Seven steps to creating email campaigns that convert
Written by Sarah Rowland
Last updated: 19/09/2016
With the global movement of superyachts, and the ensuing travel of the marine businesses that work to support them as they travel the world, email marketing is a great option for shore-based businesses to target industry decision-makers via their inbox.
With the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reporting that the success of email marketing was on the up in 2015, with ROI, delivery rates, conversions, open and click-through rates all increasing upon figures from 2014, Yachting Pages relays seven steps to creating an effective email campaign, helping marine marketers to take advantage of this prime opportunity.
Seven steps to creating an effective email campaign
1. Get permission
When sending an email campaign, you’ll first need a list of email addresses that have ‘opted-in’ to your communications, giving their permission to be contacted. Create an attractive online sign-up form with a strong-call-to-action to draw subscribers in, offering added value in exchange for their personal details - perhaps a prize, or insights in the way of content, offers and updates.
Second to gaining permission from your recipients is gaining access to their inboxes. Although nothing secures guaranteed email deliverability, AWeber recommends that ‘whitelisting’ works to the advantage of the savvy email marketer. In order to whitelist your emails, you will need to find an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that offers such capabilities, so that your email marketing can be readily welcomed into users inboxes, rather than being hidden away in their spam.
It’s also a good idea to get whitelisted on a subscriber level by asking your recipients to add your email address to their address book as a trusted sender. Simply provide instructions to do so in the initial sign-up email and the first follow-up email, facilitating your emails to land directly in their inbox.
2. Prepare and plan
As with all marketing efforts, there are several aspects of email marketing that need to be carefully planned for a chance at success.
You should consider the objective of your email campaign and the message or call-to-action that will help you to achieve this before planning how, when and who to send your campaign to. Although time consuming, these efforts should all ensure that your campaign is as welcomed, as good and as targeted as it can possibly be, backing those coveted conversions.
It’s equally as important to plan how to manage the expectations of your subscribers by emailing as frequently as you say you will - and no more or less. An email autoresponder can help you to ensure that you do not forget to only email your subscribers when you have something to sell. As CoSchedule Blog explains, an autoresponder will send planned content and messages to your set schedule, helping you to build a long-term relationship with your subscribers.
3. Segment and target
If you have been in business for a while, you should have collected a variety of information about your customers. Now is the time to use this information to segment your mailing list, allowing you to create targeted campaigns for each audience.
This could mean separating new leads from existing customers, splitting those who have opted for monthly emails from those who are happy to hear from you daily or weekly, and dividing those customers located in Europe from those in America, avoiding costly and avoidable unsubscribes and ensuring they receive a relevant campaign that’s tailored to their needs and requirements.
4. Produce great content
It goes without saying that producing great content is key to creating an effective email campaign that converts. Your email campaign should include a strong subject line, use appropriate tone and language throughout, and offer a concise message with a solid call-to-action.
Furthermore, you should construct a strong wire-frame on which to host your content. Alongside offering a uniform feel that is instantly recognisable and associated with your brand, your creative should:
- Give readers the choice of HTML and plain text versions
- Show your logo, preferably in the top left-hand corner
- Hold the most important information in the opening inches
- Be scanable
- Have clickable text and images with relevant landing pages
- Include an unsubscribe link at the footer
Your campaign should never be made up of one large image, as without text it could easily be mistaken for spam. Similarly, bear in mind that many (up to 60%) of customers are likely to have images disabled in their email browsers, and many will be viewing your emails on a small mobile device. Make sure to therefore include image ALT tags that are descriptive, giving the customer a good idea of what the email is about so they will have a reason to view it in full.
5. Test and test again
As we know all too well, things often aren’t as they seem. Before sending your final email campaign to your subscribers, don’t forget to test and test again.
It’s a good idea to have an email account with each of the popular email readers - Outlook, Hotmail, Google Mail, Yahoo Mail and Apple Mail – on which to check how your campaigns look and work, and to ensure that no clients are put off by any glaring mistakes. You should also try to test your campaigns on both a desktop computer and on a mobile device, such as a tablet or smartphone.
You should always test that all images and links are in working order, linking to the correct places, and that your email does not use obvious spam words and phrases by using a free spam-checker.
Once all checks are complete and you are happy with your final campaign, you can finally hit ‘Send’. It’s worth remembering that Microsoft Outlook doesn’t help you to track your results, manage unsubscribes, or remove bounce backs from your contact list, so you should avoid sending your campaigns out using this.
There are plenty of free and paid online programmes that are great for sending out email campaigns, it’s just a matter of finding one that works for you. Capterra has put together a handy list of free and low-paid email marketing software with a handy filter to find the right software for your needs.
6. Track and measure
The five key email marketing metrics for measuring the success of an email campaign are:
- Delivery rate: The number of emails delivered
- Open rate: The number of emails opened
- Click-through rate: The number of click-throughs generated
- Action rate: The number of people who open and action
- Unsubscribes: The number of people who no longer wish to receive your mail
It goes without saying that you aren’t going to get everything right the first time around, therefore you should use your campaign results to modify and re-test your email campaigns to find out what works and what doesn’t. The best way to do this is to use A/B testing to change one part of your email at a time to find out what works. Optimizely Blog discusses A/B testing in more detail, here.
Any email campaign is only as good as its contact list. You should make the time to nurture your opt-in database (and honour unsubscribes), ensuring to update it with current and verified contact details to allow for audience segmentation and effective targeting.
Remember, a high bounce-back rate means your contact list is out-of-date, while a high unsubscribe rate means you aren’t sending relevant emails to customers who want to hear from you, or you are sending emails too often.