Have you ever had that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that your email marketing could (and should) be delivering more?
You’re not alone. Countless CMOs and marketing managers have been in the same position. Everyone understands the value email marketing brings – it does, afterall, consistently deliver the highest ROI of any digital marketing channel – yet, more often than not, email marketing becomes an afterthought, rushed, and not given the time or resources it needs to send ROI soaring.
In this guide on the best practices for B2C email marketing, we’ll walk you through ten failsafe steps to create email marketing programmes that fuel growth, drive revenues, and build lasting relationships.
They will help you take your email marketing to the next level and show you how to create campaigns your customers will love. We’ll cover:
- Knowing your purpose & setting SMART objectives
- Planning & Strategy
- Data Collection & Management
- Subject Lines & Preheaders
- Personalisation & Automation
- Content & Interactive Content
- CTAs & Landing Pages
- Results & Insights
Creating market-leading email marketing programs is an artform that blends creativity with science. The best examples of email marketing look fantastic, have brilliant content, and – most importantly – deliver for your business and your customers.
If you want to get rid of that nagging feeling your email marketing should be doing more, here’s where to start…
1. Know your purpose & set SMART objectives
Your email marketing campaigns need to have a purpose otherwise it’s just marketing noise – and doing something for the sake of doing it. Challenge your team to answer: “Why are we sending this email campaign and what do we want it to do?”
You should have a clear purpose and a clear intention on what it is you want the recipient to do. Whether it’s getting them to book a staycation, fill out a survey, or simply nurturing the relationship you have with them with quality content – signpost your purpose and make it clear.
Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) objectives are a great tool to help with this. For example, something like: “We want to increase sales directly attributed to email marketing by 10% in the next quarter” would work a treat as would something simpler like: “We want to see a 5% increase in the click-through rate average for the next 6 months.”
With a clear purpose – and objectives to sit alongside it – everyone in your team will understand why your email marketing program matters and how to measure its success.
2. Planning & Strategy
Email marketing strategy is a clear articulation of what you want to say and why – to which set of your subscribers at what time – across a series of email sends. The strategy links your business objectives to your weekly planning.
Your strategy starts with what you want to achieve then maps out how you’re going to get there. It takes into account your focus (whether that’s acquisition or retention), your goals and your wider marketing activities (so your email marketing can support and supplement them).
Your strategy ensures that the time and effort to deliver campaigns supports your objectives rather than wasting time focussing on the wrong activity.
However, planning and strategy can turn into ‘death by spreadsheet.’ We love a good spreadsheet to help us plan our activity but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to create something complex. You don’t. Simple is better and infinitely more effective.
Start by simply getting a schedule in place for when you’re going to send your campaigns. Identify when your peaks and troughs in terms of demand for your product or service then plan your campaigns around these. For example, if you sell luxury cashmere wool jumpers, it’s unlikely May or June in the UK are going to be your busiest time. This could, however, be the perfect time for selling last season’s stock at a discounted rate or simply keeping your subscribers active with some great content.
In this case, plan campaigns that help build a vibrant and engaged community and then switch them up to more sales driven campaigns as soon as autumn hits.
3. Data Collection & Management
The success of your emails will, in a large way, be in direct relation to the quality of your data.
Good quality data forms the foundation of a strong email marketing strategy. Without it, it’s virtually impossible for you to fully understand your customers. Quality data leads to quality content, allowing you to create segments and tailor your content based on the information you collect.
Let’s start with the basics. So much of the success of your email marketing is determined at the point of data collection. Is it through your website, after a purchase, at an event you’re attending, through an offer you’re running with another company?
As a minimum, collect an email address. Once you are able to contact the subscriber, you can begin to build on the information you have.
However, your data collection methods should tie into your wider strategy. Whether it’s sector, business size, or location, consider what you need to know in order to qualify the individual as a worthwhile lead. Similarly, by keeping your strategy in mind you can ensure you only collect the data you need to move your efforts in the right direction, and avoid collecting unnecessary data that may go unused.
The more data you can legitimately collect on your customers the more complete a profile of them you can build. Through this, and understanding their behaviours, you’ll be able to create marketing content personalised to them by segmenting your database. This will give you the power to put the right message in front of the right people.
