
3. Does the message fit the medium? MarketingProfs reports that email opens on mobile devices jumped 30% from 2011 to 2013. Yet according to recent research by Yesmail, 75% of marketers did not send mobile-friendly responsive emails most of the time in 1Q14, and 31% never sent them. The report further states that emails using responsive design had a 21% higher click-to-open rate compared with non-responsive e-mails. Go figure.
If you’re serious about getting results from your e-mail campaigns, the investment in responsive design will likely prove worthwhile. If you don’t have the resources to redesign in-house, choose an e-mail provider that offers templates incorporating responsive design. But don’t forget that once the reader clicks through to your site they should be presented with an equally friendly mobile experience.
There are myriad other ways to boost your email success rate, including honing content to make it highly relevant, optimizing subscription sign-up forms and employing pop-ups, personalization, autoresponders (emails triggered by an event), and A/B split testing. Figuring out which blend of these techniques elicits the desired response from your target audience requires a commitment of time and resources. Unfortunately even the Great and Powerful Google can’t help you there.