How to Engage Your Contacts Using Email Marketing [New Webinar Series]

Dolly Howard
Dolly Howard

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pen writing resized 600Most marketers understand the importance of email to their overall marketing strategy in a vague sort of way. But that doesn't mean that all of the best email marketing practices have exactly caught on. This January, HubSpot Academy is hosting a 3-part webinar series that will ensure that you're putting your best foot forward with your email marketing strategy.

There are three extremely important components to consider in order to manage a successful email campaign:

  1. Effective List Management and Segmentation
  2. Creating Enticing Email Content
  3. Analyzing Your Email Marketing

Effective List Management and Segmentation

Every marketer has a list of contacts they need to email. The knee-jerk reaction is to send one mass email that either reminds these contacts your company still exists, or promotes something new from your company. Rarely do mass emails perform well. So, how can we send emails that our contacts want to receive? The first step is to create and segment your lists.

Why should you segment your lists?

When you send a mass email to all of your contacts, you're conveying the message I don't know who you are or what you're interested in, so here's my best guess! People want to feel special, so as marketers it's our job to make them feel that way. We can accomplish this by using list segmentation strategies.

Segmenting your lists will allow you to:

  • Send the most relevant content to your contacts based on their needs
  • Target your personas for new offers
  • Reach your goals and move contacts down the buying cycle
  • See better results from your email marketing efforts
Before you segment your lists, make sure you have a firm understanding of your buyer personas. This will not only help you become closer with your contacts, it will also ensure a seamless segmentation process.

Creating Enticing Email Content

After you've segmented your lists, you'll need to create email content specifically for that segment. If your emails are devoid of well written content that is crafted with your targeted persona in mind, your subscribers will stop opening and start deleting your messages. Nobody wants that.

How do you write a great marketing email?

All you need to remember are a few copywriting best practices that should be applied to both the subject line and the body of your message. When you draft a message, ask yourself whether your copy meets these guidelines before you hit "send."

  • Include actionable language in the subject like "Reserve," "Download," "Ask", or "Buy." You get the idea. The catchier, the better!
     
  • Personalize the message wherever you can. If you've segmented your lists appropriately this will be much easier to accomplish.
     
  • Be clear and concise in your subject line. Because this is the first thing that people read, you must be absolutely clear about what your subscriber is getting from this message. You also need to be brief so that your subscriber sees the full offer.
     
  • Align the copy of your subject line with your email body copy and be brief. Think of your subject line as a call-to-action and your email body as a landing page. If the call-to-action doesn't match the landing page, your conversion rate goes down, right? Right. And emails are no different. When your copy is aligned your click-through rate will increase.
     
  • Write in the second person to make your subscriber feel special. Writing in second person means you should use the word "you" in place  "we" or "I." This helps to take the focus the copy toward the reader, not yourself. You should also be brief in the email body so your subscribers don't tune out before the call-to-action.
     
  • Forget about features. Talk about benefits. You already know the benefit of the offer in your email, but most likely your reader does not. Keep your reader excited by talking about why this offer is awesome rather than the feature itself. For example, look at this email offer from Xterra:
warehouse clearance feature email resized 600
 

This offer tells me the wetsuit shown is on sale. That's a feature. What it lacks is an explanation of the benefit of buying this wetsuit. They aren't convincing me that I'm getting a good deal AND an amazing product. They assume we know the benefit of an Xterra wetsuit already.

If you follow these guidelines when creating email copy, you will start seeing better results in open and click-through rates from your email campaigns.
 

Analyzing Your Email Marketing

The most important metric to track is the click-through rate. What?! That's right. It's not open-rates, as many believe. The click-through rate of each email will show you how many people were actually influenced by your content. And over time, click-through rates can help you discover what type of campaigns have been the most successful and what content is most beneficial for your subscribers. 

Quite simply, open rate is a fundamentally flawed metric.

Consider two things: 

  • Image blocking is becoming more common in email clients and is a standard feature in Outlook. This means that open rate isn't tracked accurately. Because an email being opened is indicated by an image in that email being downloaded, email clients that automatically block image downloads means no opens are recorded.

  • Similarly, mobile devices often default to a text format for emails in which images aren't automatically downloaded. Again, this will lead to an apparent decrease in open rate.

So if you're trying to see what subject line people are more likely to open, for instance, you can segment your send and compare the open rates -- assuming they are each being affected relatively similarly by open rate metric "issues." So while open rate isn't a reliable email marketing metric to gauge how many people are opening your emails, it can still be used as an gauge when considered as a comparative metric.

What kind of success have you had with email campaigns? What types of struggles do you face?  Sign up for January's webinar, How to Engage Your Contacts Using Email Marketingand get your questions answered live.

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