10 (More) Tips to Master E-mail Marketing

By Lauren Simonds | Posted July 01, 2009

A loyal customer base forms a solid foundation for any business, and e-mail marketing is one of the most affordable and effective tools to keep your customers coming back for more. The trick, of course, is sending out information your customers actually want.

Last February we spoke with Mélanie Attia, the product-marketing manager for Campaigner, who offered up her Top 10 E-mail Marketing Tips. In this article, she expands the list with another 10 ways to zero in on your audience and to keep your customers satisfied.

1. Use Multiple Types of E-mail Marketing

Don’t limit yourself to sending one kind of e-mail to your customers. The different types include

  • Promotional: Use when you have sales, discounts and holidays
  • Informational: Use this format to offer advice on how to get more out of a product or service. This adds value and shows you’re not just pushing a sale. For example, an auto parts dealer might send customers 10 tips to prepare their cars for winter.
  • Inspirational: this type of mailing weaves support and information together. For example, a dietitian could send messages to clients to help keep them on track, or you could include success stories to build motivation.

You can, and should, vary your mailings. There’s no magic recipe, but over time, you’ll see which types work best.

2. Reflect Your Brand

One of the biggest challenges in an e-mail campaign is getting customers to respond to your e-mail. If your template doesn’t reflect your brand, you may want to change it. The look and feel of your e-mail will help boost responses.

3. Know Your Competitors

Stay on top of what your competitors do by subscribing to their newsletters. They get lazy over time, and you can take advantage by bridging the gap. But don’t fall into the trap of providing the same information. Give your customers what they aren’t getting from the competition.

4. Vary Your Subject Lines

Don’t use static subject lines, such as the date. They need to be relevant so that your readers have a compelling reason to open the e-mail: 40 Percent Discount, Exclusive Interview with World-Renown Chef. People take less than one second to decide whether to open or delete an e-mail. The subject line is so important.

5. Provide Good Content

Establish yourself as a credible source of information – a thought leader -- and you’ll keep subscribers with you. If the content isn’t good, if you don’t excite your audience, you’ll see people unsubscribe. If you can’t do it every week, scale back to every other week, or once a month. When you do send e-mail, make sure it’s quality content that provides value.

6. Leverage Loyal Readers

Loyal customers make great advocates, and they generate the word-of-mouth that you desperately want. You can add a referral program or a forward-to-a-friend feature in your e-mails, and it’s a great idea to reward their loyalty. You can do that through a personal thank you, or by giving them a coupon. This locks in loyalty and spreads the word even further.

7. Turn Readers into Coupon Cutters

According to the Promotion Marketing Association, 76 percent of people use coupons. So include coupons in your e-mail, either in the form of a coupon code or a printable coupon. Another advantage is that you can track coupon redemption, which helps you keep tabs on your campaign effectiveness. If you e-mail a coupon and someone makes a purchase, that one e-mail tells you what you’re offering is on target and what people want.

8. Use Low-Level Segmentation

Use the resources and customer information you have on hand to build more targeted e-mail campaigns. You’ve got two types of customers: those who open the e-mail and those who don’t. You know who’s opening the e-mail, and that’s an opportunity to reward them.

You can also target the people who haven’t opened the e-mail in three months, for example, with a more aggressive pitch designed to get them to read it. You can pinpoint specific audiences and build V.I.P programs – people like to feel special.

9. Segment Based on Interest

The information you obtain from the questionnaire customers fill out when they sign up for your newsletter can help you design campaigns based on customer interests. For example, Macy’s site draws lots of women, and they target pitches based on gender.

If you drill down and segment your campaigns based on your customer profiles, you’ll see huge results. According to a study from MarketingSherpa, open rates for segmented campaigns are up 20 percent higher than non-segmented campaigns in the first month.

10. Know your Audience

Knowledge is power. Focus on the customers who interact with the e-mail but who haven’t purchased anything. Ask them for their feedback, something along the lines of: "you’ve been reading our newsletter, tell us what you think." Provide a survey and ask them how you can make this a better experience for them: improve the design, better subject matter?

For your readers who are customers, you want to deepen the relationship to build rapport and loyalty. The customer profile information will help you craft better messages because you’ll know what they want.

E-mail marketing takes time. There’s no right way and no magic. Every e-mail you send, and every report you get back tells you if you’re achieving your goals and where you can improve.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!


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