You've been tasked with developing an email marketing campaign. There's obvious potential value; the vast majority of people still use email, and once the campaign is developed, you can spread it far and wide at minimal cost. But you hear the stories of people with five thousand unread emails in their inboxes and you're not generating any leads if your email is number 5,001.
So how do you succeed, especially if you've never run this type of campaign? Here's a quick set of guidelines to help you.
1. Maximize Your Subscriber Base
Even if you need to start a new campaign ASAP, take some time to set yourself up for better future campaigns. Experiment with opt-in forms that will convince people to sign up. For example, you could try welcome gates, the 'subscribe' pop-ups people see when they visit your site; lightbox pop-ups, which blank out the rest of the content and can appear anywhere; and exit-intent pop-ups, which appear when people are about to leave the site. Different sets of customers will react differently to each idea, so don't be afraid to switch (or attempt entirely different ideas) if you're not seeing the desired results.
2. Determine Your Goals
Are you introducing yourself to new subscribers? Boosting engagement with your current content, ie. trying to promote a new product? Offering value to longer-term subscribers? Re-engagement with those who haven't been active with your company lately?
All of these populations need a different message. Segment your subscriber base appropriately (subscribed within the last month, have been subscribers for over a year, haven't clicked through in six months, etc), and develop a message suitable to the segment you're trying to reach.
3. Design the Right Kind of Email
Promotional emails are the most common type. You talk about what new products are on offer, redesigns of old products, sales, and so on. They're the most common because they're most often correct for a broad audience, but they're also the easiest for subscribers to bypass if they're not immediately interested. Make sure you're targeting the message well.
Consider sending a relationship-building email as well. These should include a link to your site, but they're all about giving something to subscribers. We're used to seeing these as a follow-through on promises for subscribing—weekly newsletters, free gifts, and so on—but the occasional unexpected freebie can go a long way towards maintaining loyalty.
4. Know Your Audience
Obviously you'll know the basics of the customers your company draws in, but an email subscriber base doesn't always match the overall customer base. If you're new to this type of campaign, you may need to rely on more experienced hands, or hopefully have some analytical data to go on. If not, take what data is available.
In any case, figure out your (probable) audience, determine what they'll be most interested in, and tailor your message around that information.
5. Track Response Rates
This is critical. Of course you want your email campaign to be a winner, but over the course of a marketing career, that's not going to happen every time. The way for every email campaign to succeed is to use the data it brings in to make future campaigns better. How many different people clicked through on the campaign email? Which links in the email were clicked most often? What products were bought by people who used those links?
Some data is a step removed from the hard numbers, and requires your expertise. For example, if link A received twice as much attention as links B and C, is it because the offer was more interesting, better marketing was written around it, or just because it was first on the email? Could links B and C perform better if link A wasn't overwhelming them with its excellence? (We'd all love to have that problem, but don't let your ego get in the way of smart analysis.)
Remember, every campaign is a building block, both in your relationship with customers and your ability to connect with more customers down the road. Maximize what you can in the present while setting yourself up with information and experience for the future, and you're always on the road to success.