Email marketing has been proven as an extremely effective way to achieve our clients results by creating new revenue opportunities and nurturing long-term customer relationships for them at a relatively low cost. But an effective email campaign can take a lot of time and work — and what works well for one business may not always work well for another.
This week’s blog outlines an ongoing email campaign we run for a client, that requested us to send at least 100K emails across multiple campaigns per week. The number of emails and campaigns were more than what we usually send, which we knew would certainly pose a challenge, but with our team’s collective experience sending out similar campaigns and some extensive planning, we knew were up to the task.
We started the campaign at the very inception of their business, something we had not previously experienced, armed only with a rough brief and a client who had used email before and thus bought a few ‘ideas’ of their own. With no target market definition, ideal contact list there was no way to know how responsive, accurate, or valid the recipients our lists would be — which presented difficulty from the start.
Defining our Target Market
Initial campaigns produced a fair level of response from the audience, but we quickly discovered that knowing the specific audience for each product/service was vitally important, the range of pricing, the appeal of products varying by job function etc, all showing us that we didn’t have full clarity on who we were trying to engage with, so our marketing and communications were a little more than a shot in the dark.
After analysing the initial data, we set up an in-depth discussion with our client, using our initial findings to define who would benefit the most from each email, we re-grouped, and decided that we needed to devise an audience profile for each of the products/services the company provided. Audience profiling would make the marketing emails sent more precise and relevant to each segment of the list or “Audience bucket” and will hopefully improve clicks and open-rates.
Each audience bucket is going to have different perspectives, needs, and requirements, and the more targeted our marketing was, the bigger the impact and resonance the brand would have. We split the segments into different business sectors such as, finance, HR, marketing, health, education, etc. Our goal was to solve the core ‘problems’ of the audiences and to help them achieve their goal by highlighting one or more of our client’s tailored products/services. An important thing to remember when creating marketing emails is that your marketing efforts aren’t about your brand, but what your brand can do for your audience.
Our initial set of emails (as requested by our client) were a mixture of light HTML and text only emails, arranged in the style of a formal letter introducing the recipients to the new business and highlighting the services they have on offer. Later we moved to a full HTML based email with 50% Sales/50% education and 50% text 50% images approach, with more focus on what the brand is and how the service can improve your business, which we found was more successful.
Subject lines also played a huge part on this campaign, we tested many different types using the “split-test” system, some included personalisation (e.g. first names/surnames), some were open-ended or questions to create curiosity but another tactic we used was to include their business sector for example, ‘… discount for healthcare professionals’. After conducting countless split tests for each bucket, we were able to conclude that there wasn’t a “one-size fits all” method, each sector has a certain way that they prefer to be marketed to and favour the content of the email to be related to the subject line.
We also tested a variety of Call to actions (CTA’s) avoiding the generic “click here” buttons for more engaging tags like, enquire, book here, read more, etc. so the reader has some idea of what they are clicking on. We like a majority of our CTA’s in the email to go the company’s landing page, as they are a great way to drive traffic, improve SEO, build the brand and generate leads for our client. We’ve recently adjusted the landing page content to reflect each email we send to offer a more cohesive journey.
The importance of including a call to action was shown clearly when we only had clickable link and no buttons on our original text only campaigns. We noticed that most of the text-only emails had a high click-rate but a low number of enquiries. As soon as we tweaked our HTML emails with various images, clickable links and CTA buttons, we began to produce a more focus stream of enquiries.
Link tracking is a clever way to gain more insight into your website visitors, which we’ve integrated these into our campaigns. A lot of the big players in business rely on it to ensure the success of their online marketing campaigns. With these, we can track the performance of visitors and gain insights on which links or pages are bringing the company maximum ROI, clicks or traffic, along with what kind of visitors or leads are visiting which pages. These insights have significant role to play, as we now have an accurate way of knowing if we made the right decisions at the right time or if we need to make any changes.
One thing Koju enforces in all our campaigns is ensure that the unsubscribe option is clear (this is highly imperative under GDPR), if a recipient isn’t interested in the company, they are not going to buy anything— so there really isn’t any reason to hide the opt-out link or keep them on our list. It is much better for them to unsubscribe themselves than to complain or report us (and therefore our clients) to the ICO.
Lastly, frequency played an important role too, we’d make sure not to miss out on opportunities to connect with customers who opened or clicked on our emails, as people don’t see every email sent as the visible area of the email is mostly only a fraction of the size of the screen. If the recipient was interested enough to click on the email, they may be interested in purchasing something from our client, so to stop these potential buyers slipping from our grasp we send them ‘follow-up’ versions of our emails – these will usually contain a time-limited discount or special offer to turn a “curious click” into a sale or enquiry.
Ups, Downs & Expectations
When we offer email marketing to small businesses, there are sometimes a few challenges that come with the territory. For instance, with limited resources often comes a great desire from smaller businesses to seek a measurable and usually, immediate return on their marketing spend – but the problem is that pulling off a wildly successful email campaign isn’t easy, even when the goals seem like they’re simple the logistics will often tend to get messy.
One of the ways we try to prevent some of these technical issues from happening is through “Litmus testing”, which gives us an idea of what the email looks like in other email clients (such as, Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.)
It’s very important for us to keep abreast of changes within the email clients, with the number of images, CTA boxes and HTML codes we use in our campaigns. One thing we while testing, was that background images appeared as a simple black box in Outlook – this really hurt us as it made some of our templates hard to read as the dark text colour clashed with the black backgrounds. The recipient won’t care that Outlook was the reason the email looks like this, they will think that the sender made an error or chose an odd colour palette. Despite it looking great across all the other email clients, Outlook is one of the main ones used in business, so after trying (and failing) to fix the issue we had to scrap that particular design.
It’s issues like this that customers sometimes find hard to understand. We can only make what can be built and delivered, email is NOT a webpage or presentation, and manoeuvring around this space will affect the way we design our emails, and the way we write our content. Many times we’ve created something that looks fantastic, but then have had to strip it back or scrap it because it looks completely different from our original design in Outlook or Apple Mail.
When working on a customer’s campaign, it can be slightly frustrating when you’ve put hours of work into a project, only to find out that the client has changed their mind about the design or content of the email. Without a clear plan up front, an email can often end up being a collection of disconnected ideas, lacking the structure to help recipient make sense of its purpose.
Koju Media is a company whose main objective is customer satisfaction and happiness, to avoid these issues from happening frequently we usually try to find a way to take client through our design process step by step and blend our ideas along with client’s preference to create a visual design brought to reality.
During this campaign we learned that sometimes it takes time to get to know a client – we can still produce leads and enquiries but only through completely understanding our client’s goals and target market were we able to produce campaigns that reached their full potential.
For targeted email marketing campaigns that deliver measurable results, speak to a member of our team today on 01628 091 081, and click here to read our Guide to Email Marketing and our blog on Identifying your Target Market.