6 Tips to Increase Your Email Marketing ROI
Marketing ROI

6 Tips to Increase Your Email Marketing ROI

Email is here to stay. It is the preferred mode of communication for the majority of consumers and is the biggest driver of new leads. When used correctly, email marketing is cost-effective and powerful.

According to Econsultancy, email marketing was ranked as the best channel in terms of ROI (68 percent), an increase of 3 percent from last year. Organic search came in as a close second (67 percent). The same study found that, on average, companies are attributing 23 percent of their total sales to email marketing. According to a report by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing yields an ROI of 4,300 percent for US brands.

As director of marketing operations at Skyword, I get dozens of emails every day from vendors offering the latest and greatest tools. Most provide zero value to a consumer; it’s usually someone trying to force their product on me. I’ve become somewhat of an email snob—because I have to be. If one thing is off in the email—weak subject line, poor formatting, incorrect token usage, or images not loading properly—the email is deleted immediately.

You can increase email marketing ROI through personalization, automation, dynamic content, and optimizing for mobile consumption. According to Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report, 66 percent of emails are opened on a mobile device.

Here are six tips to help you increase your email marketing ROI.

1. Be as Personable as Possible

My suggestions:

  • Go a step further than pulling in the first name into your emails. Consider other tokens like the recipient’s company name, the last article he or she read, or his or her boss’ name. Companies like RainKing provide org-chart data so you can see who reports to whom.
  • Learn what your leads prefer through A/B testing. Test subject lines, images within the body of the email, “From” names, times and dates, color of CTA buttons, etc.
  • Send different messages targeting your various personas and segments. Use the vast amount of data from your CRM and MAP to offer unique content to targeted segments. This allows you to address your prospects’ specific needs or demands. If you have a view into which content your leads have viewed or consumed in the past, send related or supplemental content as a follow-up. Besides the normal database segmentation based on industry, location, and job level, consider other ways to segment your database. Such as: What content topic or format do your leads prefer? If you’re capturing this in your MAP, send emails with links to videos to your leads who have viewed one or more of your videos in the past month. If your prospects prefer articles on the topic of social media, send them a link to an article or group of articles about social media.

2. Provide Value, Selflessly

What data can you pull from your own experiences that others will find valuable? At Skyword, we analyzed content created on our platform and found that, on average, total views increased by 94 percent if the content contained at least one image. If your emails provide valuable information to your prospects, they’ll reach out to you for a sales call when they are ready. If your main goal is to help alleviate your prospects’ pain points, you’ll be more successful in the long run. Reach out for a sales call only at the right time—when your leads view your pricing or demo page, when leads reach a certain lead score, or when they request more info. Email recipients want information that will be helpful and that will relate on a personal level.

And don’t underestimate how important the subject line is—this is a great place to showcase your email’s value. Thirty-five percent of email recipients open emails based solely on the subject line.

3. Be Consistent with Your Messaging

Sophisticated content marketing software will allow the content creator to not only create the article or eBook but also the supplemental content pieces as well. These include the social posts that can be used on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, but also the emails and landing pages connected to your marketing automation software. Using the same content creator for this helps unify the message across your channels and tells your story in a cohesive way.

4. Timing Is Key

If the email’s call to action is a form completion, Skyword schedules emails to be sent during business hours (when leads are likely at their desk). If the email is part of a nurture campaign, where clicking/reading an article is the goal of the email, we target the audience when they are on their morning commute (or it’s the weekend). You can get pretty creative with timing emails. If known users view five or more pages on our blog and haven’t subscribed, we send an email ten minutes after the fifth view, letting readers know they can subscribe to weekly updates.

5. Adopt New Approaches and/or Technologies

  • Movable Ink pulls in personalized, live, and streaming content directly from a website, RSS feed, or API, geo-targeted to the lead’s location. Read more about agile email marketing with the CEO of Movable Ink on the Content Standard here.
  • Use a tool like GIF Brewery to create your own GIFs. Here are some examples of how brands have used GIFs in emails. Be careful: Some email clients do not support animated GIFs, and GIFs that are too large can be slow to load.
  • For certain emails, you might consider using emoticons. Studies have shown that people naturally have a negative bias to emails. As the name represents, an emoticon is an easy way to convey emotion and promote positivity with a simple icon. If you’re skeptical, read this great article on using emoticons according to science. :-)
  • Crystal analyzes a lead’s personality based on social media profiles and public data on the Internet. It provides suggestions when emailing and selling to the person. I must say, it’s pretty spot-on.

