One of the key bonus of social media is the cost-free nature of creating an account and distributing content. Yet the same is also true of other communication methods, such as email. Indeed, email was a vital platform for promotion and communication long before social media as we know it today existed, and social media’s ubiquity shouldn’t diminish the benefits of a well-constructed yet cheap email marketing campaign.
In fact, ‘cheap email’ is perhaps a misnomer. Email is completely free of charge – up to a point. And that point usually involves the introduction of specialist software for promotional campaigns – bringing in advanced features like tracking and reporting, social media sharing tools, and ongoing support. However, while these are obviously beneficial, it’s generally beyond the budgets of small firms and startup enterprises. For companies with limited financial resources, the following cheap email marketing techniques are therefore highly advisable…
Segment your own database
Email marketing software targets individual audience demographics, but you can achieve a similar effect by adding extra fields into customer or contact databases. Dividing respondents by gender, age or location supports targeted campaigns containing relevant messages. If you keep notes of last purchase dates, it’s easy to identify consumers who haven’t bought anything over a particular time period and send them a polite ‘we miss you’ note. Segmentation achieves positive benefits on almost every measurable demographic, from open and response rates to customer retention.
Make the right points
Having segregated customers into relevant demographics, the next stage of successful email marketing involves sending clear and relevant messages in a format that’ll display equally well on desktop or mobile devices. Nobody wants constant ‘win free save’ offers clogging up their inboxes, but they will appreciate occasional reminders to repurchase disposable or consumable items. Equally, onboarding emails sent to new registrants achieve unprecedented open rates, so take every opportunity to reinforce your brand and thank people for buying/ subscribing/inquiring/registering.
Linguistic tricks help here, such as writing in the first person (‘we’) and addressing recipients in the second person (‘you’). Use gentle humor and puns – people shouldn’t be confused if they miss a play on words or a cultural reference, but those who spot the joke will appreciate it. Keep sentences short, and break up paragraphs using bullet points or subheadings. Write as if you were mailing a friend, rather than selling to a stranger.
Distribute emails at the right time
Did you know emails sent between 8 pm and midnight are often the most likely to be read? Would you have guessed that messages are more likely to be opened on a Tuesday, while Monday is the worst day for engagement? These are among the headlines from extensive research into audience responses. Common sense plays a part – sales communications tend to achieve greater results at the start of a month when salaried employees have recently been paid. Of course, speed is of the essence in certain circumstances: customers get itchy if they have to wait more than ten minutes to receive an order confirmation, which should really be distributed automatically.
Conduct A/B testing
This sounds vaguely technical, but in reality it’s actually quite simple. Prepare an email to a group of respondents with one significant variation – two different subject lines, different distribution times, etc. Send each message to half your respondent list, and monitor which email achieves the better response. Larger companies conduct A/B tests all the time, gradually determining optimal approaches for their audience. This cheap email experiment often yields interesting results, particularly in terms of click-through rates – the Holy Grail of many email marketing campaigns.
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