If you think social media is a sexier and more profitable alternative to boring old email marketing, reconsider that assumption. In a recent survey, 77% of people claimed that email was their preferred channel for “permission-based promotional messages.” Direct mail? 9%. Facebook? 4%. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing has an ROI of $40 for every $1 spent.

And, after sending 1 billion emails on behalf of our clients, we’ve learned a little something about email marketing ourselves. In fact, we’ve determined there are five key elements to email marketing success:

1. Think of email marketing as a two-way conversation

Do you enjoy chatting with the person at the mixer that just goes on and on about how great their business is going without asking anything about you? Or would you prefer hanging with someone that asks about you and shares valuable and interesting information based on your responses?

Email marketing follows the same principle. It’s not a place to brag about your business; instead, it’s an opportunity to provide useful, compelling content to your prospects and clients. Think of it as a value exchange: give your readers valuable, interesting content in exchange for their valuable time. Email marketing is a vehicle to give your readers tips, tell stories and share special offers.

It’s also a place to show your personality. Be conversational and in dialogue with your reader instead of speaking in “marketing-ese” or in a dry “press-release” tone. Send newly opted-in readers a welcome letter that asks them to add you to their address book and welcomes them. Thank them for taking the time to sign up for your list and tell them what they can expect to get from you in the future.

Being in dialogue with your reader also boosts your deliverability rates. The right engaging, valuable emails to someone who’s opted into your list mean they’ll add you to their contacts, open and read your emails and engage with them.

2. Use authentic and transparent subject lines

Respect your readers’ intelligence; don’t try to trick them with deceptive subject lines. Undeserved opens make your reader lose faith in you. And we all know that losing faith means less opens… and, worst case scenario, the dreaded spam box.

This doesn’t mean you should be boring. Tantalize the reader – but do it with clever copy.

We love the Four U rules for subject lines. To paraphrase:

  1. Be Useful – show the reader how they will benefit from reading this email.
  2. Be Urgent – make the reader feel as if they need to open this email ASAP, rather than letting it languish in the inbox.
  3. Be Unique – intrigue the reader with unique language or a unique value proposition.
  4. Do the above in an Ultra-specific way.

More Tips for opens:

  • Use numbers (i.e., 5 tips to fill your seminar)
  • Encourage action (RSVP now for the seminar!)
  • Instill a sense of urgency (Limited availability! Act now.)

Avoid using these spam content filter triggers:

  • Sale
  • Free
  • Advertisement
  • $$$$$
  • ALL CAPS
  • Excessive punctuation

3. Test, test, test

The heart of marketing is testing and email marketing is no different. Split test everything: what day to send, the best time of day to send, subject lines, email templates and copy. Don’t just spray and pray that your marketing messages work; optimize them. (You can easily A/B split test with ONTRAPORT.)

4. Segment emails based on client data

Your list is one of your most valuable assets, as it contains everything your contacts have told you about themselves. From their indicated interests to their geographic location to the frequency with which they open your emails, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of each contact’s engagement with your business. Use the data to segment your list and send tailored content to each group. Some examples:

  • Send an email about a sale at your brick-and-mortar store to locals only, not to your entire list.
  • Send women and men content and promotions geared toward the different genders.
  • Send big spenders VIP sale offers and customer appreciation messages.
  • Send cart abandoners and those who have never purchased from you special incentives to start shopping with you.

5. Optimize your thank you page

Take advantage of every opportunity to set the stage for future engagement with a new subscriber. Here are some ways to optimize your thank you page and increase the value of your opt-in process:

  • Personalize the thank you. You just found out their name… use it!
  • Tell them how excited you are that they’ve joined your list and that you’re grateful they took the time to sign up.
  • Give them a preview of the awesome content they’ll be receiving from you and the frequency with which they’ll receive it.
  • Include social sharing buttons.
  • Ask them to add your send from email address to their address book / whitelist.

Now that you’ve gotten a hold of these five email marketing tips, you’re sure to foster existing customer relationships and snag more customers. Incorporate our five key elements for email marketing success and watch your email marketing ROI soar. (And yes, social media might be newer and sexier, but email marketing just plain works.)

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5 Key Elements to Email Marketing Success
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5 Key Elements to Email Marketing Success
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Take your email marketing to the next level with these tips for authentic, effective communication.
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ONTRAPORT
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