Email is an incredibly versatile and valuable tool to add to your marketing arsenal. It has been called “the World’s Greatest Marketing Tool” by some for its ability to provide invaluable metrics for measuring influence. This is my first post in a 7-part series on Email Marketing.
Here’s some tips and tricks that we’ve learned from doing email marketing at 10gen:
1) Put Together Awesome Content
Be selfless and think of your users. Try to imagine what’s relevant for them, and you will have a better idea of how to build out the content within your campaign. For example: MongoDB users want to learn more about MongoDB. It’s a new technology, and since 10gen are the experts, our responsibility should be the education of the community. Our email messaging and content offers resources for individuals interested in learning more about MongoDB. Our users want to hear about new releases, MongoDB tips and tricks, upcoming conferences, and meetup groups, all opportunities for them to advance their knowledge base of MongoDB.
2) Make it concise
People don’t have loads of time to read through email. To avoid the TL;DR response, try to make sure your email segments are not longer than 2 paragraphs each. If you’re shipping out a newsletter, go for a paragraph with 5-7 sentences.
3) Link, Link, Link
Add in Links everywhere! I often link to MongoDB slides, videos, blog posts and other multimedia content in our newsletters. This gets people engaged with educational resources (point 1) and makes the email short and sweet (point 2). What’s more, links help you measure your engagements in emails and can encourage more traffic to your site. More links increases the propensity to click.
Understand what types of success you’re looking for. Email generates a great deal of data, which can allow you to make better decisions about the effectiveness of individual marketing activities. The most important data points are delivery, open and click-thru rates, but each company is different. If you’re a retail company, you’re also going to look at how your newsletter affected sales. If you have a goal in place for each email, you’ll be able to more effectively track your achievement against those goals.
Some marketing teams know their users inside and out and have the insight into what types of content their readers would like to see in their inbox. when you’re just getting started you just don’t know. Regardless of where you are, you should always try new things to see what your users want to hear from you. A/B testing is one of the most fun components of marketing. I like to call it “The Opportunity to Go Nuts”. It gives you a chance to experiment and develop greater insights into your user base–and it some cases, the market place. If you have monitoring tools at your disposal, as most email delivery services do, email is the perfect place to use A/B testing.
Here are some items in your email marketing you can A/B test:
Titles Time of Send Link Titles Photos vs. No Photos in Emails Font Color Background color The list goes on. You can test just about anything. Just be certain to log your results. If you’re using a service like MailChimp or ConstantContact, you’ll be able to export your results and make some beautiful graphs to showcase your tests.
My colleague Justin recommended the book, Testing 1-2-3 a guide to marketing A/B testing. I’ve ordered myself a copy on Amazon in hopes for the best!
Once you’ve done enough testing, you might have some numbers to confirm insights into what content makes a successful email campaign. Based on feedback, we’ve been able to build out a blueprint for MongoDB newsletter, to ensure that our users get an awesome read sent to their inbox each month.
The blueprint should include:
Time and date of send The day of the month, the time of day
Segmentation Who gets the email? Regional users? Early stage users?
Translation Determine the critical languages for your user base and find a translation service to help you translate your content into multiple languages. At 10gen, we use Smartling for translation management of websites, apps and ad-hoc web-translation needs, which is a very affordable and quick solution (They’re also MongoDB users!).
Title This is really important: People do not open emails with silly titles–at least not in the enterprise software world! Develop an understanding for what titles work best. For example, the most successful MongoDB newsletters are the ones that have technical content in the title. If you’re an ecommerce startup, the keywords “New” and “Sale” will lead to more open rates and click-thrus. Test out a few of these to determine the best “blueprint” for your email titles.
Content Layout Build a true blueprint for your content. People read emails from the top down–and they don’t often finish. Keep the most important, engaging and relevant content at the top to increase the opportunity for readership.
This will give you a frame of reference for future email sends. That said, you can still test the blueprint to see what performs the best!
Be Wary: Email marketing is like Pringles–once you pop, you can’t stop. This might not always be a good thing and here’s why:
Email marketing can become annoying for everyone
Your Users Too much email marketing can annoy your users. You ever hear someone complaining on Twitter about the barrage of email loading into their inbox? Don’t become the culprit. If your users are like me, their inbox sometimes resembles a stock ticker, which is a painful existence. Don’t become a source of pain for your users. If your email communication is relevant to their needs and desires, you will be able to engage them successfully. Your users will appreciate concise and timely updates from you, but make sure it doesn’t exceed a weekly update (this is different for flash sales sites, who sometimes send as much as 2-3 emails per day. But those users are asking for it!).
You Email marketing is tedious. If you start doing a lot of email marketing, you might find yourself living in an HTML editor for the rest of your life, which is not everyone’s ideal situation. Also, when you begin to get more traction, you will want to do more, leading to more complex tools, automation systems and segmentation patterns. This is excellent–as it proves growth–but make sure you have the ability to scale that effort. With email marketing, volume is always an issue, and it will become increasingly overwhelming if you don’t have the people-power in place to support that.
If this is the type of thing that gets your excited, we’re hiring an Online Events and Communications Manager at 10gen to handle our webiars and email marketing. Interested? Get in touch!