Are You Overthinking Your Email Marketing?

Email marketing can be complex stuff, a combination of smart copywriting and careful number-crunching.

The only thing that’s clear is the goal: to send emails that deliver the maximum possible number of clicks and conversions. To reach that goal though, you have to define the message, refine your copy and tweak your content. Then you have to track the results, monitoring the effect of every change to every headline, call to action and shift in subject matter. Get it all right and you should, eventually, reach the nirvana of an email marketing campaign that operates at 100 percent efficiency.

Each email you sound will generate all the sales that your list and product can achieve together.

In practice, of course, that’s impossible and it might not even be a good idea to try. All that time spent sending multiple emails to different parts of your list to see whether users respond best to “click here,” “buy now” or “read more,” while valuable, might have been better spent on customer service or improving the user interface. The handful of extra sales the best call to action will generate over the second-best call to action might not pay for the effort put into testing them.

Not sweating the small stuff doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sweat at all though. Some pieces of information are essential. You should know:

  • Your average clickthrough rate.
    Once you have a baseline, you’ll be able to compare the effectiveness of future emails. Identify the messages that do significantly better or worse than others and you’ll be able to trace the factors that most influence clicks.

  • Your user interests.
    List segmentation is important. Creating different lists for different aspects of your business will reduce unsubscribes and preserve interest in your messages.
  • The best topics.
    One of the most interesting aspects of tracking email results is seeing which topics produce the best results. That’s not always easy to predict and the results can be both surprising and valuable. When you see that a subject has produced a higher than average response rate, make a note and be sure to work it regularly into your campaign.
  • The best subject lines.
    The subject line is the most important aspect of a marketing email. It’s the first thing the subscriber sees and it determines whether the message is opened, let alone read and acted on. In general, the best subject lines are honest and informative rather than salesy and sensational but it’s worth tracking the view rates to see which types of headings work best for your business.

Those four factors are among the most important aspects of a successful email marketing program. Focus your primary efforts on tracking those figures, and you’ll make managing your email marketing easier and more enjoyable.

But there’s one factor that’s even more important than all of those four, and it’s an element that doesn’t come with any numbers at all: honesty.

Email marketing at its best is a form of relationship marketing. Build trust and you’ll build sales. That’s simple enough not to have to think about at all.