Ah, what a simpler time it was in 1998.
Back then in the early days of the Internet, people loved getting email. The legendary AOL “You’ve got mail!” chime was music to our ears. It meant that somewhere, someone out there cared enough to send us a message. It was great! In fact, it was such a nice feeling they even made a movie called “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan that was a legitimate box office hit.
Now imagine trying to make a movie about getting email in 2019: it would just make people anxious.
After all, email isn’t cool anymore, right? Its moment has passed, right? Who wants an email when you can text? Or send a message via Facebook? Or, as the kids say, slide into someone’s DMs?
Now some people just let the unread emails pile up to an anxiety-inducing level with barely a second glance.
So if email is past its prime, should your business still be doing email campaigns and newsletters?
The answer is a resounding Yes.
Let us explain.
The romanticism of email may be gone, but its usefulness has never been higher. The fact is, people who work in offices spend a good portion of their day sitting at their computer staring at their screen, and they’re a captive audience just waiting to be tapped.
Just ask Constant Contact. The email newsletter giant has provided 10 stats that will make you do a double take, including this: “for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38”. It’s tough to find that ROI anywhere else.
How does that happen? Well, aside from office workers many people are still tethered to their email via their smartphone or tablet, giving you a mobile audience who can see your messaging at almost any time.
It’s also user-friendly – people can open the email your business sends, find the info pertinent to them, then with just one click they’re taken to the website for further information or to make a purchase. Email marketing is also relatively inexpensive for businesses – it can either be done free via some email services, or at a reasonable monthly fee with the aforementioned Constant Contact, Mailchimp or other industry leaders.
And done correctly, it can still be a valuable weapon in your marketing arsenal. But the key is doing it correctly, and to that end, we provide four pieces of email advice to keep your business on the cutting edge of what is still a vital part of your strategy:
Eye-catching Subject Lines
Think of the subject line of your email marketing campaign like you would the bio in an online dating profile: you’ve got one chance to make someone smile, laugh or intrigue them. Without that solid opener, your email gets deleted, just like a boring Tinder bio will make people swipe left.
Take a few extra minutes before sending to see if you can punch up the subject line. Whether it’s humor, a clever turn of phrase, or a direct call to action, there are several different ways to garner attention as people skim through their inboxes.
Hubspot examines some of the best practices in that regard, and one of the keys that jumps out right away is the need to convey immediacy for the user. For instance, they recommend leveraging urgency, curiosity and timeliness as means to get people to open the email and go from there.
From a practical standpoint, recipients also need certain elements to help them ensure it’s not a spam message, which means personalizing the emails and avoiding the “no-reply” name from the sender.
And as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit”, a maxim that can be extended in 2019 to email newsletters subject lines. As Hubspot put it in that piece, “Email subject lines will get cut off if they’re too long, particularly on mobile devices. And with up to 77% of email opens taking place on mobile, we recommend using subject lines with fewer than 50 characters to make sure the people scanning your emails read the entire subject line.”
In a separate piece, Hubspot also outlines some of the better email subject lines that have caught their attention that they now use as examples of best practices, such as:
“*Don’t Open This Email*”
“Google sees smartphone heroics in Oreo.”
“Where to Drink Beer Right Now”
“DO NOT Commit These Instagram Atrocities”
Let’s say you’ve come up with a great subject line, and it worked — compelling people to open the email. That’s a great first step, but now what? What are people going to find in the email that will make reading it worth their time?
A great option is providing an exclusive offer to email subscribers they can’t get anywhere else. Whether it’s a buy-one, get-one, a significant discount, or a first look at a new product or service, exclusive email newsletter content will give not only give customers an incentive to continue opening future communications, but could provide a nice financial bump as well.
In considering offers, make sure you keep a calendar handy, so you can target people who have either forgotten about, or procrastinated on, major holidays. Sometimes a well-timed email two days before Mother’s Day with a special offer will save someone’s bacon. Our mile-a-minute society is rife with procrastination, so use it to your advantage.
