Before companies started experimenting with virtual reality marketing. Before having a Facebook page became an essential part of your marketing strategy. Before interactive webinars were even an option, email was the progressive new marketing technique that everyone wanted to implement.
These days, email might seem like marketing’s dinosaur. With all these shiny new options to choose from, is email still a viable strategy?
The short answer: absolutely. If you want to get your message in front of as many people as possible, email has the largest potential audience.
One report from 2015 projected that by the end of 2019, the number of worldwide email users would top 2.9 billion. That’s a huge potential audience.
Most of us use email daily, if not hourly. But with spam filters, automatic mail sorting, and overstuffed inboxes, is anyone paying attention? Another report by the same organization found that more than 3.7 billion emails are sent each day.
The audience is huge, but so is the competition. Aside from promotional emails, your recipient is also receiving work emails, personal messages, updates from social media sites, and amazing offers from Nigerian princes. Though that last one is becoming less common as phishing scams get more sophisticated.
Even with all that noise, internet users still like email. According to the Adobe Consumer Email Survey Report 2017, email is still the preferred method of communication in the workplace. In addition, 61% of people said they would like businesses to contact them by email. Great, right?
The catch? They want those emails to be informational rather than purely promotional.
What is email marketing?
The simple answer: email marketing uses the medium of email to market to clients and potential clients.
Of course, it’s more complicated than that. An email marketing campaign is a multi-step process that includes building a list, crafting a message, establishing (and adjusting when necessary) a schedule, and creating a sales funnel.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. At first. But once you get everything in place, the ROI is worth it. According to a 2016 survey by Direct Marketing Association and Demand metric, email delivers a median ROI of 122%. More recent numbers are hard to come by, but conventional wisdom states that while those numbers might be slipping a little, email is still a heavy hitter in the marketing world.
Like any other marketing strategy, your results are only as good as the effort you put into it. We’ve all gotten those terrible marketing emails that make you hit the unsubscribe button and wonder how you got on their list in the first place.
Those poor examples usually suffer from one or more major defects. The worst offenders are being generic or irrelevant. If you’re a single man with no children and an income of $60,000, emails promoting nanny services probably aren’t going to appeal to you.
Other defects include confusing or spammy looking subject lines, spelling errors and confusing wording, and the cardinal sin—boring content.
How can you improve your email marketing?
You know what a terrible marketing email looks like. You’ve deleted enough of them in your time. But what about a great marketing email? How do you take a merely okay campaign and make it great? That’s a little harder to put your finger on. Here are some email marketing hacks that can help you get the most value out of your email marketing campaign.
1. Optimize for mobile
As of 2017, people were slightly more likely to check their emails on a mobile device than on a desktop computer according to a study by ReturnPath. So if your email isn’t optimized for mobile, you run the risk of alienating recipients. That could present serious roadblocks, since mobile’s influence is growing.
Fortunately, major email marketing platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact and ConvertKit all offer mobile-friendly templates.
2. Emojis in subject lines (might) lead to higher open rates
According to a whitepaper by Experian, subject lines that include symbols are more likely to be opened. About 56% of brands saw a boost in open rates thanks to emoji. The same paper reported that using emoji will not send you to the spam folder.
Even B2B marketing emails can use emoji. Just be careful to choose something that helps you stand out in the right way. Your reader is likely to misunderstand a whole string of symbols, but a single meaningful emoji can help differentiate your email from a wall of spam.
3. Tuesday is the best day to send email
Multiple studies from some of the leading names in the industry including MailChimp, Hubspot, and Experian say that Tuesday is the best day to send an email. The next best day? Thursday.
So if you’re sending two emails a week, aim for a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. Exactly why this is the case is up for debate, but it seems safe to assume that people are just too busy to deal with non-essential emails on Monday and on Friday they’re trying to wrap up work for the week and put off reading. Or they’re already gone, at least mentally if not physically.
4. Make it useful
Nobody likes being sold to. That’s why content marketing is rising above more traditional marketing techniques. So, when crafting an email or a series of emails, keep a content marketing mindset.
Think about how you can help your reader. Give them valuable information—and valuable does not mean this grill can be yours today for three easy payments of $49.99, so buy now! Valuable information is information they can use regardless of whether they buy your product or service.
People don’t mind a quick sales pitch as long as it’s surrounded by useful information. If you show them that your emails are useful, recipients will keep opening them—and opening a line of communication for you.
5. Include videos!
One of the most effective ways to share useful information is through videos. It’s one of the easiest forms of marketing for users to consume and it’s entertaining.
By adding a video to your email you’ll stand out in a sea of text and increase engagement rates. Just remember to keep them short and entertaining.
Perhaps more importantly, if you host your video on your website, every click leads visitors right to your site. Which is exactly where you want them to be.
Best practices for video in email
You might not judge a book by its cover, but you absolutely judge an email by its subject line. Give recipients a heads-up that they’re going to be treated to a video by mentioning it right in the subject line. It’s the first thing your recipient sees.
Now the question is, to embed or not to embed. Advances in email technology have made it possible for you to embed a video directly into your email. However, much like resurrecting dinosaurs from the Jurassic period, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. If you embed the video, your recipient’s email client has to support it. Also, the whole point of an email is to move recipients to your website where you can hopefully make a sale. If you give them the video in the convenience of their living room, what’s their incentive to drive to the theater and pay $15 for a tub of popcorn?
So instead of embedding, link a static image in your email to an autoplay-enabled landing page on your website. That way, recipients see the video and land on your website with a single click.
Choose a static image that is interesting and engaging even if it’s not the first frame of the video. Overlay a play button to make it very clear that the video will play if the recipient clicks it.
To maximize the chances that your recipient will play the video, include a short description or introduction in your email. Give them a sense of what they’ll be getting if they take the time to click.
If you’re ready to maximize your email marketing results by adding video, contact us today for a free estimate. We’ll help you shoot one video or a whole series.