As a core part of the Data HQ team since 2004, David is an expert at unravelling complex data and making sense of intricate client requirements.
Last week I received 545 emails, 151 in my inbox (messages I keep in) 242 in my deleted folder, and 152 in my junk folder.
That’s a lot of emails each day, the challenge with email marketing is to find creative ways to stand out in a crowded place. But how do you achieve this? If you’re like most marketers, limited by time and budget, you will rely on some basic personalisation and the use of simple marketing automation.
The strategic importance of Email Marketing
Email marketing still plays a massive part in the strategic marketing plans of any successful business. In fact, according the DMAs Marketer Email Tracker survey for 2019, “Email remains the key strategic channel according to marketers” with 91% of recipients in the survey saying it was important. The report highlights that the ROI on email marketing was £42 for every £1 spent – a dramatic increase of nearly £10 from the previous study.
The three main challenges for marketers highlighted by the study are:
- Lack of budget/resource
- Lack of data
- Lack of strategy
In this blog we offer up 10 Top Tips to make sure that you too can benefit from the success of email marketing.
The trouble with marketing automation
The problem with this approach is that Marketing Automation is so common place now that simple personalisation of a subject line isn’t enough anymore. Neither is the standard approach of sending an automated follow-up once someone opens an email you’ve sent. Whilst previously ground-breaking these techniques no longer help you to stand out.
Using data-driven email marketing is a powerful way to keep email subscribers connected with your brand. By crafting campaigns that communicate directly to each individual, data subjects will be more likely to open emails and click-through to your website to make a purchase.
Tip 1: How to make marketing automation work
Using data to personalise and drive your email marketing is not particularly novel stuff, for years companies have been incorporating individuals or company names within the subject lines to establish an affinity with you.
But with the technology and tools available nowadays, it’s more than just a passing trend, it can be central to help your emails be successful. By carrying out in depth analysis of your customers you can use the findings to create compelling emails with exactly the right message for each one.
This will super charge your email marketing. You can send 1:1 emails with specific information focused to each person on your mailing list or create segmented mailing lists to target particular groups of people.
The insight may involve creating multiple segments that receive different offers, images or even tone of voice in your email creative. Timing and frequency can be adjusted depending on the segment that you are targeting.
A crucial, if not the most crucial, element of any data-driven marketing strategy is to test and analyse performance. Feeding the results of your email marketing and specifically how the mailing lists have reacted into a test and learn approach can help fine tune the targeting, offers or creative to truly maximise ROI.
Tip 2: Create an email marketing strategy
Understanding and using data isn’t always straightforward. The vast majority of marketers say that implementing a data-driven email marketing strategy can be time consuming and complex. So here at Data HQ we are happy to share our knowledge and experience and give you some tips on how to get started.
- Assemble your mailing lists
- Create your plan
- Going live with your strategy
Assemble your mailing lists
The more you know about a business or your target within a business the better chance you have of succeeding. The first step is to start to assemble all the data you can on your customers and prospects to enable the analysis and insight required to create the plan.
With marketers often citing a lack of data as a major hurdle to a successful strategy it shows how important it us to use the data you can access. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but often marketers are daunted at the prospect or meet internal opposition due to a lack of understanding of the benefits. For more help on building and maintaining a successful email marketing database, read our guide here.
Tip 3: Enhance your data with third party mailing lists
In addition to the data you already hold, you may look to enhance this data via a 3rd party. This may be a case of finding quality mailing lists to target or adding additional depth to your existing data.
In the B2B data industry there are many providers of firmographic data to collect information from. Appending data such as industry, employee size, turnover, premise type/size and more can really enhance the analytics you can run
Tip 4: Make use of campaign response data
The email marketing platform you use will hold a lot of data from past campaigns. You’ll have information about who opens your email, what device they’ve used, the time of day, what links they click on, and where they are when they get your messages.
You should also be able to track who has made a purchase and what they have bought. With this data, you can begin to segment your lists and create personalised messages for the next campaign.
This data is invaluable for analysing the performance of your campaigns but also to help you start to craft truly 1:1 email communications.
Tip 5: Power your campaigns with website visitor data
Most companies that sell online (or even just a brochure website) have access to Google Analytics, which can collect a lot of details about website visitors. Added to this (in the case of B2B marketing) there are IP lookup services that can identify not only the company that visited your site but potentially the individual too.
This can be a great way to find out things like visitor location, products they are interested in (based on pages viewed), and other useful information. Depending on the service you use on your website, you may even be able to track returning visitors days, weeks, months or years after they received your email.
This data can add great depth to your mailing list and even trigger automated campaigns based on when each individual visits your website or performs a pre-determined action.
