Never more so than now, E-marketing has become so important for keeping your customer relations on track – but in the wrong hands, it can do damage, as well as good to your company reputation. Here we take a look at best practice for 2016, including key guidelines and regulations as set out by governing bodies such as ICO.
E-marketing, executed well, can be so much more than just another way to deliver your company name before customers – it’s a way to develop their trust, be informative and offer value. By the end of 2016, it’s predicted that there will be 4.6 billion email accounts. That’s a pretty huge audience, a percentage of which could potentially be yours. As more people embrace email, you need to change the way you engage with your subscribers to keep up with their changing needs. To stay relevant, your email marketing best practices need to adapt to your audience, and keep on adapting as their needs change.
We’ve put together the information you need to make sure less emails hit that bin!
How to optimise your email for better open rates
Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) isn’t only important for Ecommerce and transactional sites, it should be a part of your overall online marketing strategy. However, CRO is a skill that most email markers never fully get to grips with. But making a few tweaks really can make a difference to your open rates, and your unsubscribe rates. According to studies made last year 59% of companies believe CRO is crucial to achieving their business outcomes. So here’s the basics:
- Use a recognisable ‘From’ name
- Use a strong subject title – this is your advert
- Personalise – include in the subject line as well as in the body copy
- Keep your copy very brief and to the point, leave no room for wooliness or misinterpretation
- Use bullet points rather than long paragraphs as these are more easily digested
- Don’t use technical jargon
- Make it interesting – but keep it light
- Make it flow – keep it conversational
- Include a single, strong (date restricted) Call To Action (CTA) – don’t over complicate the message with multiple instructions
(NOTE: See the section below on what the law requires for E-marketing)
Contextual emails – write relevantly
On average your customers will receive 7% more emails in 2016 than last year. So you’ll have to work harder to get your open rates because audiences will be distracted by an even greater flood of emails. What’s the answer? The most effective way is to focus on creating contextual emails – communications that are personalised to your subscribers. The message should be based on their unique qualities, needs (or pains) and behaviours, making sure they receive the right email at the right time; they’ll feel it was directed at them with some thought involved. You’ll need to segment your database in order to do this effectively, based on the different actions your customer journey takes them on.
You could try:
- Sending an initial message that lists your main touch points to see what interests them. Your business may offer a range of services, products, resources, help or information, or a mix of all of these. Identifying which gets the highest click through rate, driving them to your site, will define what you do next. For instance; if they request help, your next email should provide information, if they click on a particular product, your next email should provide an offer or incentive to buy.
- Segmenting your database by the stage of subscription, so whether they are a full member, or just someone who’s vaguely interested, these are two completely different messages. Again, the incentive to take that customer journey further will be different in each case.
Creating specific content for each segment allows you to send the best message to the right recipient, creating more personalised and more effective emails. However you choose to segment your database, creating content that’s based on behaviour is the best approach to adopt, and you’ll certainly learn more about your customer this way.
The right image will say more
It’s important to remember that not all recipients will be able to view images within emails, or have the option to download the image – which often as not they don’t trust enough to do so! With this in mind emails containing images have greater curb appeal and provide a subliminal instant message that can be more effective than anything written. Beyond ensuring you’ve looked into the copyright usage of any image, the main thing to consider is where you place it. Most email view settings only show the top part of the email, so it’s worth making sure you don’t have anything important within the image being cut off. Landscape images work best for this reason. Make sure the image is simple, gives a clear indication of what the email is about, or, if you opt for a random ‘teaser’ style image, make sure it’s engaging enough to initiate an open.
Mobile really does matter
With currently an average 66% of marketing emails being opened on mobile devices, it really does make sense to ensure your emails are adaptable for mobile or, even better, fully responsive. After all, you’ve probably ensured your website is responsive so why not other online forms of communication too? Mobile is taking over people’s lives, we are the mobile generation and it’s only going to get stronger with new technology such as smart watches enabling people to see what’s dropping into their in box as it happens without the comparative effort of getting a phone out – let’s face it, business meetings just aren’t the same now that attendees can quietly carry on working! So what’s the best way to drive email engagement on mobile devices?
Making emails fully responsive is clearly the best option. Emails read on your mobile using a responsive email template will resize the font and images and even change the layout of the email to fit the small screen – just as your responsive website does. A responsive email often looks different on a mobile than on a laptop, because the template may convert two-columns into one-column to increase readability. While responsive emails respond to different devices, mobile friendly emails appear the same on every device. Since their design doesn’t change for small devices, mobile friendly emails often contain text that is too small to read unless you zoom in.
E-marketing – law matters too!
If you’re sending emails out to a database there’s a lot of information you should know about on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website. It’s simply not good enough to think that because you’ve included an opt-out box on your emails you’re covered. Anyone promoting products or services via email has to be compliant and transparent about why the recipient is being sent this type of email. In fact there’s so much information, a lot of the detail could be missed, so here’s our quick guide:
- Tell your audience who the email is coming from – the law focuses on the “from” and “to” labels which need to contain either the person’s name or the business name.
- Write an honest subject line – don’t write a subject line that you can’t deliver.
- Understand that your email will be seen as an advert – therefore don’t send it to those segments of your database who you can assume won’t agree with receiving advertising.
- Give an address, or full contact details – this provides credibility for your business.
- Provide a simple and instructive opt-out option – it’s not good enough to just state that they’re receiving this email because they’ve subscribed, or made an initial enquiry, it has to be a simple action, and not hidden away.
- Honour that opt-out option quickly – with a response that acknowledges their request has been actioned; within 10 days is best practice here.
- If you use an external resource for your emails make sure they adhere to the rules.
More information can be found at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/electronic-mail-marketing/.