Email marketing is becoming increasingly important. We contributed this post to the LGA best practice guide you can find here.
by Dan Slee
So, you've set-up your email list and you've got some people to sign-up... so what now?
There's a range of things that you can do to increase the chances of engaging with the most amount of people.
So, here's a run through of things.
This list is for the helpful email newsletter or regular email that people have opted in for. It's not for unhelpful spam, okay?
Consider your variables
These are the things you can change around and adjust to see what works best. Adjusting one can have a big impact.
Subject line: That's the line that accompanies your email. You'll need to think of something interesting and eye catching that entices an open. Avoid ‘Weekly email vol 1.' It has all the allure of a soggy novel. Vary it.
Timing: Think about what time you'll send it. When would it get most attention? Would people be busy with their own jobs mid-morning and straight after lunch to spare time? Often, using an email provider you can pre-schedule a time to send your email out. Fridays and Monday are often bad days to send out an email. You get lots more out-of-offices on those days.
Pictures: Think about whether an image would work. But remember, that these can't always be opened and big email lists rarely use them.
Merge tags: This is a way you can open up your email with a personal address to your audience. So, it's ‘Dear Dan' if it's to Dan and 'Dear Vera' if it's to Vera. You'll need to have uploaded your list as a spreadsheet or similar format so the database knows to pull out the right first name.
Start the email: Tell them the reason you are emailing. They may have signed-up to the museum events list, for example, and you are letting them know of the summer events.
Links: Chances are you'll want people to click through to a webpage. Pay close attention to the number of links you have and see how they perform. The first link tends to be the one with most click throughs. Don't over stuff it. You can see what content works best by checking to see who opens what.
A call to action: Round-off with a call to action. This is the thing you'd like people to do. For instance, ‘click the link', ‘donate' or ‘buy one for your holidays'.
Sign off as a real person: People prefer talking to people. So sign off as one. When Barack Obama first won the election he didn't sign all his campaign emails. Why? Because people cottoned onto the fact that he would be too busy. So, the regional organiser John Smith or someone else was fine.
Make sure you experiment endlessly. Your audience is pretty unique to you and the only way you'll find out what works is by experimenting with your variables. You'll see what works through studying your analytics.
Other top tips
Use a mobile-compatible template: Most email providers will shape your email and give you a template. There's often a range. Try and start with the simplest one and one that will open on a mobile phone.
Add an address and an unsubscribe button: By law, you need to do this, so add one.
Sign-up: Follow political parties from the UK and the USA and online retailers. You'll get a free education in how to write engaging emails. Pick the ideas that feel right from the look and feel.
Relevant content: It goes without saying that the content you provide will make or break your email list. Sending beef recipes to a vegetarian cookery list won't work.
Style: Be light and engaging if you can. You're asking people to sign-up and be signposted. Don't make it a chore.
Test it: Before you send your email, test it. Most email providers allow you to send a test email first. This will allow you to check the links you've embedded as well as allow you to review your content. Don't ever send it blind. Send it to a colleague to get their feedback. When you do send it, try and look at it on a mobile phone. Ofcom in 2015 says that 66 per cent of people have a smartphone and it's where they check their emails.
Evaluate, evaluate and evaluate: When you've sent an email wait a few days and go back and see what worked and what didn't. Don't be afraid to send out test emails to small groups to see what the stats say works before you send the bulk list.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.