Crystal for email

Crystal for emailing

6. Proofread Before Sending!

Emails need editors, too. Double-check everything from the body of the email to the subject line to the flow that sends the email. Similar to a longer-form piece of content, several eyes should be on the email before it is sent to the masses. You put your eBooks and articles through multiple copyediting reviews within your content marketing software—so why don’t you do the same for emails, which have a potentially larger audience and impact on your business? Running your marketing content past a dedicated copy editor will also help keep your message and tone consistent. A sophisticated content marketing software will help make this workflow seamless. Every day I see many examples from big companies containing major errors in their emails.

Here’s an unfortunate subject line mistake.

Subject line error in email

Here’s an email calling me Caitlin. My first name, or middle name, has never been Caitlin (or Bruce for that matter).

Error in email

Here’s an email that obviously wasn’t meant to be sent and ironically has TRUST as a featured image.

Email marketing mistake

Here’s a now well-known spelling error from Mitt Romney that could have easily been picked up by a spellchecker within a content marketing software.

Email error Amercia

Mistakes are bound to happen. A couple years ago, I sent an email to fifty people calling them all “Norm.” Running emails through your content marketing platform or asking someone else to take a look helps reduce grammatical errors.

Content measurement for Skyword emails are monitored in daily and weekly reports on the number of opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and replies. If your email client allows, view reports based on the number of times a lead opens your email. This could be a good indication of a level of interest or whether or not your email was forwarded to other people at the organization.

We also add content consumption to our lead scoring. The idea is to provide valuable information so that the lead requests more information from our sales team when he or she is ready. All of our major campaigns have nurture tracks that are intended to provide supplemental information to the campaign leads were a part of. We track the lead’s interaction with the email to view its impact on the lead’s overall journey. Negative marketing ROI is reduced by copyediting our emails, triple-checking flows before sending, and optimizing for various channels and email clients.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what some of today’s top marketing leaders told me about email marketing.

What They Said:

Maureen Flaherty, email marketing ROI

At Pardot, email marketing is one of our main tactics to nurture and qualify leads to a sales-ready state. We educate our prospects with personalized, relevant email content, reaching them at exactly the right time with automation. Ultimately, this combination helps move leads quickly through the funnel.
Maureen Flaherty – Email Marketing and Campaign Specialist, Pardot


Curt Franke - Eloqua

Email marketing is a (relatively) low-cost, highly “trackable” channel that, thus, helps improve ROI and prove ROI. So, these days there are very few excuses for the modern marketer to not have an integration between their CRM system and a cross-channel marketing automation solution like Oracle Eloqua so that the marketer can tie (i.e. attribute) specific marketing campaigns, which include emails, to specific sales that are won.
Curt Franke – Application Sales Manager, Eloqua (Oracle Marketing Cloud)

Craig Cohen, email marketing ROI

Many of us consider email marketing to be the “workhorse” in the marketing mix. And there are many stats to support this tactic. Here are a few. When email is used to nurture leads: 50 percent more sales-ready leads and at 33 percent lower cost. Producing a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities. [Source: Hubspot]

Craig Cohen – Principal, Fresh Brain Marketing

Nataly Kelly - email marketing ROI

When marketers don’t see the ROI they expect from email marketing, it’s usually due to not providing the right content to the right segment at the right time in their decision-making process. Boosting ROI from email marketing requires spending more time thinking about what type of content will be helpful to your contacts, as opposed to just thinking about what your company wants to communicate to them.

Nataly Kelly – VP of Marketing (Localization), HubSpot

Mike Berger - email marketing ROI

Email marketing, when done right, remains one of the best channels to engage customers. Doing it right means thinking about email as part of a holistic strategy to build long-term customer relationships—not as point in time campaigns.
Michael Berger – Senior Director Product Marketing, Marketo


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