1. Build your subscriber list
Even if you’ve already got a long list of emails for clients and prospects, you should never stop adding to it. Especially since it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. For example, make sure your list is always growing passively with a signup feature on your website. Subscription forms should be on your home page, blog page and everywhere else you can fit it without taking away from more important content.
Digital Fire does a great job of collecting email subscribers on their home page, which includes a sign-up box that hovers over the page and follows users as they scroll. It’s impossible to miss (without being annoying) and plainly explains the value of subscribing to their email list.
You can also build your list through more traditional means. If you have a booth at an industry conference, provide an option for people to sign up for your newsletter. Even if you don’t end up closing at sale directly at the conference, getting someone to sign up for your email list can turn into a business opportunity down the road.
2. Encourage readers to reply
Unlike direct mail, email marketing opens the door for meaningful conversations with real people interested in your business. Just throwing information to leads and clients is a waste of time, so make sure you always focus on these three variables:
- Irresistible subject lines – Speak to readers directly and promise them something that stands out from the other emails in their inbox. The best way to go about this is with automated solutions that personalize your emails (which Pronto marketing has written about in depth).
- An entertaining and distinctive voice – Just because readers open your email doesn’t mean they aren’t queued up to quickly delete it. Always make sure your message sounds like it came from a real person who cares, not some faceless marketing machine.
- Targeted content – Segmenting your email lists by reader demographics makes it easier to create a message that really resonates with your readers’ needs and interests, which makes them more likely to take up an offer, engage with you, or even to pass it onto other prospective clients.
The focus of these points is to encourage recipients to respond. Sometimes that means they click on a link in your message, but whenever possible, encourage them to actually respond to your emails. That’s a surefire way to show you’re interested and responsive to what your subscribers have to say.
3. Make it personal
Whenever possible, add a personal element to your emails. Most email tools allow you to enter shortcodes that will be replaced with the recipient’s name when the email is sent out. Emails from Treehouse Co-Founder Ryan are always fun and personal. The subject lines are creative, messages are sent “from” Ryan’s email address, and the content is personalized. If you reply to the mail, you’ll even get a prompt response from Ryan himself!
On top of this, you can segment your messages to particular portions of your audience. If you have a business that works with multiple industries, consider sending out different versions of your email with each one providing information specific to each industry.
4. Keep your emails out of spam folders
If your carefully constructed emails are flagged as spam, they’ll never see the light of day. Start off by making sure your recipients have opted into your emails so you aren’t running afoul of any regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act.
Beyond that, avoid using all caps, too many exclamation marks, and hyperbolic phrases (“ACT NOW BEFORE TIME RUNS OUT!!!!”). Poorly formatted HTML in your emails can also hurt how they’re handled. Every spam filter is different, so an email might pass through one filter but get flagged by another. For more comprehensive info on how spam filters work and how to avoid them, check out this guide by MailChimp.
5. Make sure your emails look clean and crisp
This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people send emails that look like amateur websites from the ’90s. If someone has opened your mail because of an engaging heading, you want to keep their interest. This means:
- Using short paragraphs and ensuring that keywords and phrases relevant to your readers stand out.
- Including bullet points to help people skim the content and take in the vital points.
- Inserting pictures sparingly. Images should illustrate your message rather than replace your content. Some email providers block images or consider them an indicator of spam.
Here’s an example of what an email newsletter template might look like.
6. Include interesting links and calls to action
The aim of most email marketing campaigns is to increase traffic to a site, sometimes a specific landing page. No clicks means no customers — it really is that simple. Always try to include visually striking buttons with text that give readers more than one opportunity to interact (e.g., Find out more! Download Now! etc.).
Check out this example from one of Airbnb’s event promotion email:
In general, calls to action should be written as just that — actions. The more exciting the action you describe, the more enticing it will be to your audience.
7. Make it easy to unsubscribe
It may seem as though you are cutting off the “conversation” by giving clients the chance to opt out, but if a user wants to remove their name from your lists and can’t do so easily, they’ll flag emails as spam, which will cause you problems in the future.