8 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Programs Now
Posted: April 17, 2019
Take Your Email Marketing to the Next Level
Do you know how well your email marketing program is performing? You probably already know that email marketing is an integral part of your overall marketing strategy, and that building an audience of engaged email subscribers is a valuable asset to your business. You want to be able to deliver relevant, quality, timely emails to those subscribers to stay top of mind and drive conversions, but it’s easy to let it fall by the wayside.
It doesn’t matter if your email program has been on autopilot, or if you’re looking to make it more efficient, or even if you’re just getting started, conducting an email marketing audit regularly will help you keep your email strategy on track as technology and user habits are continually evolving.
Creating an Email Marketing Audit Checklist
Not sure how – or where – to begin? An email audit will analyze each aspect of your email marketing today to uncover what is working and where there are opportunities to improve its effectiveness. As part of our own email audits, we recommend evaluating eight aspects of your email marketing that can impact results. The time you spend on each item below will be determined by what you already have in place and what your email marketing objectives are. Let’s get started.
1. Email Marketing Software
The right software is vital for the execution of any email marketing program. The email software you choose can make it easier and more efficient to design and execute impactful, on-brand campaigns. These services can also provide features to improve your deliverability, making sure your emails make it to a subscriber’s inbox – and not the spam folder. Marketing automation software opens the door to campaigns beyond your typical scheduled sends. Lead nurturing, dynamic segmented lists, and behavioral analytics can all expand your email marketing capabilities, and ultimately the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Even if you’re already using a software application (like MailChimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot, or other) for your email, it’s always a good idea to periodically see what else is out there, and how it compares in terms of pricing, features, and support. Look for a software that fits your needs today, but also had features you can grow into (because no one likes migrating their templates and data).
2. Email Subscribers, Lists, and Audiences
Subscribers are the lifeblood of every email marketing initiative, but to be successful, it takes more than merely adding users to the a master list and hitting send. Building a database of subscribers is valuable, but it must be continuously monitored. Knowing where your subscribers come from and understanding their interests is essential to cultivating a robust email marketing program. Being able to let go of subscribers who are no longer a good fit can be hard for some businesses to do, but placing your energy and focus on subscribers who do want to open and read your content is a far more rewarding use of your time.
To examine your subscribers, look at what emails they’ve opened (or not) and what links they clicked on. We recommend evaluating these behaviors on a list-by-list basis. Investing in this level of examination will provide you with a deeper understanding of your subscriber base. You’ll start to develop a better understanding of your audience and what they’re looking for from you, so you can tailor your email content strategy to meet their needs.
These insights provide an opportunity to segment your subscribers into audience lists. These lists will help you create and send more relevant content to subscribers so they are only receiving information that is of interest and value to them personally. Develop personas that help you visualize and understand what motivates individuals in your primary and secondary target audiences. All marketing communications should be thought of as one-on-one conversations. Using personas will help you when you develop your emails by putting a focus on their motivation, habits, and when they’re most likely to need your products or services.
3. Email Scheduling and Frequency
With any email program, the day of the week, time of day, and frequency of sends are also important factors to consider – but not by any one-size-fits-all standard. Your business is unique – as are your customers and their reasons for opting into your email list. Determining the best day of the week and time to send your email is going to require some trial and error.
Balance is important. There is definitely a sweet spot between sending too many emails, where subscribers get fatigued, and not sending enough where subscribers forget who you are and why they subscribed. Either scenario can have subscribers jumping ship, deleting your email before they read them, or marking your email as the dreaded SPAM.
Based on each audience list, we recommend setting a hypothesis on the right time and day, and then testing it! Once you have tested a few options, select the time with the highest engagement and stick to it. People adhere to routines and if they can expect when they will receive your content they will be more likely to engage with it.
4. Email Templates
Email templates are an essential part of email marketing, as this is what subscribers will see and interact with once they have opened the email. Your template(s) should align with your brand, be mobile-friendly, and be formatted for the type of information being delivered (e.g., general content, invitation, or promotion). If you have multiple types of content, or different email campaigns, consider different templates for each.
As devices change and email client options increase, it is important to test your emails across a handful of them to make sure your content appears the way it’s intended. If your email software provides data on the devices and email clients your subscribers use, hone in on testing and designing for those predominantly.
Trying to keep up with evolving user habits and providing the ultimate user experience is keeping all of us on our toes, much like what we see with websites. It’s important to audit your templates at least once a year, if not more, to ensure they are following the most up-to-date design best practices.
