Business Basics: How to get started with email marketing

22 April 2019

In this edition, we’re talking to Jason Lark, Managing Director at award-winning data and technology agency Celerity.

Jason Lark

Previously one of the brains behind the Nectar customer loyalty scheme, Jason is a firm believer in email being a core focus for markets; sending an appealing, personalised message directly to customers is far more preferable to waiting around for them to come to you. As a result, it’s something all small businesses can use to broaden their customer base. From subject line best practice to the right time to hit send, here’s what Jason had to say about the topic of email marketing.

How should a business seek to grow its email marketing list organically to best capture their audience?

 Today’s customers are becoming increasingly aware of privacy issues and find unwanted, commercial e-mails extremely annoying. It’s vital to grow your email marketing list organically. For instance, your website is the perfect place to obtain e-mail subscriptions by placing a sign-up form where it is most visible for visitors. Furthermore, driving traffic from social media channels by encouraging followers to subscribe via Facebook and Twitter updates is another cost-effective method of capturing organic leads. Hosting online webinars is also a great way to collect e-mail addresses from subscribers as they sign up to the event.

Businessman Hands typing on laptop computer

How often should a business send emails? Should email be reserved for special announcements and product launches – or should it be used to keep in regular contact with customers?

Nowadays, in order to really stand out amongst your competitors, it’s best to create an e-mail marketing campaign that’s designed to keep in regular contact with your customers. Roll out e-mails over a pre-determined period of time with appropriate intervals in between messages – whether that’s a couple of days, a week, or longer. To find the perfect balance, you’ll need to regularly conduct A/B test campaigns: split groups of recipients and check factors such as send volume and timing. Generally, subscribers won’t mind hearing from your business more often, provided that the messages that you’re sending are valuable to them.

Is there a specific time of day, or day of week when email marketing is most effective?

A properly organised email campaign will be properly scheduled: users shouldn’t be swamped with an excess of communications at once, or at the wrong times – a 4am email notification is unlikely to endear you to your targets. According to various studies, e-mails sent on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday have the highest open rates with an average of 10.5%.

Man typing on computer calmly

This is certainly different in comparison to the weekends, when the average open rate is 8.8%, as this is when customers are at their busiest. As you collect more data from your e-mail marketing efforts, it’s important to look at the data such as click and open rates that you’ve gathered, so you know the optimal days and times for sending correspondence to your customers.

The subject line is the first thing recipients see, and can be make or break. What are the best practices for writing attention-grabbing subject lines?

Despite the subject line being a small part of your e-mail, it’s one of the very first impressions that customers will have of your brand. Therefore, it’s imperative to draft a compelling enough subject line to get people to click through. For instance, creating a sense of urgency and scarcity in an email subject line can really entice people to act, particularly when an offer or sale is about to end. Personalisation is also a great method of getting your audience to open your e-mail. You can really pique the interest of the customer simply by including their name or their favourite products in the subject line. Audiences want to feel unique and special and tailoring your subject line can help with that.

Concept of having a break at work. Concentrated calm peaceful serious office worker watching carefully a video on the internet using his laptop and drinking tea

For small businesses looking to develop a robust ongoing email marketing campaign, what are the most important metrics to track when it comes to analysing the performance?

Pay attention to open rates, bounce rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates. And don’t get bogged down with misleading metrics. There is a difference between ‘high deliverability’ and ‘successful deliverability’ for example, just as there is a difference between making a number of shots and scoring a goal. All that high deliverability means is that an email didn’t bounce. You could still be consigned to the junk folder. Measuring your email conversion rate is also particularly important for businesses just starting out, where the name of the game is gaining awareness and profit, as this shows how many subscribers have clicked on your link and actually purchased your product or service.

Is there anything that small businesses can do to reduce the risk of their emails landing in people’s spam folders?

The best way to avoid a spam filter is by not being spammy. Filters tend to analyse text, headers, URLs, and subject lines – so, it’s best to keep your message relevant and completely free of phrases like ‘BUY ONE GET ONE FREE’. And as stated earlier, the subject line is particularly important: it should always be concise, simple, and related to the body copy of your email.

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Should a small business be concerned with how their emails appear on mobile devices? Or is that something most email providers will handle?

The appearance of emails on mobile should absolutely be a focus for small businesses. 55% of all e-mails are now opened on mobile devices, and optimising your emails for mobile users is solely the company’s responsibility. It’s now become email best practice to test your correspondence on multiple devices before sending to any clients, so that there are no issues with the text or images being displayed. Being user friendly will also benefit your customers. For example, it’s useful to increase the font size so it’ll be easier for recipients to read quicker, but also it’ll make your links easier to notice. If you’re not optimising your e-mail marketing efforts for mobile, a large percentage of your customers could lose interest.

Woman in red jumper and glasses types on computer

In summary, what are the key features which you feel make a strong email marketing effort?

E-mail marketing involves a range of elements that can take some time to get right. Firstly, optimising your recipient list by segmenting customers and asking people to opt-in can really help your e-mail deliverability. The next step is creating really engaging content by particularly focusing on creating an appealing subject line, avoiding spam words and using clean HTML so that the e-mail is accessible across various devices. It’s also advisable to stick to a consistent sending schedule with few, if any, deviations. Sending too many or too few e-mails to your recipients’ inboxes can lead to an increase in unsubscribes and spam hit rates, so it’s important to test and see how best to engage with your audience. It may seem challenging at first, but by following the above best practices, it will soon become second nature.

Many thanks to Paul for his tips and insights. If you found his advice helpful, please check out some more of our related Business Basics guides and Q&As below:

Gazprom Energy is a leading and award-winning business energy supplier, helping thousands of small businesses manage their gas and electricity contracts. To find out more about what we can offer your business, visit the homepage or call us today on 0161 837 3395.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

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