If you are already experiencing these benefits then read no further. You’ve got it sussed.
But if you are not seeing the results you were hoping for with your managed services email campaigns, it could be worth taking a look at what you are doing – and what you are not doing. Use our checklist below to help you get back on track.
Six reasons for using email marketing:
- Claimed to have the highest ROI of any marketing channel.
- Fast and responsive: with your mailing lists in place, it doesn’t take long to set up a campaign so it can be used very effectively to react to situations/opportunities that are relevant to your target audience. Current cyber-attacks such as WannaCry and Petya are examples.
- Highly targeted: you own the email addresses and know the origins/status of account holders. This makes it easy to segment your mailings to suit specific audiences and their stage in the buying process.
- Great for brand building and name recognition through regular contact.
- Measurable: tools are available to track ‘open’ and ‘click-through’ rates, so you can evaluate the success of each campaign.
- Drives traffic to your website, which in turn can have a positive impact on SEO.
Twelve things you should do in your email campaigns:
- Be clear as to why you are sending the email.
Ask yourself the following:
- What are you offering? (headline statement)
- Why is it of value? (body copy)
- What do you want recipients to do? (clear call to action (CTA))
- Keep it short and simple
- Speak directly to your target audience or segment
Tailor your message to meet the needs/background of your various audiences. This may mean segmenting by status (customer/prospect/suspect); country; users of specific IT tools; vertical market; job roles; or seniority (C-level only for example).
- Ensure content is of value to the recipients.
Don’t talk about how wonderful your managed services company is. Talk rather about issues that are important to your target audience and offer resources that will help them: white papers, research study results, invitations to industry events and webinars, or customer case studies, for example.
- Personalise emails.
Addressing a named individual rather than sending to ‘Dear CIO’ (or equivalent) can make the difference between having your message read or not.
And if you personalise further by mentioning details that are tailored to that person (for example, ‘delighted you called by our exhibition booth at XYZ – just wanted to follow up with some information of interest…’) – you may further increase your chances of being read.
- Think about the timing.
Take day and time into account when you plan to send out an email campaign. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are often cited as the best days; as for the best time – I’ve seen early morning, late morning and lunch hour quoted as effective. Of course you will need to take account of recipients’ local time if you are mailing internationally.
There is no one size fits all. My advice is to track your own results to see which day and time has most success with your audiences.
- Grab attention with a compelling subject line.
Without this you risk the recipient not even opening the mail. Only 14% of messages that omitted a subject line altogether received a response. But again, keep it short – within four words if possible, as response rates have been shown to reduce as more words are added
- Provide a clear CTA
Don’t leave it to the reader to guess what they are being asked to do (download a white paper, register for a webinar, or contact you for a free trial, for example. Make it easy for them using direct links and buttons – and, as above, don’t include too many CTAs.
- Make the mail appealing visually and style-wise
Your mail should stand out in the recipient’s inbox and entice people to open it.
From a style perspective, you may find the following tips useful:
- Ask a question to engage – but not too many: emails that ask 1-3 questions are 50% more likely to get a response than emails asking no questions .
- Use shorter words in shorter sentences.
- Include sentiments rather than offering a totally neutral piece (e.g. I am really worried by the latest spate of cyber-attacks – and that in many instances they could have been avoided…).
- Don’t be afraid to express opinions; they can result in a higher response rate – provided they don’t become a rant, of course.
- Make sure your mailing is optimised for mobiles and other devices.
- Try different variants to see how this impacts response.
For example, test out different content topics, subject lines, CTAs and signatories to see how these affect your open and click-through rates – then use this information to refine future campaigns.
- Keep it going
A flow of regular emails (not a deluge!) will lead recipients to expect contact from you daily/weekly/monthly, as your resources permit.
The optimal length of an email is hotly debated, but a study by email app specialist Boomerang found that emails between 50 and 125 words had the best response rates at just above 50%. Response rates declined slowly above this word count to about 44% for 500-word messages. After that, it stayed flat until about 2000 words – then declined “precipitously”.
Limiting the number of CTAs in an email is also a good idea: one CTA is clear; two is still clear but offers an alternative course; three and more can be confusing.
Five things you should not do
- Buy lists of email addresses.
If you build your own email database organically (e.g. from information requested on your website to access resources; from visitors you meet at exhibitions and so on) then recipients will be more likely to recognise you and be more inclined to open your email.
Don’t be tempted to send everything to everybody. Segmentation and tailoring will reap rewards.
- Give a hard-sell.
The focus of your mailing campaigns should be to inform and help, not sell.
- Overdo it.
While earlier advice was to email regularly, don’t send so many that they end up in spam.
- Give up!
Email marketing takes time and many tweaks to get right. The important thing is to track results so you can feed this information in as you build future email marketing campaigns. It could also become more demanding from May 2018, when the requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) come into force.
One big thing you should be preparing for: GDPR
If you are based in the European Union (EU), or you do business there, GDPR will introduce more stringent requirements to the way you use marketing emails and SMS messages– specifically regarding the way you handle and protect people’s data and share it across different marketing activities. GDPR is all about accountability, and non-compliance will result in significant fines.
With less than a year to go, however, there is still a lack of awareness among some companies– and a lack of preparedness among many of those who will be affected. Add Brexit into the mix for UK-based MSPs and there is even more uncertainty – although it is safe to assume that the same or similar rules will apply post-Brexit.
In any event, by this stage you should at least have identified where your data is stored, how it is being used and what policies are in place to govern how it can be used.
If you are still working through the detail you may find useful some of the publications from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, which has an entire section of its website devoted to GDPR. I found this twelve step guide to be quite helpful.
And of course there is the European Union’s GDPR website too.
I am a firm believer in the power of email marketing to drive your digital marketing efforts, reinforce awareness of your services, bring visitors to your website and, ultimately, generate sales leads.
While things will become more onerous in 2018, GDPR shouldn’t deter you from using email as a successful marketing tool; after all, it can also be seen as an opportunity to strengthen brand credibility by demonstrating good data protection.
Look out for our next blog: Are you a social success?
If you’re not getting as much benefit as you anticipated from social media marketing you will be interested to discover 10 social media ROI metrics worth measuring.
And catch up on the earlier blogs in our sales and marketing series: