Your company’s e-mail marketing campaign might look successful — well branded, pleasing to the eye and filled with useful content. But is it successful in converting subscribers to customers? While there are countless bells and whistles you can add to your e-mail marketing campaign to make it look polished and high tech, what matters most at the end of the day is if the e-mail gets opened, read and converted, according to Brad Kleinman, an e-marketing consultant and instructor at Corporate College.
“There are three basic steps an e-mail campaign needs to follow if it is going to be successful,” he says.
Smart Business spoke with Kleinman about the three steps and how to implement them to create a solid foundation for a successful e-mail marketing campaign.
What are the benchmarks of a successful e-mail marketing campaign?
The true success of an e-mail marketing campaign is measured by the conversion rate from a prospect to a paying customer. This does not happen if the e-mail is not read or ends up in a spam folder. An e-mail campaign will not get much ROI if readers are not compelled to click through to the company’s Web site for more information or to make a purchase. While it is important for subscribers to open an e-mail, the best measure is conversion, that is, if the campaign is actually turning into cash.
What’s the first step of a good campaign?
The first step, once you have a list of optin subscribers to your campaign — which could be a newsletter, an e-course, tutorial, series of white papers, etc. — is to get the recipients to open the e-mail. If a recipient doesn’t trust the subject or ‘from’ line, the e-mail will get deleted. To avoid this problem, make sure you put a name of an actual ‘trusted’ person in the ‘from’ line. To avoid triggering spam filters, do not use words like ‘free’ or exclamation points or all capital letters in the subject line. Make the subject line enticing or intriguing. Creating a ‘tip-based’ subject line often gets higher open rates.
Once a subscriber opens the e-mail, what is next?
The second step is to design the e-mail so that there is a combination of both pictures and text — not just one or the other. The biggest mistake e-mail marketers can make is to write the e-mail all in 12-point font, with no breaks or headlines. This makes an e-mail very hard to read online. There are schools of thought that say e-mail marketing campaigns should be short and to the point, others say that e-mails should be longer. But I have found that it depends on the industry and type of e-mail that you are sending out.
The content needs to be interesting, useful and not 100 percent self-promotion. Many researchers say that the percentage of content to advertising should be 60 percent to 40 percent. But, the e-mail marketing campaign is not all about good tips and content. It must move the subscriber to step three, which is action. This call to action must be located not only at the bottom of the e-mail but, more importantly, above the fold, or what is on the subscribers’ screen before scrolling down.
What is the action that makes an e-mail campaign successful?
The action hooks the subscriber into getting beyond passively reading content to doing something. That could vary from campaign to campaign. It could be a phone call, visiting a Web site for more information, purchasing an e-book, or booking a free or nominal-fee consultation.
The foundation of a successful e-mail marketing strategy is the same as traditional marketing: making sure that there is a salesperson available so that the customer buys. Try not to build an e-mail marketing campaign that is completely ‘e.’ In the cyber world, we tend to leave that part out, but the most successful e-mail marketing campaigns rely on human interaction to make the conversion from prospect to customer. At some point, businesses need to take the conversation offline.
Is there anything else that is critical in creating e-mail marketing campaigns?
Yes, the names on a list are gold. You always want to improve and add to this list. There are many e-mail marketing programs available that can help marketers segment and categorize the lists to help create target marketing and experiment with conversion rates. Even changing one adjective in the subject line can make a huge difference in open rates.
E-mail marketing has been an extremely helpful tool because data can easily be captured. Through your e-mail marketing program, you will know how many people opened the e-mail, clicked on a link and, potentially, how much your sales went up as a result. Any changes you make can easily be measured, as well. The beauty about e-mail marketing is how little it costs and the high ROI that is possible, if you do it right and follow the basic steps.
BRAD KLEINMAN is an e-marketing consultant and instructor at Corporate College (www.corporatecollege.com) based in Cleveland, which offers employers custom-designed training programs to enhance future work force development, job growth and job retention in Northeast Ohio. Reach him at (216) 339-0353 or BSK@BSKConsulting.com.