Email Ain’t Dead: 8 Ways to Liven Up Your Email Marketing

We’ve heard all the arguments against email. Some say it’s antiquated—so 2003. Young people don’t use it.

Social platforms, chat apps and texting are where it’s at (until the next buzzy thing comes along). But email ain’t dead—and marketers should consider some facts:

  • By the end of 2018, it’s estimated that the number of email users will reach 3.2 billion people. That’s 43% of the world’s population. On average, each person has 1.75 different email accounts.
  • More than 280 billion emails are sent each day.
  • While 71% of the world’s internet users communicate via social media, nearly all of them needed email addresses to open their accounts.
  • And in the business realm, email remains the primary mode of communication. (Unlike social posts, emails can be saved, organized, and archived.)

There’s plenty of value in email marketing IF you know how to make your email marketing work better and harder. Here are 8 proven tips for more effective emails:

#1. Stay relevant.

If you want people to engage with your emails (open them, read them, and click through to your content and offers), then give them email content they can care about. Show them how they can use your ideas to add value to their lives or (if you’re marketing B2B) businesses. Don’t just announce a new product—show how it’s the best of its kind, and how your customers will benefit.

Warning: News about what’s going on in your business should be few and far between unless you can connect it directly to benefits for your audiences. For instance, ditch “Meet our new service manager” in favor of an ebook about “10 Repairs You Really Should Leave to the Pros (and Why You’ll be Glad You Did).”

#2. Speak to your personas.

This tip goes hand-in-hand with “Stay relevant.” Your emails will feel more relevant and boost engagement when you craft them to speak to specific buyer personas.

Why do personas matter? Imagine you’re an auto parts wholesaler whose customer audiences include corporate fleet managers and custom performance shops. Those are two very different personas. Not only would you be offering them different product lines, but you’d also probably want to speak to them in different voices.

#3. Optimize every email.

Every email you send has a lot of heavy lifting to do.

  • It has to get delivered.
  • It has to get opened.
  • It has to get read.
  • It has to get readers to your content

Accomplishing all these tasks requires a combination of science, craft, and art. Whether it’s the subject line, the call-to-action, the body text, or other factors, there’s probably room for improvement in your emails.

A/B testing is THE way to see which “tweaks” to an email lift your results. Say you want to see which subject line gets more people to open your email. HubSpot is one marketing automation platform that makes A/B testing super-easy. It takes a subset of your email list (say, 30%) and sends the “A” email version to half the subset and the “B” version to the other half. The best-performing version then goes to the remainder of the list.

#4. Watch the frequency.

Once a week? Twice a week? Every day? How much email is enough? How much is too much?

Research by Marketing Sherpa revealed the reasons people unsubscribe to emails.
The Top 5:

  1. Getting too many emails in general.
  2. Emails aren’t relevant.
  3. Getting too many emails from a particualr company.
  4. The emails sell too much and/or too hard.
  5. Content is “boring, repetitive, not interesting to me.

Notice that after reason #1, you have complete control over why people unsubscribe to your emails. That’s pretty powerful.

If you’re getting feedback (in the form of unsubscribes) that you’re sending too many, the good news is that CAN-SPAM provisions require you to allow your recipients to set their individual preferences around email frequency. Make the most of this functionality—if you can get someone to click “once a month” instead of “unsubscribe,” then that’s a win.

#5. Know your place (on the buyer’s journey).

Here’s another way to make your emails more relevant: Make sure to use language, tone, voice, and offer in ways that relate to where your audiences are on the “Buyer’s Journey”:

  • Awareness: They’ve identified a problem or challenge
  • Consideration: They’re researching potential solutions
  • Decision: They’re getting ready to make their choice

There are dozens of best practices for getting this right, but through your content, you always want to be adding value to each stage of the journey. Broadly speaking,

  • In the Awareness stage, educate your readers about their challenges, help them prioritize them, and demonstrate the consequences of inaction.
  • In the Consideration stage, help your readers understand the different available solutions, including their pros and cons.
  • At the Decision Stage, it’s time to directly speak about how well your solution addresses your readers’ challenges. Ideally they’ll respond by expressing interest in a one-to-one sales conversation.

#6. Remember we live in a multi-channel world.

When you put up a new blog post or create a new content asset, it’s just going to sit on your site unless you put the word out. In addition to email, promote it on every social channel you use. All the data we’ve seen (including with our own clients) show that the more you promote, the more site traffic you’ll get—so why make email carry all the water?

#7. Encourage sharing.

“Multi-channel” includes sharing. Include social and email sharing icons in every email to drive more site traffic and build your social following. Just remember Tip #1: Stay relevant.

#8. Publish a monthly newsletter.

This is a tried-and-true way to get your content some repeat traffic and build audience engagement (we do it with “Fresh Cut Threads”). It’s also super-easy: An intro paragraph, plus quick blurbs (with links, of course) about the month’s top blog posts, new content assets, new products or services, a third-party article you want to share, etc. Three to five “stories” per newsletter is plenty.

Email IS still alive and kicking (our clients will back us up on that bold statement). But getting it right requires ongoing measurement, testing, and improvement—on top of creativity and marketing smarts. Commit to constant improvement and you’ll start to find (and later fine-tune) the formula for better email marketing results, customer relationships, and business growth.