Nowadays, there are so many ways of keeping in touch with people. If you use social media, how many times each day do you think you check your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. feeds? A fair few I’d imagine. Now tell me how many times a day you check your emails? Even with the plethora of social media available, email is still a key way of communicating with people…and customers. Email testing and tracking providers Litmus reported last year that 38% of emails are opened on a smartphone. That figure has likely to have increased by now. So, with even easier access to our emails, we’re checking them more and more often.
Over the next few articles I thought we’d take a look at how you can use email marketing to communicate with your customers. First of all, though, what is ‘email marketing’? Wikipedia defines it as “directly marketing a commercial message to a group of people using email. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. It usually involves using email to send ads, request business, or solicit sales or donations, and is meant to build loyalty, trust, or brand awareness.”
Email marketing can range from really quite simple to very complex. Think of Amazon as an example of the latter. The content of each email they send you is personalised, based not only on what you have previously bought but also on what you’ve been looking at on their site while logged in to your account.
There are loads of email marketing providers available, from simple-to-use right through to ‘Whoa! I need a Degree in computing to be able to work this!’ My personal favourites, and the ones I use for my clients, are MailChimp, Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor. Every system has their pros and cons, but the basics available across them all are the same. They will allow you to:
- Create and maintain lists of subscribers
- Create email campaigns to send to an entire list or a subset of it based on preferences they have expressed
- Determine how successful your campaigns have been with regard to how many people have opened them, and how many have clicked on links included in the email
As I mentioned above, more and more of us are reading emails on smartphones. If you’re a smartphone user, how often have you tried to read an email on it and it’s just too difficult? The text size is too small and the layout means that you have to zoom in and out and shake it all about, as it were. Many email marketing providers have become wise to this and provide what are called ‘responsive layouts’. When an email is sent, there’s coding hidden away in the background that can pick up what size of screen it is being displayed on. You have the ability to make text sizes larger for mobile devices and modify layouts to a degree. So, the email will make for comfortable reading whether it’s on a desktop PC or smartphone – and if it’s comfortable to read, it’s more likely to be read!
How much content should an email contain and what should it be about? When should it be sent? How can I tell if it’s been successful? These questions and many more will be tackled next time. In the meantime, take a closer look at those marketing emails you receive and see how likely you are to act on the content of them.