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3 ways to refresh your email marketing

A how-to guide to sending better emails in 2014

I turned on the TV last night, and I was bombarded with talk about resolutions. Restaurants are touting their low-cal options. Retailers are bringing out their workout stuff. And everybody who works in the smoking cessation industry is probably ready for a cigarette right about now.

But there's a good reason.

The new year is an irresistible fresh start, and most everybody loves the possibility of becoming better. I do, even if if my personal resolution to catch up on life errands means a dreadful trip to the fluorescent-lit dreamland of hacking coughs and empty stares that is the Colorado state DMV.

But I digress.

What about your email marketing? Does it need fresh start? How could it be better in 2014?

If you dread putting an email together…

If you have no idea who you're sending to anymore…

If you don't remember the last time you changed up the design…

If you've stopped looking at the results...

Chances are, it's time to revitalize your email marketing.

With the right kickstart, you'll not only craft better, more effective emails. You'll feel a whole new level of energy and excitement about what you're sending. Your subscribers will pick up on it. Everybody at Emma will be so proud of you. And we can all celebrate with a non-resolution-sanctioned brownie. It'll be great.

Anyway, here's a how-to guide for refreshing your email campaigns, with three big ideas to get you started.


Refresh your list.

Database management isn't my idea of a good time. But a well-organized and maintained list of contacts lets you do some powerful things with your emails. Here are three ideas to give your email list some love.

1. Reach out to inactive email addresses. With Emma, you can quickly find anyone who hasn't opened or clicked an email in, say, six months. Send an email campaign with an offer or bonus content to revive their interest. You can also consider removing them entirely if they don't respond.

2. Create segments. Very few businesses can get away with sending one message to their entire list. Chances are, your customers fall into categories. Now's a perfect time to determine what those categories are and segment your list so you can quickly reach the right group -- renewing members, people who've purchased, women over 35, what have you.

3. Centralize your database. If you've got email addresses in several systems, consolidate them in one place and let the power of smart web integrations keep them in sync for you. Emma's integration list is always growing, and with a web developer and API, you can make essentially any software programs talk to each other.

Refresh your format.

Our brains are trained to take in new information, so we start ignoring things in our environment (or hey, our inbox) that we've seen before. It's a good reason to keep the look of your email fresh. Any one of these ideas will boost your open and click rates.

1. Redesign your emails. Been using the same branded template for years? Try something new. If you use Emma's built-in email templates, you'll automatically have emails that are mobile-optimized. Play around with the layout, too. If you've always had a sidebar, remove it. The change alone will catch your readers' attention.

2. Explore a new approach to content. This is especially for you folks who admitted to dreading the process of creating an email. If you're bored crafting your content, imagine how your readers feel. Pair product promotions with how-to guides. Add a fun trivia section to your newsletter. Launch a new series altogether, like a customer spotlight, and ditch the ones you dread.

3. Try an unexpected subject line. Emma's split-testing feature tests two (or even three) different subject lines on a portion of your readers and sends the winner to the rest of the list. Better than any hunch, it gives you hard data on what works with your readers. It's a small, simple way to keep things fresh.

Refresh your strategy.

Maybe the real problem isn't your list, or the email itself. It's the whole strategy behind your emails. That's okay. Here's a quick guide to resetting the whole shebang.

1. Reflect on the past year. To know where you want to go, you need to know where you've been. Print out your emails and put them on the wall. Add the important numbers you track, whether that's site traffic, clickthrough rate, or conversions. (Emily's retrospective guide is a great tutorial.)

2. Dream big about what's possible with your email campaigns. Do your email campaigns feel like they're on auto-pilot? Another month, another newsletter. Or a promotion template that's been the same for years. Grab your team (or just a savvy friend) and reconsider what email marketing can really do for your organization. You could gather game-changing product feedback. You could free up precious staff time by automating some follow-up you're currently doing manually. You know the challenges your organization faces. Ask yourself: Could email marketing help solve this problem?

3. Set a few, tangible goals. By now, you've got some solid ideas about how your emails could be better. Now, turn those ideas into goals. Get specific. Don't just say "send more emails." Make sure your goal says how: "We're going to send twice a month to our main list and create 10 segmented emails per month as well." Make sure it's something you can measure, too. This may mean you need to change the way you track your emails. Remember, Emma offers built-in Google Analytics tracking to help you measure results beyond the email.

Of course, my guide here is just to get you started. Where is your program stuck? How will refresh your email marketing? Share your insights with the rest of us.

By the way, our Concierge Team can help with all this stuff. With our a la carte menu of services, you can tackle any of your email goals with an Emma expert by your side, coaching you and offering insight along the way.