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Interiors Business School

Email Marketing- Where to start?

Email marketing is all about communication. We discussed Digital Marketing recently where the real focus is on acquisition, whereas email marketing is an excellent way of continually engaging with clients longer-term. Today's top tips come from our in-house CRM Manager Saif.

eporta's very own CRM Manager, Saif Waris.
eporta's very own CRM Manager, Saif Waris.

Why should I start email marketing?

It's popular because of its non-invasive nature, especially when compared to the alternatives, such as SMS and phone calls, as a recipient only needs to open it when they're ready to. What's more, it can even spark a conversation if someone hits reply.

Furthermore, everyone has email, they carry it with them, on their phone, device or laptop, it's one of the most effective and legal ways to interact with your audience.

Which email platforms are good to use?

It depends on the size of your database, how many contacts do you have. If you have a list of 20 people, then mail merge is a great way to send personalised emails to a smaller volume of people. These would be plain text emails, but this sense of directness can be compelling. However, if you're thinking of starting a newsletter or blog, then you need to have the ability to build HTML based emails. Platforms like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor are great for this. You're looking for a platform with templates, or drag and drop formatting capabilities, making the process of building emails quick and easy.

Where do I start?

The most common place to start with email marketing is a newsletter. The best way to maximise your efforts is to understand your customer, your capabilities and your goals.

What does your audience want to hear about from you? Is it interior tips, project stories, your opinions on the industry, identify what it is that they value from you. Not sure what they want? You can ask your followers through social media, in person or via a survey. Once you've identified this, you can start calculating how long it would take to produce that content.

If you want to send a newsletter, it needs to happen regularly enough that the customer can look forward to expecting it in their inbox. Ask yourself how much time you can dedicate to this content consistently. Does it mean writing blog articles, curating project imagery, collating press clippings? Starting with a monthly newsletter is a good idea. You can scale up its regularity should you find you have more time for content creation along with a positive response to your mail outs.

Also, what do you want to get out of the marketing? Increased follower numbers, industry recognition, new clients? Whatever the goal you need to hone on what will help you to achieve this. Interior tips and tricks could boost your readership and brand, but not your client base. Whereas project stories may help with the latter, it all depends on this mix of considerations.

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How can someone grow their mailing list?

There are several ways to do this. The first and most common is a pop-up form on your website where someone can willingly sign up and share their information. The best way to encourage this action is with fantastic content that makes people want to come back for more. It's worth considering what you'd like to know about your sign-ups, but it's a delicate balance between asking too much or too little. The bare essentials are an email address, first name and last name. Other things you may want to know are location and interests- e.g. interior tips or project stories, this way, you can send them relevant content.

You can also drive people to your form from other channels, which is why digital marketing efforts work so well in partnership with email marketing. Their combined power drives traffic, from social media, search engines and partnerships onto your site where you can capture their attention like a venus fly trap. In the same way, if you have a customer enquiry form on your website, you can add a tick box about 'join our mailing list' at the bottom, as another way to get sign-ups.

It is essential for GDPR reasons that any form, or location where data is captured, that a few things are made very clear. Firstly how you will store their data securely, and how you plan to use this data, i.e. to send amazing interior insights directly to their inbox. It's also worth noting that emails, such as newsletters should come with the option to unsubscribe within it. Find out more about GDPR here.

When should I send emails?

Industry research suggests that Monday mornings are the worst time to send a newsletter. Which is understandable, inboxes have filled up over the weekend, and people have to hit the ground running for the week ahead, meaning less time to digest or act on what you've sent them. The best time according to the data is Wednesday before noon. However, these are recommendations, test what works well for your audience, even if it bucks the trend, review the results of your efforts and decide for yourself.

What's the best practice for things like subject lines?

Subject lines are best kept short and sweet, keeping them under 50 characters prevents ISP providers from truncating them, i.e. cutting them short with a ellipsis.

It's also important to showcase your style and personality, your competing for attention against a plethora of other emails they receive daily. And when it comes to words, there are some to avoid, or you could see all your hard work lost in a spam folder. Here's a list of terms to bypass.

How do I know if my email marketing strategy is working?

There are lot's of ways to measure the success of your email marketing, but at the core of these are open rates, click rates and unsubscribes.

Open rates and click rates should be high, but that doesn't necessarily mean 100%, in fact, an open rate of 20% is considered to be good, above 25% is great. And click rates often hover around 8%, but higher than 14% is excellent.

On the other hand, you want your unsubscribe number to be ideally below 1% if it is then people are enjoying the content you are providing. If however, this number rises, you can look at the frequency of emails, the content within them and the send times to readdress the balance. In truth, email testing is a beneficial way of getting the most from your efforts.

How can I test my emails?

AB testing is the most common way of experimenting with your email content, format, and subject lines. You have 100% of the data, and send version A of an email to 15%, and version B to 15% then watch the results for one day. Whoever has the higher open or click rate is the winner and, you send it to the 70% left.

The alternative is a 50/50 split but tested over an extended period of time, this works particularly well for welcome emails and newsletter formats. So you split your total audience in half for three months and send Version A to one half and Version B to the other, watching their behaviour for a greater length of time means you get a deeper understanding of what works for your audience.

Another option is a control group. Send a campaign to 90% of your audience, and don't send anything to the other 10% then see if it offers any change in behaviour or not.

Lastly, a different type of test, before you send any email, run it through software like Litmus or Email on Acid, where you can check how it looks on various platforms and devices.

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