We can’t say enough about the importance of keeping your brand front-of-mind. In your industry alone, scores of competitors are blasting their message on multiple channels in the hopes that something sticks. When customers need your services, will they instinctively turn to you like kids sprinting towards an ice cream truck’s sing-song jingle or shut you out like the muffled horn of a distant train?
Email marketing, when done right, nurtures leads and keeps your brand on the peripherals of your clients’ minds. However, a lot of first-time email marketing campaigns are sadly predestined for the spam box. It takes trial and error to get this technique right. And when you do, it’s not out of the ordinary to earn a 30 to 50 percent open rate.
Instead of forging your own path from scratch, take these six core lessons and apply them to your first email marketing campaign.
1.) Clean up your email lists
Email service providers (ESPs) like Mailchimp and iContact are vigilant about stopping spammers. They do not trifle with U.S. and international anti-spam laws and work to keep inboxes free from unsolicited messages. Why does that matter to your business? Your first email campaign can’t launch if it is flagged as spam.
Mailchimp has its own spam filters, which detect and categorize a variety of possible spam criteria. As far as emails are concerned, ESPs filter for deactivated and inactive email accounts that bounce back test emails. To avoid this hurdle, make sure the emails being imported for your first campaign are verifiably active. First, include the people you’ve contacted in the last six months. Anyone who has been outside your radar for six months or more should be sent an email to check back and get them opted in.
Are you looking for new contacts? DiscoverOrg can provide you with high-quality contact information that they contractually guarantee to be 95 percent accurate. That keeps your bounce rate low and your campaigns from getting blacklisted. Additionally, it helps to imbed an email signup form on your website, because then there’s little doubt you have approval to send your marketing campaigns.
Even if all the email addresses being imported are still active, an email marketing account can still be put on hold if too many people report that the email is unsolicited. The most effective way to avert this roadblock? Start your first few campaigns with from an existing opt-in list. Fill it with established business partners and add newer clients incrementally.
2.) Write a strong subject line
Let’s be honest. We all judge content by its cover. There isn’t enough time in the day to waste on boring or useless information, so our mental filters screen emails assuming that a snooze-worthy subject line reflects snooze-worthy content.
To keep your email from insta-deletion, you need a subject line that achieves two things:
- It whets the recipient’s curiosity.
- It depicts the content accurately.
Boredom is only half of the hurdle. Recipients that feel tricked with a bait and switch are less likely to open and read future emails. That’s why strong subject lines have both panache and substance.
What are other factors of strong email subject lines?
- They are brief. 50 characters or less. They shouldn’t rival the news ticker on CNN.
- The rules of strong headlines: Using numbered lists or “How To” titles can garner strong responses while minimizing effort.
- They avoid using too many spam triggers. As stated before, ESPs work to identify spam an email’s content. Words that stick out include trial, free, and. Others are included on this comprehensive SPAM Trigger list.
- They sound Email marketing subject lines that appear tailored to your reader earn more opens. Tactics like mentioning a previously downloaded eBook or name-dropping their city or state (i.e. How to Hire Chicago’s Top 5 Developers) can have substantial sway.
3.) Keep your message concise
Most of your recipients are not reading your email blast for pleasure. They want the facts and successful marketing campaigns cut to the chase. So, we’ll be brief here:
- Put the CTA in the first paragraph. The more recipients have to scroll, the more likely they are to drift off.
- Never include full articles in your email. Robust excerpts and a link to your website are enough.
- Provide plenty of outgoing links to your website and social profiles. Readers are have more patience with those channels of communication.
Want a quick sample?
“Hopefully you are having a successful 2015 so far! Were you able to find our latest blogs and recent eBook about IT Salaries helpful? At Company A, we are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the hiring process, and delivering cost-effective solutions for their evolving workforce needs.
If you’re facing the challenge of recruiting and hiring top IT talent for your organization, you’re not alone. Check out this video to see how we’re helping some of our clients overcome these challenges.”
The email text is brief and quickly inserts the CTA. No waiting for attentions to wane. Just straightforward messaging.
Trial and error can be a long process unless you test the effectiveness of certain choices as you send out campaigns. Split testing or A/B testing with each campaign can help you to calibrate and find the perfect email formula much faster. MailChimp, VerticalResponse, and other email service providers offer easy-to-use split testing features.
Which factors matter most to your audience? Through split testing, you can test a number of variables:
- The subject line
- The sender
- The body text of the email
- The style of the email (plain text vs design layouts)
- The time of day
Each should be tested individually, giving your campaign control variables to measure against alternative options. Moreover, testing is something that never has an end point. Since trends and tactics are constantly evolving, your testing needs to measure the new against the old to keep your email marketing campaign in a dynamic state of high performance.
5.) Keep the convo going
Your first email marketing campaign is the opening line of an ongoing dialogue. That means having follow up messages and protocols in place to build upon what you’ve already stated. But how do you know who to focus on?
Most email service providers have a pretty extensive list of metrics. Open rates, click rates, number of clicks per person, and lots more. MailChimp even provides a click map, showing where all of the recipients were drawn to click (that’s handy if you use a more complicated design).
VerticleResponse offers its own unique feature, providing a recommended call-to-action when your campaign is complete. It will identify whether a drip campaign is necessary and whether or not to focus on people who opened or clicked.
Once you know who is engaged and what is engaging your recipients, you can take action in one of two ways:
- Automated Responses. Did the recipient click a certain link? Schedule and send an automated email that expands upon that information in a week or two. It’s the perfect way to keep you front-of-mind. Marketing automation tools like Eloqua, HubSpot, ActOn, or Pardot can help to create a regular routine for these follow-up email campaigns.
- Salesperson Responses. Has the recipient been very active and engaged in your email marketing? Call a high performing sales executive into the mix. They can help to take a prospect on the cusp of buying and give them the nudge needed to buy into your services.
Strong email marketing campaigns are only a portion of the marketing picture. Download our IT Staffing Marketing checklist to verify that your strategies account for the full spectrum of possibilities.