By the end of 2019, the number of email users is projected to grow to 2.9 billion people. In the United States alone, there will be 254.7 million email users by 2020. That's a lot of potential customers for your emails to target.
But sending emails to customers won't help your business – unless you have a strategy behind your campaigns. From segmenting your email list to sending a welcome email, here are five changes you can make to your email marketing to increase your open rates, click-throughs and conversions.
1. Start using email marketing
First things first: If you're not using email to connect with customers and drive sales for your business, add it to your marketing plan as soon as possible. Otherwise, you are missing a huge marketing opportunity.
Email is one of the most effective ways to promote your business. In 2016, 80 percent of business professionals said email marketing helped drive customer acquisition and retention, compared to only 44 percent who said the same about social media. Email marketing is also cost effective: For every $1 spent on email, the average company sees a $38 return on investment.
2. Have a dedicated welcome email
When you do start using email marketing, don't rely on the automated opt-in messages that your email management software provides. Instead, create an automated series of custom emails that subscribers receive.
A custom email series, also called an autoresponder sequence or sales funnel, helps new subscribers learn more about your business and guides them toward making a purchase. And out of all these emails, the welcome email is the most important.
Sending a welcome email allows you to direct your new subscribers' attention back to your business right after they have signed up for your list, which is when they are mostly interested in what you have to offer. In fact, welcome emails generate, on average, 320 percent more revenue than any other type of promotional email.
These emails should be automated so that they are sent based on when a person signs up for your list. Emails sent in real time see 10 times more interaction from new subscribers than emails sent in bulk.
The best plan for your business is to have an entire sequence of emails that are automatically sent when someone new subscribes. But if you have to pick just one email to customize, make it a welcome email.
3. Be mobile-friendly
As more and more people use tablets and smartphones, your customers are more likely to read your emails on a mobile device. A full 51 percent of email is opened on mobile devices, and people are more likely to look at email on an Apple iPhone than on Gmail.
Before you schedule your promotional emails, though, make sure your design looks as good on mobile devices as it does on a desktop. If your emails look odd or format strangely on mobile devices, customers aren't going to save them to read on a desktop. They'll just delete it and move on to the next message. Having a mobile-friendly email design, often called a responsive design, will keep all your promotional messages looking professional.
If you're worried about how your design will look, you can always stick with a plain-text email, which looks the same no matter where it's opened. You don't even have to worry about whether customers will like it — across industries, plain-text emails have higher open rates than those designed with HTML.
4. Make segmented email campaigns
Many businesses put all their subscribers into one big list, but you'll see better results with segmented email campaigns.
Segmentation is dividing up subscribers into sublists based on certain criteria – location, purchase history, customer interests, etc. – and sending them emails targeted to those traits. This allows you to make your campaigns more personalized and appropriate for the customers receiving them.
Not only does segmentation give your customers a better experience, it can give your business a big boost. Segmented email campaigns have a 14.32 percent higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns, along with 100.95 percent more click-throughs.
5. Play with your subject lines
The biggest challenge most email marketing campaigns face is getting subscribers to open their emails. That's not surprising given how many emails most people receive: There are nearly 105 billion emails sent every day, and that number will more than double before 2020.
If you want customers to open your emails, you need to play around with your subject lines and figure out what catches their attention. Try out different subject lines by asking questions or teasing content. Avoid words that can be off-putting, like "donate," which can reduce your open rate by 50 percent or more.
Adding emojis in subject lines is also becoming more common: The use of emoji in email marketing increased by 775 percent between 2015 and 2016. Just make sure to use emojis as emphasis or decoration, rather than using them to replace actual words, as some email servers may not display them.
To figure out which subject lines work best, try A/B testing, or sending different subject lines to segments of the same email list to see which one gets a higher open rate. The key is to experiment and learn what your customers respond to.
The goal of email marketing should always be to connect with customers and increase their loyalty to your brand. Focus on customer experience and response, as you would with any other form of marketing, and tailor your email marketing campaigns to your audience to see the best results possible.
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