Best Practices for Great Email Marketing

email marketing

Sales can be an easy job to do, but it is very difficult to learn. It’s not physically demanding and there are no real barriers to entry. Unlike other careers, it doesn’t require you to earn one, two or three college degrees before you get started.

Simply pass your interviews, go through a few days of training, and then you are in. Any sales manager would probably say the real barrier to entry, the biggest obstacle to success, lies within the mind and attitude of the salesperson. If he or she can persevere and learn the trade, they will find success. That holds true for other things in life too, like email marketing.

Email Marketing is a Form of Sales

Email marketing is as easy to get into as sales is. There are no real barriers to entry. Just pay for an email list, put some words together, and then have somebody send it out. But the results are usually dismal. What’s wrong? Other people are finding success with email marketing, so why can’t you?

Let’s keep this discussion very simple. We will skip all the theory about principles that govern email marketing and instead list some simple, basic steps that good marketers follow. As you read this article perhaps you will realize there was some vital information that you have been missing. This is not an advanced article on the finer points of email marketing, because, like when learning the sales profession, the simple things often make the biggest difference.

Plan on Your Email Going into Spam Folders

You are not listed as a contact with the huge number of people you are emailing to, so your message is going directly into most of your recipients’ spam folders. Accept that fact, because it governs the rest of your decisions with email marketing.

Be Mindful of the Return Email Address You Use

When you glance quickly over your own spam folder what are you looking for? Subject lines that are relevant to you at that exact moment in time. Of those few emails, which ones do you actually open and read?

Chances are, you open only the emails you recognize as coming from legitimate businesses. You want to be safe and avoid downloading computer and phone viruses. So be careful about the return email address you use. Be recognizable, be clear, and avoid gimmicks.

The Subject Line Determines the Open Rate

An email subject line serves the same function as the headline on written advertisements; it greatly determines how many people will read the entire message.

Write several versions of subject lines and then test them all before spending money mailing them out. Search online for free headline analyzers, which is software that will tell you how powerful your subject lines are. Write many subject lines and test them all.

Know the 10 Most Powerful Words in Advertising

Each year a list is published of the most powerful words currently used in advertising. Without fail, the words ‘free, new and improved’ will always be included in the top ten. That’s why you see those three words used so frequently and in strange forms as copywriters struggle to include them in ads. After all, how can a product be both ‘new and improved,’ yet you see that phrase used all the time. Don’t copy that mistake, but use your common sense as you write your own subject lines.

Omit the Salutation

It’s not rude. Writing ‘Dear So and So’ to strangers will come across as phony, especially when you are trying to sell them something. Don’t do it. But there is an even bigger reason to not use a salutation — don’t waste that valuable space.

As people scan through their spam folders only the first sentence or two of your message will be visible. That’s all the space you have to get them interested in reading your email. That’s your time to shine. Make it count. There is nothing like a little pressure to make you do your best work, right? But you are used to pressure because you work in sales.

The 1st Two Sentences are Vital

Since the first one or two sentences are so vital, what should you say? Simple. Just follow the basics of good advertising. Name a need, a problem, a fear or a desire your recipient might be having. Be very direct; don’t lead up to your point. Like throwing a knife, do it ‘point first.’ Resist the urge to talk about the product you want to sell. You have to earn that right.

Keep it Short

How many seconds do you typically send reading spam messages that interested you enough to open them? Not many. We read them with our fingers poised on the delete button.

If you wanted to earn an MBA in marketing, there would be tons of information for you to study about writing powerful advertising. Since you don’t have time for all that, let’s boil it down to this — focus on your prospect.

Name the problem, the need, fear or desire, state the solution, then name the product that provides the solution. That’s all you need. It’s alarmingly simple, isn’t it? We resist the simplest advice we ever get because it is uncomfortable to hear. But it’s true.

Don’t Use Graphics

This is not art. Neither are you are not trying to entertain your prospects. Don’t copy the TV commercials that attempt to be funny. Studies show that people remember funny TV commercials, but they can’t recall what products the commercials were advertising. That is low impact marketing. So, don’t copy mistakes, especially the expensive ones.

Graphics also slow the download rate of your message. They crowd the screen on smart phones. Just leave the graphics out. Again, this goes against our instincts as salespeople, because we want to perform. But simple is better.

Make an Offer and Make It Clear!

An advertising message without an offer is worthless. I know that huge multinational companies have huge budgets to run ‘name recognition’ advertising campaigns. They are merely defending the market share they already have.

Marketing techniques that work for companies like Coca-Cola and Budweiser won’t work for you. Copying their methods won’t get your dealership any new customers. If you are getting dismal email results, ask yourself if you are copying what you see other businesses do with their advertising.

For your prospects to do what you ask them to, you must offer them something first. That offer puts them in a position where they will have to make a decision, to either accept or reject your offer.

To boil down volumes of information on marketing, making an offer is the most effective way of advertising. Offer your prospects something.

Offer them more information, like a free article on car care or a guide to smart shopping for cars. A free newsletter subscription is always popular. The list of offers you can make by email marketing is endless. Get them to accept something, anything, no matter how small you think it is, and that will take you off their spam list. Think of it, by accepting an offer they give you permission to email them again, and again. What more could you ask for? It’s been said that people need to see an advertisement on average five times before they will respond to it. So get their permission to send the next four emails.

Don’t Include Links

Links bring viruses. Smart people know that. If they are interested in learning more about your product, then they will go enter your website address in their search bar and find you like that. Don’t ask them to ‘click this link.’ Just give them your website address.

Don’t Worry About What Day or Time to Send It

Tiny advantages exist in timing, but the studies don’t all agree as to what the best tactics are. Just send your marketing emails during normal business days, Monday through Fridays, and during normal business hours. Any further fretting over days or times is needless.

Test, Test, Test!

Finally, success is built over time. Businesses that have successful advertising campaigns did not stumble across them, and they did not buy them. They developed them over time. That’s how it’s done.

Study your results. Don’t get discouraged. Changing a few words in your subject lines and messages can produce big results.

Change only one thing at a time and then measure the results. If your budget is limited, don’t spend big money on mass mailings. Buy fewer names but mail more frequently, so you can test your changes and improvements. Omit what doesn’t work, keep what does work, and improve it over time. That’s how you learned your sales profession, isn’t it? Therefore, you are well qualified to learn how to be successful in email marketing.

For more great tips on Email Marketing, visit Campaign Monitor’s post on “Email Marketing Best Practices