email marketing tips for 2016

We can’t help you learn Spanish, call your mum more or finally join the gym. But if you want to make 2016 the year you level-up your email marketing, here are six savvy tips for small businesses. Easier to get your head around than Spanish verb conjugation — and no Lycra necessary.

Cast your eyes over 2015

Sometimes you have to look back to look forward. At least that’s the case when it comes to plotting the email equivalent of world domination for 2016. Grab a double Americano and take a morning to comb your 2015 email campaign reports. What worked? What didn’t? What subject lines got the most open rates? Which types of content generated the most click-throughs?

Going back through 2015’s metrics will give you two things: 1) a clear idea of the goals you want to achieve in 2016; 2) the beginnings of a strategy for how to achieve them. Be specific with your goals too. “Improve average click-through rate” is too wishy-washy. Quantify it. Set your benchmarks. Define what success looks like. 20 percent increase in subscribers? 10 percent increase in leads generated from email? It’s your call.

Be smarter with segmentation

The more targeted your message, the more likely it is to convert. Think about the emails you receive. You are more likely to read something that resonates with your interests, right? In 2016 sending the same email to every subscriber — known as batch and blast email marketing — will become less and less effective.

Look for novel ways to segment your subscribers based on what you know about them. You could gather that data through website registration questions, social media or simply tracking how your subscribers are interacting with your email newsletters and website content. Bottom line: you have to deliver content that’s worth each subscriber’s time. Their inbox is bursting with unread emails. Give them a reason to make yours their priority.

Optimise your design for mobile devices

More than half of emails are opened on mobile devices: i.e. smartphones and tablets. That ratio is only going to grow in 2016. If your email design is not optimised to display properly on mobile devices, you risk alienating a huge chunk of your audience.

Integrate email and social media

Email and social media may not seem like the most natural bedfellows. But integrating them can help you get more out of each channel — more followers, more click-throughs, more engagement — and grow your presence online. Pretty important in a space as crowded as digital. Getting started is easy.

Surprise your customers, without lifting a finger…

Marketing is tough. But it’s a little easier when it’s done for you. That’s where marketing automation comes in. You can use email software to automatically send pre-designed emails in response to certain triggers. The most obvious example is a thank you email that’s sent when someone makes a purchase from your website or signs up to your newsletter. But as automation software gets smarter, 2016 will be the year marketers get more imaginative with their use of email triggers. Don’t miss the party.

Review, review, review

The annoying thing about improvement is that it rarely just happens, even with the best will in the world. Schedule time on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis — whatever works best — to review your email marketing and check how you are progressing against your goals for the year (see step one). Make it a habit and the improvements will surely come.

Let’s wrap this up…

  • Review the reports on 2015’s email campaigns to see what worked well — and what didn’t — to help you build a strategy and set goals for 2016
  • Look for novel ways to segment your subscribers to serve emails that are more personalised, targeted and engaging
  • Make sure you keep your emails accessible for everyone by optimising for mobile devices
  • Integrate your email and social channels to expand the reach of both
  • Use marketing automation to reach out to your customers with targeted communications based around certain triggers
  • Set up weekly, monthly or quarterly meetings to review your email marketing progress

For more 2016 tips, check out our new guide: Email Design Best Practices: How to Design the Perfect Email in 2016.

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