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6 Tips to Optimize Your Email Marketing Campaigns
6 Apr

6 Tips to Optimize Your Email Marketing Campaigns
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(Last Updated On: April 6, 2020)

Digital marketing has practically erased traditional forms of customer outreach. There may be a farm supply store somewhere that still sends out fliers and converts prospects standing around a cracker barrel, but the rest of us attract and groom buyers online, convert them into customers online, and keep them engaged online.

The most effective forms of digital marketing are social media campaigns and email campaigns.

Both approaches can get incredible results, increasing customer interactions and creating a lasting stream of conversions. They allow for highly targeted outreach, and in the case of email newsletters, recipients opt-in to get the content, so they’re more qualified than prospects you engage with using other marketing channels.

In this article, we’re setting our sights on email marketing. We’ll present six tips for email marketing optimization so you can boost the performance of your newsletter.

Let’s ease into the topic with a quick review of email marketing best practices. This information might help refresh your memory about email marketing basics and it will lay the groundwork for the campaign tuning tactics that we’ll address later.

A Quick Review of Email Marketing Best Practices

There are some base-line characteristics that most successful email marketing campaigns have in common. Before we get into optimization, let’s look at a set of email marketing best practices.

  • Use an Email Marketing Service
    When your newsletter is up and running, you may be sending content to thousands of recipients on a weekly basis. Manually executing that task is out of the question, and, while using email marketing software like Active Campaign is an option, the required man-hours and in-house expertise make that option less than ideal. An email marketing service is most of the time the best choice. There are many providers to choose from, including popular options like MailChimp and Constant Contact. Such easy-to-use, cloud-based services will help you administer email lists, schedule the bulk sending of email, create forms, and manage responses, plus you’ll have access to analytics that will help you track the performance of your campaigns.
  • Send Content Your Audience Wants
    The content you send to your email subscribers can’t just be in the ballpark of what they’re interested in, it has to be hyper-relevant. But relevance is in the eye of the beholder. That’s a fancy way of saying different people like different things. The people you want to engage with, your prospects, have specific preferences that drive their behavior. The key to sending them content they’ll find relevant is to learn everything you can about them, which involves establishing the audience’s demographics, figuring out what that demographic group is into, and tailoring your content for that group.
Optimize your Email Marketing with these tips
Image Credit: Planeta ttandem
  • Personalize Your Message
    Create emails with customizable fields so you can automatically fill in the recipient’s name. Have you ever tossed a piece of snail mail addresses to Occupant? That happens in the digital world too. If your email is addressed to “Dear valued customer” instead of the recipient’s name, there’s a good chance it will end up in the trash. Your opt-in form should collect the user’s name; use that info to personalize the messages you send.
  • Focus on Conversion

In email marketing, there’s a huge emphasis put on getting your email opened and read. It’s why we test subject lines, fine-tune message content, and track email open rates as a metric. Another thing that gets a lot of attention is the click rate—how many times the recipient clicks from the email into your landing page. Those are crucial factors in email marketing, but they’re a couple of steps removed from the end game—conversion. Ultimately, you want the recipient to respond to your CTA. Make your message short, your landing page campaign-specific, and your CTA obvious.

  • Make Your Email Visually Interesting
    It’s crucial to capture the attention of your subscribers the moment they open your email. Luckily, email allows you to take advantage of all the design capabilities of HTML. That’s why most of the marketing email we get looks more like a web page than an email. Optimized with background images, custom fonts, eye-catching graphics, and other forms of rich content, your email can be just as visually interesting as your landing page and the rest of your site. In fact, having a common look and feel to your email and website adds continuity, creating a better user experience.
  • Be GDPR Compliant
    If your marketing email will serve anyone in the EU, it must be GDPR compliant. The GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is a government regulation that requires that websites servicing the EU be secure and follow prescribed ‘data privacy breach’ protocols. If you send newsletters or any other marketing email to an EU audience, you need to ensure you’re GDPR compliant, which means having a comprehensive privacy policy and being able to prove you have user consent to send the email. There are several other GDPR requirements, so if you market to the EU, be sure you know and follow all the rules.

Even if you have a few successful campaigns under your belt, it never hurts to review email marketing fundamentals like these. It can help keep your focus where it should be, plus, adhering to these practices can be considered a prerequisite for the optimization techniques we’ll go over next.

How to Enhance Your Email Marketing Campaigns

In this section, we’ll present six common ways to optimize your email marketing, starting with an often heard but rarely understood suggestion that your emails should “tell a story.”

1. Be a Storyteller

Storytelling is a core principle of customer engagement. People respond better to a campaign if it presents a relatable concept that aligns with their interest in your product or service.

For many business owners, the idea of storytelling in an email newsletter is confusing. How can you tell a “story” in what’s supposed to be short, compelling marketing content?

The key is to shift your thinking about what a story is. In email marketing, a story is a narrative describing what it’s like to need and later have the product or service you offer.

Believe it or not, this can be done in just a few sentences!

An admittedly simple example proves that point—imagine a lawn care business telling the following story:

Last week we got a call from a hard-working single mom in {localTown}. She didn’t have time to keep her yard in shape and needed help. Our mowers were on the scene that afternoon, and we set up an affordable schedule with a new, delighted customer!

If your story taps into the needs of your target audience, they’ll subconsciously put themselves in the narrative, and we all know how the story ends…with a sale for your business!

Email Marketing segmentation for your campaigns
Image Credit: Call Center Helper

2. Target User Segments to Maximize Engagement

Sending an email that’s tailored to specific groups of users is called segmentation. It’s one more way to use information about your target audience to predict what will be the most relevant, compelling type of content.

