In my last post, I discussed some of the challenges with and benefits of email campaigns, or mass mail, as the feature is called in our CMS SiteWrench. Indulge me, if you will, and let's continue along that train of thought.
How can you ensure you're maximizing the potential of your campaigns? How do you know your audience is receiving your emails, reading them, and ultimately, becoming customers as a result?
Below are 11 tips - because a top 10 list would be so David Letterman - for creating winning mass mail campaigns.
1. Real Benefits of Mass Email
One of the biggest mistakes that people make with email campaigns is creating messages than benefit themselves rather than their audience. How many times have you received a soliciting email that did absolutely nothing for you?
I received an email the other day from a local restaurant saying "Stop back in and enjoy our lunch specials". While this tactic may put some people in the mood for their food... the reality is, there is no clear benefit to the reader. All benefit points to the restaurant. They are the only ones that stand to benefit from this email.
In contrast, I recently got an email for $5 off my next haircut at my favorite salon. I was due for a haircut, and so this email held an actual benefit for me. That's a great example of an email campaign done well.
2. Strategically Time Your Emails
A lot of times, people make the mistake of sending out a mass email as soon as it's been approved. Not a lot of consideration is given to what time of day, what day of the week, or what national or local events are going on when they send.
Now, I could shortchange you and tell you that emails are more likely to get opened at the beginning of the week (Monday - Wednesday), and that there are higher open rates around mid-day, over lunch (which is true for the most part). However...we can go a bit further than that.
Before you send any mass email out, think about your business. If you know your busiest shopping day is on Saturdays... sending a coupon out early Saturday morning has real impact.
Likewise, sending an announcement about your new software patch on Sunday morning when people want to sleep in, is almost assuredly going to be ignored. Be strategic with the times you schedule your email campaigns to be sent.
3. Entice People with the Subject Line
One of the single most important things you can do to ensure people open your email is to give them a great subject line - something that will prompt them to click on your email to read more.
You may legitimately have a great mass email that you’ve sent, full of value and relevance to the readers. But if you don’t have a great subject line to entice them in, there’s a very good chance your email will be deleted without even being opened.
Here are a few quick examples of solid subject line strategies:
- State up front what you’re giving them: "$5 off your next order"
- Ask a question: "Is your website being found by Google searchers?"
- Create intrigue: "The single best thing you can do to improve your search engine rankings…"
Similarly, you should avoid the following strategies:
- Gimmicky sales techniques: "Limited supplies! Hurry in…"
- Click-bait verbiage: "You will never believe what we just did…"
It should go without saying that you should avoid discussing anything involving inheritance from the prince of some foreign land, sales on printer ink, or any other words that are sure to hit the SPAM filter. The thing is - even if you legitimately (or jokingly) include those terms in your mass mail, they are very likely to be flagged as SPAM. So proceed with caution.
4. Email Design Matters
At this point, if you are a business and don't acknowledge the necessity of good design - then you may not be in business much longer. Good design is critical for long-term success - though "good design" might not mean what you think it means.
It's not so much how pretty something looks (though that's a part of it). But rather, good design is how WELL something works. Is it easy to read? Is it visually appealing? Does it elicit emotion?
If we can agree on the point that design is important, then I also want to continue that and say keep your designs simple. This is for both technical reasons and strategic reasons. As I discussed in my previous article, creating designs that look good across various platforms is a difficult task. The more complex your design is, the more difficult it is going to be to code it.
But also from a strategic standpoint, you have an exceedingly limited time span to capture somebody's attention. If your email requires them to jump through too many hoops to get what you're trying to say (loads too slowly, requires them to click a link to view images, gets flagged for spam, etc.), then they probably won't bother. Go into your mass email designs with a minimalist mindset, and you'll see your success rates go up.
5. Simplicity Rules with Mass Email
Along the same lines as keeping it simple, don't try to accomplish too much with any single mass email that you send. Have a single purpose for it, and send it out. If you attempt to make 5 different points in your email, you're probably going to end up getting 0 points across, because nobody is going to read it.
Let's use my earlier example - the coupon that I got for my haircut. The subject line read "$5 off your next haircut". I opened the email, and true to its word, the first thing I saw was a coupon for $5 my next haircut. There was some text afterwards... but within 2 seconds I knew the gist of the email.
I didn't see the subject line, click into it, and suddenly see details about new store openings, upcoming events, latest trends in hair care, and recent hair cuts that they did. It was simple, to the point, and effective.
6. Easy Does It
From a design standpoint, one of the easiest ways to capture a reader's attention is through high-quality, relevant, impactful imagery. With that being said - it's very easy to go overboard with images.
Don't forget that most people will be reading your email on their mobile device. And it's just not cool to require them to download 2mb of data just to view your email. Additionally, if you go too heavy with images, your email may get flagged as SPAM, and not even make it to peoples inboxes.
So - proceed with caution. Try your best to keep images to a minimum. Always optimize your images with a tool like tinypng (tinypng.com), and make sure any image you use contains appropriate alt tags.
7. Focus on the Email Content
In the web-design industry, we have a saying: "Content is king". Good, quality content is the number one thing that adds value to a website, and the same is true for your mass emails. I know that I keep talking about getting coupons in my email - but that is not the only way you can create value for your readers.
You CAN send them helpful tips and suggestions pertaining to your industry. You can let them know about new products and services. But the important thing is, focus on creating good, unique, relevant, and beneficial content.
A user can distinguish between lukewarm, generic copy that can be skimmed, and real, valuable content. So don't waste your users' time. Give them a reason to genuinely give you their attention.
8. Keep Emails Short
While we're talking about content, let's also make it a rule to keep it short. Remember - even if your content is genuinely awesome, there's a good chance the person reading it is already occupied doing something else. They might even be genuinely interested in what you have to say. But if they don’t have time in that moment to read it, they'll probably file it away for later reading, and eventually just never get to it.
So whatever you have to say...keep it as short as possible. Trust me - there are very few people who will open your email, see a small novel, and commit to reading it right then and there. So be respectful of your readers' time, and keep your messages brief and to the point.
9. Have a Plain Text Backup
Once again - keeping content as our focus, ask yourself the question: if I did not have the option of sending images in this email, would my mass mail still have value to my readers? If the answer is no, then it's time to rethink your strategy.
The truth is, there are still a lot of email viewing programs out there that will disable images by default, or simply lack the ability to display images. This is why it is critical to focus on the content of your email. Make sure that whether there are images or not, a user can still get the gist of what you are trying to communicate with only the words to read.
10. Be Relatable
When it comes to mass emails, what are your own habits? What sorts of things cause you to open and read an email versus just deleting it without even glancing at it? Have you ever received an email that has lead you to become a customer? Why or why not? What sorts of things work for you, and what sorts of things annoy you?
By being tuned in to these questions, you will inherently start to know what will create impact for your readers, and you can start to integrate those answers into your own campaigns.
And, drum roll please...
11. Follow the Data
There are several tools out there that allow you to create tracking links and view analytics for your mass email campaigns. It is important that you set these up for every single bulk email that you send, and then create time to review and analyze this data after it sends.
If you see that one mass email had a significantly higher open rate than another, try to figure out what it was about the one with more opens that caused it to be that way. Experiment with different send times, templates and strategies and figure out what works for your business. As they say: the numbers don't lie.
There you have it - 11 tips for success with email marketing. You certainly don't have to go it alone though! We're more than happy to help you strategize, craft messages and schedule bulk email campaigns. Get in touch with our digital marketing experts today!