by Megan Miller

Live events and in-person networking took a back seat in the marketing mix for many companies during 2021. The pivot caused many to shift resources back into digital marketing, including webinars, virtual social events, social media, and the workhorse – email marketing.

Email remains at the core of business marketing strategies, with 89% of marketers saying email marketing is their primary strategy. Email marketing makes money. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $36. That’s a higher return than you can expect from any other form of marketing — digital or otherwise.

Do you know the ROI on your email investment in 2021? Chances are, you don’t know, or you do know, and see some room for improvement in 2022. Pay attention to the basics for success in email marketing, and be aware of some elements that are changing and could impact your results. Here are some steps you can take now to achieve better results from email marketing in the coming year.

Quality, not quantity: Use an Opt-in Approach

Don’t send emails to people who did not opt in to receive email from you. Buying email lists or sending to non-opt-in contacts builds a lower value list, and risks data privacy law violations. Building an opt-in list of prospects who have real interest, and with whom you can build a relationship, is the only way to achieve sustainable list growth for email marketing. By building an opt-in list, you’ll get better open and click-through rates, realize greater ROI from campaigns, and avoid being blacklisted as a spam sender.

Segment and Focus

As you build a contact list in a CRM system over time, continue to refine the profile of each contact. Most CRM programs can track lead source and engagement, tagging a contact with dates and details of their interaction with each campaign – opens, clicks, downloads and other activity.  Careful management of segmentation details allows you to conduct more targeted campaigns over time. Tracking an original source code will help identify where higher quality leads and clients originally found your firm.

Keep Messages Short and Targeted

Using the segmentation data in your CRM system, you can pull a list of prospects who fit a profile and have shown interest in a particular solution or subject. For example, a managed services provider might offer a new service to all contacts with corporate legal titles who have shown interest in your Microsoft 365 white paper. A provider of automated payments software might target accounting firms of 20 or more accountants who also use QuickBooks. Careful targeting might pull a smaller, but higher quality list of people who will appreciate your message and be more likely to engage.

Message content should be short, with the attention grabbing questions in the opening lines. Don’t make the reader guess why you’re emailing.  Use your customer knowledge to focus the message on their needs and valuable content you offer.  It’s about the customer, it’s not about you.

Be Mobile friendly

Surprisingly, 58% of mobile device users check email first thing each morning, compared to 14% who check social media first. Yet many business emails are not designed for proper rendering on a mobile device.

Use tools that support responsive design. Responsive emails adjust their format, style, font, margin, and size based on the screen a person uses. Test your email on multiple device types and browsers prior to sending, to catch any quality issues.

The way an email displays could affect customers’ perception of your business. Overlooking mobile design – particularly if you are a tech, software or services provider – can leave a poor impression that works against your brand.

Use Unique Links

To track and segment contact activity as described above, use unique URLs in marketing emails. Many email platforms can create these automatically. The unique URL returns details about the actions a particular contact takes when they view your email. Did they click through to the white paper, read the article, or hit the Contact button? With unique links, the reader’s activity will be captured in your CRM system, adding more value to future targeting efforts.

Encourage Engagement

Reader engagement, and your appropriate response, are key to growing a community of followers and interested individuals. Interactive emails include elements that users can manipulate without having to visit another page and leave their inbox. Interactive content might include:

  • Survey data or maps that readers can interact with
  • Carousels of images users can swipe
  • Videos users can view

Be sure to share social media links in every email. When you create a social media promotion, share the same news with email subscribers to make sure they see it and can engage.

Test and Measure

It’s important to A/B test both subject lines to calls to action (CTAs). The results will tell you what topics, terms, phrases and offers hold the greatest appeal for readers. Test one element (subject, offer, etc.) at a time, with as large a sample size as possible.

Measure the success of each email campaign, and capture results over the course of each quarter or year. Over time the metrics will help identify the hot topics of interest, the most popular offers, and the issues your readers find most engaging.

About the Author

Megan Miller is a senior consultant with Edge Marketing, assisting clients in development and execution of strategic marketing plans and implementation of marketing technologies. A global technology hound, Miller has built brands, trained teams and introduced successful products for global companies and startups. A certified eDiscovery expert, Miller has written on trends and topics in electronic discovery, consumer electronics and the internet of things – before the IoT was even a thing. Her work has appeared in Attorney at Law, US Tech, TechnoLawyer, ACEDS and other industry publications.