Written for EO by Christina Sanders
Business owners and entrepreneurs who don’t consider email marketing a viable sales tool may simply be overlooking the power of relevant content. With effective targeting efforts and the right content, your customer emails will not only be read, but also help you grow client loyalty and sales!
Why you should be sending email newsletters
First, customers who have made a purchase before and are then sent regular content including emails, are likely to buy again. They’ve already had a good experience with your company. You have gained their trust and they will remember your brand. Stay on their radar by providing similar products or content and you’ll increase brand recognition, loyalty and potential sales.
Second, emails are easily shareable. If you deliver content that is particularly interesting or valuable, readers will likely share it with their friends and family. People generally trust recommendations from their friends and family, and that makes these subtle referrals especially valuable.
So, with email marketing, not only are you likely to increase sales from your existing customer base, but you’re growing your customer base as well. Now, let’s examine how to create an effective email newsletter.
Compile your email list
When customers make an online purchase, you gather their email address as part of login or checkout. Companies can also acquire email addresses by offering the chance to win a giveaway or delivering ebooks in exchange for email addresses. If your business isn’t online, you can still use offers and promotions to entice customers to provide their email addresses.
Remember: additional demographic information you can add to customer profiles is extremely beneficial for targeting. See what information customers are willing to provide—such as job title, age or gender. Consider making a few fields required.
Use target markets
Your email list is now compiled from your current customer base. You may find other ways of gaining emails in the future, but always remember the importance of targeting. Targeting is critical. After all, there are many people in the world who won’t be interested in your products, services or emails. Current customers are a safe bet, unlike the entire population of a city.
Establishing your target market also makes it easier to create content that appeals to your readers.
Using targeting, you can better understand your customers and what they want to see. Review their demographics, interests and buying behaviors. Find what appeals to them and apply that information in every email you send.
Don’t ever send content that isn’t meaningful to your target market because they will quickly unsubscribe.
Create effective content
Content is obviously the most important ingredient here. Good content means customers will engage with your brand and likely buy again. Bad content will lead to them to unsubscribe and even develop a negative view of your brand.
With valuable, relevant content, customers will be proud of your brand and share it with others.
Depending on your product or service, your content will naturally differ. Many service brands lean on articles, while products will feature images. Retail brands especially will use imagery and short captions to promote their products. Again, consider your targeting. Knowing your customers, what do they want to see? What will capture their attention?
The anatomy of an effective email
1. Subject lines
Subject lines are often the first thing that recipients read. The subject line is also what ultimately determines if a person will open or delete an email. Your subject line should be relevant and enticing. Again, think about your target market. What do they want to see? What will entice them to click open your message?
Above all, make articles meaningful to your customers. Well-written, original content will always trump shared content. This isn’t to say that your email should be only include articles, but rather it should at least include links to interesting articles. A variety will yield better results, though you may choose to organize them around a single theme.
The same rules for articles apply to pictures. Quality is of the highest priority. Images represent the quality of your brand and product. People recognize overused stock photos in an instant, so don’t even try to get away with those. You’ll probably want to hire a photographer. The volume of content today means that brands who want to stand out must maintain high standards. Visuals should also be unique to your brand—instantly recognizable as your company’s personality and style. Customers expect this. As you gather your images into emails, make sure to balance them with articles. A photo gallery won’t help you make sales. Using a collage maker can be an interesting way to put attractive visuals of your product together in an email.
This is an easy way to create value in your emails for both you and your customers. Promotions can range from flash sales to contests and sweepstakes. Experiment. Try different promotions to test what drives your customers. (And if you do a contest, make sure to lay out the rules first so you protect yourself legally.)
5. Call to Action
Every email should have a call to action (CTA). A CTA invites the viewer to do something about what they’ve seen. It could be “buy now” or “see more,” with a link to the relevant webpage. It’s useful to use a Bitly link so that you can track the analytics of who is clicking on your CTA.
Every piece of content that your company puts out either attracts or detracts. So consider how your email impacts your branding. Use email newsletter templates to create a well-organized and attractive newsletter. This will help you maintain brand consistency and enhance the perception of your company.
Experiment with and test different formats and text. For example, try A/B testing by changing one element in an email and sending the original to half of your email list and the modified to the second half. If you track the clicks against each other, you can decipher your customer’s preferences.
Your email newsletter will naturally evolve. Creating emails for your customers is a learning experience that never ends, and one that can yield significant results.
Christina Sanders is a marketing expert with nearly a decade of experience in digital marketing and communications. She is currently an associate manager at Lucidpress, a design and brand management platform. Connect with Christina on Twitter or LinkedIn.