Dig out your wallet and pull out a $1 bill. If you could trade that $1 for $44.25, would you? Well, who wouldn't? Many online stores ignore email marketing entirely, believing that email marketing just ends up in the spam folder or that it just isn't worth the time to develop a campaign. However, the average return on investment for email marketing is $44.25 for every dollar spent, according to EmailExpert.org—that's a pretty nice chunk of change. But with so many businesses using email marketing as one of their top three marketing avenues, can you afford not to use email marketing? The good news is that email marketing doesn't have to be complicated. Email services take the brunt of the complexity—such as AWeber since they offer tools for everything we're about to share. With a service in place, successful email marketing becomes a matter of following seven simple steps.
Step 1: Create an easy sign-up process
First, you have to get emails. But the good thing is that people who sign up for your emails actually want to read them. So, use your email service to put a sign up on your website, then use social media to drive traffic to your sign up. But the biggest thing to keep in mind when you create your sign up? Keep it as simple as possible. Do you really need to know their last name and hometown? The more fields there are to fill out, the fewer emails you'll actually get. Often, the best sign-ups forms simply ask for an email, and that's it.
Step 2: Make sure it's deliverable
There's no question some email marketing ends up as spam—but there are simple ways to make sure that the people who want to see your emails actually see your emails. Using a sign-up instead of buying email addresses is the first step—it's also a good idea to auto-generate a message for the reader to confirm their subscription. Asking readers to add your email to their address book will help too. Your email service should also have a tool to check the message for potential issues that will send it right to the spam folder. For example, Aweber's SpamAssassin checks issues like problematic links, a generic from email and the lack of a plain text version.
Step 3: Keep mobile in mind
Most email campaigns are designed to look nice on a computer screen—but does your email newsletter also look good on a smartphone? More and more people are using smartphones to check their emails. If they click on your email and have to do all kinds of zooming and scrolling to read it, they probably won't even bother to read it at all. To make your emails look just as good on a smartphone, use a pre-designed template that is optimized for both. If you decide to design your own, make sure you preview the email on both a computer and a smartphone. Look for problems like needing to zoom then scroll to the right to read one line of text or images that appear squished or stretched.
Step 4: Build on consistency
How often should you send out a marketing email? That depends largely on your business, but for every type of business, email marketing should be consistent. Don't send out one email a day one month then switch to every other week the next. Blogs that are updated daily might benefit from daily emails, where sales-based businesses are probably better syncing their emails with their sales. If your sale items change every week, send a weekly email. Be careful though not to send out too many emails, or you'll get a lot of people unsubscribing from your list. Make sure each email has something worthwhile, which brings us to the next step…
Step 5: Make it valuable
How many emails are in your inbox right now? When there are dozens and even hundreds of emails to look through, you have to give your subscribers a reason to open yours. Ask this question from the perspective of your subscribers with every email: What's in it for me? The answers can vary widely—a coupon, valuable tips, a humorous article or a sale on a product are just a few. Give your subscribers a reason to keep opening your emails every time you send one their way. Don't just advertise your business, give them something in return, like information, entertainment or a discount.
Step 6: Write an engaging subject line
Email marketing means you'll have to do a bit of writing—but the most important piece of content is actually the shortest: the subject line. Make sure there is something valuable for the reader in the body of the email, but give them a subject line that makes them want to click and read your stuff. Subject lines are a good place to mention whatever value is inside your email—like a coupon or interesting article. Another method is to leave just enough information out of the subject that the reader wants to know more—such as “A Surprise Coupon Inside” vs. “A 10% Off Coupon Inside”. Keep your headline (and the body) casual, though. Emails should be viewed as a casual conversation. Splashy phrases and excessive punctuation (!) should be avoided. Words like”help” and “percent off” tend to get a lower click rate. Keep the subject line short too—around 50 characters or less. Subject lines that are timely or mention a nearby location also tend to do well. Try writing five potential subject lines for every newsletter, then choose the best one.
Step 7: Experiment
By now, you have everything set up and can send out an email or two. But as with any campaign, it's important to monitor how your efforts are stacking up. Use the analytics feature on your mail server to see how many people are opening your emails. A/B testing involves sending out emails that change a single element like the subject line to compare performance. Most mail services, including AWeber, will allow you to split your address list—send one version to each half, then compare how they do. Which subject line received the highest click rate? Which content sent more visitors to your website? Use this information to help you craft your future emails. Email marketing is often overlooked—yet it offers an average of 44x the initial investment. The key is to write emails in a way that offers value to the reader, from a simple sign-up to enjoy the content.