You can reach your target audience through a plethora of channels, but you may be surprised at the one where you should still be focusing most of your attention.
Social media, content marketing, email campaigns, SMS messages and even good old fashioned phone calls.
The channels through which you can reach your target audience are numerous and varied. But in the last few years, nearly every brand has started to favour digital channels, particularly content marketing and social media.
There’s been an explosion in online advice, “specialists”, and of course the various services that optimise and maintain your content and social campaigns.
Marketing managers the world over have shifted attention to these newer channels. And that’s great because they are key components of an effective marketing strategy.
But this new focus takes attention away from a channel that needs your attention. Email marketing.
You might have heard that email is dead. That the new kids on the block are where millennials hang out and thus, the place to reach your audience. That you’ve got to evolve with the times to stay relevant and profitable.
This is, in a word, BS. And here’s why.
Email vs ‘the new kids on the block’
That’s the key metric every business should be focusing on. Shares, likes and retweets are marvellous for brand awareness, but let’s face it, money makes the world go round.
And when it comes to both ROI and revenue, email is the undisputed king – as proven below:
- Facebook organic reach has been reduced to 6%
- Danny Sullivan’s study revealed his Twitter sees a 1.85% impression rate
- Email on the other hand sees an open rate of around 20%
If we round those statistics to the nearest whole and apply it to an audience of 1000 followers/subscribers you would have the following number of people viewing each message.
Facebook – 60
Twitter – 20
Email – 200
Big difference, right? But email isn’t just better at reaching your audience.
- Email subscribers are 3 times more likely to share your content
- 72% people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media
- Emails average ROI is 38:1. That’s a $38 return on every $1 spend!
However, just because email is far and away the most effective marketing channel doesn’t mean you can blast emails to every address you’ve collected.
Email marketing is a complicated beast and requires a well thought-out campaign to really get the best results. And we’ve got a few tips to get your email campaign off to the best start.
Quality over quantity
This nugget of wisdom applies in two different areas of your email campaign.
First it refers to your list. It’s better to have a smaller list of qualified prospects over a large list of uninterested subscribers. An interested list of subscribers will serve you far better in the long run. They’re more likely to become repeat purchasers and recommend you to their friends.
A low-quality list often results in low open rates, numerous bounced messages and a large number of spam reports. All of which will ruin your sender reputation and negatively affect future campaign deliverability – making it harder to reach your audience.
Quality over quantity also refers to what you send your subscribers. In examining email effectiveness Campaign Monitor discovered; “If you start sending too many emails that are low-value, the most common effect is that you’ll see open and click-through rates drop.”
TechnologyAdvice.com surveyed consumers and discovered that most users believe that email campaigns can be improved by sending fewer emails.
In every area of email marketing, quality should be at the forefront of your mind. It’s about targeting fewer users with relevant content, not trying to make up shortcomings with sheer numbers.
Create a dialogue
You want to talk with your audience, not at them.
Users don’t want to receive countless emails that push for the sale. They want to feel valued. Too many emails saying “hey, buy this from us now” annoy subscribers. According to MarketingSherpa most recipients prefer weekly or monthly emails.
Most users will under report the frequency they best respond to, but the fact remains they don’t want to be bombarded with sales pitches. You’ve got to put the customer first and also use email to provide valuable advice so they look forward to hearing from you.
It’s a difficult goal to achieve, but it’s something transactional emails do incredibly well because they offer high-value information based on certain actions a user has taken:
- A guide on getting the most out of particular product after a purchase
- A quick FAQ guide explaining a product after viewing its product page more than twice
- A welcome series after an initial subscription that asks questions so you can offer relevant advice
To effectively reach your target audience you have to listen to their needs. You should respond to their actions and habits rather than just talking at them.
Follow basic UX design principles
UX design is an important part of creating a streamlined customer journey across all marketing channels, including email.
As one of the most effective marketing channels email should be top of the optimisation list when it comes to UX design.
Our previously published article on UX design outlines the major trends and actions you should be using, but as a short summary make sure your emails are:
- As simple as they can be
- Utilise good images
- Pair colours so key actions and CTAs stand out from content
- Have a clear CTA that focuses on the benefits
It’s all about timing
Reaching your target audience is half the battle. You also have to get the timing right. Sending a sales pitch to someone who has already purchased is a good way to annoy recipients.
Getting the timing right relies on understanding your audience and the actions they take. Transactional emails can help segment your audience by action and testing will help understand the most effective frequency, but when do you send emails?
Is 08:00 on Monday the best time? Or should you wait until 17:00 on Wednesday?
There are numerous studies on the time of day and day of week that see the best open and engagement rates, which will serve as a good starting point:
But they should only be a starting point. As soon as you start sending your own emails, track your opens and engagement rates to understand when your audience are most receptive to your emails.
Test everything with your emails from frequency to time of day to understand what resonates best with your audience.
Mobile has overtaken desktop as the primary device for web users. 66% of all emails are opened on a mobile device:
The effectiveness of any campaign relies on how well it’s optimised for a specific audience. That includes everything from segmented, targeted content to ensuring that the content is presented in the most accessible way.
Of course, following the general design and UX practices will help, but you’ve also got to take into consideration how user engagement differs on the smaller screens.
We’ve put together a whole eBook on mobile optimisation, but to sum up the main points, when optimising your email campaign remember to:
- Keep the subject line to 50 characters
- Add in pre-subject text to catch attention
- Use white space within the email body so it’s easier to read and click on the small screen
- Test, test and test again
Mobile is already your users’ favoured device. Take advantage of user habits and optimise your content for the highest possible conversions.
Email’s still the king
Email is still the undisputed king of ROI and a proven way to reach your audience. Social media may seem like the sexier option but until it, or any other channel, can drive the kind of sales email does then it should be a secondary focus when you’re trying to reach your target audience.
Once you reach your target audience and entice them to your site, you need to give them a customer experience worth staying for. Our Customer Journey Optimization guide has all the tips you need to bring your site up to speed – free here.