Are your email marketing efforts falling flat? It might be because your strategy is based on one-size-fits-all industry practices. Marketing expert Seamas Egan believes that it's hard to get good results if you're not using your customer data to inform your email campaigns.
"Small business email marketing programs are typically run by someone who wears a few different hats within the company, and therefore can only dedicate a percentage of their time to optimizing their programs," said Egan, manager of revenue operations for email marketing solutions provider Campaigner. "Adhering to industry standards is an easy out for those who don't invest the time in building their program around their own data."
Egan noted that businesses can look at numerous data points to create a more targeted and intelligent email marketing campaign. [Interested in an email marketing solution? Check out our best picks.]
"Spend time identifying your most valuable customer segment," he told Business News Daily. "This data will come from your billing system. Who spends the most? How often? What products do they buy? Then drill down to the interactions these folks have with your marketing campaigns. Who is opening the most [emails]? When do they open them? What do they click on? More often than not, this exercise will result in a clear pattern that defines individual preferences, allowing you to sell more efficiently and effectively."
Campaigner recently investigated five common beliefs about email marketing to determine whether these "best practices" are really best, and uncovered the truths behind the myths:
MYTH: Email marketing is dead.
TRUTH: Email marketing is alive and well. Reports of the death of email marketing have circulated for the last decade. This myth has set many marketers executing email campaigns on autopilot, stopping efforts at quality content and personalization. But data from Global Industry Analysts Inc. predicts that the global market for email marketing will reach $15.7 billion by 2017. Companies are also investing in email marketing campaigns because these efforts deliver exceptional return on investment, second only to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Shun the notion of email being a must-do, and instead make it a revenue-driven component of your marketing program, with key performance indicators that quantify its effect on the bottom line.
MYTH: There are definitive "best" times to send an email.
TRUTH: The best time to send emails depends on your specific audience. According to aggregate data, the most likely times for customers to open emails are 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and 3 p.m. on Thursdays. In this sense, this belief technically holds true and will deliver results, even if they are marginal. For optimal results, however, marketers need to study their individual lists and campaign analytics. Specific customer feedback and interactions should drive email timing, not general industry data.
MYTH: Email frequency should be the same for all customers.
TRUTH: Some customers may prefer more or less frequent email communications. This myth may have evolved out of frustration, as most marketers struggle with the issue of how much is too much or too little. Instead, marketers must know individual industry preferences and analyze the data using automation, segmentation and testing [with to determine what resonates best with particular contacts. If a business sends well-targeted and -tested messages, customers will want more-frequent correspondence. Reach out more often to those with high interaction rates, and give the others some space.
MYTH: Avoid "spam" words in your subject line and email body.
TRUTH: Spam trigger words don't always land your emails in spam folders. Internet service providers are changing the way email is delivered. Emails containing words like "dollar," "free" or even "$$$" no longer go straight to junk mail — not if they come from trusted and reputable addresses. The myth of spam words dictating the fate of an email doesn't hold; instead, the fate of messages with these words depends more on interaction rates. Do customers open the emails? If so, do they interact in a positive way (clicking on links), or do they unsubscribe or mark as spam? Don't be afraid to take risks with "spam words" if they're relevant to your email content. Test, test and re-test to see what works best.
MYTH: It doesn't matter if a customer is first-time or repeat.
TRUTH: Repeat customers can boost sales. Many marketers make the mistake of treating customers and lists like numbers rather than people, focusing on quantity over quality, and sacrificing the value of the repeat customer. However, evidence clearly shows that customer loyalty drives revenue, as repeat customers spend an average of 67 percent more than first-time buyers.Data analytics can help marketers identify loyal customers and provide insight into these consumers' preferences, allowing for more-targeted messages and increased sales.