Regardless of our ongoing obsession with social media, email remains a crucial platform for marketing products and services. Spam remains a persistent problem, but sophisticated mail filters are increasingly able to differentiate between genuine marketing messages and mass-mailed junk. And no matter how much we embrace voice-controlled virtual assistants like Alexa and Cortana, they don’t relay lengthily written communications all that well.
The significance of email marketing is underlined by a few simple statistics:
#1. Research suggests 86% of consumers actively want to receive promotional messages from firms they trade with every month.
#2. The median ROI of email is over four times higher than paid search results or social media advertising, particularly now that social platforms are becoming more algorithmic.
#3. A quarter of all campaign emails sent last year were opened, which compares very favourably to direct mail.
#4. Revenue returns from segmented email campaigns (sent to specific people based on their likes or behaviours) are 760% higher than generic one-size-fits-all mailshots.
The latter statistic acknowledges a key attribute of any successful email marketing programme – it needs to be personalised. ‘Professional’ and ‘personal’ go hand in hand, and sending a message to thousands of recipients with an opening line of “Dear,” won’t impress anyone, nor will emails with clearly irrelevant messages, such as offering car insurance discounts to non-drivers.
Any segmented email programme relies on a comprehensive user database, but this is time-consuming rather than expensive to compile. Indeed, collecting demographic information on current or prospective customers is one of the many cheap email marketing techniques used by companies nowadays. Email itself is free to send and receive, and there’s no reason for significant costs to be incurred. That’s why the majority of marketing professionals consider database segmentation to be the single most effective tactic for optimising email distribution.
These are some other ways to undertake a successful yet cheap email marketing campaign:
#1. Don’t pay for expensive email hosting.
At UK2.NET, we specialise in affordable email hosting. For a limited time, we’re offering our Personal package for just 50p a month. The cost of a canned drink secures you a dedicated address and 2GB of mailbox storage, access via webmail and full compatibility with Outlook, Thunderbird, etc. We also provide round-the-clock tech support – though you shouldn’t need it!
#2. Use analytics tools.
Don’t just send emails into a void and wait to see what happens. An entire industry has evolved around monitoring and evaluating mailshots. These effective yet cheap email monitoring tools are provided by firms like Hubspot, MailChimp and AWeber. Do some research to determine which provider might serve your needs best, and stick to the most basic subscription to keep costs low.
#3. Use a template designed to look equally good on desktop or mobile devices.
It’s well known that most internet traffic is carried on mobile devices nowadays, requiring formatting around the smaller screens of mobile phones and tablets. Two-thirds of emails are read on mobile devices, and 80% of recipients delete a message if it doesn’t display clearly. Even worse, 30% of people will unsubscribe altogether.
#4. Send messages in response to particular events.
If a customer abandons their ecommerce cart (which happens depressingly often), wait a few days and send them a polite reminder or a small discount offer. If someone signs up for information, a personalised welcome email achieves four times the open rate (and five times the click-through level) of a more generic missive.
#5. Distribute messages from named individuals.
It’s fine to have generic ‘sales@’ or ‘noreply@’ email accounts for automated messages but encourage communication with a specific employee. This counteracts the internet’s anonymity by adding a human element to any communication. It’s also advisable to have pen portraits of each named staff member on the About Us page of your firm’s website.
#6. Do A/B testing.
Not sure what A/B testing is? It’s a fairly simple process where an email’s target audience is divided in half, and each group receives a different message. There might be variations in the title, use of graphics, incentives or anything else. If one message has a higher open rate than the other or achieves more of a sales uplift, you’ve learned valuable lessons ahead of the next email marketing campaign.
#7. Don’t do anything suggestive of spam.
Messages marked as junk damage your sender reputation, making it harder to successfully distribute emails in the future. Avoid trigger words like ‘free’ or ‘bargain’; send emails in small batches; make it easy to unsubscribe, and don’t use attachments unless they’re essential. There are cheap email spam testing tools available online, which are worth using.
Finally, marketing experts recommend a few tips and tricks for optimising response rates and ensuring the highest possible return on investment:
#1. Send emails on a Monday night. The highest read rates for unsolicited emails are achieved on Tuesdays, while Monday and Friday perform relatively poorly. Equally, messages dispatched between 8 pm and midnight are most likely to be opened.
#2. Don’t flood subscriber inboxes. Even if you’ve secured the Holy Grail of a double opt-in (where someone signs up and then confirms their readiness to receive messages), a single weekly email should minimise the risk of audience fatigue.
#3. Make it very clear who the email is from. Statistics suggest almost two-thirds of subscribers open an email based on who sent it, whereas less than half open it because of its subject line.
#4. Ensure people click through from emails to relevant web pages. Audiences quickly depart if the information they’ve clicked to view isn’t immediately available. And websites with short average visit times suffer when search engines rank page results.
#5. Don’t be afraid of gentle humour. It’s best to avoid sarcasm or criticism, but self-deprecation is very endearing. Puns and plays on words are also good – anyone who spots the joke will appreciate it, and the rest won’t realise what they missed!