How to Be Successful at Email Marketing

There are two key components to successfully marketing via email.

The first step is the hardest: getting readers—prospective clients—to open your email. This takes creativity because you only get one line, or approximately 50 characters, to entice a stranger to open your email and see what you have to say. Motivational subject lines should include incentives in concise copy telling readers what you can do for them (rather than asking them to do something). When providing answers, solutions, or products that are meant to help the reader, it’s best to target a specific audience. This helps readers identify with your product or services. For example, ‘Need Email Marketing Tips?’ addresses someone with a specific need and offers them a solution.

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, an e-commerce consultant, claims that the word ‘new’ in a subject line will make an impact; add ‘free’ to the above subject line, and you may notice significantly higher response. ‘Need Free Email Marketing Tips?’ is fairly invocative, isn’t it? However, if readers guess that they’re being misled, the short term effect of their clicks won’t translate into long-term business results. A subject line is your first (and sometimes only) impression. So if you don’t intend to provide free marketing tips, or there’s a significant catch involved, don’t use ‘free’ just to spruce up your appeal.

Which leads to the second component of email marketing: once your email has been opened, what can you do to hold a reader’s attention? How do you translate their curiosity into sales? This is where your call to action comes in. The first call to action can be included in your subject line. For example: ‘Need Free Email Marketing Tips? Read This Email’ can work. But it’s not always beneficial to start off this way; readers may respond poorly to being asked or commanded to do anything before they’ve even found out what you’re offering. Plus, it’s not as concise a subject line. Rather than go this route, it’s recommended to stock the content of your email with smart calls to action.

Gina Watkins, Regional Director for Constant Contact, suggests a ‘call to action sandwich’ in the body of your email. At the top of the page, tell readers how they can get what they’re looking for (ostensibly by linking to your webpage); make it easy for them to get what they opened the email to find. Then, add a reminder midway through the email (which should be limited to three paragraphs, with outbound links leading to more information). Your strongest call to action should close the email, inviting readers to act only once they’ve had a chance to learn what you’re all about. At least three reminders are necessary to really hook the reader on your product or services, so remember that one banner link just isn’t going to do the trick, no matter how large or colorful it is.

A last trick to help readers open your emails and then click on links is to include a time-sensitive proposal (with an explicitly stated expiration date)—or to make an offer valid only through the email (by link or code). If you make these offers known in the subject line, the content of the email, and the call to action, your readers will have a hard time passing up your limited-time or limited-access discount, promotion, or giveaway. Ask Mad 4 Marketing how we can help you advertise through email blasts and e-newsletters.

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