In part one we discussed building your list as well as email marketing logistics. Now, let’s talk about email content and drop schedule. What are you sending and when?
Recently, I presented some tips on email marketing for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. Below are my slides.
First, what are your goals?
- To inform or educate?
- To sell or promote?
- To drive action?
- To expand your reach?
Having a set list of goals will help you plan your content efforts. Instead of scrambling at the last minute for content, you can map it out in advance and tie each drop to a specific goal or goals from the list above.
The last thing you want to do is panic and send something just because.
Don’t freak out, plan ahead!
If you want to achieve success, map it out with an Editorial Calendar…
Your editorial calendar is a schedule for all of your content efforts. Email marketing is one of the channels in your calendar plan for distribution of content.
While doing this, schedule timely blog posts that tie into other marketing efforts…
- Plan for event promotion
- Seasonal or timely marketing
Use your editorial calendar to plan the important details for each post. For example, your editorial calendar could include all or some of the following chart headings:
- Due Date
- Publish Date
- Type of Content
- Distribution Channels
- Promotion Channels
The only way to know if your email marketing efforts are working is to track the results. There are a couple of places to see what is working and what isn’t…
Email Service Provider (ESP) Reports
- Opens & Click-throughs
- Social Shares
- Unsubscribes & Bounces
- Spam Complaints
- Site traffic from email
- Spikes in traffic
- Leads, sales, signups
Tracking Results through your ESP Stats
Most email service providers will offer you many ways to see how well your email drops are performing. If they are not, you should look for a new ESP. The most common metrics are…
- Number of opens – an email is counted as “opened” usually when a tracking image is loaded. This is usually very small. Some email clients will load it automatically, some, like Outlook, will ask you to load images. This is an indicator of interest and does matter. But, it isn’t the most important metric to measure because to see success, you want to see more action taken by the recipient, like a click…
- Number of clicks and to where – this is an important number and is your most important key performance indicator. The goal of an email campaign is the get the recipient to do something. A click is an action, an investment in the content. Make sure the click is step one in an obvious series of actions you want them to take – lead them down the path to conversion.
- Click performance, click map – a click map will show you an overlay on the email detailing which links performed best (see below). This is a great way to track how well links perform in different places, with different font treatments or callouts, and with varying content. Play around with this a little bit to see what works best.
- Number of social shares – social sharing is a great way to amplify the reach of your email newsletter. If you see a spike in shares, note the content and try to do more of that. Social sharing will help you grow your list if you map this out correctly. Think about someone from Twitter clicking a link to your article. Is there an obvious place where they can sign up to receive this email?
- Bounces – you are going to get these regardless. A high bounce rate can be an indicator of a bad list. If you continue to see bounces, you will likely want to do some cleaning of your list.
- Unsubscribes – unsubscribes are normal so don’t freak if someone bails. Just watch out for high unsubscribe numbers. It’s a good indicator that you are doing something wrong. Look back at your stats and move back to the types of drops with lower unsubscribe numbers.
- Spam complaints – these are the kiss of death. Too many and your ESP will usually yell at you, or worse. The best way to avoid complaints is to send to a good list, send useful content, and keep a regular schedule.
Always follow best practice tips from your ESP to avoid SPAM filters, bounces and unsubscribes.
Advanced Tip: Try some A/B Split Testing.
Most ESPs offer this option:
- Create two versions of your email.
- Experiment with different layouts, links, and content.
- Send the two versions to a split of your list.
- The one with the highest click rate wins!
Tracking Results: Check Your Stats in Google Analytics
You can integrate Google Analytics with your email marketing program. You can track the traffic to your site from email clicks and social shares. Here is how…
- Log in to Google Analytics
- Click View Report
- Click Traffic Sources
- Select All Traffic Sources
- Select Sort by medium
- Click Email medium or utm_source= (a link tracking option in Google)
When people share your email with others it’s called “Email Echo” and it’s a good thing.
Email is not always a one-to-one or one-to-many opportunity. Email can quickly transform into a many-to-many echo of your message.
Don’t think of your email as a one interaction scenario. It’s a message that needs to be shared. Let your audience know that sharing is not only OK but encouraged!
Here are some ways to build chatter and echo both before and after the email drop…
- Encourage email sharing
- Encourage social sharing
- Talk about your emails pre and post – Christopher Penn is awesome at this!
- Gather topics or ask questions
- Use surveys, contests, giveaways
What do you think about email marketing? Let me know in the comments below.
Here are some suggested resources on email marketing