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How to Think About Email: Testing, Segmenting, and Being Welcome in the Inbox

Email marketing is not dead. Let us repeat that: Despite reports to the contrary, email marketing is NOT dead! In fact, it’s thriving now more than ever.

In 2019, email is delivering a staggering 3800% ROI for every dollar spent. A recent study showed that 99% of all people check their email daily and 73% of millennials prefer to have messages from businesses sent to their personal email address over any other method.

So what’s the key to sending emails today? Being welcome. Your emails must be relevant and meaningful to your audience. To stand out in a chaotic online marketplace, emails must connect with your customers on a deeper level.

Let’s take a closer look at a fresh perspective on email marketing, including testing, segmenting, and making sure your customers always welcome your messages.

The Spam Stereotype

If you’re still thinking of email as nothing but spam, it’s time to shift your thinking. Sure, there’s plenty of spam out there, but in recent years there have been major advances in message filtering.

Way back in the early 2000s, email was still a “wild west” where spam hit your inbox from seemingly every spammer in the world. After the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, the FCC began to root out violators and prosecute them.

By 2005, the FCC had shut down some major sources of spam. Consumers were learning how to use their spam filters to block most unwanted messages. Even one of the biggest spammers in the world - known as The Spam King - admitted he’d “gone legit” and changed his marketing strategy to focus on opt-in messages.

Today, Google says Gmail now blocks 99.9% of all spam and uses smart AI to sort welcome from unwelcome messages. Plus, Google constantly watches how people interact with your business online. If someone has a legitimate connection to your company, your messages are very likely to land safely in that person’s inbox.

Keeping it Relevant Through Segmentation

Here’s something else to keep in mind: The watchword in email marketing today is relevance.

People crave emails that are carefully targeted to them. A study by Campaigner found that 75% of online shoppers feel somewhat to very likely to open branded messages, as long as they’re about something they’re interested in.

As Campaigner’s general manager, EJ McGowan, put it, “The findings signal that in this day and age, consumers both expect and appreciate email messages from their favorite brands.” Of course, the natural next question is: How do we become one of their favorite brands?

Part of the answer is found in segmentation. Divvy up your market into segments, then target each segment carefully with tailored messages. The more customized and personal you can get, the better your email marketing campaign will be.

While your messages should be targeted to audience segments, you should still maintain a consistent overall brand voice. Research shows that the world’s most popular brands tend to have a few things in common, in terms of messaging:

  • They speak their language. They share the customer’s same slang, lingo, inside jokes, emoji, and other linguistic cues that say, “This brand gets me.”
  • They’re the “right” kind of friendly. Everyone has their own definition of friendly. For some, it’s funny and sarcastic. For others, it’s sweet and kind. Find the brand voice that suits your audience.
  • They’re authentic. Today’s savvy consumers can easily spot a fake. Send emails that feel authentic and genuine. Don’t resort to pushy, salesy talk. Stay far, far away from stock photos.
  • They’re helpful. The best email marketing messages are written with the customer’s needs in mind. They helpfully problem-solve for the audience. They offer highly targeted solutions, which naturally inspires purchases.

Test, Test, and Test Again

One of the biggest questions that frequently arises is: How do we know if our email efforts are really working? Answer this question with metrics and testing.

A company that offers email lead nurturing services can help you establish your basic email metrics, like open rates and click rates. They can also help you nurture more leads through A/B testing, or analyzing the success of multiple versions of the same email.

A/B testing is particularly important for any company that makes a significant portion of its revenue through online-only channels. After all, the success of these businesses hinges on pitch-perfect digital messaging.

Although many companies just focus on tinkering with the offer/promotion, there is also value in testing the effectiveness of simple things like:

  • Subject lines
  • Headlines and subheads
  • Calls-to-action and buttons
  • Testimonials, customer stories, and case studies
  • Layout details, like columns and length
  • Photos and videos
  • Charts, graphs, and other illustrations
  • Closing words
  • “P.S.” and footer text

Over time, you’ll begin to see trends emerge through your testing efforts. The results may surprise you. Testing takes the guesswork out of email marketing, so you can continue to refine your messages and get the most out of every email.

Moving Forward With an Email Marketing Plan

The holy grail of email marketing is forming a long-term relationship with an eager customer who uses your emails to make frequent purchases. Each time you send them a message, they have a “Hooray!” moment where they feel happy to open your message and see what’s new.

Is this ideal possible? It certainly is. In fact, at 11outof11, we see this kind of client success every day. Check out some of our success stories and rave reviews to see how we’re helping our customers overcome email marketing challenges.

Ready to move forward with a fresh batch of emails? Connect with 11outof11 today to rethink your email strategy and start sending messages that truly connect with your customers.

Topics: market your small business, digital marketing, email marketing