Some of you have been reading and receiving my emails for five or more years. Others of you have just joined my newsletter list. And still others of you are not on my newsletter list, but are reading this article on my blog (more on this important distinction later).
Regardless of which category you fall into, in this article, I will share many of the email marketing lessons that I've learned over the past several years. Over this time, I've sent out over 20 million emails. Yes, that's a lot of email. And yes, when you send that many emails, you need to spend a lot more time understanding the process of email marketing.
Here are some of the key email marketing lessons I've learned along the way.
Email marketing is an exception tool. It allows you to very cost-effectively stay in touch with both your clients and prospective clients.
Which leads me to my first key to email marketing, which is to define how you will use it.
Will you use email marketing to:
- Keep in touch with existing clients/customers?
- Nurture your relationship with prospective clients/customers?
- Sell products and/or services to your customers?
- All of the above?
Whether you are currently using email marketing or not, take a moment to write down how you can use this marketing channel.
Importantly, even if your goal is solely to increase sales, your emails must do more than sell things. We've all been on email lists that send message after message telling us about this offer and that offer. And we all do the same thing in these cases; we unsubscribe from the mailings.
Which leads to the second key to email marketing: you must provide value. You want recipients to be excited to receive your emails. If not, they'll unsubscribe, or they won't open your emails and/or take the actions that you'd like.
By providing value, I'm suggesting that you give the reader tips and advice to help them solve the pains that your products/services solve. Importantly, that's not to say that EVERY email you send must ONLY provide value. But at least half of your emails should provide value or people will unsubscribe or tune you out.
The third key to email marketing is to segment your email list. In my case, some of my email subscribers are focused on developing their business plans; others are focused on raising funding; and others are focused on growing their companies. While I send most emails to all three segments, some emails are sent to only the specific segment that will benefit most from it.
Consider your email list. Do you have discernable customer segments? If so, figure out how to identify (e.g., with a survey) which segment each recipient belongs in, and segment your mailings to better serve them.
The fourth key to email marketing is to test and tweak. The following are key areas to test and tweak:
- Your Email "Subject" Lines: figure out which subject lines your recipients are most likely to open (and then create more Subject lines like them)
- Your Email content: figure out which content/information your recipients like best (based on feedback from replies to your emails, or surveys)
- The time of day which you send your emails (one email marketing expert told me he gets his highest email open rates when he sends out emails at 5:30AM Eastern Time; I have found better results when I email at 6:00AM Eastern Time)
- The days of the week in which you send email (and note that research shows that most marketers see the highest unsubscribe rates on Tuesdays)
The fifth key to email marketing (which relates closely to the fourth key) is to maintain your metrics. Here are the email marketing metrics that my team tracks for every email we send out:
- # of emails sent
- # of emails delivered
- # of emails opened
- Open Rate (%)
- # of emails clicked
- Click Rate (%)
- Revenue Generated
- Revenue generated per email sent
- Subject line
- Email content
You've probably heard me and others say this -- you can't improve what you can't measure. By measuring each of these metrics, you can try new things and see which improve your results (and obviously do more of the things that are working).
The sixth key to email marketing is to leverage your content. I alluded to this in the opening paragraph of this article. What I mean by this is that when I write an article for my email subscriber list, I will also at some point post the article to my blog. I do this to generate greater exposure to the article. In many cases, I will change the title of the article on my blog so that it appeals more to the search engines (conversely, the Subject line of my emails have to appeal more to you, my readers).
There are clearly other keys to effectively using email marketing. Such as choosing the right email service provider, and ensuring that you are CAN-SPAM Act compliant. But by following the six keys outlined above, you will be much more effective; you'll be able to use email marketing to increase sales and profits and outperform your competition.
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