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Using Email Marketing to Engage Your Online Community

It all began back in 1978, a lot longer ago than most of us remember. Of course, it wasn’t commonly called email at first but rather a number of names depending on what software was being employed. Once the internet opened up to most of the world, Electronic Mail (Email) revolutionized how the whole world communicated in written language. No longer was it necessary to wait days, weeks, or even longer to send and receive letters, notes, direct mail advertisements (junk mail), and greeting cards through the Postal Service. Written messages were now available all day and all night long with an immediacy never experienced before. Today, with more than four billion people using email on a daily basis, it isn’t surprising that marketers have found the technology a very useful tool to reach out and connect with potential consumers.

This year email marketing revenue is estimated to reach almost $11 billion worldwide. Even with the popularity of numerous social media channels, businesses are finding email a very popular and profitable cost-effective channel to inform potential customers of products and services. The average return on investment (ROI) can be $40 for every $1 spent on email marketing. Statistics reveal that two out of every three marketers use email marketing to distribute content organically and 81 percent of small businesses rely on email as the primary customer acquisition and retention channel. And receiving emails is also very popular with consumers. A survey by MarketingSherpa has shown that people would much prefer to receive promotional content via email than social media.

Building an effective and optimized email campaign requires time and careful planning, but once established and with the use of automated email sequences the channel can be very advantageous. But like every type of marketing vehicle, significant time and effort are required to get things going. So, what are some important techniques that can optimize your email campaigns?

With anything marketing, it all begins with planning and setting goals and objectives. The biggest mistake many business owners make is not setting measurable goals for email marketing campaigns. Identify an email marketing platform that best suits the needs of the plan. Several to consider are Flodesk, Mailchimp, EngageBay, Constant Contact, Sendinblue, and Klaviyo. Develop an email list of potential consumers and keep the list up to date. Focus on those candidates that opt-in to receive email messages and begin the process of creating subject lines and personalized messages.

Ensure the subject line is eye-catching by deploying techniques that have proven to be effective. Use a cliffhanger to attract the reader’s attention. Use humor and personalize the subject line. No one likes receiving a message from anyone when it appears to be addressed to “occupant”. Tell a relevant story so that it touches an emotion and summarize the message by creating an urgency to act. Each email should be personalized and have a first-person narrative so that it makes the reader feel like they’re having a one-to-one conversation with the sender. One out of every two email recipients will open an email based on the subject line alone. Once prepared, schedule emails when the targeted audience is most likely to be listening.

There is no perfect time to send an email but by observing some common, relevant personal habits, there are times in the day that are more likely to grab the attention of a prospect than others. Fifty-eight percent of email users check message boards when they rise in the morning. Daily breaks in work periods and lunch times are also good opportunities to reach out to recipients. Once an email program gains experience, analytics will provide valuable insight as to when emails are being opened and read. Make certain that emails are equally visible across all device types. More than 6.2 billion people each day are using smartphones. Email messages should be equally attractive and effective across all types of devices. Not optimizing for mobile devices will result in less than a full return on the investment.

Select a sales funnel that has an easy-to-use and intuitive dashboard, a wide range of email templates, and excellent integration that seamlessly fits in with the business’s persona and culture. Build the funnel so that it connects with the audience at every touch point including third-party solutions, landing pages, automation, and payments. It is important to remember that all things change with the passing of time, and savvy, experienced consumers are no exception to that rule. Consumer behaviors can and do change rapidly. Measuring the impact of email campaigns is important to adjusting future efforts to insure the best ROI.

A comprehensive attribution model can track a consumer’s entire journey from initial contact to the purchase decision, permitting marketers to see where on the email journey the conversion was best made. Data analysis can take the guesswork out of marketing and help increase the value of a marketing budget, improve customer experience, and understand what approaches, touchpoints, strategies, and tactics are working best. A selected number of core performance metrics that include those that are relative to an email campaign’s objectives will generate a manageable and meaningful set of results.

Above all, make certain that the email campaign adheres to the CAN-SPAM Act, a law that was enacted to set rules for commercial emails. Don’t use false or misleading header information or use deceptive subject lines. Tell recipients where the company is located and give the receiver an opportunity to opt out of receiving future emails. Set up internal protocols to ensure compliance with the requests. And above all, don’t over-saturate your contacts with too many emails. Most consumers are happiest when they receive an email from a brand each week. It is a best case where less is better than more.