10 Tips to Improve Email
Marketing and Grow Your Business
By Greg Brown, Director of Marketing at Melissa Data
We've all heard of email marketing, but it can appear daunting with all the
laws, spam filters, and confusion over the best method to use. Whether
you're an e-marketing novice or you've tried it before, learning the tricks
of the trade can make the process more comfortable and successful. After
reviewing the campaigns we've run for customers, we came up with the
following 10 tips to get the best results from your email marketing
1) Start with the reader's point of view in mind - this may seem obvious,
but you have to approach all marketing from a reader's point of view. This
is especially true for email marketing, where the recipient will judge
usually within seconds whether they want to open your email. If you yourself
would not open it if it came to you, chances are your readers won't either.
But that doesn't mean it's hopeless. Just think of something that would draw
their attention and go with that!
2) Choose a compelling subject line - this is probably the biggest success
factor in getting yourself exposed. Remember, no one will see all you have
to offer them if they don't open your email, and they will choose whether to
open it based on the subject line. A catchy subject line can be a little
creative, or very to-the-point if you are advertising a basic need that
everyone can use (i.e. "Reliable Local Plumber"). What you might view as
your best benefit may not be the best subject line, because remember;
readers need to trust you in order to open your mail. You can get to the
rest within the body.
3) Structure your email body right - this is more complex, but very
important. Once again, you need to look from the reader's point of view, and
think about their eye flow as they read. This might mean leaving wordy
information for the end of the email and instead starting with a compelling
question, offer, or great benefit to capture the reader's attention. A few
pictures can enhance your email, but remember it is not a website. Too much
content will overwhelm the reader and they will get bored quickly.
4) Think strategically - as a business owner/manager, you must market
yourself based on the real best reason to do business with you. There might
be many impressive aspects to your company, but think about the reason
people will actually choose to buy. This can really be different than your
first instinct on email marketing.
5) Lead the reader intuitively to buy - Some of the best emails I've seen
give very compelling reasons and very naturally convince you to "click here"
for more information or to get the stellar offer they advertise. Simply
putting a link to your website will not give you as many clicks/sales.
6) Pick your target market effectively - this means choosing a large enough
market for you to get results, in the right areas, and with the best
demographic information (if applicable). Really think through who your
current customers are, and who you'd like to reach - meaning who do you
think would be your next most likely customers? This might not be simply
residents nearest your place of business; it could in fact be a more
family-oriented suburb a couple of ZIP Codes over, for instance. You also
might wish to expand your radius to really saturate your target area.
7) Repetition is key - Email marketing studies have shown that most
prospects must see the same or similar email three to seven times in order
to buy. Don't give up after one or two email campaigns that don't get the
initial results you are looking for. Remember, it takes time for a new
prospect to grow used to seeing your offer, and to trust you. It won't
happen if they only see your emails once or twice, but persistence and
continued relevance can and will pay off!
8) Make a good offer - an informational or benefit-driven email is usually
not enough. A good offer will entice the reader to act - especially if it is
a limited time offer. This creates urgency which drives buying behavior.
Typical "limited time only offers" include a dollar-value savings, or giving
something away free that is inexpensive for you but of value to your
prospects. If your offer is "a percentage off" remember to include the
original price – these types of offers aren't as effective unless the reader
knows what the initial cost is so they know how much they are saving.
9) Include some information, but not too much - if your industry is one that
people may not know much about, it is important to educate them. Give them
the most basic information, often what you take for granted, but which might
be interesting to them - i.e. benefits of creative childcare, key financial
information, or steps to take when looking for a new car. However, don't
give too much away, or your reader will simply use your information without
having a need to follow up with you first.
10) Find a convenient sending solution - most small to medium sized
businesses are not set up for mass email marketing, but it has a payoff in
terms of the reach, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Most mass email
providers will only let you send to your current customers from your own
opt-in list, but you want to reach new people too. There are companies that
can do the whole process for you; from design to supplying the email lists
to sending your emails and tracking your results (while still staying
About the Author:
Greg Brown is Director of Marketing at
Melissa Data, a
direct marketing software and services company. Having worked for over
10-years on both the client and agency side, Greg brings a unique
perspective to developing creative, results-oriented marketing programs to
acquire and retain customers.