Email Marketers' First Assignment: Brush Up on the Basics

EJ McGowan
by EJ McGowan 16 Jan, 2023
It is that time of year again! Students are stocking up on supplies and gearing up for back to school season this month.

A new school year provides a fresh start for students to try new things and put their best foot forward, and marketers can take a similar approach with their campaigns and best practices to make an A+ impression on customers.

In order to make the grade, email marketers must make sure they are acing the basics. Reviewing these common mistakes can help marketers avoid pitfalls and successfully craft email marketing campaigns worthy of top grades.

Earn an A+ by Utilizing A/B Split Testing

Similar to a formal education, testing is just as important for email marketers. Specifically, A/B split testing allows email marketers to test their subject line, images, copy and even time of day. As audiences grow, their preferences could change. The A/B split testing method should be the core tenet of all of a marketer's campaigns, as it allows the ability to determine readers' preferences and what tone the email should take.

All students should spend ample time before an exam studying. Similarly, email marketers should spend time preparing and testing their emails. To fully utilize A/B testing, create small groups and send test emails out to see which headline has a higher open rate. This lets marketers watch these variations go head-to-head, in real-time, to determine which is most effective for each campaign. A/B testing will also give meaningful metrics to better understand interests, preferred time of day and even determine if subscribers respond to terms like "act now!" Using this method on a small group of subscribers before sending to an entire list can make all the difference in ROI.

The ABC's of Email Transparency

Students don't like pop quizzes. This gives no time to study and often includes unexpected surprises. Like pop quizzes, no subscriber likes to be led on and not aware of what is happening. With the current market so inundated with products and services, many marketers forget that their messages can stand out simply by keeping customers happy. The mistakes email marketers make are using deceptive language and not following through with promises. An example of this is sending a survey out and saying something is free when it is not, or not disclosing that subscriber information is being transferred to a third party.

Good teachers often provide a syllabus upfront with a schedule of upcoming exams and projects. To mimic this approach, keep headlines straightforward and be clear about the entire process. Tell subscribers how long a survey will take them, when coupons and promotions end and what the next steps are to complete action items. Being transparent will build trust and loyalty and, in the end, create more engagement and sales. By using deceiving language, subscribers can become aggravated and unsubscribe after receiving false hopes of promotions or discounts.

Raise Your Hand if You Want Social Media Integration

Teachers don't rely on only one teaching method. Everyone learns differently and in order to accommodate the class, they have to use different styles and techniques to help a larger number of students. A common mistake that marketers make is solely relying on email because it yields the highest ROI. Oftentimes, email is thought of as the be-all, end-all form of communication in which marketers should invest their time and effort. While it is undoubtedly extremely effective, in order to maximize success, email should be used in conjunction with additional tools to have an impactful campaign.

Marketers should consider pairing emails with social media by including buttons in a message or a direct mail piece with a QR code that scans to a landing page. This gives consumers repeated messages and a consistent story line across multiple channels, which creates a memorable campaign. Make sure emails also follow a chain. Readers like to follow story lines and sending a one-off email eliminates that.

Back to school season can be one of the most exciting times of the year; take advantage of this excitement to brush up on the basics and reboot best practices. By going back and studying the basics, marketers can be sure their campaign is an ace.

About the Author

EJ McGowan, general manager of Campaigner, has more than 25 years of experience in the software industry with expertise in building highly available, scalable SaaS-based solutions.