Tips for Effective E-mail Marketing

You’re trying to ramp up your marketing efforts but things are at a standstill. Sure you have an e-mail list but, for some reason, you’re not getting the desired response rate. “Your e-mail list is important because it gives you a voice with which to communicate with your target audience,” says Lisa S. Jones, founder and CEO of EyeMail Inc., an Atlanta-based electronic marketing and communications technology company. EyeMail was a Black Enterprise Innovator of the Year finalist for 2010. “It’s a low cost, effective solution to getting your brand into the marketplace.”  But how do you effectively manage and leverage this list? Jones offers a few key pieces of advice.

Develop your opt-in strategy. You only want to capture the e-mail addresses of those who choose to subscribe, says Jones. Otherwise, you might not hit your target market or you could risk annoying potential customers. Here are some ways to develop your opt-in strategy.

  • Create a sign-up on your company’s home page allowing users the option to receive future communications from your company, says Jones.
  • Use any online and offline networking as a chance to grow your list. “When you’re at a business function, those e-mail addresses should be captured, saved on file, and categorized so an e-mail can be sent as a welcome message, adds Jones.

Organic growth is best. While entrepreneurs can buy or “rent” lists, Jones cautions against this method. “Your open rate is lower because you don’t have a personal relationship with those people,” says Jones. You also run the risk of missing your target market.  But sending an e-mail to those who opt in or with whom you have established some sort of relationship will aid in your e-mails potentially going viral and being forwarded to the friends, family, and acquaintances of  list members.

Engagement is key. It’s not enough to just send out constant e-mails. Strategically packaging and delivering compelling content is crucial. Jones is now working with Coca-Cola and Time Warner on e-mail strategy, and since realizing that users consume vast amounts of online video, she has customized 30-second audio and video messages for each company’s e-mail list. If you don’t include video, Jones says the e-mails should be informative or a “call to action.” You don’t want e-mails to equate to a used car salesman pitch. “By allowing more engaging content that includes personalization via audio [in addition to] e-mail,  response rates will increase more than 48%,” says Jones.

Measure your success: How do you know if your strategy is effective? Goals and metrics. Jones says all e-mail campaigns should measure: click-throughs, i.e., the number of people clicking to go to your site; the number of people who stay on your website or the particular webpage they were directed to by the email;  and sales, i.e., the number of people who actually make a purchase from your e-mail campaign. Jones recommends subscribing to a service that allows you to measure these goals, such as iContact.

Discounts, discounts, discounts: If you’re selling a product or service, one of the most foolproof ways to engage and attract new clients is through promotional incentives, says Jones.