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Catch, Release, Repeat: Re-engaging Your Client Base

Posted on by WebSolutions

The web is an extremely powerful tool for communication. Available 24/7 and as information-rich as you make it, a website can be the most important step you take in marketing to new audiences. But what about the clients that you already have? If someone has bought your product or service in the past, what can you do to get them back to your site and/or get them interested in you again? This is where a smart and strategically planned email marketing campaign comes in. Executed well, it can make sense for virtually any organization.

Why email marketing? The first, and most obvious, reason is cost. The deployment of an email marketing “blast” can be dramatically less expensive than more traditional forms of marketing to clients. Not only is the bottom line cost for distribution lower, but the ability to track direct return on investment is available and extremely accurate. You can measure the number of people who open your email, click through to your site and, ultimately, respond to your specific call to action. Another reason for email marketing is exposure. There’s no easier way to put yourself and your brand in front of a past client. For those people who aren’t interested, they can easily opt-out of subsequent emails, but the vast majority will engage your email, remember your business, gain something from the information provided and hopefully react positively to the message you are communicating.

If you have an email campaign in progress, or are considering one in the near future, here are some best practices that can help ensure that your efforts are effectively executed and well-received by your clients.

Avoid Spam Filters & Blacklists:

Many internet service providers use spam filters to block unsolicited email from entering their customers’ inboxes. To prevent your emails from being flagged as spam, avoid using words traditionally considered as spam (e.g., Free, '$$$', Save, Discount) in both the subject line and the content of your email.

Provide an Unsubscribe Link:

By law, you must provide recipients with the ability to unsubscribe to subsequent emails. Make sure it is simple and clearly visible and that you have a mechanism for tracking unsubscribes.

Signup Confirmation:

If you invite people to sign-up for your email campaign online, always use a double opt-in confirmation process. This process includes the visitor entering his/her email address and then receiving an automated email to confirm their subscription.

Keep Your Subject Lines Short:

It takes only seconds for a recipient to visually acknowledge your email’s subject line to determine if it will be opened, deleted, or at least temporarily ignored. The subject line should be concise, but should also specify to the recipient both the sender and the value to be gained from the email.

Consistent Design and Branding:

To strengthen your brand and to reinforce the consistency of the campaign, create a template that allows the look and feel of each newsletter or email publication to be formatted consistently and visually convey the brand and message.

Grow Your List with a Promotion:

You can expand your email list by offering a discount or other promotional item to visitors who sign up for your emails. As explained in Tip #3, use an automated email process for confirmation of email address provided.

Personalize Your Emails:

Research has shown that the simple addition of the recipient's first name within the body of the email (e.g., “Dear Frank”) can increase both readership and click-through rates substantially.

Maximize & Track Click-Through Rates:

To increase the number of click-throughs to your site from the email, use plain, bold, blue text links. It has been found that users respond better to standard bold, blue text links than to banners or buttons. It is imperative that your email has multiple links to your site and that you have a mechanism in place to track the number of click-throughs per link.

Conclude Your Email with a Signature:

Just as there are plusses to personalizing the message to the recipient, you can also benefit from "personalizing" the sender with a signature. The designated signature area should include your title, company name, and an unsubscribe link.

Send Emails on Tuesday / Wednesday:

Think about yourself and when you feel the most overwhelmed by your inbox and AVOID those days. Studies (and common sense) show that people are more receptive to emails on Tuesday and Wednesday. Along with the day sent, consider the time the email is scheduled to be sent. Avoid the beginning and end of the work day along with the lunch hour.

Repeat Email Communication:

Ensure that your subscriber list is being communicated with on a regular basis, with emails that communicate information about your products and services and start to build a relationship.

Send Emails on Same Day and Time:

Clients are receptive to consistency. Whenever possible, send your emails on the same day and same time. If the information you are providing is well received, people will begin to positively anticipate the next mailing.

Experiment with the Layout of Your Emails:

Because you can’t presume how your subscriber base will receive your email and information, try multiple variations of the email template where the components of the email are the same but the placement of those components varies. Test which layouts and link placements work the best by comparing open and click-through rates.

Email Browser Compatibility:

When your email is still in draft format, make sure that you test it for both layout and functionality in multiple email browsers. It’s always a good idea to have an HTML-only version of your email available for those recipients who don't have an email platform that is graphics compatible.

The Preview Pane in Microsoft Outlook:

Many Outlook users have their browser configured to display a preview of the email selected from the inbox. Attempt to include attention-grabbing content and/or imagery at the very top of your email to encourage opening.

Ultimately, the key to success comes from a lot of thought, strategic planning and the stick-to-itiveness to keep the campaign fresh, engaging and active over the long term. Being consistent and informative can give you a new level of credibility with your clients. Maintaining a schedule of routine emails can also build the amount of insightful data that you have about your clients, their interests with your business, and the viability of the products and/or services that you are communicating to them via your campaign.

If all of this seems overwhelming, it can be. Your primary goal should be to set yourself up for success, not failure. Don’t undertake a higher volume of communication than you can handle and always give yourself the time to assess both your successes and failures so that each subsequent effort is as targeted and effective as possible.

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