When you get users to opt-in to your email newsletter, you have the chance to ask them about their preferences or, more directly, find out what about your offering interests them. You can find out the type of information the user would most like to receive. In a welcome email or any time after a user has subscribed, you can ask for the details you need by inviting users to complete a user profile.

It’s important to know that a user segment doesn’t have to be based on preferences that the user tells you about. Segmentation based on demographics and purchase history is common and can be very helpful. Also, sending targeted emails triggered by specific customer behaviors has proven extremely effective.

For example, you can have an email aimed at people who didn’t open your first email, and another designed for people who clicked through to your landing page but didn’t respond to your CTA.

In the first case, the prospect may need proof that your company is trustworthy. Following up on an ignored email with one that includes a testimonial can help build confidence in your business. In the second case, the user made it further down your sales funnel but didn’t purchase. A prospect like that may simply need more details or a compelling story to convince them to take advantage of your offering.

3. Consider Email Send Time & Frequency

How often you send emails to subscribers and the time of day those emails hit their Inbox can have a major effect on campaign performance. Your customers may prefer a predictable email schedule but receiving a message every day might be overwhelming, and a weekly message that comes in at 9:00 AM every Monday is likely to get overlooked due to more pressing matters.

To find out how often subscribers want to get your emails, you can add a section to your email’s footer asking them to provide that information via a link to their user preferences.

When determining the best day and time to send a marketing email, there are some reliable stats you can use. For example, there’s solid evidence that emails sent on Saturday or Sunday will not perform as well as those sent on weekdays, with Tuesday standing out as the best day to send emails. The time of day matters too; data indicates that emails sent between 10 AM and 2 PM will get the best results.

Another good way to determine optimal send time is through testing, a point we’ll elaborate on in the next section.

Do A/B tests for your email campaigns
Image Credit: Workana

4. Use A/B Testing to Perfect Subject Lines, CTAs, Send Times

Data about how many recipients opened your email and how many clicked through to your landing page is of vital importance when comparing the performance of two versions of an email.

A/B testing is a way to let users tell you what works best in your marketing emails. By splitting your recipient list in half and sending the “A version” of an email to one half and the “B version” to the other half, you’ll be conducting an A/B test. The results will tell you which email gets a better response, and you can use that information, along with the results of additional A/B tests, to incrementally fine-tune your content until it’s exactly what your audience wants to see.

You can use this type of analysis to optimize several aspects of your email, including subject lines, CTA, send times, and many more. However, you should only test one thing at a time. If an email with subject line A is sent at noon and another version with subject line B goes out at 3:00 PM, when one email gets a better response, you won’t have any idea if the improved performance is due to the subject line or the send time. 

If you A/B test one element of your email at a time, you’ll be able to pinpoint which subject line, CTA, and sent time gets you the best response.

5. Don’t Let Your Emails Be Filtered Out as Spam

Every email service has features to protect users from spam. They employ spam filters to flag and remove suspicious emails that might be a mechanism for distributing malware or used as part of a scam. If spam filters wrongly flag your messages as spam, a good portion of your audience will never see your newsletter.

One important step you should take in keeping your email out of recipients’ Spam folders is to avoid using ‘salesy’ language. A spam filter uses advanced algorithms that scan your email for the kinds of content often found in spam email. You should avoid using all caps, triple exclamation points, and words like “free,” “bonus,” or “sale.” Also, leave out classic hard-sell phrases like “Act now!”

Another effective way to keep your email from being misidentified as spam is to get whitelisted, that is, get added to the user’s list of pre-approved email senders. In the footer of your email, you can casually make the request, perhaps leveraging the user’s FOMO (fear of missing out). If your user feels the content is relevant to their interests, it’s more likely they won’t want to miss it.

Your opt-in form should collect the user's name you can use that info to personalize the messages you send

6. Measure Results to Reveal Opportunities for Improvement 

We discussed A/B testing, but that’s focused more on the top of the sales funnel than the bottom. Email open rates and click-through rates are instrumental in tweaking the early steps of prospect grooming, but customer behavior over time can give you a better overall picture of campaign performance, revealing areas that could be improved.

Post-campaign analysis can also expose new customer segments to target. For example, if you track the number of people who have opened at least one of your emails in the last 30 days, you’ll end up with a list of active subscribers and inactive subscribers. To maximize engagement, you need to send those two groups very different messages. Without taking a long term view of your campaign performance data, you’d never be able to take advantage of a segmentation opportunity like that.

Once you have campaign results data that reveal subscriber behavior over time and expose the true impact your emails had on sales, you can take the opportunity to overhaul your approach before beginning a new campaign. 

Boost Your Email Marketing Campaign Performance

Email marketing is effective because it targets people who, as subscribers, are qualified prospects, fully primed to consume your content and make a purchase.

Beyond fundamentals like using an email marketing service; sending personalized, relevant content; and keeping a laser focus on conversion; there are ways to tweak your email newsletter to maximize its effectiveness. Engaging your audience with a compelling story, splitting recipients into segments, testing your content, and avoiding spam filters, for example, can have an immediate and lasting impact on your campaigns.

We hope our coverage of email marketing optimization techniques will help you create better content for your newsletter subscribers and boost the performance of your next campaign!

María Bustillos

María is an enthusiast of cinema, literature and digital communication. As Content Coordinator at HostPapa, she focuses on the publication of content for the blog and social networks, organizing the translations, as well as writing and editing articles for the KB.

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