Over the past ten years email marketing campaigns have changed dramatically. In the past, companies would blast mass emails out and fill up email boxes with unsolicited bulk messages referred to as, “SPAM”. Consumers and email providers have gotten smarter over the years and have learned to block SPAM email with Spam filters and other security features. Also, many regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act have been put in place to help prevent SPAM.
With all the continual changes in email marketing, how do you know if you are following the most recent and best practices, abiding by the latest laws and regulations, while still reaching your target market? Well, you spend a lot of time researching and reading the most recent blog posts and case studies on email marketing, hire an experienced internet marketing company to help facilitate your email campaigns and use a well known and trusted email service provider to send your email campaigns.
Email campaigns can be very beneficial to a company’s success if done right, but very ineffective if not.
Here is a look at what the experts at Bayshore Solutions have learned through research and practical experience — our version of e-mail marketing’s “Who, What, When, Where and How”.
WHO do you send emails to?
The ideal recipients of any email campaign are consumers that have already taken some action with your company and given you their information. These consumers include:
- Customers who have already purchased a product or service from you
- Customers who visited your website and filled out a form
- Customers who were brought to a landing page from other marketing or advertising and marketing campaigns and filled out a form. Such campaigns include:
- Paid Search
- Direct Mail
- Television Commercials
- Radio Spots
- Print Advertising
Remember, a consumer who willingly gives out their e-mail contact information is considered a single opt-in. CAN-SPAM Email compliance encourages double opt-in email recipients. You can easily comply if you always send an automated email responder to new consumers in your database with a link for them to click, confirming they did in fact register their information with your company. There are companies that will rent email lists and send the email for you in an attempt to build your database, but in our experience the response has been lower than anticipated and a company’s internal databases get the best response.
WHAT type of email do you send?
First you must determine what kind of email you are sending based on company initiatives and goals. Some email types include:
Postcard Emails (Transactional)
Usually have an important announcement coupled with a special offer with one call-to-action. This type of email requires the consumer to take a specific action, whether it is to purchase, download or sign up for a product or service.
Newsletter Emails (Informative and Transactional)
Primarily for branding purposes and staying connected to you customer base by offering them information specific to your company and industry. Newsletters can contain call-to-actions, but they should not be the driving force of the campaign or the basis of success measurement.
Catalog Emails (Transactional)
Specifically designed to promote the purchase of the products within the catalog. Catalog emails are usually sent out on a consistent basis based on your products life cycle, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.
Trigger Emails (Informative and Transactional)
Emails that are automated based on specific consumers actions. Actions that trigger emails can include a download, a purchase or even a non-action like being inactive for a specific time period. Many email management tools have trigger email capabilities, so it is important to find the best one to fit your company’s needs. There is so much to say about Trigger emails so we will cover them in more detail towards the end.
No matter what type of email you send, there are specific things that should be included so you are being respectful to your customers, getting the best results, and abiding by the CAN-SPAM Act.
Items that should be included in the email are:
- Personalized Message
- Compelling Subject line (not containing SPAM trigger words like, Free, Act Now, 50% off, etc.)
- MarketingProfs.com has a list of over 100 words you shouldn't use
- An Unsubscribe Link must be included
- A Forward to a Friend Link, that can help add new members to your database
WHEN is the best time to send your emails?
The answer to this question is not so black and white. Regarding what day of the week to send. In general, studies show that sending emails on Tuesday is the best day to send emails and get a high conversion rate.
However, different industries and demographics may determine a better day to send. It is important to know who you are targeting and for what purpose. B2B emails typically have more success earlier in the week, before the recipient’s week gets busy. B2C email campaigns are not so easily identified because consumers can have very different lifestyles and schedules.
As for the best time of day, this can vary too. There are three times per day that have traditionally seen the best results.
- First thing in the morning around 8 AM: usually people get to work and have a chance to read their emails at this time
- Around noon: another time people have a break and tend to check their emails
- Around 4 PM: as people are wrapping up their work day or for receipt as they arrive home from work and check their email
Again these times can vary based on your demographics. Use these as guidelines when starting your email campaigns, but remember in order to get the best response, testing is needed to determine the best day and time for your specific target group. Split your list and send the same email at different times of day or at the same time, but on different days. Analyze your results to determine what works best for your consumers and industry.
WHERE do you send your emails from?
Determining what email management system to use to send your email might not seem that crucial, but it is very important. Here are some things to consider when choosing an email management tool:
- Does the provider comply with CAN-SPAM laws?
- Are they reputable?
- Can you upload your own HTML emails?
- How extensive is the reporting and does it cover the metrics that you need?
