Nowadays, a great deal of emphasis is put on social media marketing to effectively promote your business. But don't forget to include tried-and-true email marketing in your marketing plan. Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels around. In fact, in a Litmus survey, four out of five marketers said they'd rather give up social media marketing than email marketing.
According to the Litmus research, every $1 spent on email marketing in the U.S. is returning an average of $36, although various factors can increase or decrease this digital marketing ROI.
As with any marketing effort, there are ways to maximize your email marketing campaign's results. We'll explore eight email marketing strategies and dig deeper into email marketing's importance for your business.
How to improve your email marketing campaign results
Here are eight practical tips to help you gain more subscribers, increase engagement, and ultimately make more money.
1. Grow your email marketing list with effective opt-in strategies.
You can't conduct an effective email marketing campaign if you don't have any subscribers. While you may be tempted to buy an email list, avoid this action at all costs. Your open rates – and return on investment – will be dreadful. That same list was probably sold to many other companies, and you'll likely be flagged as a spammer the moment you send out your first newsletter.
Here are some practical methods for building a quality email list organically:
- Create an effective opt-in campaign. Make it easy for customers to opt into your email marketing list. Create an effective opt-in campaign on your website using an engaging message with a sign-up box. Place the box near the top of the website for best results (or use a pop-up box) and tell customers the benefits they'll receive from subscribing.
- Use account registration to gather emails. If you use account registration on your website, incorporate email list sign-ups into that registration.
- Use your landing page to gather emails. On a landing page, provide an incentive for signing up for your email list, such as a free download or a discount code.
- Create a content upgrade. Another popular option is called a content upgrade. For example, create a blog post about bamboo floor installation and offer email subscribers a more in-depth article with a video demonstration.
- Add sharing links to your emails. Grow your list by providing a "share by email" capability that sends a content link to your subscribers' friends.
- Gather emails from social media. Use social media to grow your email list by providing email sign-ups on Facebook pages and social media accounts.
- Gather emails from in-person events. Offer email list opt-in offers on written materials and signage at your location. QR codes are a quick way to bring people to your email sign-up page.
2. Improve your email open rate.
Building a quality email list is only half the battle. You still need people to open those emails and engage with your content. Just as it sounds, your open rate is the percentage of your list that opens your emails. Here are a few tactics to improve your email open rate:
- Resend unopened emails. Perhaps some of your subscribers missed your first email. Sending it again can result in more opens and conversions, but you want to ensure you're not annoying people. Resend only vital email campaigns, and tweak your subject line to better capture your readers' attention. Email marketing service Vision6 advises waiting about three days – or the amount of time your readers usually take to open your emails – before resending, based on its email marketing metrics.
- Write quality subject lines. Subject lines matter almost more than your email's contents. Subject lines should be short (25 to 30 characters), compelling and focused. Email subject lines should not include spammy words, such as "cash," "free" or "urgent," and should never be in all caps.
- Send emails at an optimum frequency. The frequency with which you send emails could affect your open rates. Recommendations vary, but the consensus is that you should email at least weekly; a Litmus study on email marketing ROI found that sending nine to 16 emails per month maximizes ROI.
- Send emails at optimum times. When you send your emails also matters. Open rates and click-through rates (CTR) depend on your audience's characteristics, so you may need to do some testing. Research from Campaign Monitor, as reported by Coschedule, shows that emails sent between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. have the highest open rates.
3. Use video and dynamic content in your email marketing.
Using video content to promote a business has taken off on the web, but videos in email marketing are also gaining traction. Consumers seem to love videos. According to Social Media Week, more than three-quarters of people (78%) watch online videos every week, 55% watch daily, and 54% want to see even more video content.
There are some drawbacks to using video in email marketing. For example, some email systems aren't compatible with video playback. One way to get around this is to send an animated GIF thumbnail in your email message with a button that looks like a video player. When the reader clicks the play button, they're redirected to a landing page with the embedded video.
The additional benefit is that you've just transported the reader to your website. If you use this method, set videos to auto-play once the reader is redirected, and make sure there is a clear call-to-action (CTA) at the end that directs the user to their next step.
Other forms of dynamic content include animated gifs as well as interactive polls and surveys.
4. Include user-generated content in your email marketing.
People love to see what others have to say. Information from peers is more credible than information from a company, and gives a human face to a product or brand.
Use your website, social media accounts and email to solicit customer feedback, including reviews, stories about how they used your product or service to solve a problem, photos, and testimonials. Include some of the best responses in your email marketing campaigns.
Customers who submitted a response will look to see if you included theirs, and everyone else should be able to relate to a fellow customer's insights.
5. Send quality content – including images – in your email marketing campaigns.
If you're not sending out relevant and engaging content to your subscribers, it won't matter whether or not they've opened your email. They probably won't ever open another one or click through to your website. Balance visually appealing and intriguing information with a small dose of promotion.
