- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On January 28, 2015
- Email marketing
If you’re like most people, you probably end up with dozens, if not hundreds, of emails in your inbox every day. Most of the ones that aren’t from colleagues or friends likely end up in the trash, unopened and unread.
We don’t have to explain, then, why it’s so important to make your messages compelling if you want to run a successful email marketing campaign. But how exactly do you do that? How can you make your emails stand out from your competitors’ and countless others?
If you want to send emails that turn recipients into readers and readers into leads, it’s important to think ahead. Planning ahead will help you keep your emails organized and focused so they can draw in the people you’re trying to reach. Here are 11 ways you can take your email marketing to the next level:
1. Don’t neglect the subject line
This one’s in every single article you read about email marketing, but it’s impossible to overstate its importance. Think of it as a storefront—if passersby don’t like what they see, they aren’t going to go inside. The subject line is the only part of your message that 100% of your recipients will see, so you don’t want to just throw a few words together when you’re done writing your email.
Keep it short and sweet—the best subject lines are 50 characters or fewer and promise timely information or useful benefits for your recipients. Think about the emails you open as you go through your own inbox each day—what subject lines make you want to read more? See how you can use them in your own emails.
2. Know your audience
You know that you shouldn’t write the same way for everyone, but how do you know what to write for whom? One tool you can use is a marketing persona for each group of people you contact. Even if you’ve created personas before, take some time to think about each target group’s demographics, their jobs and day-to-day activities, their goals and obstacles, and how you can help them overcome those obstacles to achieve those goals.
Are you writing to prospective patients? Sharing medical information with your local community? Trying to recruit new doctors to your hospital’s network? Create a persona for each group so you can tailor your content to their needs and desires. Download HubSpot’s free persona template and give it a try.
3. Personalize your content
It’s easy to make your emails look like they’re written for individual recipients even if they’re being sent to a long list. Almost every email marketing program supports personalization tokens, which allow you to insert names, companies, social media handles, and more into your messages. Experian reported in 2013 that “personalized promotional mailings have 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than non-personalized mailings,” and you can insert any information in your email database into your messages.
4. Optimize for mobile
This one’s a biggie. More than 50% of emails were opened on mobile devices in 2013, and that number’s only going up. Smartphones and tablets are here to stay, so if your content doesn’t display properly on those devices, you can bet that it’s going straight to the trash folder.
Whether you choose plain text, responsive coding that scales itself automatically based on the size of a device’s screen, or a combination of both, your recipients will appreciate the compatability. Don’t forget to keep the sizes of any images you include small so they load quickly on mobile networks.
5. Make your content scannable
This goes hand-in-hand with optimizing your for mobile devices. Long paragraphs may work just fine in print or on a monitor, but it’s easy to get lost in them when you’re reading on a small screen. Short blocks of text are easier to absorb, and breaking them up with subheadings and images will help guide readers to the sections they’re most interested in.
6. Keep it simple
Another related area, but one that applies to the content itself. Fancy graphics have their place, but you don’t need them to create a successful campaign. Keep your copy simple too—cut any words or sentences that don’t help lead your reader towards your intended goal. On that note…
7. Set a goal
Don’t send any email with an express purpose you’re trying to bring about. Don’t let it become overly complicated, either—if there are too many parts, you may confuse your readers. Consider the SMART method and keep it specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound. If you have trouble setting a specific or realistic goal, whittle it down so you can spend more time selling your main point and less time talking about the others.
8. Give your readers something
Including an offer in the subject line and following up on it in the body of the message is a great way to incentivize readers. You can use this method to draw prospective patients into your hospital and the offices of your networked physicians. Even if it’s just health information, find out what your recipients are looking for and give it to them.
9. Include a call to action
The call to action, or CTA, is the central concept of inbound marketing, and it should be a part of every marketing email you send. Keep these straightforward too—even a simple “call me” can do. Using imperative verbs will urge your readers to follow through, and designing (or redesigning) graphical calls to action with easy-to-use templates can dramatically increase conversions.
10. Let recipients reply to a real person
A lot of companies, especially bigger ones, send marketing emails from something like firstname.lastname@example.org. We (and many others) think that using a noreply address is like campaigning with robocalls—it may work, but it doesn’t show the recipient that you care about them. Creating the impression that you care is of the utmost important for a hospital or healthcare organization, so make sure you send your messages from a real email address that recipients can see and reply to.
11. Try new things
Innovation is important in every area of marketing. Change things up sometimes so your emails don’t become stale. If you’re worried about making big changes, or if you’re curious about how small ones can affect your clickthrough and conversion rates, try running an A/B test. These tests are simple to run, and most email marketing software has the function built in.
You can choose to test two versions of almost any message component and see which one performs best before the message is sent to your entire list. Be careful that you never test more than one element at a time, however, or you won’t be able to determine which one was the determining factor.
Sending compelling email is hard work, but any step you take to improve your methodology can have big results. Every group is different, so the more you refine your strategy based on actual results, the more your content will appeal to your target audience.