Effective Mailing Campaigns: how to use Email Marketing
Hello, I am Julia Mattey and I have been using Email Marketing and Mailing Campaigns for the last ten years, to engage with my learners and potential customers. With 25% of opened emails and a 5% click through rate, I would like to share some of my tips for effective Mailing Campaigns, that work!
In this particular Post, we will cover the following aspects of Mailing, based on my experience of effective mailing campaigns:
Why email marketing?
How to set it all up?
Managing and segmenting your contacts.
Getting a high performing email.
Designing the email.
What happens after clicking SEND?
Generating more business through Lead Nurturing.
Analysing the data and measuring success.
1/ Why email marketing? Relevance of mailing campaigns in this mobile world.
Once you have started your Blog, establish your goals:
- attract (strangers: with a blog, social publishing, blogging)
- convert (visitors: with forms, CTA, landing pages)
- close (leads: CRM, email, workflows)
- delight (customers: surveys, smart content, and social monitoring)
Email Databases or Email Lists are key, as the ROI, return on investment, is extremely high. But it is all about finding a balance, as when mailing is not used well, it can also cause damage to your image, reputation, or company as a whole.
Most of all rating and monitoring the performance of our email campaigns is important. We want to improve our customer acquisition and retention through branding, engaging, and winning back.
Why mailing? Some facts to wet your appetite:
- 54% of emails are opened on mobile
- email is a mobile communication channel
- people check their email 74 times a day on average
- it is one of the few channels you can control as there are no algorithms
- email being permission-based it also means that it is more meaningful than social media or organic search
“According to UK telecoms regulator Ofcom4, 81% of smartphone users say email is the MOST popular activity they use their phone for.”
2/ How to set it all up?
So as marketers, let’s learn to become great at sending great emails!
Don’t forget that our inbox is like our modern and virtual to-do-list. As a result deeply embedded in the purpose of the email is the expectation of action: read, respond, purchase, click, forward… How do we consume information? Find the balance so people don’t mark you as spam, or unsubscribe.
So we have to focus on measurable impact with report systems focusing on the importance given to personalisation, responsiveness/adaptability to mobile devices, segmentation, and data optimisation and analysis. Consequently all these elements enable you to increase engagement and target better. This 1-to-1 conversation created with the email is an extremely strong tool.
Analytics is the engine that powers the growth of your business. With the data provided by the reports you can test, hypothesise, identity, and ultimately optimise. This is the “deliverability score”.
As a company you then have to discuss how often to send emails, when to send them, and what to send. Our choice of software is MailChimp.
You now have to link this MailChimp account to your WP site, via a Plugin. I recommend THRIVE. Thrive has been proven to get more sign ups than other plugins:
3/ What message? What message are we trying to convey?
First of all a lasting and evolving relationship with your customers means taking into account Lifecycle Marketing. In other words, maintaining communication with your contacts from the first exchange until the end of their lifespan as a paying customer is key.
Especially relevant are the main goals of mailing:
- attract leads (cold leads)
- engage with leads (hot leads)
- grow a business (dormant and active customers)
- close a deal
- delight customers
So what exactly is Lifecycle Marketing?
Lifecycle Marketing refers to where your leads and customers are, at what stage in the inbound framework.
We learn to nurture our leads. We are therefore supposed to know our subscribers: their interests, their budget, their challenges and goals. Consequently we seem to understand which content resonates with them.
Most of all you have to learn to listen, to read the data, and adapt your mailings, to drum up business. It is key that your readers see value in working with you. Re-sell and up-sell value of happy customers is important, and you can attract and sell new leads through ‘evangelism’, happy customers recommending your business.
So it is important to make your readers feel cared for, listened to. Post-purchase experience is instrumental in retaining customers, and building loyalty, itself creating evangelism.
A more consistent experience is what a well-planned mailing campaign strategy can ensure. Mailing is also used for staying in communication between phone calls, responding to inquiries, offering support, and providing access to additional products or services of value.
