- Category: November 2012 - Email & SMS Marketing
Hubspot‘s Complete Guide to Optimizing Email Marketing for Conversions is a 41 page e-book we found quite valuable, so we‘ve summarized it for your convenience.
As a marketing channel, email isn’t going anywhere. In a recent DMA study 75.8% of marketers said they are using more email than they were three years ago. In fact, according to Forrester research, investment in email marketing is forecasted to grow from $1.3 billion in 2010 to $2 billion in 2014. As investments in the channel grow, how will email fit in your larger inbound marketing strategy? Will it be an isolated tool or part of an integrated experience?
Synergy of email and inbound marketing
Email marketing is only as good as the quality of your recipient list. Each year there is a natural decay that happens in email marketing lists that reduces the effectiveness of email. Marketing lists have a tendency to expire at a rate of about 25% a year. If you aren’t replenishing your list with new, interested prospects each year, your email marketing will likely bottom out. Many marketers try to increase their reach by buying third-party email lists, which is risky business as it usually lowers CTRs, besides alienating recipients or getting blacklisted. Instead you should be using inbound marketing, which is marketing with a magnet, based on content that attracts and nurtures prospects. The basic idea is to provide value, make it relevant, and the subscribers will come. Tactically speaking, the best way to start generating leads through inbound marketing is to launch a blog and start creating good, search-friendly content. Make sure your subscribe box is well visible, if necessary even test the placement. You should also be considering partnerships, e.g. cohost a webinar or another marketing event with a company in a related non-competitive space, enabling both companies to profit from each other‘s reach.
Optimize the unsubscribe process to reduce unsubscribes
The top two reasons for U.S. email users to unsubscribe from a business or non- profit email subscription, for instance, are too many emails (69%) followed by content that is no longer relevant (56%), according to Chadwick Martin Bailey. When someone clicks to unsubscribe, give them the option to sign up for less frequent emails or emails that are only on a given topic (e.g. only major announcements). You can also present the former subscriber with alternative channels by suggesting following the company’s social media sites on the unsubscribe page. Conduct a frequency study to determine how often to send emails to your subscribers, test that frequency pattern against a second one and analyze which results in more conversions and fewer unsubscribes. According to a MarketingSherpa study, four out of ten subscribers reported that they’ve marked emails as spam simply because the communication was irrelevant. MarketingSherpa also reports that emails that have been tailored to specific audiences through segmentation get 50% more clicks than their counterparts. Use the data you have about your audience to segment your emails based on subscriber behavior and interests.
Email and social media integration
Study after study shows that email strategies with integrated social media drive better results. Since it is so easy, start by adding social media sharing and follow buttons to your mails, which will expand your visibility and reach beyond your list of recipients. Send targeted emails to subscribers who have mentioned you on social media. Leverage your social media presence to give followers a reason to subscribe to your email list. For example, consider placing a call-to-action on your Facebook page or make sure you determine clear benefits to email subscription so that you can turn your social media followers into subscribers.
Email and search integration
It is good to have an HTML version of your email for people who are having trouble viewing the email in their inbox, which also helps you with SEO. Knowing that an online archive of your email will exist, make sure your email content follows the same SEO rules as your website does. Use your best keywords and anchor text when constructing the body of the message, besides ensuring all images have alt tags and include social media sharing buttons to stretch the content further.
Multichannel marketing analytics
Not only do integrated analytics reports show you the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, but they also help you get more targeted in your email sends. 37% of B2B marketers say lack of user data is the major obstacle to effective segment targeting, according to the B2B Magazine. By exchanging single channel analytics for integrated marketing analytics, you can begin to segment your mailing list and send communications based on the lead’s history of downloads and pages viewed.
Integration with mobile
According to Return Path, 16% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. In fact, this number can rise to 50% for some companies and industries. Creating a strategy that reflects the changing way recipients open and read emails is going to be increasingly important in the coming years. So, test your email templates to see how they come across on different mobile devices and give your calls-to-action (CTAs) wiggle room – make sure buttons and links are easy to click for readers using touch screens. Offer both plain text and HTML versions of your email, use descriptive alt text under your images in case they don’t display, and optimize the landing pages and forms your email links to for mobile.
