How to Send Email Campaigns the Right Way

Howard Huang ninja | What's HuangI consider email the oldest form of digital communication.  Before a business considers signing up for any social media account they must understand email first.  Referral traffic from good email campaigns is a must for a balanced site portfolio.  Experience from working in different industries has made me realize that emails are under leveraged, improperly optimized, and often misunderstood.

Below are some of the most neglected considerations email marketing managers make when sending email campaigns.

Is Your Email Automation Garbage?

The truth about email automation is there is no such thing as an optimized email campaign.  The most optimized email campaigns are ones that require 100% manual effort.  This means that unless you understand your customer and custom tailor your email messages one by one you are ineffectively (to some degree) managing your email efforts.

Since most of us work with large email lists, sending emails one by one is humanely impossible.  However, I do have to mention that it is humanely possible to manage a list of 500-1000 emails manually.  With that said, just because you have a large email list doesn’t excuse you from sending garbage emails.  Are you guilty of any of the following below?

1.  Creating no customer segments?  Are you making one email and sending it to a thousand people?  What about sending it to a hundred thousand? (yikes)  The bigger your email list grows the more diverse your customers are.  Your email message is only effective to the list of people that find it relevant.  Don’t send your email to customers that don’t find your message relevant.  You can save money this way.

2.  Is your idea of email personalization addressing your customer’s first and last name at the beginning of the email?  Let’s be honest here, this isn’t personalization, this is just merely pulling data from your excel spreadsheets and dropping in a name token in your email template.  Don’t look at me and pretend that that is rocket science when its not.  There is really nothing “personal” here.  Real personalization is curating the message based on customer behavior.

Here is an arbitrary example of email personalization done right: A customer visits your website, adds an item to their shopping cart, and leaves.  You send an email 24 hours later at approximately the time they last visited your website reminding them they have an item in their shopping cart and recommending complimentary products to consider.

3.  Do you know your most loyal customers?  Your most loyal customers are the ones who opened your email multiple times, clicked on all of your links in your email, and continued on to complete a conversion.  You probably know all of this, yet you do nothing to treat them differently on the next email send.  Why?  These are the group of customers that love you and you’re ignoring them.  It is almost criminal not to treat them a little special.

Timing is Everything

One of the most painful things I often see marketers struggle with is spinning the wheels to determine what the best time of day to send their emails.  Sometimes email managers are even testing whether it is better to send an email on a monday morning vs a saturday afternoon.  I have to admit that I was doing this kind of testing at one point in time and I have always ended up with inconclusive results.  It has led me to believe that I was approaching this in all the wrong ways.

The best time to send an email is the last time your customer last opened your previous email.  If you do not have information of when your customer last opened their email, send your email by the last interaction they had with your business.  This could be the time they signed up for your newsletter or the last time they visited your site.  Send your emails based on last customer engagement to increase your chances of getting your emails opened.

Get to the Point

Running email campaigns has a disadvantage in that you’re unable to tell how long your customer is reading your email.  However, if I were to put my money on it, I would say that an overwhelming majority of people spend less time in their inbox and more time on websites.  If the average visitor on your website spends less than 2 minutes browsing your website, what makes you think they are reading your 1000 word newsletter?

Another issue with emails is the tendency to mirror your website into your email template.  I often get emails from companies that look like their website when I open them.  This is a problem because templates like these are a giant distraction from the message you’re trying to convey with your customers.  It usually includes 10 other links that the customer can click on that is not the action you actually want them to do.  The perfect email should have a theme that matches the colors of your website with 1 to 3 calls to action.  Emails need to be incredibly short and to the point.  Leave the fluff for the landing page on your website.

Below is an email from a hookah website I’m subscribed to.  Can you count the number of ways they could make this better?  IE: Way too many links, no clear call to action, not personalized, and too wordy.

Hookah Email | Howard Huang

Below is an email from an investing site I’m subscribed to.  It is clear, simple, with one call to action.

Investing | Howard Huang

Do you have any tricks of the trade?  What is one thing that you think is often overlooked when sending an effective email marketing campaign?

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