Tips for Maximizing Email and SMS Marketing Efforts
Now, more than ever, digital marketing efforts are an essential part of the marketing funnel for all industries. However, like the tools in a toolbox, not every marketing tool can perform every task. This article aims to help you make the most out of email and SMS efforts to reach your target audience.
Get Permission Before Sending Emails
In the same way the FCC monitors broadcast marketing, there are regulations for email marketing, too, specifically for the sake of privacy. Europe has the GDPR, and California has the CCPA. In some instances, the standards will vary depending on where your customer base lives. In others, interstate or international rules apply.
The best thing to do to cover your bases when it comes to email marketing is to get permission before sending emails to anyone. Permission could look like somebody signing up to subscribe to your email list on the website or somebody opting in during a purchase. It does NOT involve the selling or purchase of email lists or sending “cold” emails to individuals.
Marketing Email Content
Email communications will be a primary interaction between consumers and your brand, so the brand voice and brand personality should be abundantly clear. Friendly and helpful brevity is a win. Email content won’t matter if the subject line doesn’t entice readers to open it, or if they haven’t found something of value in previous emails. “What’s in it for me?” is the reader’s mindset. “How can we help?” should be the brands’.
What do subscribers/readers expect or want from your brand? Stories? Deals? VIP treatment?
Think of non-profit organizations who share stories about how donations help them serve the community, or a retail store that only sends coupons to email subscribers, or a tech company sharing a product demo via email before the general public sees it. The purpose of email marketing is to endear your brand to consumers. Make sure each email strives to do that.
How Often Should You Send Brand Emails?
Send an email when you have something of value to share with the customer. It doesn’t have to be a discount/deal. It could be an announcement about a new service or new service area. It could be a unique story about how somebody used your product.
Keep in mind what recipients are expecting from your emails. What did they sign up for? Don’t just send an email for the sake of sending it. People will tune out. Once a month is good to keep your brand in mind without overwhelming inboxes.
Which Points Along the Customer Journey Should Trigger an Email Being Sent?
- After purchase – Send within a week after they receive the product or service, so the experience is fresh on their mind. After for their feedback on the product and the process. Offer tips and tricks. Regardless, use a tone of gratitude that anticipates their needs and is perceived as helpful rather than annoying.
- Upon form submission on the company website – The email confirms their submission and provides brands with an opportunity to introduce themselves and establish expectations for next steps.
- After a download – Depending on the download, this could be an email or a push notification welcoming them into the brand family and explaining what to expect from future messages. The download should give readers the option to express how (or if) they prefer to receive communications: email, text, or in-app push notifications.
- Chatbot/customer service follow-up – Messaging specific to the topic discussed with the chatbot or customer service representative, offering additional assistance and ensuring the customer is satisfied with the resolution.
Sent emails slightly before the season when your services are most essential. Avoid jumping on bandwagons. For example, a back-to-school sale for a car dealership doesn’t make sense.
Seasons and holidays are the same for every brand. Fall, summer, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, etc. are popular times for promotional emails. Think about how to stand out within the inbox list of subject lines. Maybe you’d be better off sending your promotion earlier than your competitors or during an “off-season”.
Promotional emails are those emails you send when you have a special offer, announcement, or discount. The more you can make readers feel like VIPs, the more likely they will be to stay subscribed. If they go to the website and see a banner or pop-up with the same offer, there’s really no point in them subscribing to the email list. Give subscribers advanced notice, even if it’s just a day. Better yet, run specials just for your email subscribers who will (ideally) tell their friends how to get the same discount (by signing up for your email list).
The best email service providers will offer you the option to segment your email list based on certain actions readers have performed or to target readers based on information you have on file about them. This allows your email marketing efforts to be more precise, which is always a good practice. Consider targeting emails based on the following information:
- Geographic location
- By service/product line based on previous purchases
- Rewards members versus non-rewards members
- Those who didn’t open the last email
- Those who have specified what types of email they want to receive from you. For example, a newsletter or promos only
The Best Days and Times to Send Emails
You may have noticed that you receive the majority of your marketing emails on Tuesdays. There was a time when it was best practice for businesses to send emails then, because they were most likely to be opened on a Tuesday. Over time, though, with businesses all following the same information, people became inundated with promotional emails on a Tuesday, meaning brand emails were competing not just with personal emails, but also with a slew of other brands vying for attention.
The best day and time to send a marketing email depends on your industry and your target market. Most email service providers (like MailChimp and Constant Contact) have articles that show data from their users indicating the most effective times and days by industry. Coschedule also has an informative article on the topic.
There are some best practices that apply across the board, though:
- Send B2B emails during work hours on a weekday
- 10 a.m. in the recipients’ time zone is a good time of day
- Perform A/B testing to determine if weekdays or weekends perform better
Email vs. SMS/Push Notifications
For app-based business models and companies that present themselves as a tech-forward, SMS marketing and push notifications should be elements in the funnel for returning customers. While emails may address current customers AND prospects, SMS and push notifications should be reserved for customers who have explicitly delineated their communication preferences via an opt-in process, often during an app download. These messages should be short and contain more time-sensitive information (delivery updates, flash sale, location-specific announcements, etc.) They should be personalized without using abbreviations or slang. OptinMonster and Slicktext both have articles with more detailed information on their websites.
SMS Opt-in Campaign Targeting Prospects
As another alternative for using SMS marketing for prospects instead of customers, Warren Douglas recommends an opt-in campaign that uses a brand-friendly short code prospects use to opt into SMS messages, whether or not they have the brand’s app. For example:
“Text TEXTIT to 77777 to receive the most up-to-date information and deals from us.”
Digital Marketing Help is Available
There’s a lot to consider and multiple moving pieces. Digital marketing is not for the faint of heart. Warren Douglas wants to help you develop a marketing strategy that works for you. Let us know how we can help. Our experts live for this stuff.