How to Use Email to Effectively Communicate With Customers
Email is one of the oldest forms of communication around. As such, it consistently remains amongst the most effective ways to market to customers — and no wonder. It’s estimated that a staggering 320 billion emails will be sent every day in 2021.Over 320 billion emails are expected to be sent in 2021! Will your customers open and click links in your emails? Click To Tweet
If you’re looking for ways to generate sales and customer engagement, though, you have to be careful. Simply trusting to the sheer quantity of email being sent daily isn’t going to ensure success. You need customers to open, read, and take action when they receive an email. In other words, you need to effectively communicate if you want your email marketing to resonate with customers.
If you’re struggling to see results from your email campaigns, all you may need is a chance to step back and refocus. Here are a few email marketing best practices to help breathe new life into your online marketing efforts.
Keep It Short
When it comes to emails, the first rule is to keep things short and concise. If you use your emails to send copious quantities of text on industry topics or elaborate descriptions of products and services, chances are you’re not going to get much traction.
Using an email for detailed content isn’t just ineffective; it’s a wasted opportunity. Instead, post a product description or press release on your website or company blog. Then link to it through an email with a brief description of the content. This will allow you to benefit from both increased traffic and dwell time on your site (both of which are excellent for SEO). You’ll also simultaneously avoid bogging down your emails with details.
While brevity is a critical starting point, it isn’t everything. Personalizing each email that you send is also essential. Email walks the line between maintaining a respectful distance and being acceptably intimate. It’s more personal than most other mass-appeal advertising and less intrusive than a call or text.
As such, lean into the personalization aspect of your emails by:
- Addressing customers directly.
- Segmenting your messages (more on that further down).
- Avoiding tacky, sales terminology.
- Providing genuine value to the reader.
By personalizing your email marketing, you can encourage your audience to engage and interact with your brand. This is much better than treating each message simply as another advertisement.
Use Images Properly
Images are an interesting topic in the email marketing world. Sometimes they’re viewed as a net negative that can send your email to the spam filter. Other times, they’re seen as the most crucial element of your pitch.
Most often, the true value lies somewhere in between. The truth is, there’s nothing like an image to help sell a product. When someone hears information, they only retain 10% of it within the next three days. When they associate a relevant image with the same information, the retention rate jumps to 65%.
In other words, images can be an excellent way to reinforce and even summarize text-based information, as is the case with infographics.
With that said, images can also cause trouble when they aren’t used properly. For instance, if too many images or even one high-quality, larger image is added to an email, it can make it difficult to download. Additionally, an overabundance of images can lead to messages being flagged as spam.
As with most things in life, moderation is key. Only use select images when composing emails. Also, ensure their file size is as small as possible without significantly affecting their quality.
Identify a Reason for Each Email
Creating and maintaining an email marketing plan is essential to finding success. Simply sending out emails inconsistently and irregularly can lead to erratic open rates and uncertain results.
Instead, always consider the reason you’re sending each email. Are you announcing a new product or promotion? Is it part of a larger marketing campaign? Are you sharing a newsletter or relaying breaking industry news?
Identifying the reason for each email ensures that:
- It can be crafted to uniquely resonate with your readership.
- You provide an email that clearly and genuinely benefits your customers.
- You don’t send too many emails too close together.
While you want to make the most of your email list, sending emails too often or for insignificant reasons can quickly undercut your entire email marketing strategy’s effectiveness.
Include a Clear Call to Action
Along with having an obvious reason to send an email in the first place, you should provide a clear call to action (CTA) in every communiqué. This can be a request to claim a promotion, a link leading to further information, or anything that asks the reader to reasonably engage.
A good email CTA should make a direct request for an action to be made, should be simple and easy to follow, and shouldn’t require payment. For instance, “Click here to read more about our current $5 off Christmas promotion” is a good CTA. It is direct, clear, and requires action.
A good CTA can improve brand and product awareness and invite positive engagement from subscribers. It can also generally increase SEO and other metrics concerning your email, website, and other online marketing.
Communicate With the Subject Line
The first step in properly communicating with customers via email is your subject line. It doesn’t matter how excellent your content may be; if your subject line is weak, chances are most of your followers will never even open the message.It doesn’t matter how excellent your email may be; if your subject is weak, your subscribers will never even open the message. Click To Tweet
With that in mind, always strive to craft a high-quality subject line. Tips to consider include:
- Avoiding excessive emoticons, capital letters, or exclamation points.
- Carefully checking your subject lines for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Placing the most important words at the beginning of the subject line.
- Trying to include your company name, if possible.
- Making sure the subject line is genuinely relevant to the email’s content.
- Including deadlines, the need for a response, or any other unique information.
- Creating a complete statement, not a sentence that is finished in the email body.
- Staying as short and simple as possible.
If you want predictable, effective email campaigns for the foreseeable future, you must codify your company’s email best practices into a single location. A code of conduct can be the perfect solution. This delineates how you expect your employees to behave when composing, sending, and responding to emails.
A thorough code of conduct should address a variety of different items. For instance, make sure to cover subject lines, content, voice and tone, layout, design, best times to send emails, and any other factors that must remain consistent over time.
Segment and Automate
If you’re already composing well-crafted emails that aren’t too short, have appropriate supporting images, and include a killer subject line and you still aren’t generating traffic, you may want to dig a little deeper. While personalization was already brought up, if you want to take the “personal” element a step further, you can do so by segmenting your email list.
Segmentation can happen in a variety of different ways. For instance, you can segment a list by country or state. This allows you to send emails that are specifically tailored to a particular geographic population. You can also segment a list if you receive a batch of new subscribers from a specific event, such as “2020 Educational Convention” or “Greater Rochester Area Music Festival.” This provides you with a subset of email subscribers that you can send highly targeted messages to.
Along with segmentation, you can also set up automated emails. This is an email or collection of emails sent when triggered by a behavior or a specific time. For instance, if you have a signup on your website’s home page, you can have an automated email sent when someone signs up. You can then have two or three other emails automatically sent at specific times after the first email arrives. These can inform the new subscriber about your product line or your company’s mission statement.
Finding Success with Email Campaigns in 2020
Emails are an excellent way to foster customer loyalty, build brand awareness, and generate sales. However, they can only be used effectively when they are created with thought and consideration. From personalization and segmentation to a code of conduct that addresses voice, tone, style, layout, images, subject lines, and calls to action, many factors can make or break your email marketing.
Try to start with a viable email marketing plan and then incorporate the above best practices as you go along. In this way, you’ll be able to get the most out of your email marketing endeavors in the months and years ahead.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity, marketing strategies, and UX. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter.
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