Email is arguably one of the most useful tools in a small business’ marketing toolbox. It is incredibly flexible, cost-effective and offers an impressive ROI. Indeed most small businesses wouldn’t be without it.
A rosy future for email…
“9 out of 10 clients perceive email marketing as a channel of ‘importance’ or ‘great strategic importance’ for achieving business goals” DMA National Client Survey 2015
- Email has an average ROI of $38 for each $1 spent
- 92% of online adults use email, with 61% using it every day.
- 76% of marketers are seeing active growth in their number of email subscribers
- The average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media
- A message is 5x more likely to be seen in email than via Facebook
Email’s future continues to look rosy as newer technologies such as marketing automation offer even more options and email systems become better and better at identifying and getting rid of spam.
With this in mind, we’ve created a checklist of what we think are the key tips for ensuring your ecommerce business is making the most out of its email communications. So, in no particular order, here is our list of what to do and what not to do as far as your email marketing is concerned.
18 top tips for great email marketing
- Focus on content: The quality of your content is key to whether your emails succeed or fail. There is no point sending out emails where the content has no value to the recipient. Focus on sending out information that is relevant, entertaining or useful to your target audience – otherwise your emails we’ll remain unopened or go straight to the trash bin.
- Create killer subject lines: You may have painstakingly created an email that is packed full of valuable content for your audience, but if you don’t spend a bit of time crafting your subject line your email may not even get opened. Try to keep your subject line short and to the point and make sure it reflects the actual content of the email. Here are a couple of helpful articles on how to create successful subject lines: 10 Simple Tips for Writing Killer Email Subject Lines and Best Email Subject Lines.
- Mix up your communications: Do not bombard customers and potential customers with just sales messages. You need to mix up the type of content you are sending. Of course, sales emails are essential but they be the only emails you send. Make sure you are also dispatching other useful content for example; newsletters, links to blog posts, helpful tips, relevant account information and so on. It’s all about having a good balance.
- Don’t use ALL CAPS.Using all capital letters in emails, particularly the subject headers can look a bit ‘spammy’. More importantly, they may get picked up by your customers’ email system’s spam filters and end up straight in Junk Mail.
- Make your email easy to read. Format your emails so they look visually appealing. Recipients don’t want to (and probably won’t) plough through reams of unbroken text. Use short paras, bullet points, images and sub headers to break up the text. Not only will it look better, it will also enable people to skim over your email and still understand what it is all about. Include a text only version too as you don’t want to exclude people who can’t open HTML templates.
- Personalise your email. Personalise your email when you can. This goes back to building a great permission-based database. Include first name and last name fields in your data capture forms. Research shows that emails that are personalised can lift open rates by 26%, click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by as much as 10%.
- Proof your content: Always give your emails a thorough proofread before hitting send. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, missing information etc. can make you look unprofessional and could reflect poorly on your brand.
- Always have a clear call to action. With most of your small business email marketing you are likely to want the recipient to perform a specific action such as purchasing a product, leaving a review, registering for an event, signing up to a competition and so on. Whatever it is that you want, ensure your call to action is highly visible and leaves your audience in no doubt about what it is you are asking them to do.
- Test before hitting send. Once you’ve hit send there is no going back. Always send yourself a test email before you dispatch it to your whole small business marketing database. Check its format is multi-device friendly – you want people to be able to read it equally well on a mobile as on a desk top. Make sure all the links are working properly and give it a final once over in case you missed any spelling mistakes at the proofreading stage.
- Include an easily visible unsubscribe button. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe to your email communications. Not only are you required to do this, it is a great way to ensure you are keeping your email contact data clean and up-to-date. There is no point in sending out marketing communications to people who have no interest in your product – it serves no purpose and you will only annoy them.
- Grow your permission-based list. Focus on building a great permission-based email contact list. Email marketing databases can decay by as much as 23% a year so it is important that you look at ways to data capture new email address to enable your list to continue to grow.
- Consider email automation. Automated emails, particularly those that are triggered after a specific action, can have a great impact on your email marketing. In fact, research shows that transactional emails can have up to 8x more opens and clicks than other types of email, and can generate over 6x more revenue. Again there are plenty of excellent email marketing automation systems available offering this kind of email technology.
- Images help engagement. Using interesting and relevant images in your emails are a great way to capture attention and increase engagement. Most humans are, by nature, visual learners so by including images you can really lift response. Of course there are caveats – here is a helpful article on how to ensure you use images correctly within emails: Email Images: How and when to use them.
- Brand your email. Email is a great opportunity to strengthen your brand and grow your visibility. Include your logo in all of your email communications.
- Familiarise yourself with email rules and regulations. You don’t want to fall foul of the law, so familiarise yourself with the relevant legislation and best practice guidance for you country. In the UK check out Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and the Data Protection Act.
- Target your emails: Rather than sending out blanket communications to everyone on your database, try to target your emails to different segments of your audience. The more information you can gather about your customers, the better you will be able to do this. The more targeted you are the higher the likelihood of boosting your response rate and decreasing your unsubscribes.
- Test, measure, tweak. The great thing about email is that it offers you the ability to test, measure and tweak your emails quickly and easily to ensure you are getting the best response rates. There are plenty of excellent email service providers that offer free services to start-ups and small business. For example MailChimp offers a free service for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.
- Don’t forget your landing pages. You may have just dispatched a top-notch email, full of interesting and inspiring content, however if you call to action buttons don’t take your recipient to an equally well thought out landing page, then your efforts will be wasted.
Of course, email marketing is a huge area and there a plenty more do’s and don’ts you will want to consider. But hopefully the above list gives you a helpful checklist to get you emailing with confidence.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of email marketing, so please do leave a comment.