Ways to improve your email marketing

Many businesses don’t see returns like this though because it’s easy to make simple mistakes which undo your efforts. To ensure success you need to get the foundations right and focus on the things that will get you the biggest return on your investment.

As the digital world continues to evolve, so do the foundations of email marketing. Matt McNeill, CEO Sign-Up.to explains the key areas you should focus on in 2013.

Get legal
Before you begin, get the legals covered. Make sure you’re complying with relevant Data Protection Act and Companies Act legislation.

You need to have a privacy policy in place and linked to from your website and data capture forms; you need to make sure all of your emails carry your full company details and you must ensure you get consent (opt-in) from people you’ll be emailing – and that you then store their data securely. You should also check if you need to be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Build your database
Building your list is key to your email marketing success. When people opt-in you’re beginning the process of leading them from being a stranger to a customer.

Make sure you let people opt-in to hear from you in as many places as you can. Add a form to your website, a link on your normal email signatures and a tab on your Facebook page.

Ask for the minimum information you need, you can always find out more later. This is the beginning of the process, not the end goal and you need to make it as easy as possible for people.

Have a clear proposition
People care about themselves, not your company. To gain (and keep) their attention you need to offer them something of value. This could be regular news, tips, special offers, vouchers, exclusive previews – something special.

When getting people to opt-in, explain clearly what benefits you’re offering and then continually review your emails to make sure that you’re making good on this promise.

Use welcome emails
The welcome email – the initial email you send someone just after they subscribe – is the most read email you will ever send. Make sure you send one, and use it well. This is a great place to surprise readers with a bonus and get your relationship off to a great start.

Get your emails opened
Once you’ve got subscribers, getting them to open your emails is the next challenge. Putting aside creating great content, the two most important factors to get right are your ‘from’ details and the subject line.

Always keep the email address you’re sending from and the sender name consistent, so that people come to recognise your emails as soon as they arrive. Prompt them to add your email to their address book and you’ll also be able to avoid most junk mail filters.

Your subject line should be engaging and explain the core benefit of reading your email – keep it short and snappy, but make sure it accurately reflects the contents of your message.

Embrace mobile – but start simply
Over 30% of email is now read on smartphones. It’s possible to design complex, responsive emails which render differently on mobiles and the desktop but this can add a lot of time and process.

For a quick win, focus on using a design which works well on many different devices – think single column emails, simple use of images and clear calls to action. Once you’re confident with this you can consider investing in more complex mobile support.

Time is of the essence
As with so many things in business, timing is everything with email. Not just time of day, although this can have an important effect, but frequency. Regular contact is vitally important, so set up a schedule and stick to it. If you’re sending a monthly newsletter then commit to a certain day of the month and make sure you always deliver.

By keeping your main emails to a regular schedule your audience will begin to anticipate them, improving your results and making sure you keep your brand top-of-mind. You’ll also find over time that things get easier as you get into a rhythm of creating your content and publishing it.

Test and measure
One of the great things about email marketing is that it’s so easy to measure. Using an email marketing platform you’ll be able to track everything from who’s opening your emails right through to what they’re buying as a result. This also means that you can use techniques like split-testing to send out different versions of a campaign to learn what works best.

Decide which numbers are most important to you and get obsessive about tracking and improving them. Depending on the goals of your email campaigns this could be open rate (if all your content is in the email), clickthrough rate (if you want people to visit your website) or revenue (if you’re trying to drive ecommerce purchases).