Do you read emails from small businesses? Be honest! How many do you delete without opening?
Now, consider your own email marketing. I actually believe that email marketing is moving on massively and its important we keep up.
Email is such an important asset to a business. Following the GDPR and data protection regulations (which are due a big review again – you have been warned!), a personal email address particularly is a precious item, so that’s why we really have to make the most of everyone we send and what we say in it.
Why email is important
Email marketing should be a very important part of the content strategy for many different types of small businesses. If your business involves emailing people, i.e. communicating and setting up appointments, or capturing email addresses, i.e selling products online, then there is a very good reason to have a mailing list.
It’s a great way to get in touch with past clients and to keep in touch with warm leads.
I think the main reason I am a big advocate of email marketing is that it can be ‘personal’ and ‘mass’ at the same time. By which I mean, unlike social media, for example, where you are putting out the same message to a mass audience (all of your followers…or the proportion of those that your content appears in their news feed), you can send one email to lots of people, but personalise it, and it gets delivered directly to their inbox. There’s no algorithm to figure out!
When to send marketing emails
You have to figure out what the aim of mailing people will be. Importantly, with the email software available today your emails do not need to be generic, sending the same thing to everyone every time. You also don’t need to confine your email to being a basic newsletter – you can send imagery and video, as well as sending mass emails that look like normal personal emails.
You don’t have to commit to a monthly email either. You could send a quarterly round up (my new plan) or even send just an annual one.
…You don’t even have to send generic, newsletter style emails at all, if you don’t think they are right for your business.
Marketing emails can be much more targeted…and it’s something I am definitely investigating doing more of, out of respect for overflowing inboxes.
Here are some examples of when to send certain emails to certain segments of your mailing list:
- Customer birthdays – it’s a bit cheesy, but if you capture people’s DOB at sign up you can send them a small discount code near their birthday – ideal if you have a product-based and gift or clothing business.
- Customer anniversaries – if someone worked with you or bought from you 3 months, 6 months or 1 year ago, for example, why not send an automated, but personalised follow up email seeing if there is anything else you can help with or how they are finding your product or service.
- Targeted offers – Based on buying habits or knowledge of preferences, you can send information about certain offers or services to only those customers who you think will be most interested.
- Follow ups – do you have people on your mailing list who have inquired but never bought from you? Perhaps you could send an email to this group to see if they have had time to consider your offer or initial invitation.
- Real news – do you have something important to share …that will genuinely affect all or parts of your mailing list? Then, this is a great time to email them. It doesn’t have to be on a consistent schedule, but when you genuinely have something to share, such as a sale, special offer or change of business announcement, i.e. opening hours, location, leaving and arrival of staff.
Spam filters – Beware
A quick note on spam filters, no matter what you do if you use email platforms or software, such as Mailchimp, Mailerlite etc, they will get picked up by spam filters and if you include lots of images that can also alert spam. It’s frustrating and there is not a lot you can do. You can reduce your use of imagery. You can also ask subscribers to add you their safe list. However, currently, I think the advantages of using the email platforms as CRM systems and for the analytics you receive on who is opening and clicking in your emails outweighs the spam potential.
Making email more readable
Now, on to the more copywriting side of emails.
Firstly, whilst I have mentioned the ‘potential spam dangers’ of using imagery, it is still worth considering how you are going to structure your email. Make sure if you use imagery it’s not integral content if spam filters do strip them out. Use images, but also headings to help structure your email if you have a few different sections and key messages.
If you don’t want to use headings as you want the email to look more like a normal email (rather than a marketing one), use bold to help draw the eye to the most important elements of your email. As with most digital content, such as webpages and blog posts, we often scan through text before reading it closely, so those items in bold will jump out and help the reader swiftly decide if which bits they want to read the email more closely.
From recent research, I also believe, less is more with email. Think about the emails that you open and interact with – from friends and colleagues. If you open a long email, going on for reams, with lots of long paragraphs, you’re not going to engage and certainly not act or reply.
If you feel you have lots to say then I would consider if actually a series of two or even three emails would be better. Also, be honest with yourself. If you are sending the email to all subscribers or, even, a large segment, is ALL of that information going to be of interest to each of them?
I think there is also an argument to write the email professionally, on brand, but in a personal, one-to-one email style, rather than imagining you are writing ‘en masse’. Imagine just one subscriber…how would you naturally write to just them to tell them your news or about an offer?
Calls to action
Invite a reply or some form of action. As with most marketing, the idea is to inform and also encourage customers and clients to act, so don’t forget to invite engagement – a simple ‘hit reply’ or ‘get in touch’ is important. Consider also using hyperlinks and anchor text to lead subscribers to a relevant webpage, blog or product page to buy from.
Finally, work on your subject lines – these are still the biggest barrier to the success of an email. You can write the most engaging content, but if the subject line doesn’t encourage your reader to open it then all of that is wasted. Avoid any form of click bait. Be as clear as you can about what the email contains. Again, this is where focusing on just one topic within the email, and sending emails to a specific segment, can help – as you know clearly ‘who you are talking to and about what’
Read more about subject lines here:
Content writing for emails
If your business is struggling to get and convert email subscribers, then book a discovery chat via Calendly today. Let’s have a chat about your current mailing list, the emails and nurture sequences you are using and how you are segmenting your subscribers too. Together, we can figure out what email content you could be sending and that leads to more opens and more leads.