Why Email Marketing is Still Relevant, and How You Can Improve It.
Millennials think that email marketing is outdated, but it continues to be the most preferred channel for permission based messages, preferred for other content, and in fact, customer acquisition by email has quadrupled in the last four years!
Email marketing is extremely cost effective, and a medium through which one can gain a very loyal following provided that you create valuable content. Furthermore, email marketing is incredibly easy to track, test, and optimize.
- Get into a person’s inbox
- Get opened
Getting into the Inbox:
Your mantra should be: target, optimize, and test!
- Target and segment your email list, so recipients only get mailings relevant to them.
- Optimize your subject line, call to action, and mailing body to boost opens and clicks.
- Test and tailor until you get consistent high engagement levels.
Your mantra should be: clear, concise subject lines… and test!
- Clear subject lines are more important than creative subject lines, recipients need to instantly be engaged to want to open the email, and the content of the email should reflect the subject line.
- Concise: 50 characters or less, and personalization and localization is good.
- Test and tailor with every aspect, finding the best subject lines for delivery and opening.
- It is best to use A/B Testing
- A/B testing (sometimes called split testing) is comparing two versions of one web page to see which one performs better.
- You compare two web pages by showing the two variants (let’s call them A and B) to similar visitors at the same time.
- Only one thing should be changed, keeping all other variables constant for the most accurate results.
- The one that gives a better conversion rate, wins!
The A/B Testing Process
The correct way to run an AB testing experiment (or any other experiment for that matter) is
to follow the Scientific Method. The steps of the Scientific Method are:
- Ask a question: “Why is the bounce rate of my website higher than industry standard?”
- Do background research: Understand your visitors’ behavior using Google Analytics and any other analytics tools running on your website.
- Construct a hypothesis: “Adding more links in the footer will reduce the bounce rate”.
- Calculate the number of visitors/days you need to run the test for: Always calculate the number of visitors required for a test before starting the test. You can use an A/B Test Duration Calculator on vwo.com.
- Test your hypothesis: You create a site wide A/B test in which the variation (version B) has a footer with more links. You test it against the original and measure bounce rate.
- Analyze data and draw conclusions: If the footer with more links reduces bounce rate, then you can conclude that increased number of links in the footer is one of the factors that reduces bounce. If there is no difference in bounce, then go back to step 3 and construct a new hypothesis.
- Report results to all concerned: Let others in Marketing, IT and UI/UX know of the test results and insights generated.
The Obama Campaign
One of the best examples of the power of email marketing is President Obama’s first presidential campaign.
Most of the $690 million that Obama raised online came from email marketing. Rigorous A/B testing was done on all elements of the emails including content, formatting, subject lines, with often as many as 18 variations before the email to be sent was selected.
They kept constantly testing, finding that the most effective elements were:
- Subject lines with a clear, casual tone, such as “Hey”
- Elements of content that were surprisingly ugly, such as giant-sized fonts for links, or bright yellow highlighting.
- Profanity, limited to mild curse words, though these should be used in context of your own business, of course
- Bulk: the tests yielded a very counterintuitive insight, in that most people have a nearly limitless capacity for emails, and won’t unsubscribe now matter how many are sent.
In summation, if email marketing was the most effective online method behind fundraising for a successful presidential campaign, it should give one confidence in using it for any marketing purposes.
Its ease, inexpensiveness, and measuring capacity makes it an optimal fit for nearly all people seeking to increase their following and conversion rates.
Aliz Savay is a senior at University of Wisconsin-Madison, double majoring in Finance and Management and Human Resources with an Entrepreneurship focus. You can connect with her on her on LinkedIn.
For more information about this material, including the material that this post is derived from, explore this page, or take her Marketing in the Digital Age class online.