Email can be considered a sort of “elder statesman” of your marketing toolbox. With origins dating back to 1962, this method of communication has come a long way and will not be leaving anytime soon. With the proliferation of smart phones, email has never been a more powerful marketing tool. Email is no longer relegated to just desktops and laptops. Users can now check their email accounts whenever and wherever they choose. Email has never been a more powerful way to reach a large audience; a study by Mashable found that 144.8 billion emails are sent each day. With usage this high, email remains one of the most effective ways to reach your market. Email marketing is a massive topic, covering a wide swath of subjects such as design, communications, marketing, and data analysis. In this article we’ll take a look at the fundamentals and what it takes to begin creating effective campaigns and why email marketing should be a major part of any marketing mix.
Email trumps social
Social media is a great way to engage your prospects, customers and fans, but is not nearly as effective as email at acquiring new customers. In fact, email far surpasses social media for new customer acquisitions and according to Custora, email driven customer acquisition has quadrupled in the last four years. Further, email continues to have a significant impact on revenue and business growth, accounting for almost 7% of customer acquisitions.
Studies have shown that customers acquired through email also have a higher lifetime value than customers acquired through social media. On average, customers who have come to you via email are 12% more valuable than the average customer lifetime value.
Extending your reach
With smartphone use continuing to grow, email has taken on a mobile dimension. 47% of all email opens happen on a mobile device. Compared to August 2012 (38%), the continued increase of mobile email use is a strong indicator that mobile email will continue to be an effective avenue to reach your customers. Mobile email can be checked anywhere, anytime and is a powerful tool for reaching customers without obstacles such as location or time.
Are your email campaigns mobile ready?
Your emails will be opened on different devices such as laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones, but one design does not fill all devices. It is crucial that you optimize your emails for mobile devices as well as desktop email clients, such as Outlook. If customers open an email on their smartphone that is garbled, hard to read or disproportionate to the screen it is being viewed on, it will likely end up in the trash. Even worse, customers who receive emails which are not optimized for mobile, are more likely to unsubscribe.
Keep these tips in mind when optimizing your campaigns for mobile devices:
- Remember that customers reading your emails on a mobile device will have a more up close and intimate viewing experience, leverage this in both design and your message to enhance your reach
- Many elements must compete for attention on the smaller screen of a mobile device, so when possible, make the following changes
- Increase the size of important elements and call to action buttons. This prevents one of the key pieces needed for conversion or further action, from being lost or hard to see
- Use a sans-serif font in an easy to read colour such as black or a darker shade of blue
- Decrease the size of your images with an image optimizer such as JPEG mini; smaller image sizes mean a smaller overall email size and loading time
- Check the “max-width” portion of your tags. A well planned email campaign can be derailed almost instantly by a disproportionately large image, which is multiple times larger than the screen on a smart phone
- Create a responsive grid system/template. While this may require coding, creating a responsive grid system is a great way to create responsive emails. While creating a custom template can seem a bit harrowing, Responsive Grid System, and other sites, are great resources for learning more.
- If you are not quite ready to try creating your own responsive templates, consider investing in a premade solution. The cost (if any) is more than justified by the increase in opens and action taken.
- Create a text only version of your emails. Many smartphones (along with desktop and web based email programs) turn off images by default. Having a text only version allows you to still deliver your message to your customers and avoid having a message appear like a collection of empty boxes.
Putting it all together: sending
While it may seem like a cost effective way to simply send each email via outlook or other mail clients, this is not recommended (ever). Using web based email platforms such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact is a must for email marketing. These platforms allow you to effectively segment your market and mailing lists, manage unsubscribes, and create powerful campaigns based off of campaign data and insights. Further, these platforms also feature A/B testing capabilities, allowing you to just send (and spend money on) emails that work and drive opens and conversions. Further, automated list management ensures unsubscribes are handled properly, and you are compliant with any relevant regulations relating to sending commercial and marketing emails.
As you begin to grow your list, experiment with email campaigns and different approaches, you will learn to become responsive to your customers. All major online email marketing platforms feature robust analytic tools for understanding how your audience reacts to different email messages. Once you have an understanding of what does and doesn’t work, you will begin to craft effective emails that actually offer your customers something they want. However, developing an understanding of what sort of emails your customers will respond to and how to create campaigns tailored to their interest will take time and careful measurement and analysis of results.