If you are using mailing directly as part of your first sell cycle, there are various stages to take into account:
- awareness stage
- consideration stage
- decision stages
These stages of the buyer’s journey help you understand what content to create, what CTA (call to action) to add, etc.
Mailing campaigns can also be used to convey information:
- carrying out a survey
- getting your users to subscribe to your blog
It is essential to identity touchpoints like these. Be strategic with your mailing campaigns. Don’t forget that this is a conversation.
As a result capturing the right data is essential. Distinguishing lead and customer is key. As someone has purchased, their emails should become more personalised, not less. This new interaction is key to maintain and guarantee a good reputation, and maybe repeat business. You don’t want to be sending customers offers that are only relevant to leads and vice versa. Staying in touch with each and every reader’s needs is key to avoid unsubscribes.
- Leads have to feel that you want to help them become successful, have a good experience with you.
- Customers must not feel that you only trying to make money. They will know and will be reluctant to help you in your business growth.
This means provide solutions to their needs, support, as well as education when necessary. Feeling value of the initial purchase is key and can be obtained through:
- customer testimonials,
- discount codes,
- product suggestions,
- referral programmes,
- exclusive access or pre-sales,
- social communities,
- case studies,
And don’t forget: sometimes email is not the best channel of communication so think about that before creating a mailing campaign and clicking SEND.
4/ Managing and segmenting your contacts. The quality of your email database is undeniable. Do not forget that.
In conclusion this database has to be well-managed, regularly cleaned and up-to-date. The key to email marketing is list building and list updating.
Without this, you can not build a successful marketing programme.
So the content of your email is important, but not as important as the context in which you send it.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is as much about content as it is context. Common needs and priorities are what brings together and divides your contacts. A marketing strategy that yields results is one that is relationship-driven, segmented. You must align marketing and sales, in order to target your message, personalise the content of your mailing, and remain relevant and valuable to your readers, whether as leads or as customers.
The way you store the contacts’ information is important: is a contact a lead, a customer, a subscriber, a partner (individual or companies), a competitor, an employee, or anybody in contact with your company? You need to track this information. Additional information such as first name, last name, is important.
Marketing Campaigns can be affordable, targeted, effective and trackable when used properly. Don’t forget about sharing your values (branding), engaging (sending offers and other targeted messages), offering social proof (with reviews or testimonials), and reenergising relationships (for those listed that never open or click, but still don’t unsubscribe or mark you as spam).
So when creating your database:
- upload your email list to the mailing software (MailChimp for example)
- identify which contacts are at which point in the lifecycle (lead, customer, and any other criteria you wish to use to further segment)
- if you are using other software, make sure that it is synchronised with your mailing software, so as to have all the information communicating
- clean the contacts list
Do not forget that the information you decide to store in this database alongside the email addresses, will dictate how your segment your mailing campaigns. You can use:
- explicit data (mentioned above, such as name, company information, survey responses, etc. generally information intentionally shared between you and the contact) and
- implicit data (gathered from user behaviour, such as email engagement, conversion data…).
A good segmentation strategy defines whom to email, and whom not to email. This enables you to choose what information will help you create a more personalised and contextualised experience with your email recipients. It is key to contact those contacts who haven’t engaged yet, and email them again so as to re-engage with your company: who has unsubscribed? who has never opened an email of ours? which contacts have hard bounced?
5/ Getting a high performing email. Creating an effective and inspiring email.
It is not just about getting the opens or clicks, it is about creating an email that is effective, and inspiring. You want your readers to engage. You want your ROI. So you need to remember that you are creating opportunities to:
- generate leads,
- inform your prospects,
- close deals,
- and nurture your relationship with existing customers.
Questions to ask yourself, before pressing SEND:
A/ Is the goal of this mailing clear?
B/ Has the email been optimised for opens?
C/ Is there a clear CTA?
