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Are you winning at email marketing?

Woman with a cup of coffee checking her email marketing on a laptop.

Email marketing is officially still alive (and if you don’t believe me, read this). But how do you get it right? There are (of course) lots of different approaches you could take. Some of my favourite emails are written like letters, giving you an insight into the writer’s life. They always make a point but there’s usually a personal story behind the advice. Others have a mixture of behind the scenes insight and advice. As with any other kind of content, the most important thing is to offer something useful that fits with your brand and that your audience will enjoy. There are also a few best practice rules that you should pay attention to. Here are just a few.

Be helpful

Before you send any email marketing, ask yourself why you’re sending it. Yes, I know you want to sell stuff but that shouldn’t be your only focus. People are much more likely to buy from you if they know you want to help them rather than just rake in the cash. So, you could explain why a particular service might help them, or talk about ways to do it themselves. You could talk about practical steps to take – I’ve seen some great ones from accountants covering the Covid-19 financial support. I always view it as offering my services but enabling people to do it themselves if they need to.

Show behind the scenes

There are some emails that don’t feel like email marketing. It’s more like an update about what’s happening in their life before mentioning something you might want to buy at the end. Laura Belgray (aka Talking Shrimp) is great at this. Of course, that might not suit your style. I show glimpses of my life but don’t talk about every detail. Showing your customers what goes on behind the scenes doesn’t have to involve sharing personal details. You could tell them what events you’ve been to or where they can meet you in person. That said, the more they see you as a human being, the more likely they are to trust you.

Create a good subject line

A good subject line can mean your email gets opened rather than deleted. Just like good headlines, a good subject line should be relevant to the subject and have good emotional resonance. Even the most conservative audience will respond to it. It can also be a good idea to personalise your subject line using the recipient’s name. I’m hearing some suggestions that using emojis in your subject line can increase open rates. I think this probably depends on your audience and their views on emojis generally. I like them but not everyone does.

Whatever approach you take at first, it isn’t set in stone. Experiment and change things to see what works for you.

Get the basics right

Good design is important but doesn’t have to be complicated. Have you ever been put off reading an email because the design was so fussy it made it hard to read? Kind of defeats the point. Keep your design simple but with some appealing images – basically the same approach you’d take to the rest of your marketing. Most email marketing platforms allow you to check how your email looks on mobiles. A lot of people will read on their phones so check it doesn’t get scrambled.

Also, one final note. Pay attention to GDPR. There is loads of guidance out there, especially from the ICO, so make sure you follow it.

Further reading

Test your headlines for emotional resonance with the Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyser.

Power words to use in your subject lines.

If you’d like to receive fabulous marketing tips straight to your inbox, including hints on email marketing, blogging and much more, you can subscribe using the form below. You’ll also receive a copy of my free guide helping you to get your business seen online.

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Is email marketing dead?

Email marketing with an image of a blank laptop and coffee.

How many emails are currently sitting in your inbox, unopened or otherwise ignored? We subscribe to so many different things, ticking the box to accept email marketing because we like the look of a free download or a special offer. Then the emails start to land… The thing is, if we feel like this as business owners, why on earth would we bother with email marketing ourselves? Who on earth is actually reading? If you’re tempted to give up writing your email newsletter (or just not bother starting) here’s why you might want to change your mind.

The right people are still reading

There are techniques you can use to encourage people to open your emails (more on that later) and to keep them reading once they’ve opened. The key is to be helpful. Email is a great marketing tool but it shouldn’t just be about marketing. You can share knowledge and advice that will be useful to your customers in the same way as you do in your blog. The people who like what you’re saying will keep reading even if they don’t buy straight away. They might be keeping in touch, knowing that they want to work with you when the conditions are right for them. Or they could just be waiting for the right offer to come along.

The numbers are on your side

This helpful post from Optinmonster gives some great, detailed statistics around email use in the US. As depressing as it may be at this point, we tend to follow them pretty closely (plus I couldn’t find any UK-specific stats – sorry about that.) More than 90% of people have email (even my Mum and she resisted for years). Mobile apps give us the opportunity to check our emails even more frequently. Even teenagers are still using email despite having access to multiple messaging platforms. Email even outperforms social media for engagement. Generally speaking, as long as you don’t go into spam you’re pretty much guaranteed to be seen via email. How often can you say that about Facebook?

You’re in control of your list

There will be a few subscribers who never open your emails but don’t unsubscribe. What do you do about them? That’s where list cleaning comes in. If people aren’t reading, they aren’t helping you. Removing inactive subscribers means you’ll only be emailing people who are interested in you. Your open rates will improve and that reduces your chances of ending up in the spam folder.

Your email marketing platform statistics will tell you who’s opening and who isn’t. If anyone hasn’t opened an email in the last 60 days, get rid of them. You might want to give them a final chance, say by sending a final email letting them know you’re going to remove them unless they choose to stay. Chances are they won’t read that one either.

Getting email marketing right

The beauty of being a small business owner is that you can make decisions quickly. If something in your email marketing isn’t working you don’t have to consult with a committee to try something new. Maybe you started out with a sign up form inviting people to subscribe to receive exclusive offers or tips. If that approach didn’t work, or just ran out of steam, try something else. Perhaps you need a new offer to tempt people in, a free download or a tutorial video. Ask your existing subscribers what they would find useful, or talk to your network. That enables you to create freebies that will tempt people in and to write emails that help your audience.

If you’d like to receive fabulous marketing tips straight to your inbox, including hints on email marketing, blogging and much more, you can subscribe using the form below. You’ll also receive a copy of my free guide helping you to get your business seen online.