By Christa Savickas, Marketing Automation Manager, ddm marketing + communications
Everyone can send an email. Everyone receives email. The idea of using email marketing to further your company’s goals sounds simple enough.
Most believe the success of their email marketing campaign depends on compelling copy and a clean visual presentation. If you look under the hood of the best email marketing campaigns, a strategic, data-driven approach quickly emerges as the linchpin to its success. What strategy will work best for your brand? What data do you need to execute that strategy? How much of your campaign can be automated?
These are just a few questions that should guide your thinking as you prepare to launch. Here are five basics to keep in mind before your email marketing campaign takes off in 2022:
1. Work within your limits
When hybrid and work-from-home models became commonplace, email took on even greater importance, replacing a variety of in-person interactions. If you were already accustomed to sending and receiving dozens of emails daily, adding another email to your list of tasks might seem daunting. But there is an essential difference between a two-sentence email to a co-worker and a coordinated, data-driven email marketing campaign. The latter cannot be taken lightly.
Set aside the time you’ll need to develop and execute a successful strategy within the limits of the medium. Don’t set up a newsletter schedule that you can’t maintain with consistency. If your email campaign is a team effort, be mindful of how much time your team needs to turn emails around on a deadline. From content to development to approval to sending, the process can take anywhere from a few hours (for the simplest, most urgent email) to more than a month (for longer, more in-depth emails that require many approvals).
Consider also the variety of user experiences with email: iPhone vs. Android, dark mode vs. light mode, mobile vs. tablet vs. desktop, etc. The template you’ve crafted in your mind might utilize a revolutionary design. However, every email you send must be functional across a broad range of interfaces.
2. Collect the right data and put it to work intelligently
In theory, an automated email marketing campaign sounds great. It’s a way to put your organization’s existing database to work, thereby reducing your own workload. In practice, a lot of things can go wrong. The main goal of automating your email campaign is to talk to the right people at the right time. But who are the right people, and what’s the best time to email them?
To answer these questions, your company must collect the most accurate, informative data about your audience. This data may come from your CRM, your website, previous email campaigns or other platforms that are collecting data about your audience. The entire success of your campaign depends on it. This data will enable your company to send emails automatically, according to an optimized schedule, with a specific message customized for the recipient based on their browsing and purchasing history.
If your company isn’t collecting this data already, or doesn’t know where their data is or if it’s accurate, there’s no better time to begin than today.
3. Know how to access your data
Your organization might have many years’ worth of user data at your disposal. That’s great ― if the data is comprehensive, accurate, and easily accessed. Often, accessing and analyzing that data comes with pitfalls. Integrating it with an automated email campaign might be tricky. Or, your data might not be useful to your campaign’s specific goals.
A common problem across industries: whoever implemented your platform (CRM, website, marketing automation platform) isn’t around to explain what data it collects, where that data is stored, or how to integrate the data you need with your campaign. Whenever multiple platforms are integrated ― especially if one or more are unfamiliar to anyone in your organization ― it’s common for disconnects in the data architecture to emerge. The data points you need might exist in different places, requiring specialized knowledge of how to access the data, assess their accuracy, and ultimately gauge their usefulness to your campaign.
The bottom line: If you and your team are unfamiliar with the data your company collects and how to access it, be prepared to set aside some time.
4. Know how to measure the success of your campaign
How will you know your email marketing campaign is a success? To answer this question, you’ll want to keep tabs on a range of basic metrics, like how often your campaign emails are read, who’s reading them, who’s clicking through to your website, and what these users do after they click.
Some basic tracking metrics include:
- Pixel tracking – Gathers basic information about email opens, time spent reading the email, and the device used to open the email. It’s the most likely type of tracking to get blocked by email service providers for security purposes, so it’s better to focus on trends than specific metrics.
- Click tracking – Clicks are tracked by utilizing redirect links that go back to your email marketing platform before sending you to your final destination.
- Bounce tracking – Bounces are tracked by email service providers sending back a bounce notice to your email marketing platform on send. These usually don’t include notices that an email has been sent to a spam filter, only if the inbox or server has a temporary issue (soft bounce) or the email address is no longer valid (hard bounce).
- Web tracking – When URLs pass through tracking data to your website, you’re able to track what people do once they get to your website from an email. This introduces specific website tracking data to your email marketing efforts. If you are an e-commerce platform, this may even mean tracking specifically how much revenue was created by an email.
Without the data needed to assess your campaign’s effectiveness, you’re more susceptible to following a strategy that leads you away from your goals. Decide which data reports you’ll want to gather before you hit “send.”
5. Take advantage of automation
With the right software, you can automate a variety of tasks relevant to email marketing campaigns. Maybe your website already features a blog, or a couple social media channels with original content. There’s no need to re-create any of this content by hand to integrate it into an email. Creating a template that automatically pulls in your existing content is possible ― and an invaluable time-saver.
Even a simple one-question survey can catalyze your workflow. An apparel company will typically ask visitors to their website whether they are shopping for men or women before sending them emails advertising gender-specific clothing. An online ticket retailer might ask users to input their favorite sports team before sending email alerts about specific event tickets. These surveys automate the task of collecting essential user data with a couple clicks.
Some of these tricks are self-explanatory. Others require advanced knowledge of coding, software integration, and various email platforms. All are helpful to getting your email marketing off on the right foot, saving your company valuable time down the road, reaching more visitors with your digital platforms, and ultimately getting your product or service in front of more customers.
Christa Savickas is a marketing automation developer at ddm marketing + communications overseeing email marketing – from strategy and design to development and monitoring.