- Does it allow you to set-up trigger based emails if you need them?
- Will your emails be sent using a unique IP or shared IP?
- How do they handle SPAM complaints if it is using a shared IP? You don’t want someone else’s SPAM complaints getting you penalized because you are both using the same shared IP.
- If you use a CRM, is the email management tool compatible or better yet, fully integratible? For instance Salesforce CRM is fully Integrated with many e-mail manager tools including BridgeMail (the email management platform we use at Bayshore Solutions).
- What is the cost associated with email sends, is there a contract and does it fit your budget?
It is very important for your CRM tool and Email management system to be connected so your company and sales team are aware of the conversions and actions prospects have taken and have complete trackability for your email marketing efforts.
HOW do you measure email campaign success?
Measuring email campaign is a continuous process. To know what works the best and delivers the highest ROI, you must TEST, TEST, and TEST again. Using your email management system’s reporting features will give you information including:
- Hard and Soft Bounces
- Open Rate
- Click-Through Rate
- What links within an email a consumer clicked on
In order to completely understand the success of your email campaigns, we suggest linking your emails to your website analytics (Google Analytics works great — and some e-mail management tools include website analytics features) and a CRM tool. If all pieces are running congruently, the data that will be collected will be much more robust and better to base an analysis and recommendations for improvements on.
Your analytics tool with show the email as a referrer and then you will be able to track what other pages within your site they visited and what call-to-actions (if any) were taken. Linking the CRM tool to these pieces will keep all information about each prospect complete and up-to-date. When you go into your CRM tool, it would list exactly which emails each person has received, what actions they took (if any) and even whether or not they opened the email. So anytime someone from your company goes into the CRM to look up a lead, you will know exactly what communications your company has had with them and be better prepared to communicate with that prospect in person.
Just remember, it is all about your specific needs, demographics and testing to meet your company goals and initiatives
Trigger Based Email Campaigns are an effective way to reach out to your current customer and prospect database because the emails are based on their behavior, interest and recent actions. Trigger-based emails are sent in real-time and can be used for:
- Initial Contact with a new prospect
- Up-sell and Cross-sell opportunities
- Customer Feedback campaigns
- Shopping cart abandonment programs
- Customer Revival programs
- and more
Three types of trigger-based emails are:
#1. Transactional Triggers
These emails are typically responses to a consumer action. A consumer might have purchased a Cooking book online. The transactional email may contain a special promotion or offer for a similar cooking book or possibly cooking utensils if the company carries them.
#2. Recurring Triggers
These emails are initiated based on specific items within a customer or prospect’s profile. Items that will trigger an email may include anniversaries, birthdays or renewal notices. Typically a special promotion or coupon is included to encourage the recipient to take another action with the company. The Melting Pot restaurant has a great trigger-based email campaign for birthdays and anniversaries with discount coupons.
#3. Threshold Triggers
These emails are triggered when a customer or prospect reaches a point in a cycle. On Star is great example of using Threshold triggers intended to be helpful to the recipient. On Star sends emails reminding drivers when to get their tire pressure checked, a maintenance check up done or even when an oil change is due.
Trigger-based emails typically require well thought out and thorough set-up. Once the set-up is complete, managing and maintaining the campaign is relatively simple and quick. The first set-up item is to determine the “Business Rules” for your trigger-based emails.
- What are the factors that will trigger emails?
- Who get’s a trigger email?
- How often should one person get a trigger email?
- What are the trigger emails supposed to accomplish?
- What special offers will be included in the trigger emails?
- Which Email Management Tool will be used to distribute the trigger-based emails?
- Which CRM tool will be used to track actions?
- Which Analytics Tool will be used to track the website traffic?
Once these questions are answered, the next step is to implement them.
- Integrate all tools for complete trackability
- Design and develop the email’s HTML design and content
- Upload Trigger Campaigns to you Email Management System
- Launch Campaign
- Update Specials and Email Designs as often as you’d like
After implementation — sit back and reap the benefits. As your trigger-based email campaigns progress, make sure you’re monitoring and tracking the results. With all three tools integrated you will be able to analyze the effectiveness and determine the ROI of the campaign and make updates for improvements accordingly.
Email campaigns can be a very cost effective and successful when implemented correctly, especially when combined with SEO and other Internet Marketing campaigns. Whether you are planning to utilize a Newsletter, Transactional or Trigger-Based Email Campaigns, do your research first! Then test and analyze them to continue to make improvements.
Bayshore Solutions manages successful e-mail marketing strategies for our clients. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you achieve significant measurable results with your e-mail and online marketing.