Improve Your Email Marketing With These Non-Technical Changes
It's true that email marketing can get pretty technical. We've got HTML coding, and multi-part MIME messages, and cross browser compatibility, and designing for preview panes, and blacklists and blocklists and SPF records … It's enough to make non-techie marketers throw up their hands and give up on the thought of ever improving their email performance.
Bus sometimes we get so mired in trying to figure out the technical aspects that we forget that email marketing is, at its heart, marketing. And the most important aspects of marketing have nothing to do with technology at all.
So, with that in mind, I'd like to present the first of 3 surefire, non-technical ways to improve the results you're getting from your email marketing efforts:
Make sure your target market knows exactly who it is We all know how critical it is that we, as marketers, are 110% crystal clear about who our target market is. But the problem with email is that just about anyone can end up on your list. I call it "list creep", and no, I do not mean you end up with creeps on your mailing list. It simply means that your subscribers periodically start to spill out of the boundaries you've identified as your perfect target market.
For instance, let's say you have a lead generation device entitled "4 Easiest Ways to Identify the Best Color for Your Office" because you're trying to target small business owners who would like to redecorate. But a doctor who works at a large trauma hospital downloads the report because he wants to make sure he's using colors that will sooth his patients in his doctor's office. And Sam who owns the local handyman service downloads the report because he has a client who will be turning their fourth bedroom into a home office. And the school guidance counselor heard that a blue office can give kids test anxiety, so she downloads the report. Now you have at least 3 subscribers who do not exactly fit your target market.
While, on the surface, it does not seem like a major problem – after all, sending email is practically free so it's not really costing you any extra to have them on your list – there might actually be repercussions in the long run.
First, we've already illustrated how your readers are filtering your message through their own level of knowledge. The doctor assumed "office" mean doctor's office and the handyman assumed "home office". It's a natural occurrence, we all do it on a regular basis. So when your follow up messages and newsletters arrive, they too will be read and understood through those same filters.
So These "creepy subscribers" will go on reading your messages through their own filters. But ever, somewhere along the line, things will stop making sense for them. It will soon become beautiful that your message is not meant for them.
If you're lucky, they'll just stop opening your messages. But then your open rate will drop and your statistics will be all askew. And you'll think there's something wrong with your message or your marketing because you see your numbers falling. So you'll make some adjustments that may or may not be relevant. You'll run some split tests. You'll spend time and effort and money trying to improve your email marketing.
And if you're unlucky they'll get tired of seeing your messages in their box and they'll report you as a spammer. Now you've got the whole issue of delivery and ISP relations to deal with (which is a topic for another day).
But what you do not see is that your marketing was just fine for the people who really mattered. Your "real" target market was opening your message at their standard rate. They were opening and clicking and interacting just as they always did.
And now you're really not quite sure where your email marketing efforts stand.
We can all avoid this situation simply by being clear about who we serve in all of marketing messages. Instead of focusing on growing a larger list and acquiring more names, we need to focus on growing relevant lists with targeted names.
Now I'm not suggesting that you deny anyone the chance to download your free report. But I do think it's a good idea, in all of your follow up efforts, to be clear about who you are trying to reach. As we create our email marketing pieces, we tend to assume that our message is going out to readers who have been on our list for years, who are familiar with our business, who know exactly what we do. But the fact is, our lists are churning everyday. Everyday we're losing and adding subscribers. At any point in time, there is probably someone reading our email message who really has no idea who we are or what we do.
A simple blur in your email message such as "We provide remodeling services to small businesses in the Detroit area" will allow your untargeted readers to quickly unsubscribe. You'll end up with a cleaner, more targeted mailing list – albeit smaller. And a more targeted list allows you to more accurately measure and test your marketing efforts.
Remember, in email marketing, it's not the size of the list that counts, it's the responsiveness.