B-to-b marketers face challenges in the new year when using e-mail marketing to connect with customers and prospects. Open rates are declining, new media such as blogs and podcasts are competing with e-mail,and more corporate e-mail is being filtered, according to industry surveys.
So what can marketers resolve to do in the coming year to make the most of their e-mail marketing programs? BtoB spoke with Tara Lamberson, VP-marketing at interactive agency MindComet, who offered these 10 tips for marketers:
- Keep it simple. “A lot of companies are overcomplicating design and e-mail strategy,” Lamberson said. “Keep it simple, from your design to your call to action.”
- Use an expert partner, whether it is an agency, an e-mail service provider or an interactive strategy firm. “There are a lot of complexities when you do e-mail in-house,” she said. “Your job as a marketer is to understand the brand, and your partner should be an expert in e-mail.”
- Develop an editorial calendar. “This not only keeps you on track with deadlines, but it also lets the audience know how frequently you’ll be communicating with them,” Lamberson said. The editorial calendar can be an internal document, although some marketers may consider publishing it to set audience expectations.
- Make it personal. Marketers get higher open rates when e-mails come from a sales rep or another individual rather than the company. Consider including a picture and contact information.
- Test different variables, including the subject line, “from” line and layout.
- Encourage feedback with end users, including online surveys or focus groups. “This allows you to have an ongoing evolution of your e-mail strategy,” Lamberson said.
- Make the signup process easy. “A lengthy registration process might deter your user from signing up,” she said. Sign-ups can be as simple as requiring first name, last name, company name and e-mail address.
- Allow users to view e-mail in a browser window. “Always put a link at the top that says, ‘If you can’t read this, click here to view it in your browser.’ That helps with deliverability, click-through and call to action,” Lamberson said.
- Keep copy short. Include brief summaries of articles, providing links to read the full article or announcement. “This allows you to track click-throughs and encourages users to go on your Web site and explore.”
- Consider using loyalty programs for retailers and other channel providers. “You can provide incentives that encourage people to forward e-mail on,” Lamberson said.
“What we all need to do next year as e-mail marketers is deal with the decline of open rates,” Lamberson added. “Consider other media that will help supplement your e-mail programs.