If you’re ready to start using email marketing to convert leads and retain customers, there are two things you need to do: first, you need to plan a strategy for creating emails that follow email marketing best practices. Then once you have all the requirements in place for your email marketing, set up a process for measuring just how well your emails perform with your target audience.
But how do go about creating an effective email marketing program? Start with committing these 10 email marketing terms to memory, and follow our tips for creating and measuring a successful email marketing campaign that gets you opens, clicks, and sales.
Terms for Setting Up Your Email Marketing Program:
1. Contact List
When an interested prospect contacts you via phone, email, or a website contact form, you should collect and add their information to a contact list. Be sure to gather their name, phone number, email address, and product or service interest if they mention it. Build and organize this list using a spreadsheet or let automated marketing software do the work for you. Maintaining a current and accurate email list helps you to easily follow up with your leads with targeted emails. Plus, you’ll be able to track which contacts and leads you’ve sent emails to.
2. Segmented List
Another common email marketing tactic is segmenting your contact list based on your leads’ and customers’ sales timelines and current wants and needs. With this information, you can further target your email messages to specific groups of contacts. For instance, you can divide up your list based on your audience’s location, gender, or age if you’ve collected that information. Why segment your audience rather than blast your entire contact list with the same email message? Because consumers are more likely to open an email containing a tailored message that’s pertinent to them.
For example, let’s say you’re a pool installation and repair company. You’d only want to email a coupon for discounted repairs to those leads who’ve already indicated they have a pool, so you could create an email segment based on that information. Similarly, an email containing an educational video that explains the types of pool shapes your company installs would be a relevant message to leads who are pool shopping.
3. Opt In
Did you know that email marketing is one of the preferred ways consumers wish to receive permission-based marketing from companies? So, when they sign up to receive your email messages via in-store sign up or through your website, they’re telling you that they want to receive your marketing content, a process known as “opting in.” An audience who signs up for your email marketing is a better group of people to market to than a list of names you’ve purchased. Why? Because an email sent to a person who has given you the “green light” to receive your message is more likely to open your email than a person who hasn’t. (Note: It is legal in the United States to send commercial emails to a purchased list of names; however, some countries require that commercial emails go to lists containing opt in email addresses only. So be sure to check your particular country’s laws before sending your emails out).
Including an opt in form on your website that customers and visitors can fill out will help you build your list. They can also fill out a sign-up form at your store’s point of service (POS). While building a list this way can take more time than buying a “cold” list, your email marketing efforts will be stronger in the long run because you’re engaging with an audience who wants to hear from you.
4. Double Opt In
This additional step in the opt in process, which is required in some countries, helps your audience to affirm that they’ve signed up to receive your marketing emails. When you implement a double opt in process, a confirmation email is sent to your users after you’ve received their initial opt in request. They will open that email and click a confirmation link provided in the body copy. By clicking this link, users are verifying that they indeed want to receive your emails.
While double opt ins aren’t required in the United States, it is encouraged as an email best practice. This extra step ensures you’re weeding out any email addresses that were mistakenly or fraudulently added to your opt in list, thus protecting consumers from unwanted emails. By including only those names of people who want to receive your emails, you’ll build a stronger contact list, which in turn can help improve your emails’ open rates.
5. Unsubscribe Link
The U.S. CAN-SPAM Act requires businesses sending commercial emails to provide an easy way for recipients to opt out of receiving future emails. This process, known as unsubscribing, can be accomplished by including a clearly labeled unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email that readers can use. And, since CAN-SPAM violations can cost up to $16,000, compliance is vital for any emails your business sends.
These are emails consumers did not opt in to receive and may go end up in your contacts’ spam folder instead of their inbox. Spam emails can range from fraudulent (overseas lottery winnings anyone?) to simply annoying, such as when a company buys an email list and blasts its marketing message to unsuspecting consumers. Even if you’re sending your emails to people who’ve signed up to receive your messages, email service providers (ESPs) and recipients might still identify your message as spam. You can avoid this by writing email subject lines that will not be labeled as “spammy” by ESPs or your readers. The email marketing company, Mailchimp, recommends avoiding certain subject line phrases and punctuation, including:
- “Click here!” or “Free! Buy now!”
- Too many exclamation points: “Buy Now!!!!!”
- The use of all caps: “BUY NOW!”
So, make sure when you’re creating emails that you’re doing everything you can to ensure your emails reach your recipients’ inbox, and not their spam folder.
Terms for Measuring Your Email’s Effectiveness:
7. Bounced Email
After you send an email out to your list, you might receive a notification from your email service provider (ESP) that your email was undeliverable. When this happens, your email bounced. There are several reasons why your email bounced, which can include email system failures or outdated email addresses. Ensuring your email contact list is up to date with your leads’ and customers’ most current email information can help ensure your emails reach your intended audience.
8. Open Rate
When you send an email, do you know how many of your recipients are opening it? This percentage figure, known as the open rate, lets you know. While a low email open rate can be discouraging for any business owner, it can be a great opportunity to critique why the email didn’t work and what you can do to improve future emails.
For example, do you need to write stronger email subject lines? Or, is your audience the right one to receive this email? (See “segmented list” above.) Perhaps your emails are being filtered out as spam and are ending up in your audience’s junk folders? Taking the time to ask yourself these questions can help you to identify what may be causing low open rates. Then when it comes time to write your next email, you’ll know what needs to be improved.
9. Click-Through Rate
A common email marketing tactic is to include a link in the email’s body copy that takes the reader to a landing page so they can take the next step in the sales process, such as purchasing a product from your company website. (These links are often included as part of an email’s CTA). When you reader clicks on this link, it’s known as a click-through and the percentage figure of opens is the click-through rate.
Knowing how many readers have clicked on your email link will let you know if your email’s copy and call to action resonate with your audience. If readers disregard the link, it might be an indicator that your marketing message was ineffective. If so, evaluate your email’s content and CTA message. Was the message tailored to the right audience? Could the CTA be more succinct? Try testing a few different messages, images, and calls to action to see what works best to drive up your emails’ click-through rate.
10. A/B Testing
Don’t let the fancy phrase scare you. A/B testing is simply the process of sending two slightly different versions of the same email to two small segments of your contact list and then determining which email had more opens or click-throughs. Why would you do this? Because knowing which email had more audience success lets you know which version to send to the remaining names on your list.
To change up the email for A/B testing, you could write two different subject lines and track the open rate. Or, you could have the same subject line, but different CTAs in the body copy, then review which CTA link had more click-throughs. In either instance, it’s important to track how each email performed and then pick the more successful one for a wider audience.
Understanding how these 10 terms impact your email marketing and putting them to use can help you assess your current email practices and improve your results.
Do you use email marketing in your business? Does it help you drive leads and retain customers? Let us know with a comment below. And for more information about writing great emails, check out our blog post on email writing best practices.