Ask Your Customers Questions
The satellite radio network Sirius has a channel called Spectrum, which they dub as adult album rock (so get lost, Chainsmokers!). Spectrum has a campaign where subscribers sign up to become “tastemakers” – every so often they receive an email linking to a website where Sirius plays snippets of songs, and users then listen and determine if they like those songs or not. Sirius then takes the results and uses them to help determine which songs get air time on Spectrum.
It goes back to a simple principle: the best way to know what your customers want is to ask them. To that end, email newsletters can help you generate feedback on your products or services. Sending out surveys, polls, or simply seeking feedback on how you’re doing can give you a real-time look at how your company and brand are perceived.
Further, by giving your customers a voice, they’re more likely to feel loyal and forge a personal connection to your business. To that end, you can also use surveys and polls to generate clicks and garner feedback. Constant Contact has an informative blog on that very topic, including this critical piece of insight:
“Understanding your email audience is critical to getting the results you want from your email campaigns. When you learn more about your list, you can start to target your contacts with more relevant information.”
Speaking of Constant Contact, Flowerpot is part of their Partner Program, allowing us to leverage their industry-leading tools, technology and strategies when working with our clients. That relationship allows us to work closely with their team to best position your business using their services. It’s a winning formula many companies have used to see greater success from their email campaigns.
Get People In On The Action
Offers and surveys are two examples of effective calls to action in your company’s emails. Strong calls to action will drive users to your website to generate revenue.
But not everything you put in an email needs to be a direct sale – the calls to action also need to provide value, and to that end, linking to your latest blog entries is a great way to drive traffic to your website via email. It shows the reader you’re not just trying to pry money from their wallets, but you’re also providing them with insights and information that can help them. And, if having them linger on your site for a little extra time leads them to the sales section, well all the better.
Speaking of lingering on your site, you know one good way to make that happen? A blog. If your company doesn’t have a blog, now is the perfect time to start one. This piece outlines the benefits that come from having a company blog, including increasing web traffic and establishing your business as a thought leader in your industry.
A blog is a gift you give your audience to help them, guide them, educate and entertain them in topics of interest. If you’re not a writer, or don’t have one on staff, the Flowerpot team can create and write your company’s blog.
Hit The Brake Pedal
Suppose your email campaign outperformed expectations – the temptation might be to go back to the well right away and send another one. But here’s our response to that: yeah, don’t.
Put it this way: you likely have that friend on Facebook who posts pictures of their new baby – Every. Single. Day. The first day? It was fine. The 18th day? You’ve muted them.
The same principle can go for email campaigns: sometimes less is more. You don’t want people to see an email from your brand pop up and have them think, “Really? Again?” The only call to action you may get any traction on is the unsubscribe button.
Keep your emails coming on a regular schedule. And that can vary from business to business. In some cases, it may be twice a week, others twice a month. Find a rhythm that works for you and your customers, and stick with it.
As much as people will tell you they’re over email, it’s much in the same way a college student wakes up on a Sunday morning vowing to never drink again – you know they don’t mean it.
For most people, email is still intertwined with our daily lives, and a strong email campaign can help your business tap into it.
Of course, there is much more to email than the steps we listed above – everything from segmenting audiences and microtargeting to increased personalization and optimizing your database. But those are conversations we can have further down the line.
In the meantime, if your email marketing has stalled, or even if you need to start from scratch, the team here at Flowerpot can help. We’ve worked with numerous clients to create highly successful email marketing campaigns and newsletters and can do the same for you.
For instance, we work closely with Oregon Growers, who produce delicious fruit spreads, honeys and much more. We help them create dynamic emails that show their products in the best possible light while offering recipes and other elements that readers will find of use. This email is an example of how we do it.
Contact us to find out how we can optimize your email marketing investment to drive real results.