One of the greatest advantages of email is the many insights that you can use to diagnose and optimize the success of your email marketing campaigns.
Many marketers believe they’re only competing against their competitors, but what they fail to do is compete against themselves. Using data as the driver of your content, you can increase your chances of “success” for every campaign you send.
While personalized event-based touchpoints are important, they’re only part of what makes up the meat of a truly effective email campaign that digs deep into the motivators behind conversions on your products. Behavioral-based triggers are essential, but most do not build brand loyalty and value over time.
What keeps your subscribers coming back is relevant, curated content. Here’s a 4-step process to help you create email marketing campaigns that are hyper-relevant and useful to your subscribers.
1. Determine Your Email Campaign Content Categories
Knowing your email marketing campaign content categories and how they perform is one of the most missed facets of knowing your audience.
As a start, choose four to five categories that you’d like to message monthly.
These content categories will be unique to your brand, and you’ll need to assess what’s most relevant independently.
Here are some general groups you can begin with:
- Promotions: This will likely be your top-performing category due to the incentives! Keep this in mind when comparing between content categories. Just because it’s your top-performing category, doesn’t necessarily mean you need more promotions.
- Product Launches: Your engaged subscribers will likely look forward to new arrivals. Sending a launch email when a new product is available is a great way to gauge interest in new products and help with predictions as to how the new product will perform in the long term.
- Product and Category Features: Spotlighting your products and categories can draw attention to trending items and dive deeper into how items can specifically benefit subscribers.
- Branded Content: Branded content can establish thought leadership within a space. This includes educational content, blog posts, videos, and things that make your brand unique.
Send out a few months of content with a mix of these categories.
Pull your analytics out of your system and separate all of your metrics by category. These will form a set of baseline analytics for each type of content, and give you a good idea of what to expect when you send these out.
Using these insights when you build out monthly email marketing campaigns calendar can help bring in consistent revenue MOM by incorporating promotions into months that are typically lower performing, and pulling back on discounts during months that are seasonally high.
2. Understand What Consumer Behavior Means For Your Brand
There is so much information out there around consumer behavior and you’ll need to spend some time understanding what that means for your brand.
The set of principles that I’ve found to be most effective are Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion (Cialdini, Robert B. Influence: Science and Practice. New York: HarperCollinsCollegePublishers, 1993. Print.).
Determine how each of these plays into your brand and how they can be utilized through your email campaigns.
- Reciprocity: Refer-a-friend programs or “for every purchase we’ll donate a percentage to charity,” can make individuals feel as if they get added benefits out of their purchase and convince them to make a purchase with your company instead of another that may offer similar goods.
- Scarcity: Low in stock, urgency banners, or selling out fast notifications can motivate a purchase.
- Authority: Blog posts, journal articles, or thought leadership can build trust and rapport that establishes a brand as a respected authority figure.
- Consistency: Sending out a monthly newsletter, or sending on a biweekly basis at consistent times can build trust.
- Liking: Incorporating compliments, sympathy, or understanding into messaging can help people like you more–people like things that are like them and that help them achieve a mutual goal.
- Consensus: User-generated content, 5-star reviews, or best sellers callouts can provide consensus and social proof that the product is worthwhile.
Using tactics that feed into these motivators, especially making them specific to your brand, can connect the dots of why your subscribers should buy your products from you.
But don’t stop there!
Social obligation is only half of the battle. The second piece comes with a deeper understanding of how they respond, and additionally, establishing an environment that provides the best circumstances for them to convert.
3. Test Everything (but not at the same time!)
An untested content calendar can establish a baseline, but it must be optimized with testing.
In order to optimize your content, you’ll need to identify your key performance indicators.
A good starting point is the analysis of Open Rate, Click Rate, and Conversion Rate. As a best practice, make sure you’re always testing in isolation, measuring results for statistical significance, and testing across at least 3 campaigns.
A) Begin with Open Rate Optimization using Time of Day Testing, Day of Week Testing, and Subject Line Testing:
- Time of Day testing can involve utilizing optimization tools from your ESP, testing sending by Time Zone, or testing AM vs PM. The possibilities are endless and the goal is to figure out when your subscribers are most likely to open your messages and consistently send at that time.
- Day of Week testing can also be achieved with optimization tools from your ESP, but if that’s not an option you can always run independent tests such as weekend vs weekday. Please note that time of day can shift with the day of the week, so make sure you’re covering all of your bases!
- Subject Line testing is the pinnacle of A/B testing within email marketing and there are so many items to test that you could quite literally test this forever. But, you don’t want to do that as you have other things you need to focus on! So choose a few tests such as emoji vs no emoji, mystery vs direct, or promo amount vs generic sale language as preliminary optimizations and be sure to revisit this every 6 months or so to ensure you’re staying relevant.
B) Once you’ve completed preliminary Open Rate testing, move on to Click Rate testing.
When looking at click rate optimization, remember that the email is the invitation, and the website is the party.
If you don’t invite someone in an enticing way, they won’t be attending. If they don’t attend, they don’t convert off of your campaign. In click rate optimization, you’ll test Calls to Action (color, words, etc), promotions ($ off vs % off), forms of copy (long form vs short form), and overall template layout. For more info on these tests, check out this great article that contains three click optimization tests you can try this month to start with!
C) Complete your analysis with Conversion Rate Optimization. Test landing pages, product features, and email specific pop-ups to assist in guiding a subscriber’s journey once they hit your site.
- Landing Page testing determines which landing pages help people get to the point of purchase best. Does linking to a specific product help conversions? Does linking to a category page encourage browsing and prompt individuals to add more to their cart and convert with a larger order value? Test the landing pages to find out!
- On-Site Pop-Up testing can give the consumer a reminder of why they clicked once they clicked. Offering a promotion? There’s certain overlay software that you can utilize to pop up and offer a “click to copy code” option when the traffic acquisition source matches the UTM associated with the campaign.
Once you’ve gathered the insights above, begin your content curation process.
4. Apply Your Learnings Across Your Email Marketing Program
A successful email campaign cannot exist without a consistent content calendar.
Through the testing process, you’ve created the best possible situation for your subscribers to engage, but now you need to create the content that stays seasonally relevant and motivates subscribers to purchase by revealing pain points throughout. Yes, I’m talking about deeply linking how your product benefits people to seasonal current themes.
To stay seasonally relevant, we’ve built out a list of all of the holidays that could possibly be utilized by your brand. We additionally come out with more in-depth quarterly calendar recommendations to help you determine which holidays fit your brand best (Q1, Q2).
Analyze Your Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns
When you’re analyzing the holidays, work to make those connections with your brand.
Identifying key associations and emotional motivators to purchase will help guide your focus. Let’s take the upcoming 7/30 International Day of Friendship, for example.
Would you identify your product as the perfect gift for a friend? If so, you should build out email content leading up to the date with strong gifting focused language around gifting to your best friends.
Don’t have a product that would be good to symbolize friendship but you have a blog that offers advice or a tone that communicates in a conversational way? Great! Utilize your personable brand to message your qualities of friendship and extend an offer on the day of to leverage reciprocity as a motivator to purchase.
The key to building successful campaigns is behind an overarching email content strategy that consistently combines your analytics, the key motivators of purchasing your product, and relevant, seasonal events. With that, you’ll have all of the tools you need to build successful, data-driven campaigns.
Before you begin, make sure you read up on how to build an audience and how to avoid deliverability issues by keeping your list clean.
Want to learn more? Get in touch with our CRM & Email team here.