It’s easy to overlook the continued importance of email as a marketing device with today’s digital focus set firmly on social media. Email, as we know it, has been around for about a quarter of a century and it has gone through relatively few changes in that time, compared to the dynamism of social software. But in many ways, its relative stagnation is its primary appeal.
With email, there is no significant learning curve, making it fairly painless to enhance its effectiveness as a marketing medium. Here are nine reminders to help you get the most out of this still popular digital dinosaur.
1. Email isn’t free. Treat it as something of value, rather than a throwaway. It’s costly to build a quality, permission-based e-list and to design a viable mailing, regardless of whether you do this yourself or hire it out. Furthermore, you must buy software, or pay a service, to distribute your emails, and to track and report back the results.
2. Know what to expect. There are two key metrics when measuring emails: the open rate (those who actually open it) and the click-through rate (those who also click on your URL). For marketing emails, the typical open rates are about 20 percent and the click through rate is around 3 percent. While your percentages for some mailings may exceed these levels, it isn’t common, so keep your expectations in check.
3. Target your mailings. Don’t send emails to just anyone in your marketing territory. To be effective, your message and its intended recipient must align. Also, be certain to follow all applicable CAN-SPAM rules and that you have permission to send. This is usually the case when emailing to insureds, but it’s not always so when mailing to prospects.
4. Send actual information.Don’t focus exclusively on selling. Instead, send your recipients useful tips and information, in addition to the periodic pitch. Examples: Seasonally-driven emails (weather-related, back-to-school, etc.) … Coverage of the month … Overlooked coverage of the quarter, etc.
5. Subject lines. Test a variety of subject lines in your mailings to entice recipients to open, read and click through them. Compare the results and learn from your victories and failures. Compare phrases such as, “5 money-saving [auto] policy discounts you want” against questions like, “Which of these 5 [auto] insurance discounts are you missing?”
6. From lines. Specify from whom your emailings are sent via your email authoring software. Options include sending it from your agency’s name, a particular producer or CSR, or from something generic like “Your Insurance Agency.”
7. Images. Include tie-in images with your message to attract interest and drive your click-through rates. Note: Some recipients don’t allow their incoming emails to automatically display images, so never make them integral to the message itself.
8. Links. Just because you can add multiple URLs to an email, doesn’t mean that you should. Keep each message as simple as possible. Author your text so that recipients need only click on one primary link to direct them to your mailing’s Web landing page (or elsewhere).
9. Experiment. Test variations of your targets, messages, subject lines, “from” lines, images and links to find the combination that consistently generates the best results.
Email has its flaws, including limited open/click-through rates and myriad delivery issues (spam filters, blacklists, Do Not Mail restrictions, etc.). But it also has its virtues, particularly the fact that virtually everybody with a PC or mobile device has an active email account. You can’t say the same thing about social media.
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