Posted on 21 March, 2017  |  4 min

Our previous post looked at why digital marketing can be more effective for SMEs than traditional advertising, particularly with the smarter use of email, web and social media.

Of the three, email is so common it can be hard to cut through the noise. It often gets a bad rep because of the overwhelming amount of spam that's sent, pushing products like miracle skin creams and get-rich-quick schemes. Legitimate brand emails can also be frequently poorly executed. They can contain far too much information (or far too little) and are sent so frequently that you often unsubscribe all together, let alone engage or purchase.

Don't give up on email as a marketing tool just yet though!

Why? Because when used properly, email is nearly 40 times more effective than social media for customer acquisition1 .

It's a jaw-dropping stat, and reason enough to take your business' marketing emails more seriously. So, here are some ideas on how to make your emails as effective as possible:

1. Entice readers with your subject line

Making subject lines personal and descriptive helps to increase open rates. Adding elements such as the recipient's name or location also encourages them to click on calls to action within your email body. Steer clear of lengthy subject lines though because readers often lose interest when too much is said up front - 20 to 30 characters is plenty. When in doubt, there are awesome tools you can use which predict how subject lines will perform. Check out this one for starters - it's free! 

2. Hone in on the perfect email length

Getting the right email length is vital; you need enough copy to explain what you're all about, but not so much it puts the reader off. It's widely thought that the perfect email length is between 50 and 125 words, with engagement rates slowly declining as emails get longer.

3. Avoid the void of spam

There's quite a science behind making sure your emails aren't blocked. Simple steps can help, such as ensuring your content -- both subject line and email body - doesn't contain poor coding or words which could be flagged. In general, it's best to avoid using all caps, phrases such as free, join or confirm, currency symbols and exclamation marks in your subject lines. Want to learn more? Apps like Mailchimp offer great advice on how to avoid spam filters. 

4. Be persuasive, not persistent 

Customers are sophisticated; they realise you know which products they're interested in and what their purchasing history is. So use this information sensitively, not like a battering ram. Have a light and persuasive touch when encouraging them to purchase. Earn their trust by talking to them as you would face-to-face, and never be too persistent with multiple emails over short periods of time. Unsure of what your sending schedule should be? Try Hubspot's 5-step test for optimising email frequency.

5. Freshen the design

It's not just about the way you talk - looks matter too. Using an engaging full-bleed background image or a hero banner can help to grab attention. The way you use colours is important too; don't overdo it - use brighter colours for where you want to draw the customer's eye, such as a 'buy now' button.

6. Embrace new technology

Email technology is evolving rapidly, so explore how you can update your emails to give them an edge. Hamburger menus, carousels, sliders and HTML5 videos are just a few of the bells and whistles which can now be added. It's worth checking with your email expert to see what can be done to make yours more interactive and enticing.

7. Generic newsletters are old news

Don't simply invite your website visitors to sign up to your regular newsletter - offer them something more personalised and specific. The promise of information that's tailored to their interests and needs, rather than generic information, means recipients are more likely to be engaged and take action. 

8. Give customers happy landings

Marketing emails usually aim to do two things: convert leads to customers and engage existing customers through programmes like cross selling and up selling. You can improve your chances of success in these areas by up to 25% by directing readers to a customised landing page rather than your home page - with an easy link to your product or offer. Don't forget to optimise the landing page (as well as your website) for mobile, as almost half of marketing emails are opened on smartphones. 

The beauty of email marketing is that you can see what's working and what isn't thanks to apps like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor. These handy tools let you create automated workflows, funnel leads through the sales process and monitor stats like open and click-through rates - so it's easy to fine tune your email design and messaging to maximise effectiveness.  

Plus, when you connect apps like Mailchimp to a 9 Spokes dashboard, you'll get all your important campaign information alongside other key data like social media stats, website performance, financials and more! That way you'll have a holistic view of how your business is tracking. Pretty cool, huh? 

We hope these email tips and tricks help get you more clicks! Join us next week when our awesome SEM Specialst, Vin, gives us the low down on the analytical side of digital marketing. 

See you soon,

Ashley Truong
Customer Value Manager, 9 Spokes


1 Why Marketers Should Keep Sending You Emails