By Sarah Hengeveld, Commercial Director, Commerce Futures

When implemented effectively, email marketing can drive traffic to a company website and build brand loyalty. Ultimately, this can lead to boosting sales and generating leads.

  1. Know your audience
Identifying the target audience is a fundamental starting point for any email marketing campaign. Even the most compelling, fascinating message will be wasted if emails do not reach a relevant audience.

We have a large database of subscribers who have opted in to receive our latest event news and information. However, it’s crucial that we send individuals information that they will benefit from. This is achieved when we first ask ourselves “who are we targeting?” “What are we looking to achieve?”

In order to understand the audience we are targeting, we immerse ourselves into our community. By regularly seeking feedback and engaging face to face with our audience, we are able to really keep up to date with what is relevant to them.

This helps to ensure that the content is topical and relevant to them, and allows us to demonstrate an affinity with the audience we are looking to engage.

  1. Subject header is key
The subject functions in the same way as a news headline. After all, it is the first thing the reader sees before deciding whether or not to open our email.

There are various tricks and cheats that have been suggested from time to time. For example, using alarming language to grab the reader’s attention, such as: “urgent” or “alert”. Whilst this probably increases the chances of getting the email read, I believe that it will very quickly be realised that the email is neither urgent or an alert.

Whenever I receive an email claiming to be urgent, that is blatantly not, I automatically block the sender. In my opinion, campaigns can lose credibility from using this tactic. We don’t want our business to be viewed as disingenuous, so we avoid this type of shortcut

  1. Content is king
Studies have found that email recipients are most likely to only read the first paragraph of an email. The question is how do you make it count and encourage them to take the next desired step?

We find that clearly outlining from the outset what the reader can expect to receive will retain their attention. Whether it is a whitepaper, a list of tips and advice on a relevant subject or the chance to watch a video, rich, relevant content is generally well received.

When creating content for marketing emails we always ask ourselves what we want the recipient to do as a result of reading. The answer is usually go to our website. We feature the call to action at the bottom of the email and ensure that is in alignment with our overarching goal.

  1. Make it personal
Our email subscribers have opted-in to receive the latest information from us. In return, we think it is important for them feel as though they are receiving personal attention.

We find that this can be achieved in the tone of the email, by avoiding generic language. When sending mass emails, use the text function as it will give it that personal feel. HTML emails may be disregarded due to their format which can be similar to that of an advertisement.

Another way we achieve this is by personalising the greeting to include the individual’s first name. However, overuse of the first name throughout the text may seem invasive and insincere.

Our mantra, however, is ‘to make it personal you have to be personal’. Again, by taking our time to know our audience and their needs, we are able to achieve a personal approach.

  1. Measure success
Measuring the success of our email marketing campaign provides us with valuable insight to sales figures. We also find this to be an effective way of collecting data and getting to know our subscribers’ needs and preferences.

In my experience, email marketers are tempted to place all of their emphasis on to the conversion rate. Whilst this is an important indicator of a campaign’s impact, further levels of engagement should also be considered. Are our readers clicking through to social media pages instead of a call to action, for example? Are they replying and, if so, what are they saying? It is critical to take the time to read them and not take this information for granted.

In summary

Strong email marketing can benefit most businesses. When conducting an email marketing campaign, ensure that key messages and target audiences are at the front of your mind. Content should be relevant to the audience and clearly written. The overall goal should also be considered and in alignment with the final call to action.