Compared to the old days of marketing, where we were at the mercy of direct mail and cold calling, electronic capabilities have opened up great opportunities to reach wider audiences, more often, at low costs.  The problem is, everyone has the same advantage—it’s a classic case of “too much of a good thing.”  Thus, all of us on the prospect/consumer end are bombarded with a near constant stream of offers and information.  Eventually we tune 90% of it out.  That’s why it’s more important than ever to be strategic in our marketing tactics, particularly with email marketing.  Even minor things can affect whether someone finds your message valuable enough to give it a few minutes of their time or deletes it without reading.

We’ve experimented with various factors with regard to email marketing and the following seem to be key in getting recipients to open and even click further for more information.

  • Send Targeted Information to Targeted Groups: Nothing’s worse than sending information to the wrong audience.  Once your messages become seen as non-applicable “junk” mail, it’s nearly impossible to reverse that impression.  We suggest separating your recipient lists and sending very targeted information that applies to each list specifically.  For example, our clients are for the most part in the professional services industry.  That’s a broad variance of individual industries and interests.  I would segment this list into “Accounting,” “Engineering,” “Law,” etc. and send only the most targeted, valuable information to each list per each industry.
  • Start with a Compelling Subject Line:  Just like with a blog post, the subject line could make or break your click-through rate.  Don’t forget thinking on the simplest level – what headlines would pique your own interest?  “Our Monthly Newsletter” doesn’t quite do it.  If in fact it is a newsletter that you are sharing, think like publisher and highlight one of the top stories as a teaser, “Groundbreaking New Philadelphia High-Rise Planned for Top University.”
  • Offer an Opportunity to Opt-In:  Again, along with sending information to the wrong audience, spamming is a huge problem with email marketing.  Once you get the reputation, it can be nearly impossible to reverse.  Give prospects a chance to opt in and you will have a more captivated audience.  If you have a blog or findable place on the Web where you offer valuable information, take the opportunity to give readers a chance to find out more.  Let them know how to sign up for information, newsletters, Webinars, etc.  Another way is to share email marketing messages via Social Media links with an opportunity to sign up to receive messages on a regular basis.  Don’t assume it’s okay to email without permission, especially to prospects you don’t know well.
  • Consider Timing:  Even the littlest details, like timing can make or break your click-through rate.  Sending a message out in the evening will result in the message getting lost in the person’s morning barrage of messages and can easily be missed or deleted.  Sending on a Friday afternoon or Monday morning can have the same result.  Sending your campaign during workday times, like late morning or early afternoon will result in your email coming in to an inbox by itself, rather than being lumped in with other messages, so it will be more likely to stand out, and recipients will be less likely to be overwhelmed.
  • Engage with Multi-media:  Mixing up the message with links to multi-media offerings is a an opportunity  to engage in a different way and  can also drive traffic to you Web site or YouTube channel where prospects can find out more about your firm and offerings.
  • Be Different:  Take note of the email blasts you receive.  Is there a trend?  Consider what you can offer that is unique to your prospect.  Be creative in your copy, tone and even overall design as points of differentiation.
  • Call to Action:  Besides offering information of value, what is your goal?  What do you want the next step to be— visit your blog; sign up to receive an e-book;  Come to an event?  Give a clear call to action.
  • Measure results:  Don’t forget to measure results after each campaign, especially if you experiment with the factors above.  Improving click-through often is a result of trying different tactics and tweaking different items until you find what works for your group.  Tracking results helps get you close to success.

Email marketing requires a constant effort to change tactics and keep things fresh.  We would love to hear tips from other marketers or business owners on how you have achieved  email marketing success!