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Simon Washbrook

4 + 1 Steps To Smarter Email Marketing

The founder of popcorn Email Marketing,Simon Washbrook, provides his recently published four steps to developing smarter email campaigns that add value to your readers and can increase your conversion rates dramatically. The below article originally appeared in PM magazine. For further details go to www.pmforum.co.uk

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When it comes to improving Email Marketing the first thing that springs to mind for most Marketers is: ‘How can I improve my conversion rates?’ Whichis then promptly followed by swift googling of the latest research on topics such as ‘improving subject lines’ and ‘ways to avoid the SPAM filters’. Doing this will probably improve your Open Rates by a couple of percent, but if you want to make a real difference to your Statistics, you should take your cam-paigns back to basics and ensure that what you are sending out really does add value to your Readers. Because you don’t, not only are your Open & Click Rates going to constantly decline, but your Unsubscribe Rates are go-ing to increase and you are going to damage your brand’s reputation.
Here are my 4 steps to developing smarter Email campaigns that really add value to your Readers and will, in turn increase your conversion rates dramatically.

1. Smarter email marketing: Understanding your Readers

A wiser man than me once said, that we have two ears and one mouth, and you should use them proportionally. Okay, so I know that we are doing Outbound Marketing and it can often feel like a one way conversation, but you need to understand what motivates your Readers to be able to send out content that they want to read, instead of a run-of-the-mill Newsletter. A few ways of starting this process off is to ask your Readers what they want to hear from you, this may be in person, via a customer survey or through a simple Email. By asking simple questions, you are starting a conversation, which will only lead to good things. Also, don’t expect your responses to come back in the form of an Email, it might simply be that you see an increased number of clicks on a specific link, increased sales, comments from your prospects, feedback through your team or an increased Open Rate on your next Email. Either way, it’s all good and as long as you repeat the exercise, you will develop content that your Reader wants, not what you want to tell them.

2. Smarter email marketing: Plan

I know that this may sound obvious but it always amazes me how many Marketers ‘wing it’ by planning what they are going to send out on the day they are going to send it or even worse, they send out an Email, because one needs to go out, not because they have something of value to share. By listening to your customers and working out what is most relevant to them over the next 3, 6 or 12 months, you can deliver content that adds value when needed and more importantly you will be able to plan each Email in advance which may enable you to outsource elements of the production.
A few things to consider when planning your Email schedule are: Topics (obvious I know, but I had to put it in here), Holidays, Trade Shows and Promotions. What you will find is that once you have these mapped out across a timeline, you will start to see the relevant content that is needed and when you need to send out. Also, don’t forget to communicate it out over a few emails before the date itself, so you can be sure that everyone has seen it and then do a follow up email to tell everyone about it. Once you have got this framework together for your content, start working on a few Subject Lines. Don’t worry about perfecting them yet, but having a few ideas lined up as it will make it a whole lot easier when it actually comes to writing your final masterpiece. And finally, keep your communications regular, it will help you plan your time and ensure that you are always at the forefront of your Readers’ minds.
We have developed a really simple and Free Email Marketing Planner template, where you can start jotting down your ideas to allow you to quickly and easily develop your Email Marketing Plan – Click HERE to download it.
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3. Smarter email marketing: Keep it simple

Now that you know what you are going to be writing about, don’t get carried away and write ‘War and Peace’, because your Reader probably won’t have time to read it. Always apply the ‘Ronseal’ approach: “It does exactly what it says on the tin”.

When it comes to your Subject Line, which is one of the largest influences on whether someone opens an Email quickly or even at all, keep it simple. Tell your Readers what they should expect to find inside, in as few characters as possible (9 characters is the magical one to aim for).
Next, keep your Emails short and sweet. Allowing your Readers to skim your content will allow them to pick out the information that interests them and click through for more information. If you make them work too hard to find what they want, they are more than likely not to bother opening your Email next time. The best way to do this is to make the phrase ‘Read on…’ your best friend. Finishing a sentence half way through will increase intrigue and link them through to your blog with the full article on it. Not only will this increase the on-going Open Rate and Clicks, it will give you the analytics, so that you can understand what your Readers are interested in.

4. Smarter email marketing: Experiment

Testing and Measuring is the secret to your success!
Just because industry statistics and other people’s success seems to highlight a great way to do something, it does not mean that it is the best way to go for your business. That being said your peers and competitors have most probably gone though a lot of the learning that you will need to do, so cherry pick the elements that you think will work and combine them to make an Email Campaign that looks right for you. Then once you have sent out a few emails you will be able to develop a benchmark for your database that you can improve upon. It is at this stage where you should start to experiment and break the rules, try tweaking an element at a time, perhaps using the same content, but a different Subject line. Or try changing the colour of your Call to Action Button and then measure the results. This can be in the form of customer feedback, metrics and spikes / drops in your sales. This type information will allow you to understand what it is that your customers engage with and then you can continually hone your Email Marketing for greater success and build the foundations of a successful Email campaign.

+1 Delivery

Okay, so the title should really say 5 steps, but this +1 has hopefully caught your attention, as Delivery is the most important part of any Marketing. Set the time aside in your diary to produce and deliver your Email Marketing, as when you first start, 90% of the time you spend on creating your campaign will be on the writing, re-writing and proofing of your content. So if you don’t allow time for doing this, you will end up missing deadlines or producing something that does not reflect your company in the right light.

About the Author

  • Simon Washbrook is the founder of the popcorn Email Marketing & Lead Management platform that helps you Win More Sales with:
    Smart tools to automatically and quickly identify prospects for you
  • Practical Birmingham based phone support for any Technical or Marketing questions around your Email Marketing
  • Find out how we do Emails Smarter and to read more articles & infographics please visit our blog @ www.popcorn.email/blog

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4 + 1 Steps To Smarter Email Marketing
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