When we think of content marketing one of the first platforms for delivering our content that comes to mind is obviously email. It’s cost effective, instant, and in some cases personal. However, before executing on an email campaign we usually have three important questions:
- How do we segment out the content?
- How should the email be designed and structured to obtain maximum performance?
- How will success be measured?
The answer to all of those questions though is “it depends.” I could sit here and be like a lot of marketers and tell you to “do X, Y, and Z and you’ll see outstanding results.” Instead I’ll take the honest and humble approach and tell you definitive answers do not exist. If they did, agencies would not be cycled through every few years as clients search for that golden answer. What I can tell you is there are very good guidelines. Guidelines that if followed could land you in the top performers category of your industry if you align all the stars correctly.
Properly Segment Your Marketing List:
All too often we see people wanting to email their content to their entire marketing list. The problem though is not all content is for all people. It is important to take the time to segment your entire email list to enable delivery of relevant content to the proper audience. Segments you should be considering are industries, geographic locations, job responsibilities, revenue levels, and growth rates. In addition you need to separate your segments down to your “blind list” (those who don’t know you and your prospects) vs. your “Opt-in” list (those who specifically signed up to receive your content).
Design for Mobile:
I recently attended a webinar by Act-On who mentioned 50% of all email is being consumed on a mobile device. This means we have to optimize our emails to work efficiently on all platforms. Guidelines to follow are to keep subject lines short and to the point (4-5 words), keep primary content in a prominent column and if needed secondary content layered below or in a second column, layer your content so it can easily be scrolled through on smaller screens, keep links separated to make finger touch control on a touchscreen easy, and use small file sizes for graphics to avoid large data downloads.
When it comes to metrics there are two things to keep in mind:
- Your opt-in list will perform drastically different than your blind list.
- No email campaign will perform the same.
And when it comes to actual measurement, open and click through rates are a good start as they’re the two metrics with which we’re most familiar and tell us definitively if the email was read or not. However you need to take it to a deeper level. It has to be more than knowing if the content was read or not. It has to be about knowing if the user did what we wanted them to do after reading the content.
Start by placing your content in a hierarchy. Is one piece considered more important than another? Where did it fall in terms of consumption? Did your audience find it valuable or were they clicking and consuming something else you offered them? Cross-reference your web traffic during the email campaign release. Did you notice spikes in traffic? Did your pages per visit increase during that period, decrease, or stay the same? Did you experience new conversions? Did your key indicator pages which you consider most valuable to a viable prospect receive more hits? Every emarketing campaign should have clear objectives beyond just generating opens and clicks. Take the time to consider what you’re specifically trying to achieve with your email and then align your metrics to measure that outcome.
Running effective emarketing programs is a difficult task. It’s easy to consistently try and change your delivery strategy to encourage positive results. And it’s perfectly ok to adjust your email campaign to achieve those results. The keyword I used there though is “adjust.” Do not overhaul your delivery strategy and change too many things at once because you’ll never know what specifically worked. Instead, change one thing at a time and be ok with the idea that it will take time to perfect your delivery strategy. Areas to consider for adjustment are subject lines, delivery dates and times, headlines, graphics, body copy that teases your content, and calls-to-action. The only time to consider an overhaul would be if you’re experiencing results way below industry averages on your opt-in list.
Have you noticed a delivery strategy that consistently generates positive gains for you? Share below. Or take a moment to listen to Jason Mlicki’s recent podcast where he spoke with expert email market Ian Brodie on how to make email marketing work for the professional service firm.