Completely Email made us all better email marketers in one day

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When I heard of the latest conference from Kelvin Newman at Rough Agenda on Twitter, it was like my prayers had been answered. Completely. Email. Score.

Who needs a vague, unspecific title for a conference when you can tell us in two words exactly what you’re going to give us. Which is answers to our email questions.

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Answers that we as email marketers need. Don’t tell me you’re not an email marketer. You are an email marketer the moment you send an email that’s from your company, be it trying to achieve sales or just a ‘welcome on-board’ email, which, by the way, was established at the conference yesterday that brands do not do enough of.

Welcome one and all

It seems like the easiest thing ever: a simple welcome email to someone who has signed up to your website. They’ve completed that task of filling in their details and you don’t even say hi back? Approximately 65 per cent of companies are not sending out a welcome email.

I can see why this is a missed opportunity. We ask ourselves as email marketers: “What do we gain from sending a welcome email? Will they come back to us if we say hi? What if that’s one email too many already?”

This thinking is all “we”, but about the prospect? In a welcome email, don’t be tempted to say too much; just a simple “hi” should suffice. Maybe that’s enough to give them a little push to come back and purchase that product they were just pondering over or download that white paper that they’d bookmarked. And you only said hello.

Me, me, me

I just mentioned it above and it was spoken about several times throughout the day. Don’t forget your audience. Think about the person on the other end of that email you’re about to send out that is littered with phrases like “we look forward to”, “we thought it would be good”, “we want you to click this link and read our post and then convert”.

Henneke Duistermaat, a marketer and copywriter at Enchanting Marketing, showed us an example of an email from Amnesty International UK with the opening line “If you haven’t already shown your support…”. The phrasing insinuates if you haven’t done this you’re missing out, you should be ahead of the curve and you should probably do it now for that big fear of missing out (FOMO).

FOMO could be a great way to appeal to certain audiences. There are people out there (me included) who are easily enticed into clicking through, signing up, or buying straight from an email if I’m told it’s nearly sold out, it’s limited edition or a celebrity wore it and you can get it “but be quick!”. In a B2B mindset, you should appeal to recipients by saying “you should probably download this white paper or watch this video because it will solve that problem that’s in your head right now”.

Responsive vs Unresponsive

This was a pain point in itself. Should there be such a big focus on a mobile-first responsive design? Several speakers said that quite frankly responsive design isn’t as important as we all thought; Anthony Thornton from the BFI said responsive design didn’t make a difference when carrying out testing and Alex Ilhan from Mosaic Digital it just simply wasn’t critical. I think this threw me for quite a loop, as industry experts and many facts and figures have been telling us that in the 20-teens we have to be responsive - seems they’ve changed their minds a little bit.

Ok so they were not saying give up on it completely, just that its importance may have been overstated. I think really the main point was if a mobile-first design works for your audience and you see a better open rate from it, then use it and you’re not going to lose out. But you don’t have to scrap all of your fancy design just because someone told you that everyone would be reading emails on the mobile phones, tablets and phablets by say September 2014. Lucy Wilsdon from Pure360, who was more in favour of mobile first, said: “Responsive design is not the only answer.”

Subject

Email marketing consultant Kirsty Trainer shared quite a worrying email marketing stat: 69 per cent of recipients report an email as spam just from the subject line. So take care not to spend many hours perfecting the content of your email only to forget about the first thing your customer comes across: the subject and, maybe more importantly, who its from.

Engaging through the subject line is the first point of call before someone has even opened your email. We’ve all seen the successful Obama campaign with the one-word subject line “Hi” so an eye-grabbing or unusual subject is key as your email is competing with everything else in people’s inboxes.

How can you apply these points to your own marketing tactics? Kirsty said that using keywords from analytics reports in your subject is a good way to start and attract prospects who were already searching that to get to your site.

Remember as well that even if your audience does engage with your content and, in a perfect world, convert, you cannot then ignore them and look to your shiny new sign-ups. These existing customers could turn into your brand advocates, so maintain engagement. Lucy said her favourite part of the purchasing cycle wasn’t the satisfaction of buying, but the post-purchase email sign-up. This is a really effective way to collect even more data from your existing customers, asking them extra questions or offering them related products which invites them back after they’ve already engaged.

Don’t forget to water the plants

Ah I got you. What I mean by this comes from Tim Watson’s talk on achieving stellar list growth. You have your email data that you acquired through competitions, incentivised sign-ups and other means, but how are you growing these lists?

Tim’s point was a serious one to consider. What happens if your lists become out of date, people opt out, or simply do not engage with anything you send? You lose contacts and you haven’t been doing anything to encourage extra branches to grow. What we really need is a high quantity of quality data.

Companies should be stimulating interest by giving benefits and reasons to sign up as well as incentives to reduce the friction of filling in said sign-up form. Review and improve the list growth process you already have and consider other tactics such as a lightbox or a pop-over as someone visits your site that encourages them gently to sign up.

Key things to consider:

  • Test, test and test again

  • Do you really need a responsive email design?

  • What is your audience struggling with?

  • What can you offer to solve their problem?

  • Are your subject lines too spammy?

  • Record everything and use the data

  • Don’t forget your audience

  • What do they actually respond to from your email content?

  • Don’t be scared to ask for an email address

  • Until you ask your audience’s preferences you will never know

  • There’s no such thing as too many emails…

I’ll leave you with a quote from email web developer Mark Robbins from The Learning People: “If you’re not failing you’re not pushing the boundaries hard enough.”

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