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The 6 Essential Elements of an Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing can be a powerful tool for keeping your customers engaged, creating brand advocates, and ultimately, growing your business. Before you start hitting “send,” however, you need a solid email marketing strategy. These tips will help get you started.

1. Give Your Visitors a Reason to Subscribe

Why should someone subscribe to your list? Defining your value proposition will help to inform every aspect of your email  marketing strategy. Clearly communicating what subscribers will receive in your emails beyond what they’re already getting from your website will help to increase sign-ups. Some examples of email value propositions include:

  • Special offers and discounts: Coupons, freebies and sweepstakes are excellent drivers for email sign-ups. The giveaways don’t have to be huge, either—it’s more important that they be exclusive.
  • What’s new: Fans of your brand will want to know what’s new and exciting as soon as it’s available, or even before. Previews of new products or content and invitations to test out new website features are great ways to make your subscribers feel like they’re “in the know.”

Potential subscribers should also be made aware of how often they can expect to receive emails from you, and when. Read 7 Ways to Attract Newsletter. Subscribers for more ideas.

2. Make Subscribing Easy

Have you ever looked for, but couldn’t find, a newsletter subscription sign-up page? Or started to sign up for a newsletter and gave up halfway through because the process was so arduous? When it comes to newsletter sign-ups, the easier it is, the more subscribers you’ll get. Here are some ways that make signing up a breeze:

  • Display sign-up areas prominently. Navigation bars, feature boxes and content pages are all placements to consider. Make sure that no matter which page of your site a visitor lands on, there’s a strong call to action to sign up.
  • Incorporate a website overlay. The AddThis Audience Targeting rule allows you to display an email collection lightbox that is targeted to each visitor based on specific user behaviors, such as when a user visits your site for the first time, has browsed a certain number of pages, or displays exit intent.
  • Take advantage of social media integrations. Many newsletter services like MailChimp and Constant Contact offer integrations that allow subscribers to easily sign up for your email list from your social media pages, without having to click over to your website.

Clearly communicate to your audience if signing up is a double opt-in. It’s not uncommon to have to confirm your subscription, but if users don’t know they should be on the look out for an email they may miss it, especially if it goes to their spam folder.

3. Use the Right Email  Template

When it comes to email marketing  templates, less is more. Choose one that is clean and functional. Colors should be eye-catching and complement your website design. Fonts should be easy to read. Use buttons instead of text for calls to action. Don’t be afraid to utilize whitespace.

As users are increasingly accessing the internet via mobile devices, it’s important that your template be responsive so it will work—and look great—on a desktop computer, smartphone or tablet. Many email platforms now let you test the preview in desktop mode and in mobile mode.

4. Choose the Perfect Content

Retaining email marketing subscribers is a matter of trust, so make sure that you deliver on your email value proposition consistently. If you promised marketing tips and advice, make sure you include those in an emailannouncing a new service your company provides. If you highlighted giveaways, make sure subscribers receive an offer shortly after signing up.

When it comes to content, keep it short and sweet. The average reader will spend less than 20 seconds reading your newsletter, so provide catchy headlines and scannable teasers for your content with links to the full pages. Put the most important content at the top of the email. Break up text by using headers, bullets, and most importantly, strong images.

5. Personalize the Email Experience

Making email marketing personal brings higher engagement—six times higher. It’s more work than a mass email send, but if you have the time and resources, it will pay off. Here are some ways you can personalize email marketing:

  • By time zone: If you know that your subscribers open emails at 7:00am, make sure they get their newsletters then regardless of where they live. If you use an email marketing service, this is likely an option you can select, making this a low-resource option.
  • By name: Include the recipient’s name in the email. If it makes sense for your brand, have the email come from a specific person, rather than a company.
  • By subject line: If you have users who signed up but never purchased goods or services, you might want to write a subject line urging them to “try this out.” A loyal user, on the other hand, might respond better to messaging like “if you love our _____, you’ll definitely love this new _____.” The emails themselves can be exactly the same—you’re just giving users with different behaviors customized introductions to them. Not sure of what subject line will work best for your subscribers? [JB1] Services like MailChimp allow you to A/B test different subject lines to see which one resonates more with your subscribers.
  • By content: Create a profile for subscribers to fill out asking them to choose their interests, and then create a few versions of each newsletter with either different content, or with content laid out in a different order. Or create offers based on those interests, like coupon codes that spell out a word related to one of the user’s interests. Additionally, in the copy throughout use words like “you” and “your” to make the email marketing feel personal, and keep the tone friendly and conversational.

6. Test Everything

Every successful email marketing strategy is informed by insights. As you play around with messaging, page layouts, templates, content and personalization techniques, make sure you are always testing, learning and optimizing. The only way to learn what falls flat, what excels and what reaches the moon, is by consistently trying new and different things.

For example, see how different messaging and page placement affect the number of signups you receive. Segment your list into 2-3 groups and try different newsletter templates with the same exact content to see if there’s any difference in click through rates. Try the same experiment, but with different subject lines, to see which prompts the highest open rate. And with each newsletter you send out, see which type of content is consistently performing well—and create and include more of it.

Email newsletters are easy to sign up for, but they’re even easier to unsubscribe from. Keep subscribers engaged by giving them the value you promised (and then some!), and you’ll see those open and click rates grow right along with your list.

The 6 Essential Elements of an Email Marketing Strategy
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