By Thomas Smale April 17, 2019
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Email is one of the most effective ways for businesses to advertise their services. While many businesses still use direct mail, their budgets might be better spent on email marketing.
According to a partnership study conducted by the Data and Marketing Association and United States Postal Service, more than half (57 percent) of mail being sent at the time of the study was still direct mail.
But this strategy, the researchers said, produced a return on investment of just 7 percent. In comparison, email marketing offered an ROI of 28.5 percent. In terms of value, studies have found that email marketing offers businesses $44 for every $1 spent.
Still, some businesses fail to realize email marketing's full benefits, so to convince them, here are five of the best ways for any business to improve its email campaigns.
1. Personalize your email content.
Most marketers are aware of the benefits of personalization, but many don’t take it seriously. Personalized email content is by far one of the best ways to increase email marketing effectiveness. According to statistics, personalized emails offer six times higher transaction rates than emails without any personalization. Other studies have shown click-through rates are 14 percent higher and conversion rates are 10 percent higher when personalization is part of the general email content.
However, personalization for many businesses means they're just including the name of the contact in the content. This is far from perfect as a strategy, and many subscribers are now fully aware of this tactic. Instead, personalization needs to be taken to the next level.
One way of doing this is to segment your audience into groups. Then you can send more relevant content to each group. A wedding specialist website that attempted this asked one question: Are you shopping as the couple or for the couple? This simple question split the website's audience into two groups, but the results showed a 244 percent increase in open-rates and 161 percent increase in click-through rate.
2. Avoid certain words.
Spam filters are there to stop malicious emails from reaching audiences. Of course, spammers usually use words that businesses themselves would like to use. So filters are growing more sophisticated, and allowing more genuine content to gain access into inboxes. Still, there are times when your email might be mistaken for something malicious.
Therefore, you need to minimize the use of certain words that are considered spam by these filters. For instance, words like "bargain," "50 percent off" and similar keywords will likely send your email to the spam folder.
When you do want to use a typical spam word, because it is relevant to your content, be inventive with your subject lines. Also restrict yourself to just one high-level spam word per email within the content and email subject line. This will reduce the chance of your emails being blacklisted.
3. Change the times you send your emails.
The aim here is to catch people who are just about to check their inbox or are in the process of doing so. This will put your email close to the top of their inbox. The more time between your sending it and customers checking it, the less likely it will be that your email is read.
You also don’t want to be sending your promotional content at the same time as everyone else, so sending your emails on the weekend might be the best option. Research has shown that many businesses don’t start campaigns on weekends, so you’ll have less competition, and more people are checking their emails on the weekends now than ever before.
4. Ensure you’re building an engaged email list.
It is often the pride of some entrepreneurs to promote how many people they have on their email lists. However, long lists mean nothing if those people aren’t engaged.
There are many ways to ensure that your list is engaged. It requires removing old and inactive subscribers, but in the end, it will help you achieve more profitable campaigns. The first thing is to check for addresses that have bounced three or more times. Ensure that a simple typo such as .con instead of .com is not responsible for the error.
You can also use email verification services. Those services will identify emails that bounce or are inactive, and they can help to remove spam traps: old emails that ISPs use as a tool to identify businesses that send spam.
5. Optimize emails for mobile.
The number of people who open emails on their mobile varies depending on the study being cited. One study said that 46 percent of people opened emails on their mobiles while another found that 59 percent of emails were being opened on these devices. Very few people actually use a desktop mail client to open emails (15 to 18 percent).
To support your efforts, ensure that your campaigns are optimized for these devices. If your campaigns don’t look good on a mobile device, people aren’t going to read them and take action. Therefore, check to make sure you have great mobile templates. A few quick tips include:
Have short subject lines.
Use one-column email designs.
Keep your email design under 600 pixels.
Use a larger font (13 or 14 pixels).
Email marketing could be the best way to make your business grow. For over a decade now, it has remained the most profitable form of digital marketing. Yet, too many businesses are failing to optimize their campaigns to maximize potential revenue. So, ensure that you are personalizing your emails as much as possible and make sure you avoid the traps your competitors are falling into. Most of these changes can be made without too much disruption to your current campaigns. So, why not implement them right away?