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According to Campaign Monitor, for ten years, email marketing has achieved the highest return-on-investment (ROI) for marketers, delivering $38 for every $1 spent. An eye-catching subject line, a strong opening, and providing valuable information before the pitch are all parts of a successful email campaign. 

Here are some email marketing fundamentals to help you realize that return. 


How to set up for a successful email campaign

Cultivate a targeted email list

To get the best ROI on email marketing campaigns, begin with a list of qualified leads interested in what you have to offer. To your list of qualified leads, you can share your story, promote your business and your products, engage with and hopefully convert recipients into paying and returning customers.  

To achieve this, you’ll need an email service provider — such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot (or the numerous others out there!) — to manage your audience and distribute your campaigns. You’ll also need a strategy to grow your email list. A basic way to do this is to have an opt-in form on your website where people can sign up.  

To accelerate your success, you may want to consider a lead magnet. 

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is something you can offer a customer in exchange for their email address. That might be access to relevant content; ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, free trials, and self-assessments can all be used as value-added tools to offer in exchange for email addresses.  


Personalized email marketing — segmentation 

Segmenting customers by groups can help create targeted email campaigns, making them more effective. Email list segmentation breaks subscribers into smaller groups based on defined criteria — allowing you to send more personalized and relevant emails. 

New to segmentation, we can start based on factors such as: 

  • Demographics: Who and where your audience is and how they’re different.  

  • Customer intelligence: Which products or services they are interested in and their spending habits 

  • Engagement: Those who open or engage with your communications. 

  • Activity: How regularly they buy or use your products or services.  

Let’s dig a little deeper. 


Demographics 

Geographical segmentation: Where your audience is located matters. If you cater to a global audience, think about segmenting by region. There may be a different tone of voice, offering, or time zone to accommodate. Equally, if you’re hosting an event you may need to think about who receives an invite. Do you want to send it to your full email list, or just to local contacts? 

Occupation or industry segmentation: Every individual has a unique set of pain points. Similarly, every industry will. If you can target your recipients by occupation or industry, you can pull out the common pain points and demonstrate how your product or service provides the solution. The age-old step-into-their-shoes approach.   


Customer intelligence 

New subscribers: You may want to send new subscribers a welcome email or series of emails to introduce your brand, products, or services. Consider offering a discount to encourage them to make that first purchase — or to come back for more. 

Behavior-based segmentation: What data do you hold about your customers? Do you know what they have purchased from you in the past? What actions have they taken on your site — do they visit and revisit the same pages? Do they add the same items to their cart before abandoning it? Which calls to action (CTAs) have they followed? So many questions! But this information can help you to precision target customers based on their behavior or interactions with your business.  


Engagement 

Open rate: If someone regularly opens your emails, it’s likely they’re interested in your business and are more likely to convert. You may want to reward your more engaged — or loyal — customers with a discount or alert them to new products or services.  


Activity  

Shopping cart abandonment: If you have customers who have gotten to the check out, but dropped off at the last moment, you may want to retarget them and encourage them to return to complete their purchase.  


Focus on design  

Design projects your professional image and should be on brand and clean. An email that is poorly designed or difficult to read can turn away readers. A responsive design with images keeps customers engaged.  

Similar to a web page, your email should be easy to scan and understand. Many people are using their mobile phones to read emails, so check that it's as responsive on a phone as it is on a desktop. 

Pro tip: always use alt tags, so people with images turned off know what you posted. 


Subject line 

A strong subject line informs the recipient while drawing them in further. Here are a few effective subject line styles you can use: 

Minimalist subject line: A direct subject line works for emails with a specific purpose like shipping updates or product availability notifications. 

"Your Product is on the Way!" 

Humorous subject line: Humor can reach people but is also tricky. Only use humor if you know your audience well. 

"Can Growing a Moustache Change the World?" 

Startling subject line: Get your audience's attention with a shocking or controversial subject line. 

"Why Your 5-Year-Old Is More Digital Than Most CMOs" 

Numbers and lists: Our brains are drawn to digits. Incorporating numbers into your subject line attracts attention. It's why the top 10 lists are so successful. Lists create curiosity and promise a quick and easy read. 

"3 Quick Steps to Deeper Sleep" 

Ask a question: Questions evoke curiosity or experience. The unusual punctuation of a question mark also stands out. 

"Would You Let Someone Else Pay Your Mortgage?" 


Test and track 

Each email you send brings in new data to help improve future campaigns. 

A/B testing is one way to compare and contrast the ROI for different design and content options. To refine and improve emails over time, you can test: 

  • Design and layout 

  • Email marketing copy 

  • Subject lines 

  • CTAs 

  • Audience segments 

  • Email send times 

Metrics measure campaign success and help you identify areas to improve. Important metrics to watch for your campaign, include: 

  • Open rate 

  • Clickthrough rate 

  • Conversion rate 

  • Overall ROI 

  • Email sharing (forwarding rate) 

  • List growth rate 

  • Bounce rate (returned to sender) 

  • Unsubscribe rate 


An inexpensive way to stay in front of your audience 

Even as the digital marketing landscape flourishes, adding avenues to connect with new and existing customers, email marketing continues to perform. 

Email can be a strategic touchpoint to convey information about your business, from promotions and opportunities to personal stories from customers and staff. It’ is a wonderful opportunity to build and maintain relationships in between sales. If a customer trusts you with their email address, use it wisely.