Elevate Your Email Marketing

Successful email marketing campaigns are typically defined as such because of their higher open and response rates, and ultimately revenue generation. Small businesses busy with everyday tasks often need a little help - a blueprint leading them to results they would define as "successful." 

Here are several suggestions to help you craft more effective email campaigns:

1. The Subject Line is Key
We have all heard the phrase, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Unfortunately, the reason that saying is so commonly used is because it is a natural instinct to make snap judgments.

First impressions are critical in all forms of communication. When people receive an email, the first thing they see is the subject line, which has the potential to either gain or lose their interest. Subject lines that include your company's name as a reference and provide specifics supporting your email topic will typically gain higher open rates.

2. Pay Attention to Who it's "From"
To understand how important this is, think about your own email inbox. Would you be more likely to open an email sent from "advertising@ xyzcorp.com" or from "nicole.merrett@sage.com"?

People don't want to feel like they are receiving an automated email. If readers don't see you putting time into personalizing the "from" address, they won't spend time considering what you have to say.

3. Mail Merge
People love to see their own names. It makes them feel as if the email was written to them personally and not sent to recipient #432. Online services have simple options to directly insert names from your contact database using a template editor.

4. Variety
Sending an email can be one of the most effective ways to grab readers' attention. However, if you abuse the efficiencies that email marketing provides, readers will stop showing interest in your emails. Consistency is essential with any marketing campaign, yet variety is equally important.

How often do you send out newsletters, event invites and updates that aren't just soliciting a purchase? Are you getting an active response from recipients? If not, try something new.

Be conscious about how many emails you send out each week or month. How are individuals interacting with your emails? Are you following up accordingly? How are you engaging the people that seem uninterested? Many email marketing services include click-through analytics that monitor which readers spend time with your emails or forward them along to colleagues.

5. Quality Over Quantity
It is far more important to send out content-rich emails than it is to send out long-winded or multiple emails. When you provide your contacts with quality content, they will be more inclined to read your emails and even forward them to friends. Gain the trust of your contacts by emphasizing quality of communication over quantity.

One option is providing information that they can use immediately. A seller of gardening supplies might offer a series of horticultural tips so that when a prospect is in need of planting materials, they will be likely to think of the insightful supply marketer first.

6. Content Suggestions
How can you personalize your message content? Listen to your readers.

The people who take the time to contact you are the ones most likely to become customers. Study their emails, questions, likes and dislikes. Build or improve products with your customers' input and they will notice that you appreciate them and they will be more likely to remain loyal.

Social media monitoring is one easy way to listen to and engage your readers. Pay attention to what customers are saying online about your services and your industry, and use these insights to create valuable email content.

7. Test Everything...
Test the way your email appears, not only through your own email service provider but through several providers. Test all links in your message to make sure that they work.

Also test your graphics. Images are a great way to grab someone's attention, but remember that they don't always show up in email messages. Test the effectiveness of your emails by viewing them in an email client with images turned off and making sure that your message remains easy to understand and that the call to action is clear.

Finally, test your email with a spam-check tool before sending anything. Spam-check services review email content to see what might get caught in spam filters.

With email marketing, you never need to settle for one formula because you will often have the flexibility to make improvements as you go. So, make taking advantage of trends and technology the constants in your digital marketing programs as they will help you achieve more tangible results with your campaigns.

About the Author: Nicole Merrett is vice president of CRM marketing for Sage North America, a supplier of business management software and services for small and mid-sized businesses.