IBM found that 17% of all emails never see the inside of a recipient’s inbox. From defunct emails to spam traps, the reasons behind the lack of deliverability vary.
Achieving a high deliverability rate relies heavily on three main factors:
1. Return Path reports that 83% of the time an email address is not delivered to an inbox, the sender’s reputation, defined by the sender score, is to blame. The sender score algorithm rates the reputation of every outgoing mail server IP address on a scale from 0-100, gathering data from more than 60 million mailboxes, and assigning you a sender score based on that monitoring. Your sender score will continue to change depending on your email sending habits and the responses of your recipients. Thus, don‘t be afraid to ask your provider about their sender score!
2. Evaluate your email list, by checking whether everyone on your list has a prior relationship with your company, get rid of those that don‘t. You should have an unsubscribe list, and don‘t mail to those on this list! Don‘t use a purchased, rented or leased email list - your sending will get flagged for spam and reduce your conversion rates. Send out mails to people who expect to receive mails from you, and don‘t wait too long before sending the next mail. If you wait too long, people will forget they ever subscribed.
3. Each time you send an email campaign out, it’s associated with your IP address. The reputation that you build, positive or negative, is also associated with that given IP address. You can either opt to have a dedicated IP address, which is completely unique to you, but very expensive and the IP won‘t register on the sender score scale. The second option is a shared IP address, which means sending mails through a provider like Hubspot, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp. Shared IP addresses are much more affordable than dedicated ones and give you the scale of sends to actually register a sender score. However, since you are sharing your reputation with others, consider talking to your email service provider about their highest and lowest sender scores on record. When you move to a new IP address, don’t send emails to your whole list all at once. Instead, “warm up” your IP by slowly building up your total sends over time. You only need to do this once.
Five savvy ways to segment marketing emails
According to a study by MarketingSherpa, four out of ten subscribers reported that they’ve marked emails as spam simply because they were irrelevant. On the flip side, MarketingSherpa also reports that emails that have been tailored to specific audiences through segmentation get 50% more clicks than their counterparts.
For a segmentation method to work, it needs to reflect your core business strategy and knowledge about your typical buyer’s purchasing decisions:
- Segmenting by geography works best when the location of a buyer plays a significant role in his or her purchasing decision (e.g. with events and other invitations);
- Industry / role segmentation: For B2B companies, a recipient’s role or division is an important factor in how he or she interprets your communications. In simpler terms, you would speak differently to a salesperson than you would to a marketer. They have different goals, and different interests, and targeting these interests can increase your click-through rates;
- To segment based on interest, take a look at the content that members of your audience have viewed or the materials they have downloaded. The easiest way to start doing this is to pull a list of people who have downloaded a certain whitepaper or other marketing offer, and then segment them into more targeted email or lead nurturing campaigns about that topic;
- In addition to segmenting by interest area, you can also use audience behavior as a filter for your communications. This segmentation also relies on having the right closed-loop marketing analytics set up on your site to understand your typical sales cycle. If you are using analytics that enable you to distinguish the browsing behavior of different website visitors, you can start to leverage this information to make your communications more relevant to how far along the recipient is in his or her purchasing decision;
- Your brand advocate segment should contain frequent buyers, social media fans, customers who have recommended you to others, non-customers who have advocated for you online. Customer loyalty needs to be nurtured. Once you determine a list of your best and most vocal advocates, tailor your emails to acknowledge them. Send thank-you messages or advanced notice on new services/products, requests for feedback, rewards, and other communications to show you recognize and appreciate their support.
Take a look at your audience, and see if there are any stand-outs or natural differentiations when starting, as even the slightest segmentation can increase your email success rates. You’ll likely discover other ways to segment, based on the individual characteristics of your audience and your industry. (Source: www.hubspot.com)