Many bloggers are adding email to their mix of content distribution, and many companies are rediscovering the importance of an ongoing email strategy to enhance their brand, re-connect with customers, and drive leads or sales.
Whether you are using email to prospect for new leads or customers, or as a vehicle to communicate with (and gain incremental revenue from) your current customer base, it would be wise to be sure they are as productive as possible.
Here are a few tricks of the trade: PROSPECTING Be sure you are using outside email lists that are reputable; opted-in, double opted-in.
If the price for a list seems too good to be true, it is..
Don't use it.
Clearly identify your target; the sweet spot may not be achievable in the data world but start the search there, and then tweak "selects" based on availability.
Explore pricing models; can you find CPC or CPL deals? More and more email list providers are willing to move to a CPL basis.
CREATIVE Use a strong subject line; short and addressing a "pain point" will get the best open rates.
Put a personal note above your banner or header to get recipients reading immediately; either in their mail-reader preview pane or when they open the e-mail.
Personalize the message (IF your email database is reliable enough and you're sure that most records have a first or first-and-last name) Include a sidebar.
Highlight your call to action there with a photo, headline, caption, and action button.
COPY Pace your copy.
Opening paragraph should be the most engaging, but short, 2 or 3 lines at most.
The rest of the paragraphs should be no more than three sentences each.
Intersperse longer paragraphs with short, snappy one-sentence paragraphs for emphasis.
Use bold type and underlining (for links) to guide the eye to your most important points.
Use bullets to break up the copy and move the reader along.
Every third paragraph should have an action link to your desired call to action.
Most click-thrus happen at the very end of the copy Be sure you end with a link AND include a "P.
"; that old standard from Direct Marketing 101 still works! LANDING PAGE Whole books are written about landing pages, but at the very least include a very strong call to action;hopefully only one.
Keep it clean and crisp.
The creative design should have the same look and feel (and company logo etc) as the email so the reader doesn't think they have gone to a different website or offer.
VIDEO If it's in the body of the email itself, it may have delivery problems, or be blocked as potential spam attachment.
If the video is on the landing page, it will probably get good viewership; but will it distract from the main call to action? Put some brief text and a call-to-action link above the video, or maybe the video can include a constantly visible and even clickable Web-address URL.
EMAILING YOUR CUSTOMERS If you are using email to contact your customer base, it's best to have a schedule and stick to it.
Decide on an email frequency; once a week, or once a month may be fine for some companies, too frequent or not enough for others.
If you have a large enough mail-list file to test and measure response rates for different frequencies, do so.
The last thing you want to do is irritate your own customer.
They should perceive your emails as value-added, not intrusive.
Segment your own email database if it makes sense.
For leads, use different offers depending upon how far down the sales funnel the prospect is.
For current clients, segment by product category, for example.
A large-scale email campaign may not always be as efficient per dollar as a timid campaign, but well-crafted email can quickly build up your in-house customer list for further testing or offers.
It's an investment.
Tracking is critical.
Be sure you can measure open rates, click-through rates, and conversions at least for each blast.
And maintain historical reports over time to see both successes and weaknesses in your campaigns.