This is a guest post written by Kimberly Lindquist. Kimberly is a project manager and in-house social marketer at ListEngage, a full service interactive marketing firm. She can be found tweeting about marketing, content, Boston, and other ramblings @lindquik.
Do you remember creating your first email marketing campaign? Those emails were going to catapult your business to new levels, blow your content's ROI through the roof, and make you an instant digital mogul in your industry.
How long did that excitement last? Are you still in the honeymoon phase, or do you find yourself staring at your email templates bored, uninspired, and unsure of where to go next?
Whichever way you feel about your email marketing, whether you're on your first campaign or the hundredth, emails can fall flat and lose the appeal they once had for both you and your subscribers. So how do you bring the spark back into a boring email program and inject some va-va-voom into your campaigns? It's all about approaching your email with a little creativity. Here are 6 ways to spice up your email marketing the next time your creativity (and email marketing ROI) needs a jolt.
1. Try On-the-Fly A/B Testing
For a marketer, there are few things more appealing than knowing whether your campaigns are successful while they are still in motion. In this sense, A/B testing is the sexiest email marketing feature there is! Nowadays, many email service providers (ESPs) have a feature built into their platforms that allows marketers to send and compare the performance of variables like subject line and "From" sender names to sample audiences, with the winning email getting deployed to the remainder of the audience.
2. Crowdsource Your Next Email Campaign
As hard as you try, it’s sometimes impossible to know exactly what your subscribers want, which is why your next email should flat-out ask them. Survey your customers to see what they want more of, less of, or what would make them visit your site more. Not only do prospects and customers appreciate your consideration of their opinion, but you may also be handed a brand new email campaign that your marketing department never would have thought of.
Although many ESPs have basic survey tools included, you can also collect information on your website through a customized landing page or a survey collection tool. Suggestions for what to ask might include their topic preferences for articles you produce, what sorts of deals would entice them to purchase more often, what additional products and services they'd like your company to offer, and what sorts of service updates would be helpful to hear from your company.
3. Send "Secret Code" Emails
Everybody enjoys the thrill of a good scratch off ticket now and again, so why not give the same offer to your email recipients? Segment your subscribers, and send each segment a "Secret Code" or "Hidden Discount" email that requires them to click through to see what they’ve won. For example, the owner of a bar or restaurant might send a quarter of recipients 10% off their next dinner purchase, another quarter might receive a free appetizer, some subscribers could receive an entry into a grand-prize vacation drawing, and maybe a small percentage win a free meal. By simply changing the link in the "Secret Offer" image, your recipients won’t know what they've won until they’re actually on your site. And who knows, maybe they’ll get a hankering for some potato skins while they’re there.
4. Compile Your Products or Services Into Themed Emails
Everyone knows that the best way to get subscribers to read your emails is to provide value, but that’s sometimes harder than it sounds. What do your customers struggle with? If you own a hair salon, do you get lots of questions about the best hair treatments and conditioners? If you help run a home improvement store, do your customers have seasonal questions that you can compile to help answer their questions?
One of the best ways to make a surprisingly valuable email for your customers that can also overlap with your blog is to compile "theme" emails. Your home improvement store might send a "Winter Home Care Preparation" in late October that highlights the best tricks-of-the-trade plus some of your best selling products. Your beauty salon could do a series of emails highlighting the best products for straight, curly, and wavy hair. Instead of putting all of the copy in the email, link them to blog posts on the subject to help drive traffic to your website and increase the chance customers can convert with one of your stellar offers.
5. Send Real-Time Triggered Messages
Nothing shows you care like quick responses in the form of real-time triggered messaging. Whether someone’s downloaded a whitepaper from you or left your site with a shopping cart half full, there’s no better time than the present to seize the moment and shoot them a quick email to let them know you’re thinking of them. Not only are you showing someone you care, but the convenience of receiving additional information in real time will show you’re attentive and "in-the-game." Most major ESPs have APIs that developers can send data to which can trigger messages based off of online behavior. So, check into the details, and really wow your subscribers with your proven interest in their actions.
6. VIP Status and Special Treatment
No one, absolutely no one, dislikes the royal treatment; your subscribers are no different. Charm your biggest advocates and admirers by making them feel like they’re the only one in the room. Whether you email these "special" subscribers totally different offers or just give them a special status like "VIP" or "Elite Member," they’ll eat up your email program and spread their love for you everywhere they go.
This also provides you with another opportunity to share content. Let your VIP subscribers invite their friends and family to be part of the elite group. Your subscribers will relish the chance to look "in the know" with their inner circle, and you'll expand your subscriber list, too.
What do you do to spice up your email marketing when it's feeling a little lackluster?
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