Highly targeted email helped fill every seat at Bombardier’s last Safety Standdown.

Effective Email Marketing

Email marketing has always seemed to be the redheaded stepchild of the Internet. Its reputation isn’t surprising, given the infuriating amount of spam and phishing schemes we’re subjected to every day. But despite this, email marketing’s benefits make it a vital part of your total marketing budget. Its main strength lies in its role as a permission-based medium. Because email marketing can only to be sent legally to those that opt-in to receive it, you can safely assume that everyone seeing your message already has an interest in your product or service. Coupled with the fact that it’s inexpensive to get started, email marketing can lead to a higher ROI than other marketing channels.

The issue with email marketing has nothing to do with the medium itself. It’s the fact that in most cases it’s done so ineffectively. Too often companies send emails out as an afterthought, with no strategy and without realizing the pitfalls that can derail a campaign. The following tips can turn an otherwise scattershot approach to email marketing into a campaign that produces results.

Target Your Message

When done right, email marketing can be highly targeted. When someone signs up to receive emails from you, you can add questions to your signup form asking what types of information they’re interested in. You can also adjust your message based on demographic information such as age, gender or location. This allows you to increase the relevance of every email received by tailoring the message to the individual, rather than just sending out one blanket email to your entire distribution list. Since studies show that targeted emails outperform bulk emails by a wide margin, you’re doing a disservice not taking advantage of targeting.

Test Different Options

A worthwhile practice that’s unfortunately underutilized is conducting A/B testing of differing marketing messages to see which has the better response, whether that means a higher open rate, more call-to-action completions or another metric that you define. Simply adjusting your subject line can affect the number of people that open your email, and the only real way to know what works is through testing. In addition, the information you get testing one campaign can be invaluable to future campaigns.

Take Care of Your Lists

Email campaigns live and die by the distribution lists they’re sent to. For your lists to stay healthy, you need to have a strategy to grow them with quality prospects. Having an email signup form on your website is of course mandatory, but there’s many more places you can take advantage of. It’s possible to put your form directly on your Facebook page, post a link to your form via Twitter or put the link in your outgoing email signature. Printed materials can include a QR code that leads to your signup form.  Getting the message out through all of these channels helps ensure that your lists don’t atrophy due to people unsubscribing or changing email addresses.

It’s also vital that you eliminate non-productive email addresses from your lists. Failing to prune bad email addresses wastes money, as most email distribution services charge you whether or not an email is valid. More importantly, it can affect your overall deliverability, as ISPs may block emails that are repeatedly sent to email addresses that don’t exist, or if valid recipients don’t open your emails.

Embrace Mobile

As more people receive email on their smartphones and tablets, it becomes necessary to tailor your emails to those devices. That means a separate design optimized for those smaller screens, rather than just reducing the size of the design you’re using for desktop computers. It also means adjusting content to emphasize clickable phone numbers and links that take the viewer to mobile-optimized sites. This ensures that the user experience is relevant to the device, both while reading the email and beyond.