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Making the most of email advertising

Email advertising can be really beneficial for business if you take the time to test out what emails work best and which content people are interested in.

You will learn

  • How to build your mailing list
  • What to include in your email content
  • How to measure the results

How do you get the best results from your email marketing?

You’re missing a trick if you aren’t making the most of email advertising as email is one of the most popular online activities for adults in the UK, with 82% of them using the internet most often to check their email. Like any marketing, it’s not easy, but if you can master the art of the email campaign and develop a loyal customer base, email advertising can really pay off.

There are lots of things to consider when you start marketing to customers via email. You’ll need to develop your email marketing contact list, work on your subject lines, preview text and email copy, and measure customer response. This article will take you through the key considerations you need to be aware of.

Man working on his email marketing campaign

Building your mailing list

To be able to email customers about what your business can do for them, you’ll need to have their contact details. Developing your mailing list is an ongoing challenge, and you need to make sure that you gain explicit consent from your customers to be able to market to them in this way. Sending emails to people who haven’t agreed to receive your marketing emails is illegal, so make sure you have their consent before you send them anything. One of the best ways to build up a consenting list of interested customers is to include a sign-up form on your website. That way, when customers visit your business page they can actively choose to become part of your mailing list, helping you be confident that people are interested in what you’re selling.

You can use your social media accounts to grow your mailing list too. Host competitions with the chance to win a free product or money off voucher, or offer online deals that customers need to provide their email address to engage with. People won’t give their personal details away for free, so try and come up with ways to incentivise them to sign up and promote them on your social media accounts to build your email audience.

To give you a place to start, you could consider buying a mailing list, but make sure you do your research first and treat it with caution. It’s worth asking the seller to send a test email from you, with your branding and your message. You can then analyse the delivery, open and click through rates of that email to see whether that list includes people who might be interested in your offer. If the rates are low, you’ll know it’s not worth buying as you won’t get anything in return for your purchase. However, if you get a good response rate and the people on the list are engaging with your content, it could be a worthwhile investment and make a solid start to your email campaigns.

Subject lines and preview text

When an email lands in your inbox, the first thing you see is the subject line and preview text which help you decide whether to open or delete the message. It’s worth spending the time to test which subject lines get the best open rate using what’s known as A/B testing. You create two identical emails and make one change to a small part of content, in this instance the subject line and preview text, and send it to a small section of your mailing list. You can then monitor which performs best and send the best performing email out to your full mailing list.

But what makes you want to open an email? Personalisation can often be a great way to increase interest in your content, as using your names and other little personal touches shows that you care about your readers as individuals, rather than appearing to have sent a mass email to thousands of anonymous people. Adding a time pressure can also incentivise customers to open your email because nobody likes the thought of missing out on a great deal or something exciting. Asking questions, using mystery, or including emojis might also catch interest and increase your email open rates. You need to find out what works best for your audience by trying different things and following up on what worked well.

Employees developing their email strategy and testing subject lines

The main email content

Once you’ve got your audience and you’ve had a play with different subject lines and preview text to find out what works best, you can look at the main body of your email. You know what message you want to get across but you need to think about the best way of sharing that information with your customers. They’re not going to be overly interested in your business mission statement or your reasons for emailing them, but they will care about what you can do to improve their day or make their lives easier. Make sure the benefits of your offer are really clearly written and not hidden in lots of other text.

Will you use images in your content? With any marketing, you know that images have a big impact on the way in which the advertisement is received, and it’s no different with email. Include images tailored to your audience. If you know your target market are predominantly men aged between 24 and 35, include images of men in that age group to help them identify with your content.

Make sure you have a clear call to action in your content. What do you want your customers to do after they’ve opened and read your email? Whether it’s to visit your website, download a menu, or activate a voucher code, whatever you want your customer to do as a result of reading your email needs to be made really clear and easy to do.

Measuring your responses

As with any marketing effort, you need to see how well your email advertising is performing. We’ve already talked a little bit about this when we suggested A/B testing your subject lines, but there’s a lot more information to be gleamed from your emails.

Firstly, you’ll need make sure that your emails are actually being received. You can check this by taking a look at your delivery rates. Ideally, you want this to be really high, as close to 100% as possible, as a low delivery percentage means you’ve got some incorrect or broken email addresses in your mailing list.

Once you’ve made sure people are receiving your emails, you’ll want to take a look and see how many people are opening them, which you can do by looking at your open rates. If nobody is opening your emails, you’ll need to find out why to avoid wasting your time. Is it your subject lines that aren’t enticing people to take a closer look at your offer, or do you need to spend a bit more time developing a mailing list of people who are actually interested in your business?

You’ll then want to make sure that they’re actually clicking on your content. You’ll be able to tell if your customers are interested in what you’re sending them by the number of clicks your call to action receives. If nobody is clicking, you might need to make some tweaks to your content. Try changing the way your call to action appears on the page, and make sure that it’s optimised for smart phones, tablets and desktop computers, depending on what devices your customers most commonly use to access their emails.


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Written by:

Beth Ellin

How's Business content writer

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