Know your email's purpose before you begin. Is this a newsletter, information, exclusive offer, announcement or lead-nurturing piece? Remember that this is about quality, not quantity. When reading emails, people appreciate a concise message and high-quality images.
Statistics reported by Unlayer suggest that 65% of readers prefer emails that contain images. Not all email services will display images, so images should comprise only a portion of your email, not the entire message. A good rule of thumb is to use about 30% of your space for images.
6. Personalize your email content.
If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system, you should already know your customers and their unique tastes, needs and patterns. Email is the perfect way to use this information to send highly relevant communications to your subscribers.
According to the Litmus study on email marketing ROI, companies that often or always use this kind of personalization for their emails achieve an average ROI of 43-to-1, compared with companies that never or rarely personalize, which have an average ROI of 12-to-1.
For example, you could segment your email list by products purchased within a specific timeframe and then offer a discount on that product or promote a complementary product. If a person bought a swimsuit in the last couple of weeks, show them another suit they looked at with a small discount, or send them an email showing matching cover-ups, hats and sunglasses. If someone visited a resort in May, the resort could send out an email the following March mentioning the events planned there for May to encourage them to visit again.
7. Test email marketing elements to find what works best.
Marketing emails include many variables, including subject line, headline, text length and content, image content, time of day, and day of the week sent. To identify optimal content and timing, use A/B testing to isolate variables and see which version performs best. Which subjects had the highest open rate? What content had the highest click-through rate? When are subscribers most likely to open your emails?
According to the Litmus statistics, brands that conduct A/B testing can double their ROI by eliminating underperforming content and strategies and focusing on what subscribers like.
It's also essential to test emails before sending them to your whole list. Sending a test email allows you to check for spelling or grammatical errors, broken images, and correct subject lines and ensure it renders correctly across all devices.
8. Keep your email content straightforward.
Make your email designs simple, with plenty of white space. Use an engaging photo or infographic or two, but avoid competing graphics. This will increase the time the subscriber spends reading the email. Focus each email on one specific goal (CTA) to reduce confusion and increase response.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing uses email to reach out to current and prospective customers to move them forward in the sales process and use them to increase your customer base. Legitimate email marketing utilizes opt-in email lists, meaning that recipients have given you their email address of their own volition, with the understanding that you will email them specific types of communications.
Using purchased or otherwise non-opt-in email lists (spamming) is illegal under the CAN-SPAM Act. Internet companies penalize this practice. They can bounce emails they consider spam and even block your company's IP address. Unwanted emails that are actually delivered usually get routed to the recipient's spam folder and aren't opened or read.
You can conduct email marketing using your company server or an external email platform.
What are email marketing services?
Email marketing services make it easy to design attractive emails even when you don't have graphic design or programming experience. They also help you manage lists, send large batches at one time, schedule preset email drip campaigns, and offer campaign analytics so you can do A/B testing and refine your email strategy.
There are many excellent email marketing services out there with various capabilities and pricing structures. For more information, read our in-depth reviews of top email marketing services:
Examine service offerings, costs, and customer support details to find the best email marketing service for your organization.
What are the benefits of email marketing?
Email has been around since the beginning of widespread internet use, so it's become a proven, ubiquitous tool. These are some top benefits of email marketing:
- Many people have access to email. In 2021, there were around 4 billion daily email users, and this number is expected to increase to 4.6 billion by 2025, according to Statista. While this technology has been around for a while, it's here to stay.
- Your message goes directly to the recipient. Unlike many other marketing methods, email delivers your message directly to your potential customer. People check their email religiously; 99% check their inbox every day, with some people checking up to 20 times a day, according to OptinMonster. While it's possible that your email went into the junk folder or the recipient just ignored it, data from GetResponse shows that almost 22% of all email campaigns are opened within the first hour after they are sent.
- Email is available on the go. In the past, people had to be at their computers to check their email, but now, nearly everyone carries their email around with them. Almost 6 in 10 millennials (59%) and 67% of Gen Z individuals use their smartphones to check their email, according to Bluecore.
- Information sent by email is seen as useful. Companies use email for various purposes, not just marketing. This makes email a medium more likely to be seen as useful. GetResponse data shows that more than 80% of people will open a welcome email because they consider its information valuable. In addition, many companies, especially in the B2B space, use email for newsletters, and per data from Content Marketing Institute, 81% of B2B marketers say email is their most-used content marketing method.
- Email is permission-based. Since your email recipients have opted in to receive your emails, they expect to see emails from your company. As long as you don't abuse their trust by sending too many emails or constantly trying to sell them products without providing value, they will continue to permit you to market to them.
Jerry Low contributed to the writing and research in this article.