Why is this so important? Because personalised content leads to a staggering increase of 42% when it comes to conversions.
It’s also vital you keep your email marketing database in good health to ensure you don’t fall foul of data privacy regulations like GDPR. Regular data audits help to consolidate multiple email marketing lists, which not only helps to manage data more efficiently, in many cases, it can reduce the amount being spent on email marketing platforms (some charge by number of records, not number of unique contacts).
4. Subject Lines & Preheaders
When your email hits your subscribers’ inbox it has one job it needs to do first and foremost – and that’s to be opened.
The average person receives 416 commercial emails a month. That’s around 13 per day and doesn’t take into account personal and work emails they’ll also receive. If you want them to sit up and take notice of your email, then you have to stand out from the crowd, which means your subject line and preview text have to be on point.
The primary purpose of your subject line is to cut through the noise and to make people open your email. If this fails, all the hard work you’ve put into creating your great content, brilliant offer and optimised landing page will fall by the wayside.
At its very core, a great subject line will inspire people to act. It needs to be relevant, enticing, clickable, short and sweet (a maximum of 70 characters), and immediately elevate your brand’s email from the others competing for attention in the inbox.
Your preview text is just as important, especially as 24% of people will look at it before deciding on whether to open an email. It should supplement your subject line, strengthening and extending it while adding in extra detail as to what’s inside the email itself.
The best email subject lines are short and sweet, personal, relevant, persuasive, and give your subscribers a reason (whether that intrigue, inspiration, or anything in between) to open your email.
5. Personalisation & Automation
Personalisation and automation are two great ways to boost sales and build relationships through your email marketing.
Personalisation in email marketing isn’t anything new. For years, it’s been simple to personalise everything from subject lines through to the content of your email marketing campaigns based on the data you hold for your subscribers.
It works too. Email campaigns with a personalised subject line are 26% more likely to be opened , 74% of marketers say targeted personalisation increases customer engagement, and there’s an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalised experiences.
Personalised emails are more likely to be opened, engaged with, and have a better chance of driving sales. And now, with boundary-pushing technology like hyperpersonalisation, this can be taken even further with personalised content updated in real-time whenever an email is opened.
As for automation, evergreen, always-on campaigns (which, once set up, always work in the background) are highly efficient ways to nurture your audience while leaving your team free to focus on more tactical sends. The best examples of automated email marketing campaigns – whether that’s welcome emails, transactional emails, thank you emails, or anything in between – harness the power of data, then combine it with creativity and commerciality to deliver results.
6. Content & Interactive Content
Sometimes the content of your email campaigns will be simple. For example, if there’s a particular product you want to push and sell, your campaign will be product-driven. But great email marketing content goes much deeper than a simple sell.
The best email marketing content adds-value to your subscribers. It tells your story. Think about how you talk to your customers and the image your brand portrays. Take that and replicate it in your tone of voice. Good communication is about what we say and how we say it.
Use your content to paint a picture of your business. Are you factual and concise? Are you personable and friendly? Are you funny and informal? Are you thought leaders? Your brand’s story permeates through all your different digital channels. Telling your story effectively builds trust, respect and loyalty in your customers.
You can bring this to life and take it to the next level with the use of interactive content. Video in email, countdown timers, animated images, and more can all help your email campaigns stand out. Check out our Lookbook to see all of these in action!
7. CTAs & Landing Pages
A powerful call to action will define how many people engage with your email. There’s a reason it’s “call to action” and not “make them act.” You have to invite your subscribers in. You have to pull, not push.
It needs to be immediate, present, relevant and personalised. ‘Find out more’ is simply boring and lazy. Use the voice of the customer, use verbs and use simple language. In a nutshell, you need to find a compelling way to tell your customers to ‘Do this now!’
As with all copy, you have to align your CTAs with the tone of your brand. If you’re a fun, positive and energetic brand, a basic BUY NOW isn’t going to reflect this. Get creative and inject a bit of personality into your CTAs.
Call to actions are an area of email which often get overlooked. CTAs are not just the functional button at the end of your offer. They are an exciting opportunity for creativity. They determine that final decision to click or not – it’s the final hurdle to overcome and if the CTA is dull or irrelevant it can let everything else down. By pulling the reader in rather than pushing them to act, your CTAs will have a higher success rate. CTAs should entice, tempt and invite, not push, make, or force.