So, let’s now see how to answer those questions:
A/ Is the goal of this mailing clear?
To determine this, I need to see if Who? What? Where? Why? How? and When? are being answered.
- Who? Is a paramount element, as it will show that you care about your audience. The answers to the other questions need to reflect what is relevant to Who? – the recipient. You want this email to be read and appreciated.
- What? Is also a key element. What is it you, as a marketer, expect your reader to do once they have read the email?
- When? Is choosing not only a time of day and day of the week, but a moment where the information being shared is relevant to your readers.
- Where? Where is your reader going to be when he/she opens the email? Using a responsive template is essential, with clear, and clickable CTA.
- How? Is the question that comes after. This is a question we answer when we look through the statistics delivered in the mailing report.
B/ Has the email been optimised for opens?
- Making sure there are no hurdles, that your email is easy to open, and contains a clear CTA, means optimising the email.
- Other key elements include the Subject Line. This has a huge impact on the opens rates, and the conversion rates – if and when your readers open the email. It is like a teaser, a title, so it must remain short, using layman terms – no sales mumbo jumbo, straightforward, personalised – when appropriate, and creative.
- It is interesting to search terms that are likely to end your email in spam, and avoid them. You want people to be interested in an offer, a discount, something “free” but you don’t want your email to be sent to spam.
- Where you are sending the email from is also key. A professional email is essential. You should have several emails such as info@, support@, newsletters@ and use one or the other, depending on who you customer is and where he or she is in the sales cycle or customer lifecycle.
- Company information and contact details need to appear clearly too.
- Preview text is also of the utmost importance. This is the text that readers see before opening the email.
C/ Is there a clear CTA?
So once you have managed to get your readers to open the email, how to convince them to take action?
Make sure the information is easily located, whether when reading thoroughly or in diagonal.
- Maintain a conversation using the right tone.
- Tailor your message to your recipients.
- Proofread as many times as possible!
And before sending the mail to your list of contacts, send yourself a test copy and open it in different browsers, from different devices, and see what it looks like in plain text.
What is your #1 goal with this email? Is this clear with the CTA? Are you linking this CTA to images, to a landing page, to your home page?
6/ Designing the email. How to design a mailing campaign?
Now that we have discussed functionality and quality content, let’s look at design and image.
- Design should improve the content, and enable you to deliver a compelling message.
- Tailor your email around the content: in how many columns, paragraphs, and images, will your message be conveyed effectively?
Like Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
- Time is also a key factor. People don’t spend a long time reading emails. You need your readers to recognise your brand immediately, and see the importance of reading this particular email.
- Presenting your recipients with a clear CTA, not a confusing set of options, guarantees more success.
- Creating a consistent email is therefore key.
Set your goal, write the copy, choose the images, create the email:
- compelling image(s)
- quality copy
- clear CTA
For clarity, use a variety of headers, subheaders, guiding the readers’ experience. Use various boldings, italics, colours, numbers… Underline should only be used for links.
The top of the mail is for important content
The top of the email has to contain important content so don’t waste it, although the rest of your email should keep some white-space. You don’t want your copy to be cluttered. Layout, images and styling will help with this objective.
When using a mailing software, respect the width and height of your images, do not add a background image, and always add alt text to your images in case they do not load on your readers’ devices. By using a mailing software, you are generally using mobile-friendly templates, in other words responsive templates.
7/ What happens after clicking send? Are you emails Delivered or Bounced?
How do we ensure that our emails are deliverable and delivered? How do they end up in our readers’ inboxes?
The quality of your contact list is as important as the design and content of your email, its subject, and the time and day you programme the campaign. Due to this when looking at an email list, we have to ask ourselves
- where we got these emails from (source),
- whether we are allowed to use these email addresses (permissions), andhow these readers expected their email addresses to be used (expectations).
