Email is one of the most successful inbound marketing tools at your disposal. Done right, it can help you to nurture leads and turn them into customers - and, of course, it can delight current customers too. But it’s also very easy to approach email in the wrong way.
Think about your own inbox. It’s likely that it’s filled with lots of emails that you find irrelevant, unconvincing or just downright boring.
These negative reactions could be due to a number of reasons: the sender contacts you too often; the content is not compelling; or perhaps you’re no longer interested in the brand. So, perhaps you open an email and then decide not to read it; maybe you delete it straight away; or you might even unsubscribe from the mailing list altogether.
Safe to say, these are precisely the kind of actions that you don’t want your business’ audience to take. But what can you do to ensure as many people as possible open your emails, read them - and, then, respond to your call-to-action?
As an inbound marketer, how can you send effective emails?
1. Craft a compelling subject line
When people open an overflowing inbox, it’s likely that one of the first things they will do - after cursing under their breath - is to scan the subject lines. If your email doesn’t catch their eye, you’ve already lost them.
Writing on Copyblogger, Beth Hayden says: "Your subject line is like the headline of a piece of online content - you get one shot to encourage your recipient to keep reading."
Most people simply don’t have the time to look in detail at lots of emails, so if it doesn’t sound worth their time, they’ll move it straight to the trash folder.
2. Carpe diem
"Seize the day" - make your readers want to open your email now; not tomorrow or next week. Sure, your email might still be relevant in a day or two, but the recipient probably won’t return to it.
Keep this in mind when you’re creating the subject line. Inserting words like "now" and "today" is an obvious technique - for example, "5 ways businesses are using marketing automation software today".
But you can create a sense of urgency in other ways too. Addressing the reader directly can help draw them in - for example, "5 ways marketing automation software can help your business". And injecting an air of fascination can make them want to find out what you have to say - for example, "Have you discovered these 5 benefits of marketing automation software?"
3. Don’t be too wordy
Your headline’s grabbed the reader’s attention and they’ve opened your email. But you still have to work to keep them engaged. Keep your sentences short and get to the point quickly, so that it is clear what your message is.
Are you offering a piece of content, such as a newsletter or eBook, sending an event invitation, or simply keeping in touch? Whatever the purpose of your email, the recipient shouldn’t be scratching their head in confusion.
For example, if you’re offering your latest eBook say so right from the start. Provide a link to the content near the top of the email and keep your synopsis short. Then provide another link to the eBook before signing off. If the reader wants to find out more, they know what to do!
4. Segment your email database
Many of the emails you send out won’t be suitable for all your contacts - because your contacts aren’t all the same. For example, you wouldn’t send a lead nurturing email to a customer.
There are various ways of segmenting your contacts. You might consider some of the following categories:
- Buyer personas - most organisations can identify a few key types of people that they are trying to sell to. Once you've done this, you can send relevant emails to each group.
- Buyer's journey - how far along this path are each of your contacts? You shouldn't be sending the same emails to people who have downloaded one of your eBooks and those who have downloaded five.
- Engagement - some people will appreciate your emails more than others. You might want to consider contacting these people more regularly.
By dividing up your database in this way, you can ensure that people only receive emails that are targeted at them - and, therefore, are useful and valuable.
5. Analyse the results
It's all very well taking steps to make sure your email strategy is effective - but the only way to know whether you have achieved your goals is to analyse your results. There are a number of metrics you can use, including:
- Open rate - how many people open the email after it arrives in their inbox?
- Click-through rate - how many recipients click on your call-to-action within the email body?
- Number of unsubscribers - does anyone choose to stop receiving emails from your organisation?
You can then use these figures to influence your future email campaigns. For example, if very few people open your email, you probably need to reconsider your subject line and who you are sending it to. If you have a low click-through rate perhaps your copy is not compelling And if lots of people are unsubscribing, consider whether you're contacting them too often or, again, you're targeting the wrong people.
Emails are still one of the best ways to nurture leads and connect with customers - provided you implement effective email tactics. By ensuring that you write interesting headlines that elicit a response from the recipient, make the point of your email clear and send it to the right people, you will put yourself on the path to success. And, by measuring your results, you can identify the areas that require improvement in the future.