When your audience signs up to receive your emails, they expect to be rewarded for it. They expect you to add value to their inbox, not to clutter it. So, the challenge of email marketing is to prove you deserve the space you take up in their inbox. That being said, with email marketing, you already know your audience is relatively interested. Having a self-selected audience makes email marketing one of the most effective forms of direct response marketing. It's inexpensive and can deliver measurable ROI. Despite all these benefits, many companies end up driving their users away by using poor etiquette and not thinking about the actual needs of the target audience. The key to keeping readers focused on your business, is delivering relevant messages that are catered to the specific interests of users on your email list.
Here are a few tips on how to develop an effective email content strategy:
- Define Your Goals: Know what you want to say and don't waste words when trying to say it. Very rarely (if ever) do readers want to read long, vapid paragraphs, but you'd be surprised at how many companies throw away precious words on meaningless copy, typically within their emails. Most notably in pictures, companies stick small text under important headers that no one will read. If you're talking about a special sale or promotion, make it as easy as possible for the reader by letting them know about the promotion immediately. If you want to add some additional, informative messaging, keep it minimal - keep every word important and your email will feel important. A good rule of thumb is if you're reader will gloss over it, it takes away from the rest of your content.
- Target Your Message: A good email list should be well-organized and segmented, allowing you to give people exactly what they want. Let people choose what type of mail to receive and how often they want it when they sign up for your mailing list. Generic mass emails will typically result in very low open rates and click-through rates as they tend to provide the reader with less of the information they signed up to receive.
- Keep an Editorial Calendar: Although it may seem like a hassle, an editorial calendar is incredibly useful for helping to define and organize a content strategy, and keep all team members on the same page. You don't have to live by it - there are occasions where it makes sense to deviate, like a timely message related to something in the news or pop culture. Moreover, the best email marketers make use of welcoming holiday wishes such as Christmas emails that remind the reader that the company cares about improving their day - that it adds value to their day. This positive marketing helps to encourage brand loyalty, which makes the reader more inclined to open other emails when they come.
- Test Your Content: No matter how much you think you know about your brand, test out different types and formats of content. Leverage tools like Google Analytics in order to gain more detailed insight regarding open rates, shared/forward rates, unsubscribe rates, mark as spam rates, complaints, etc. This way, when you send out two different layouts of the same email to the same segment in your email list, you can see which performs better and utilize that information moving forward with your email marketing. The results may surprise you, and can only help you to perfect your email content strategy in order to retain a larger email list in the long run.
- Balance Promos with Entertainment: Because email has such immediate and measurable responses, it can be tempting to pump out promotional messages relentlessly. With a big list, you may achieve a few sales for each email, although you will probably have a pretty low open rate and high unsubscribe rate with that level of frequency. If you want to maintain the size and quality of your list, consider including non-promotional messages in your strategy. This may sound counter-intuitive, but the more interesting and relevant content you send out, the more likely your recipients are to open your emails and the more likely you are to make sales when you do send out actual promotions for your products or services. Nobody wants to be sold to, but everybody likes to be entertained. Fun emails about a related topic can go a long way. Keep that in mind as you develop your content.