Tip 6: Obtain data via questionnaires and surveys
A great way to collect data is to send a survey via email or promote it on social media, or even as a pop-up on your website. And whilst a prospective client is making an online enquiry why not ask for their industry sector and size of company i.e. 10-20 employees when they submit their enquiry.
Again, using a 3rd party mailing list for the market research can expand the breadth of data you are able to receive from the survey. This will enhance the quality of the analysis, but also open up potential prospect data opportunities.
Tip 7: Don’t forget your own sales & CRM data
And of course, let’s not forget to check what data you already have within your CRM system or finance systems that can be used to add depth to the data. These can be useful resources to help create data-driven marketing. It can help you to understand the profitability of different segments by analysing various aspects such as Lifetime Value, Average Basket Value and perform Recency, Frequency Value models.
Whilst looking at your internal data it may be that you wish to carry out data cleansing to improve the accuracy of your database. For more info on data cleansing, read our Complete Guide to Database Cleansing.
Create your email marketing strategy
If you already have an email marketing plan you’ll need to think about how you want to leverage the data before you make any changes. Applying data-driven email marketing is intended to enhance and develop the success of your email marketing. We’ve listed out a number of ideas that you could consider adding over time.
Tip 8: Understand your marketing objectives
It may seem basic but understanding what you hope to achieve from your email marketing is crucial to setting your strategy. Be clear about what you marketing objectives are, think about how you can use and collect data to reach these objectives.
If you want to develop customer retention, you will need to collect data about frequency, recency and value of purchases. However, if you want to increase conversion you need to drive campaigns highlighting the most appropriate products and understand when and how to communicate them.
Once you understand your objectives you can start to formulate your customer journeys and optimise your campaigns with your specific goals in mind.
Tip 9: Create segment specific journeys
Now that you understand your objectives it’s time to start planning the segmentation of the data and ensuring recipients go through the right journey at the right time. Most businesses will need to think about 4 core journeys:
- Prospect conversion
- Up-sell and Cross-sell
- Customer Retention
- Brand Awareness
You can create these basic journeys as a starting point, ready to accept the data from your analysis as to which customers/prospects should sit where. It is crucial not to concentrate the messaging in every creative around sales. In all of these campaigns, showing your brands depth of knowledge will be vital to ultimately driving the sales message.
Establishing your brands reputation is critical to prospects or customers in believing you are the right partner/supplier for them. Use the campaigns to establish this with useful hints and tips or even “try before you buy” style offers.
When building these journeys, remember that data-driven marketing isn't only about building and segmenting your mailing lists. Use the data and insight you have gathered to personalise your customers or prospects journey with you as a brand.
For example, a personalised subject line is more likely to be opened than a non-personalised subject line. In the body of the email you can add details based on previous purchases, or in the case of B2B email marketing even images based on your reader’s own sector.
Successful marketing automation enables you to carry out mass email campaigns but where the recipient will feel the message is tailored to them. So when planning your journeys allow for your creatives to be personalised not only with standard personalisation, but imagery, products, offers, time of day and tone of voice.
Going live with your strategy
Now that you’ve got your mailing lists segmented the way you want them and your journeys mapped out, it’s time to put them live. This is where our last and most crucial tip becomes relevant. Having put time and energy into your strategy it can often be put in place and the marketer has to deal with some other area. This can lead to the strategy becoming stagnant and not improving, meaning ROI starts to recede.
Tip 10: Keep evolving your email marketing strategy
One thing we know for sure is that technology changes, peoples buying habits change and the economic environment changes over time. It is obvious therefore that we need to keep evolving our marketing strategies to meet these changes – and it is no different with email marketing to any other form of marketing.
If you are making changes to your email marketing strategy it’s really important to know the impact the changes make; positive or negative. By carrying out regular analysis of the journeys you can establish a base level of engagement. This will make it easier for you to understand how your new segmentation is evolving the interactions your subscribers have with your email campaigns.
When planning any change to your journeys, creatives or overall strategy always do it to a controlled sample before rolling out across your email database. This will allow you to properly and effectively measure the uplift (fingers crossed!) that your changes have made. If the worst happens and the change has a negative effect then it is easier to abort the change and try something else.
There are many email and digital marketing growth strategies you can use to grow your business. By making just a few changes to your email segmentation and personalisation you can greatly influence how your brand is perceived by your customers. And in turn, they’ll be more enthusiastic to open your email in amongst the inbox clamour, setting your company apart from a crowded place.
By continuing to always test and learn from new approaches you are certain to make significant improvements in your ROI from email marketing.
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