5. Email Content
The importance of having a strong visual presence in your email – one that supports your brand – cannot be stressed enough. That’s why you need to make sure you have a reliable, well-designed template. The content within that template – the meat and potatoes of your email – is equally as important, though. Irrelevant, poorly written, or poorly presented content will result in lower open and click through rates. One misstep (or repeated missteps) could even sway users to remove themselves from your email list or mark your emails as SPAM. Don’t forget, if your subject line and preview text do not inspire subscribers to open your email, they are never going to see your message.
Email content should have a clear purpose that aligns with not only your marketing goals and objectives, but the users interests and needs. You need to earn your subscribers attention, and the right content at the right time will do so. It should also be tailored to the target audience (remember list segmentation mentioned earlier?). While this can seem like an overwhelming task, start by creating an email marketing content calendar for scheduled sends and lead nurturing flowchart for automated campaigns. It should help you to map out your emails so that you can make sure you have a consistent presentation and communication with your subscribers.
6. Email Automation
Speaking of automated campaigns – email automation is one of the easiest and best ways to personalize emails and build the trust of your subscribers. With automation, emails are triggered when subscribers meet identified criteria (e.g., opened two emails, have a birthday in June, downloaded a whitepaper, etc.). Automation can reward email subscribers for taking specific actions and save you time. This can be as simple as setting up email automation to welcome new subscribers by confirming their subscription and letting them know what they can expect; to following up with someone who abandoned their online shopping cart.
Automation, by no means, is a “set it and forget about it” tactic of your email marketing program. While it does save time and help shepherd subscribers along your desired path, automation needs to be clearly defined, planned accordingly, evaluated on an ongoing basis, and updated periodically. Evaluate your automated campaigns for signs of fatigue (e.g., downward trends in open and click through rates) or setup new campaigns to fill a gap in your communications.
Every email should have a clearly stated call-to-action (CTA). Once the email has been opened, the CTA should be immediately visible, without requiring the user to scroll. A strong call-to-action quickly conveys the action you want them to take and why they should take it – whether it is “Call for More Details” or “Buy Now.” It should also be easy to execute on any device; more and more people are accessing emails via their mobile devices (remember that mobile-friendly email template?). A CTA should be accessible below the fold of the email as well, and consider testing out different design treatments (such as buttons vs. hyperlinks).
While you’re busy mapping out the content for your next few emails (see item #5), be sure to brainstorm what the correlating CTA is for each email. You may also want to explore and test the copy for your CTAs such as “Learn More” or “Buy Now” through A/B testing. Aligning your CTAs and offers with where your customers are in the buyer’s journey (a.k.a. the sales funnel) will help to increase your conversion rates.
8. Email Results and Reporting
Being able to set goals, measure performance, and understand what it all means is vital to all marketing tactics, including email. Understanding the impact of open rates, click rates, list segmentation, and more will help your business continue to refine its email program. Providing subscribers with valuable, expert content will make your campaigns more effective.
When evaluating metrics related to your email marketing, don’t forget to look beyond the email itself. What action do most users take on your website? What is the conversion rate for this audience on your site? How much revenue can be directly attributed to your email marketing? Google Analytics or a marketing automation platform can help make pulling this data very easy.
As you map out the changes you want to make to your email marketing campaigns as a result of this audit, be sure to prioritize them by their expected impact and tackle high-impact changes first. For content, messaging, and design changes, plan to A/B test as much as possible. This is the fastest way to learn more about your audience with each email you send.
Setting goals and objectives for your email marketing campaign did not make our list, because it goes without saying. As you’re reviewing each checklist item – making plans and adjustments – be sure every campaign you send is focused on meeting the objectives you have set for that campaign. A clear objective, strong strategy, and ongoing audit is the winning combination for building a successful email marketing campaign. Ready to auditing your existing campaigns? Download our checklist below, or reach out for support. We’re happy to help!
About VONT Performance Digital Marketing
At VONT we believe that change is the only constant in the digital world – and that excites us. When tools and environments are constantly changing, new opportunities to help our clients achieve success are constantly arising. Each new advertising technology, social platform, or design approach allows us to improve on the results we achieve for our clients.
We believe in this idea of continual fine-tuning so much that we named our company VONT, which means to achieve exponential improvement in incremental steps. It is our core belief, and the reason why we are not simply a web design company or simply a digital advertising agency, but rather a long-term, single source partner providing a comprehensive array of web development and digital marketing capabilities.
In short, we’re here so that our clients achieve success in the ever-changing digital world. If you’d like to learn more about VONT and the work we’ve done with our client partners, visit our Work page. Or, if you have a question, contact us. We’ll get right back to you!