Email Marketing: a Powerful Tool to Boost Your Online Store
By Nicholas Hurd
Use email marketing to increase the visitors to your online store and get more sales.
Reaching large audiences is one of the biggest goals for nearly every business. Virtual communication, email marketing being a form of it, has opened doors wide for everyone to accomplish this aim. Though eCommerce strategies change constantly, email marketing remains a preferable way of communicating information. The reason is simple: 48% of consumers prefer to communicate with brands via email.
BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
Set a clearly defined goal for Your Email Marketing
Before even starting to create your first email campaign, you should define the short and long term goals you want to achieve via email marketing. Rushing to send your first campaign without deep consideration can only ruin what you have planned for weeks and months. Slow down. Think and rethink what your main concerns are and what tasks you have to accomplish for your company to succeed. Before pushing the “Send” button, you should be able to clearly say whether you want to inform about a service, develop loyalty towards your company, or encourage making a purchase.
In addition, you should draw a realistic picture of how long it will take you to accomplish your goals with the newly developed strategy at hand. If your aim and the timing are vague, even a wonderfully designed email campaign can end up being a failure.
Thou Shall Not Spam!
How many emails have you marked as spam because you didn’t know why you had received them? The answer is probably – many. Take your own experience seriously: you should have a prior permission for every single email address to be added to your list. It is the number one factor to ensure readability and high open rates.
For compiling an authentic email list, create a clear subscription form, so that your visitors can easily sign up. Create pop-ups on your website, if you want to increase subscription rates. Be aware that email providers have effective mechanisms to detect spammers. And the punishment is very severe: you lose the chance to land in the inboxes of your present and future customers. Moreover, spam detecting services share information about spammers, so you should be very cautious not to be “caught” by any of them.
To avoid being added to the “black list”, many marketers prefer developing an opt-in email subscription process. The idea is to provide an opportunity for people to submit email addresses on their own and after being notified what kind of content they are going to receive.
Use Double Opt-in
The concept of double opt-in emails helps more cautious companies to take a step forward. After subscription, users need to go to their inboxes and confirm that they want to get information from a particular company. Though building a double opt-in email list takes more time, this two-step mechanism ensures that those who subscribe really want to see your emails in their inboxes. This guarantees higher open rates and ensures low figures in the bounce back and unsubscribe stats.
Some people don’t like double opt-in because it reduces the number of opt-ins. So, they will go with single opt-in. The reality is that if someone goes through the double opt-in process they are really interested in what you have to say. That means they are much more likely to open your emails. And they are more likely to purchase whatever it you are selling.
Enable sharing and recommending
For enriching your email list with real addresses, allow people to share their positive experiences and recommend your products or services. Arm your satisfied customers with all the tools to spread the word about your brand. They should be able to talk about you on social sites and send your emails to a friend. Be ready to meet people on your website where new users can easily sign up to your email list. It is also important to make your email campaign readable and shareable on smartphones and tablets. Use responsive templates to provide effortless experience to those who view your email on their mobile devices. The more people talk about you, the higher are rates of subscription.
DEVELOPING AN EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN
After you have set clear expectations for email marketing and developed a working strategy to build authentic email lists, it’s time to create campaigns that will boost your business opportunities. A challenge is awaiting for you here: you should be able to stand out among thousands of other companies which strive to achieve people’s inboxes.
Send a welcome email
It’s always good to greet your new customers with an email before you provide regular information about your business and encourage taking an action. Welcome emails accomplish so much; they are the first impression your customers will get. Try to make their first experience of communicating with your brand memorable and enchanting.
Consider some mechanics for Your Email Marketing
Think of the subject line of your email and make it engaging. Phrases like “last chance” and “now only” will create an atmosphere of emergency and drive people to take action. Avoid ALL CAPS and extra exclamation marks (!!!) as they not only look unprofessional, but also can be the reason for being marked as a spammer. In addition, make sure you jump at your main point immediately; don’t force your customers to read long sentences and paragraphs before you bring your main message home. Keep the content simple and short. Last but not least, before pushing the “Send” button, make sure that all the provided information is precise and correct. Wrong links and typos are indicators of being careless which will affect the recipients’ perception of your brand negatively.
Define the best time to send an email
Have you ever asked your boss for something and got an immediate rejection? Did you ask for the same thing next time, when he or she is in a good mood, and enjoyed a positive answer? Obviously, timeless communication can be worse than no communication at all. People behave differently at different times. The same refers to sending emails. You can schedule your delivery for a particular day and fail altogether; or you can pick up the right moment and become a complete winner.
For example, if you are planning an email campaign for students, take into account any important events in students’ life. Are they preparing for exams? Is it a graduation day accompanied with farewell parties? Are they on holidays without any intention to check their emails? Apparently, your choice on when to contact your customers will differ if you take the answers to these questions seriously.
Choose the day or the period when your readers are most likely not only to check their emails but also spend money on what you offer. Also, think of the frequency with which you would like to contact your customers and prospects: is it more purposeful to send emails daily, weekly, or monthly? Look back to your strategic plan to make an informed decision.
Put your email addresses into different groups
Grouping or segmentation is an important tool to create targeted emails and sharpen your focus. Let’s turn to statistics: 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates. So, analyze your business priorities and create segments according to different criteria. Divide your list by location (country, city), demographics (age, gender, language, education, income, etc.), or behavior (consider degree of loyalty, first-time clients, active/passive clients, etc.).
Wonder how you can make use of this strategy? Consider this example. If only one of your stores is offering a discount on particular products, there is no need to send emails to every person on your email list; you risk frustrating the addressees who have no opportunity to benefit from your offer. Instead, you had better create a campaign targeting people who live in that particular region. This is a great tool to afterwards personalize your emails, which implies but is not limited to addressing people by name, profession, location, etc.
Send personalized emails
“Spice” your regular communication with special campaigns throughout the year. A big or first purchase, a birthday or an anniversary are great chances to get in touch with your customers in a personalized way, especially if statistics proves the effectiveness of this method. Personalized emails improve clickability rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.
TIME TO FOLLOW-UP
Email marketing, like any other form of marketing, needs testing and deep analysis of reports to prove its overall effectiveness.
There a large number of tools to check the effectiveness of your campaign. A/B testing is one of them. It enables to create variations of one and the same email campaign by changing subject lines, templates, colors, content, addressor’s name, etc. Send these variations to separate groups and watch which variant works best. For example, you can check whether emails from a person’s name or from a company’s name work better. Also find out which subject line works most effectively: a teaser, a question or a call-to-action? Send test emails and find the top performing variation. Keep in mind that correct testing and targeting methods can increase conversion rates by 300%!
Keep track of records. They can tell you so much about your customers’ behavior. You will find out which links were the most popular, what is the age, location, and gender of people you have opened your email. You will get prompts to rethink some aspects of your email campaign if the open and click rates are very low. Reap the benefits of reports: find your mistakes and try not to repeat them when you send your next email campaign.
Avoid being monotonous!
It is boring to regularly receive emails which resemble in content and design. Periodically hook your readers by updated, attractive subject lines, content, and design. Consider refreshing the layout and the template from time to time.
The business world is highly competitive. In order to survive, you should be flexible. Not only to use but also to combine as many marketing strategies as possible. Email marketing, being one of them, is a powerful tool. To make most use of it, you should have a clearly defined vision, a pre-designed strategy to compile email lists, and always consider the timing. Creative design and straightforward texts will take you a step forward by keeping your audience engaged with the information you provide. Follow-up activities will make the picture of your email marketing holistic: analyze your reports and cast a reflective look on what you have done. Always be open to apply corrections and never be afraid to realize new ideas.