Small and medium-sized businesses might understandably covet the resources larger enterprises tend to have at their disposal, especially in terms of research and analysis.
A major corporation might have an entire team, for instance, that is entirely devoted to its various email marketing initiatives. Such a group would make sure what they send out gets opened, is read and turns into a real sales opportunity. SMBs are more likely to be fitting in things like email marketing strategy amid many other activities, and they don’t necessarily have a background in marketing analytics to draw upon.
Salesforce began to level the playing field several years ago with the introduction of Marketing Cloud, which includes tools to manage and optimize email marketing campaigns with the same capabilities that large enterprises enjoy. And despite the rise of social media and the popularity of text messaging, email remains a highly important channel for marketing. For one thing, email tends to allow for more information to be conveyed. Email messages are also guaranteed to go to an audience the company “owns” in its database, which makes measurement a little more straightforward.
Don’t assume that email marketing analytics has to be a major undertaking, however. There are simple “test and learn” campaigns that you can and should implement on a regular basis to try and see what might be the right mix of tactics to meet your company’s specific objective. These are good examples that any SMB can use today:
There have already been countless blog posts about the importance of a great email subject line, but SMBs are like any other organization in terms of falling into patterns. There might be standard words and phrases you use when you’re offering a special promotion or bundle, for instance. If you sent out an email newsletter the subject lines may be more varied, but there are still ways to change it up (like referring to something other than your “top story” or lead item in the newsletter).
Think about the use of visual symbols or emojis for more light-hearted email campaigns. Challenge yourself to a shorter subject line of only three words. Or, use the technology at your disposal in Marketing Cloud to personalize the content by using the recipient’s name, industry sector or other details that will attract their attention.
Busy SMBs may sometimes send out email whenever it’s ready to go. That makes things difficult from a marketing analytics perspective. Even if you have a regular cadence, though, it might not be based on anything more than a guess.
Try sending earlier in the day, later in the day or in the middle of the day. Use whatever data you have and think about what you know in terms of your customers’ habits and preferences. When are they most likely to have a window of opportunity to read what you have to say?
If you tell customers you’re launching a monthly email newsletter, you want to be consistent in delivering it on that schedule. If you’re seeing a poor opening or click-through rate, however, it might be time to think about whether customers might want a different cadence. Once every two weeks, or even once a month might have a greater impact if what you’re sending is more meaningful or relevant. In other situations, breaking up the content and sending more frequently might be the answer.
Further to that last point, always consider what constitutes “enough” for a particular email campaign. A newsletter might link back to the five most recent blog posts on your web site, for instance. Your marketing analytics might show that they only tend to click on the first one, however, reducing to two or three items might make more sense -- or even one link with more context and description around it.
In more sophisticated email campaigns, you may need to pack in several pieces of content, but the audience isn’t scrolling all the way through to the end. A table of contents that outlines everything they’ll see in the message if they explore it in depth can help address this problem. A table of contents can be “static” in the sense that it’s just words in the top of the message, or they can be linked to jump directly to a particular item in a newsletter.
A compelling photo or illustration can really help content to stand out, especially if it’s of a product or service you’re promoting. If you’re using few images (or simple stock images) it might be time to reevaluate what goes best with the text you’re including in email campaigns. Also think about where these images will sit within a message -- to the left of headlines, to the right, or in a banner of sorts across the top of the message? There’s all kinds of room for experimentation here.
Lots of companies work with a mix of customers across different industries. Rather than “one email campaign to serve them all,” think about whether you want to create slightly different versions for segments of customers based on particular content, promotions or other considerations. If this sounds too ambitious, you can always start with a single segment “spin-off” version to just one group of customers. If the marketing analytics show a boost of any kind among that audience, you’ll know it’s worth pursuing with others.
There should be a good business objective behind every email an SMB sends, and it should usually be spelled out in the call-to-action (CTA). This should be a link or button urging customers to buy something, to learn more or even to share information back to the company. In a lot of cases, these CTAs tend to be near the end of the message, which assumes everyone’s reading until the end. See what happens when you move the CTA closer to the top, or have it woven more strategically in the message somehow.
SMBs have a lot of options with test ‘n learn campaigns. You could run through a different one each month, or try one of the ones mentioned above for several months or a quarter. You could also use a different test n’ learn campaign for different kinds of email messages -- one for your newsletter versus an e-blast for a product launch or promotion. No matter what results you get back, your marketing analytics capabilities are about to take a big leap forward.