Plan for Success – 2014 Email Checklist
Whether you’re new to email marketing or a savvy sender, this is a good time to think through your 2014 strategy. Here’s a quick overview of the most important email trends for the New Year – and some tips on getting more out of your email campaigns.
Are you growing your list?
It’s a given that you’ll always have some people unsubscribe from your emails and that some of your email addresses will become stale. That’s why it’s imperative that you focus on growing your list faster than it erodes. Make sure it’s easy and enticing to subscribe to your email list from every page on your site, blog and Facebook account; use a simple call-to-action on every page and consider offering a promotion if appropriate. Try using a subscription time-delayed pop-up on your website that’s smart enough to know if a customer is already subscribed.
Are you sending enough emails?
Businesses are often concerned about sending too many emails, but how many is too many? You should send more relevant emails as long as your unsubscribe or complaint rate doesn’t increase above the baseline you had before you increased the frequency. If you send a monthly newsletter with four articles, try a biweekly with two articles, and then move to weekly. Don’t be concerned that the open rates and click-through percentages are lower; what counts is how many actual people opened, clicked and engaged. If the number is higher and the unsubscribe rate is the same, stay the course. A simple way to improve your performance is to ReMail to non-openers a few days later with a different subject line.
Have you refreshed your design?
Does your current design reflect your branding and your new website? Are there clear CTAs? Are there numerous links to your site in every email and on your blog? Today’s more effective designs are simple and crisp; less is more, as long as it’s relevant and engaging. Check your analytics: If many of your readers are reading your emails on a smartphone, consider a mobile-friendly design.
Have you gone “mobile first?”
By the end of 2013, nearly 50% of emails were read on a smartphone. This is a huge paradigm shift that you must adapt to. You need to evolve your designs to favor the mobile reader. You can either do this with a “mobile first” design that has one template focused on the mobile reader, or with a responsive design that will change the layout of the template based on the size of the reader’s screen.
Are you automating?
Automated trigger emails are being used more by B2C and B2B to improve ROI. The automation requires a bit of “what-if-then” thinking upfront, but it’s extremely effective and worth the effort. An easy one is a three-part “welcome” email series that introduces your brand to recipients who sign up for emails from your site or social media channels. Try automating a re-engagement sequence to help get the next sale.
What are you doing about cart abandonment?
In 2013, there was a huge increase in the number of e-commerce sites integrating cart-abandonment emails. These one-to-one emails have proven extremely effective, with typical conversions of 15% to 30%. In 2014, the trend should continue and be augmented with more browser-abandonment emails – automated emails sent to people who browsed a section of your website, with dynamic content related to what they browsed for. If you don’t have an ecommerce site but have lead form abandonment, you can utilize the same technology to convert more leads. Be careful about how aggressively you send these emails – testing is recommended!
Do you know your readers?
Today’s readers favor a personalized experience based on relevant content. If your readers are receiving emails from two competing companies, they’ll engage the one that’s most relevant and actionable for them. Think of data elements you can use to personalize their experience – names, demographics, interests, purchase histories, etc. Also consider using a third-party appending resource to learn more about them.
Are you providing relevant and personalized content?
Don’t “batch and blast” and treat all your email recipients the same. Build a “personal connection” and provide content that’s engaging and informative and carries the same voice across your social media and blogs. Newsletters should be full of case studies, best practices, industry updates and so on. Whether it’s a B2B newsletter or a sales blast, if the CTAs lead to a landing page, make sure the page is “sticky” and concise with an easy-to-fill-out form. If you have a blog or a content-rich website, link your email articles with a “read more” button to drive more traffic to your site.
Are you social?
If you have a social presence, make sure you have clear “follow us” icons in a consistent place in your email. Consider only highlighting the most important social media icons that are relevant to your business (such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest for B2C and for B2B). Separate the “share” icons from the “follow us” icons.
The good news is you don’t have to be a large company with a great brand to deliver an automated, personalized, one-to-one customer experience. Such functionality is now affordable even for the small-business owner.
These tips should start you on the right path for a successful 2014 email marketing strategy.
Good luck and give us a holler if you need a hand.