In recent years, social media marketing has overtaken email in conversations. They say social media is where your customers are, so you should be there too. But while it’s exciting to think about the possibilities of these platforms for conversation, social still lacks the speed, ease and effectiveness of email marketing.
Consumers are increasingly connected to their email with smart phones and tablets at reach. While consumers are using Facebook and Twitter to communicate more and more, it can be difficult to stand out and gain attention amongst a slew of posts from friends, family and other brands. Email is still one of the most effective ways to reach consumers and drive them to your content or promotions.
Understand the Possibilities of the Format
The beauty of email is the ability to make your message substantial — something that’s difficult to do on Facebook or Twitter without condensing words to the point that they’re unreadable. Take advantage of the format. Email systems are becoming more complex, and the ability to mix visual and written communication that captures the interest of the people who want your message is invaluable.
This doesn’t mean you should send long, dense emails. Shorter emails can still deliver valuable content. There’s a happy medium between 140 characters and a three-page unbroken paragraph.
Also, email communication is limiting in that the audience has to choose to open your communication. This makes the subject line the most important aspect of a campaign. If you can’t entice them from the start, they’ll never know about the amazing content you are sending them.
How to Measure Success
The success of your email marketing should be judged on three metrics:
The open rate, or the number of people opening and reading your emails
The clickthrough rate, or the number of people clicking the links inside your emails
The unsubscribe rate, or the number of people unsubscribing from your emails.
If your emails aren’t getting opened, it’s as good as talking to a wall. Always strive to keep your open rates above 10 percent. Pushing for 15 percent or higher is even better, especially if you’re an established brand. Make sure your unsubscribe rate is never higher than your subscribe rate — you don’t want to be losing more emails than you’re collecting.
What to Ignore
Some people focus a lot on spam rateor the number of people sending spam complaints about your emails. While a really high number of spam complaints can get you shut down, don’t stress over one or two spam complaints — you may have caught a couple readers on a bad day. But if the rate is abnormally high, you may have a problem. Try sending more relevant and useful content (or stop sending five emails a day).
Another factor that a lot of people look at is sales. They try to see sales as proof of an email campaign working or failing. The problem is that email marketing is not the determining factor in sales. If your emails are read and the clickthrough rate is high, your email marketing is doing its job. Sales are heavily reliant on other factors: the price, landing page, sales process, the product, etc.
Change, Test, Tweak
Testing one tactic against another is the only way to be sure you are truly succeeding. For example, I was convinced long emails were the way to go. But then I started sending shorter ones, and I saw my success rates skyrocket. Test out different formats against one another and learn what is more valuable and attractive to your audience.
Always think outside the box and challenge the “status quo.” If everyone else does it one way, try something else. Improve on the normal. See if the idea that came to you at 3 a.m. about the perfect subject line works. Changing is the only way to know what success looks like. Continually tweak campaigns using A/B testing to find out what small changes will make a big difference in your analytics.
Your email audience has opted to receive communication from you — specifically about your service/products — on a regular basis. Don’t disappoint them. Send great content in a well-designed AND readable format. They’ll continue to want to hear from you, and that’s worth more than any “like” or retweet.
Originally published Dec 13, 2012 12:00:18 AM, updated December 02 2014