As a result it is extremely important to segment your contacts as they progress from lead to customer, for instance. Otherwise your readers are more likely to stop finding the content relevant, lose interest and unsubscribe, or even worse, mark your messages as spam.
But what is a bounce?
It is when an email gets rejected by the recipient’s mail server. There are several kinds:
- recipient bounces (when an email address is not valid, or contains a typo),
- content bounces (when the mail server rejects your email because it doesn’t like its content, or what it is linked to) – which you can recover,
- reputation bounces (because of your company’s domain, the IP address you are sending from, or any URL included in your email), and
- temporary failures (also refereed to as soft bounces, generally linked to content issues with your email).
A certain number of unsubscribes is also to be expected. But remember to segment your contact lists, and personalise the content of your mails, so as to keep your engagement rates high.
8/ Generating more business through lead nurturing. Tips for Lead Nurturing
So the purpose of this blog post is to see how we can grow a lead into a sale.
Lead Nurturing is the process of building a relationship with prospects. It is growing the relationship so as to sell when the prospect is ready. Very often leads are not “sales ready” when they sign up for your newsletter. You have to build a relationship, by:
- building trust,
- educating your prospects by informing them on your product or service, and
- helping them along their path to purchase
It is about building a bridge between marketing and sales.
Hence we want to avoid our mailing to be associated with spam. We should not abuse email. Inbound tactics are essential. We are trying to send relevant information to our contacts, not irrelevant content to purchased contact lists.
A user-driven approach means creating a strategy which integrates lead nurturing, best practices, and good communication.
As a result and as marketers, we need to analyse the lead’s behaviour, and pass on information to the sales team when we think the lead has displayed interest in our product or service, separating contacts and leads, colleagues, customers, deals…
So you must also build your contact lists asking yourself:
- how many leads can I get each month?
- through which channels can I get these leads?
- do I have a sales team?
- what is my sales cycle?
Furthermore through your email, what are you hoping to achieve?
- gain trust
- provide additional resources
- provide additional downloads
9/ Analysing the data and measuring success. How to analyse a campaign’s data?
Most noteworthy: Email analytics are available with email marketing software. Create effective campaigns with the software’s drag and drop editor, and use the interactive analytics to see how your audience engaged and how effective your CTA is.
In conclusion: knowing your open rates, click-through rates (CTRs), and unsubscribe rates is key to understanding what works and doesn’t work with your mailing campaigns.
More keywords to understand mailing tools and analyse data
It seems clear that most email marketing tools can be paired with Google Analytics URL Builder, to see if banners, links, or CTA perform better. You can track metrics with Google Analytics and see how it affects your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
As a result when choosing a mailing tool, you must look at the ready-made templates provided, how customisable the layouts are, the analytics it offers, the number of subscribers it allows, social sharing, whether you can schedule or create auto-responders, and the number of emails you can send out. Finding the right solution to your marketing needs is important. Consequently you can always choose a basic subscription plan, then add functionality by upgrading when you are ready.
Some email marketing software also comes with a plug-in which can work with WordPress for example.
So being able to analyse the data, understand the metrics and why a campaign works, enables you to gauge your level of success, and evaluate your marketing efforts, to then align your expectations with those of your readers.
10/ Constantly improving: Optimisation is Key
First of all it is important to constantly think about optimisation: which pictures I choose to use, what copy I choose to write… making sure that your emails are always performing at their best.
In addition CRO (conversion rate optimisation) means questioning and analysing your marketing funnels, your user behaviours, your numerous touchpoints through email with your leads, etc. So it is about making data-driven decisions throughout the entire sales cycle and customer lifecycle.
Most of all, it is also about:
- avoiding friction points, by segmenting your contact lists, and
- avoiding sending irrelevant content, or too many emails,
- identifying new opportunities,
- and experimenting with design and content
In conclusion: you can identify opportunities in your funnel by analysing various elements of an email that may affect your clickthrough rates, such as email CTA, email signature, email body images, email body design/layout, email body copy.