Email Marketing: 5 Secrets that Separate the Pros from the Amateurs

Email marketing is big.  It’s no wonder if you consider these interesting facts about email users:

•    67% say the motivation behind giving their email address to a company is to receive discounts and promotions.
•    57% said they are more apt to buy a product in a store after getting a marketing email.
•    Email is the preferred method of commercial communication by 74% of all online adults.

If email is a part of your marketing plans – or if you want to improve the performance of your email campaigns – read on to learn five secrets that separate the pros from those dabbling in email marketing.

1. Pros wireframe first.

What is it?
A wireframe is a sketch showing the layout and functionality of the email template based on marketing objectives and how they want a customer to interact with the email.  This is completed before the design phase.  Pros typically test various wireframe designs using real email users to determine which layout will perform best.

What Amateurs Do.
Wing it. After all, email is free, isn’t it?  Who cares if it really works all that well?

Why the Pros Do It.
Email isn’t free.  In fact, one poorly designed email can risk losing a lot more than money; it can put your brand at risk by telling customers that you are willing to cut corners – even if it confuses them.  Plan poorly and risk a slew of unsubscribes or, worse yet, lost customers and revenue. Pros take time to wireframe.

2. Pros test.

What is it?
Email marketers use A/B Split tests to compare response to messages, creative and offers between sets of randomly-selected recipients.  By analyzing the results of these tests, the Pro develops best practices to improve the performance of their email campaigns.

What Amateurs Do.
Avoid testing – and when their email program isn’t working as well as it could, they usually give up and move on.

Why the Pros Do It.
Testing produces better, more effective emails.  Test subject lines for open rate and deliverability; test offers for click-thrus and purchases; and test creative and copy for read rate and click-thrus.  A robust email system makes A/B testing easier than manual systems.  Pros take time to test.

3. Pros develop triggered campaigns.

What is it?
With fully automated, triggered e-mail campaigns, you essentially start a conversation with customers and allow pre-determined business rules to help you engage customers at critical moments in time. Triggered messages or a sequence of messages can be automatically set to respond to certain customer behaviors and events.

What Amateurs Do.
Send one-sided emails and fail to plan for events.  In many cases, amateurs don’t even know this tactic exists.

Why the Pros Do It.
It works.  Engaging customers in a conversation based on their actions – such as when they open an email, delete an email, click a link, make a purchase, celebrate a birthday or register for an account – creates a more personal experience.  This allows the Pro to build and strengthen customer relationships; evoke positive feelings about their company’s brand; and, drive prospects and customers to act. Pros put time and effort into developing triggered email campaigns.

4. Pros use shopping cart abandonment tools.

What is it?
Studies show that up to 70% of all online shoppers never complete the purchase – abandoning their shopping cart before the transaction is complete.  Shopping cart abandonment emails are an easy way to entice a customer back and drive incremental revenue.  If a customer thought enough about something to place it in her shopping cart, but didn’t make the purchase, she may have been distracted or is still contemplating the purchase. By sending a reminder after a defined period of time (i.e. when the cart has been abandoned for three hours) you may spur her into action. Free shipping offers and discounts to purchase within seven days are also effective triggers, but should be used intermittently, so as not to train a consumer to wait for the discount.

What Amateurs Do.
Ignore the problem.  After all, capturing this lost revenue couldn’t be as simple as a line of code on their website and a good email system, could it?

Why the Pros Do It.
It makes money.  There are several online calculators (our favorite is http://www.listrak.com/Solutions/Cart-Recovery-Calculator.aspx) that can give you an idea of how much revenue you stand to recoup with a shopping cart abandonment program.  But it’s a major challenge that needs to be addressed if you sell online – after all, eTailers lose $18 Billion each year in abandoned shopping carts.  Pros accept this challenge and do something about it.

5. Pros analyze.

What is it?
Email analytics are reports that show key statistics which outline customer behavior as they interact with your email marketing.  Statistics such as bounce rate, open rate and link maps can help you improve the performance of your email marketing program over time.

What Amateurs Do.
Don’t understand it. Or if they do understand the numbers, they don’t know what to do with the data to make measurable improvements.

Why the Pros Do It.
The secret to improvement is to understand cause and effect.  The numbers don’t lie.  Email marketers start at the beginning, with improving deliverability.  Then, they move on to understanding subject lines and delivery times to improve open rate.  After an email is opened, the Pro analyzes click-thru and conversion rates to improve response.  Ultimately, improvement in conversion rate increases lead generation, revenue and builds stronger customer relationships.  Pros never accept ‘good enough’.

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Synapse creates results-driven email programs for major retailers, manufacturers and other leading businesses in a variety of industries.  If you want better results immediately from your email marketing, contact the Pros at Synapse for a free email consultation. [email protected]

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