Top 5 rookie mistakes in Email Marketing
I'll just get straight to the point: Email Marketing isn't as easy as it sounds. It's a lot more than just hitting the send button. It's about big data, psychology and deliverability. And sadly a lot of people forget about that. Using Email Marketing to strengthen your brand and/or to get more sales is an absolute must, but you have to do it in the right way to get the highest ROI from your list.
Over the past years I helped out a few datalist owners. Things that stood out? You read them below. If you're new to email marketing and about to start sending emails to your database, please be sure you don't forget the following actions first:
1. Choosing the right ESP
The perfect Email Service Provider doesn't exist, but it is the most important factor you have to chose BEFORE you even think about anything else. An ESP is a service that provides all the tools you need to send out bulk emails. Basically every ESP offers you tools to:
create your own unique templates
maintain and upload your fresh data
run reports and check statistics to measure your success
send emails (of course)
Easily said: you can't do anything in email marketing without an ESP.
There are over 450 ESPs worldwide, but no worries about finding the right one for you, it's out there waiting for you. You only have to find out which platform offers what tools and to which price of course. The best way to find out which one fits you best is to start with the ESPs that are for free (or have free trials) and used by many others; like MailChimp or Aweber. Both integrate perfectly with Shopify, Wordpress or Magento and have a very easy interface.
When you've been using one of these ESPs for a while you'll know what you like and what other needs you've got. Make a list of tools you want and ask other ESPs if they can offer you this full package. Most of them will say yes, but the prices will differ. The choice will be easy to make then!
2. Clean your list
It's super important to know that the data in your list is fresh and unique. Think about how you would respond to a newsletter of a company you haven't heard of over the past year... Exactly, you wouldn't even open the email and/or unsubscribe directly. But a clean list isn't only important for your sales flow or client reputation, your email sender reputation is also on the line here.
All ESP's demand a low bouncing rate and I have seen platforms that simply stop sending your batch when you're receiving too many 'spam' complaints or unsubscribers. You really don't want to end up on the blacklist of your favorite ESP. The same counts for your domain btw.
All the more reason to make sure the data you use is new and fresh. Also called "hot data".
Most of organizations generate data FOR YEARS, but never use it. So big chance that half of their lists should be erased due to inactive email addresses or cold data. And you don't want to spend too much time on this process. A quick fix is to let a cleaning service help you, and that shouldn't be too expensive (though it depends on the list size). Do your research before you choose a list cleaner.
3. Create a template you can use for every future message
I highly recommend to create an easy and simple email template you can use for anything you want to send. If it's a newsletter, product notification or blog update, make sure the receivers will see consistency and recognize you immediately. Both are key in all kinds of marketing. So make sure your emails look the same.
My advice here is to create three templates:
Special offer / product email
All three must have the exact same header and footer, it's just the content part that is different from the others. In this way you don't have to create a new template every time you're thinking about something new, but can stay original in your content. And last, but not least: it saves so much time!
4. Know how to communicate with your audience
Wether you're writing to lawyers, judges and politicians about the newest laws or to surfers about the latest downwinder your made, you have to know what language they speak. Good thing here is that you probably already speak that language yourself (considering you're not a surfer going to email newsletters to lawyers).
If you're not sure about your writing skills, ask a copy writer to help you out. An email is easily checked, so it won't be an expensive thing to do. Unless you let him/her check 5 emails a week, then you might consider a email writing course.
Quick tips about email writing:
ALWAYS use the active voice
Don't write too much, you want them to go to your website. Don't spoil too much before they click. I think 200 words is enough for a basic newsletter.
Use bullet points or even better, different fields with picture per subject
Make it personal using merge tags for first names.
5. Test, Test, Test
It's absolute key to triple test everything. Colors, text, pictures, headers, everything can make a person click through to your website. But it can also make people bounce. A simple example: it's proven that people stay away from red buttons but easily click on the green one. Despite of the message on the button itself. Crazy, but true.
So when you're ready and really want to push your results to the max, always use two or three slightly different templates for your message. You will see the results in your ESP and can simply pick the winning template for your next send out to your entire database.