And once you’ve enticed them to click-through to your website, you need a landing page that’s fit for purpose. There’s no point putting your blood, sweat and tears into creating the perfect email only to send them to a landing page which falls flat on its face.
Good landing pages are clear, they don’t make the user think, they are easy to navigate, and they have a very clear message and action to take – and the content should work in unison with the email rather than simply repeating what they’ve already read.
Email is the launchpad from which your audience leaps. It’s crucial that the landing page makes sense and is specific to the promotion you’re telling them about.
Like the anatomy of an email, a landing page has to be created to make your customers do what you want them to do. Make life easy for them and they stand a much higher chance of converting.
In order to know what to change, you need to know what works and what doesn’t. As tempting as it is to use gut feel and intuition here, nothing beats a conclusive, evidence-based approach.
This is what A/B testing in email marketing gives you.
At its core, A/B testing (or split testing as it’s sometimes known) is an experiment where you split your audience to test different versions of your email marketing campaign in order to see which one performs better.
To run a successful A/B test, you need to create two different versions of one campaign, with changes to a single variable. As you’ll see later, there’s a huge number of variables you can change including everything from the subject line and the preview text through to images and call-to-action buttons.
Once you’ve created the two different versions, you send them to the same sample size of your subscribers, see which one performs better and then send this version to the rest of your database.
Deliverability is the measure of a successful delivery of an email to the recipient’s inbox, instead of hitting a spam folder or outright bouncing.
All the effort of creating high quality, engaging email campaigns goes to waste if they don’t end up in the recipient’s inbox. More emails landing in the inbox can only increase opens/clicks and conversions, which leads to increased return on investment and a better experience for subscribers. Everyone wins.
Think of deliverability like this; you wouldn’t build an amazing new house on foundations that could easily crumble. By spending time building your foundations, ensuring your email sends are technically sound and encouraging your subscribers to add you to their contact lists, you’ll greatly improve the chances of your email marketing campaigns being read and, therefore, being successful
Deliverability is hugely important to the success of your email marketing but is often overlooked. The good news is, it’s easy to get right with a little help.
10. Results & Insights
After all this hard work you’ll want to know how successful your campaign has been. For us, this always goes back to the purpose of the email and asking the question ‘Did it do what we wanted it to do?’
Email is such a powerful marketing channel to use because it’s so easy to measure performance. Alongside the standard metrics, like open and click through rates, it’s easy to link your emails to Google Analytics and then measure how the visitors to your site from email behave in comparison to other traffic sources.
If you sell products through your website and have ecommerce tracking enabled you can even go as far as seeing how much revenue each email campaign has generated for you. You should also be looking at whether your emails are being viewed on desktop or mobile in order to inform your design decisions.
To come full circle, go back to your purpose and ask yourself what a conversion looks like to you, what success means, and identify how you’re going to measure ROI. By measuring your results, evaluating them and learning from them you’ll be able to continue making stellar campaigns to wow your customers and give you the results you want to see. Analysing the results of previous campaigns then forms the basis for future campaigns.
At Jarrang, we help you find the ‘so what?’ form your email marketing results. We won’t just tell you what happened, but use this insight together with our industry expertise to provide the story behind the data. Our clients rely on us to advise and inform future planning from past learning. We use our expertise to act on our analysis, make recommendations and provide commentary on how to improve future campaigns, spot trends, and tailor your approach.
We understand, this might seem like a lot! But trust us, taking time to get the basics right and to implement these best B2C email marketing practices will ensure you reap the benefits in the long run.
We know it can also be hard (and overwhelming) to know where to start. That’s where we come in. Email marketing is our lifeblood. It’s what we’ve done every single day for the best part of 20 years and we’re here to help you.
Outsourcing your email marketing – or even small parts of it – will build the perfect foundations for incredible email marketing programmes to be built on. With the right agency at your side can give you the time, capacity and expertise you need to ensure your email marketing program delivers the results you want time and time again.
If you want to find out more about outsourcing your email marketing, we’d love to help.