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10 Tactics to Drive Relevance in Email Marketing

Each of the tactics below will help you create more relevant email messages.

1. Benefit from short-burst email communications.

In a word, be concise. Your content should be:

  • Easily consumable. Deliver your message payload in a glance. Use enough copy to entice or answer a basic question, but save the fine print and long explanations for your landing page.
    • Easily shareable. Readers should be able to share your email with their social networks without having to cut and paste.
    • Easily directable. Get to the point and clearly label links to drive readers to your landing page.

2. Understand and use subscriber engagement and behavior.

These four steps can help you incorporate these key data points:

i) Create email list segments based on subscriber engagement, such as:
– Active: Click at least once every 1-3 months
– Passive: Click once every 3-6 months
– Laggard: Click once every 6-12 months
– Lapsed: No clicks after 12 months

ii) Tailor email messaging to reflect these segments and push subscribers to more active segments. One example: a reactivation email campaign sent to “lapsed” subscribers.

iii) Create a Customer Engagement Index using key performance indicators and trends to determine list health. (click on image to see illustration)

iv) Determine the value of an email address to measure profitability and ROI, defend email’s budget allocation, and define and target highly profitable segments. (Download a free spreadsheet to calculate this value at the website for Email Marketing An Hour A Day

3. Leverage engagement and relevance to improve email sender reputation and deliverability.

Subscribers click the spam button or ignore messages they consider irrelevant. This hurts sender reputation, which ISPs use when deciding whether to deliver email to the inbox or the spam folder or to block it.

Use win-back (reactivation) campaigns to wake up lapsed subscribers or direct them to other channels to receive your messages.

Practice good list hygiene, including removing lapsed addresses that don’t respond to win-back campaigns. Also, use deliverability tools such as feedback loops, tracking delivery by domain, and scoring content to avoid looking “spammy”.

4. Use email visitors’ website behavior to improve relevance.

Incorporate your Web analytics with your email marketing application to create highly relevant messages that can deliver higher conversions. (Lyris integrates these automatically.)

Five ways to leverage website visitor activity in email marketing:

  1. Identify and move underperforming products.
  2. Send cart-abandonment reminders to those who put items in a cart but leave without purchasing.
  3. Track entry and exit points to measure effectiveness of acquisition sources.
  4. Balance behavior segmentation with promotional content.
  5. Analyze email subscription-page behavior to optimize the subscription process.

5. Test to better control future success.

Enlist these tactics to quickly see the benefits of email testing:

  • Use email subject lines to test open rates.
  • Test to see which creative elements spur more action.
  • Test targeting to drive your desired behavior.
  • Test email rendering on big and small screens, with and without images.
  • Test links before every send.
  • Test to be sure personalization works correctly.

6. Develop more effective email content and subject lines.

Testing (No. 5) can help you boost your creative efforts here:

  • Optimize email content for short-burst messaging.
  • Use shorter subject lines to avoid cutting off the main message in mobile inboxes.
  • Use shorter creative, cutting out clutter and reducing options that distract from your main message.
  • Experiment with/test video and rich media, such as animated GIFs.

7. Apply social networking.

You can build email relevance by leveraging your subscribers’ social activity:

  • Measure social sharing: how often your subscribers share content.
  • Measure social influence: which subscribers are influencers and advocates.
  • Measure duration: how long an email message lives after delivery.
  • Use this data to build subscriber profiles and target future email marketing.

8. Drive subscriber acquisition and optimize search.

Search and social networking are rich sources of new, motivated email subscribers:

  • Leverage social networking for subscriber acquisition by cross-promoting content and offers and with prominent opt-in invitations.
  • Use keywords and search phrases in blogging to advance search placement and help new subscribers find your website.
  • Promote email registration at all possible entry points on your site beyond the home page (landing pages, privacy, preference center, category pages, even unsubscribe page).

9. Implement email design for small screens.

The mobile marketing age is here. Are you ready for it?

  • Design email that will deliver your message on all screen sizes, with/without images; i.e. put image descriptions and calls to action in alt tags.
  • Avoid forcing sideways scrolling.
  • Leverage “click to view mobile version” and test the page for mobile rendering.
  • Create mobile-specific landing pages.
  • Add SMS mobile short codes for offline acquisition.

10. Use email segmentation tactics to drive top- and bottom-line results.

Proper segmentation and targeting makes email marketing 4x to 9x more effective.

  • Create segments using data you already collect: open, click, recency, frequency and age of list.
  • Social segmentation: Target subscribers who share your content, rate a product or post a review
  • Use behavioral analytics and customer activity to set up automated lifecycles and triggered email campaigns.

Where Do I Start??

Admittedly, this list might look daunting if you run a one-person department or don’t have the software capability to incorporate data, launch segmentation or targeted messaging.

I recommend beginning with the most essential aspect of any email marketing program: knowing the value of each subscriber on your email list to your organization.

You might not think one subscriber is worth much, so why bother? Because everything else is predicated on knowing what your email subscribers bring to the bottom line.

Being able to assign a monetary value to your email list helps you justify money spent to re-engage lapsed subscribers, to launch testing, and to justify budget requests for additional labor and services.


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Each of the tactics below will help you create more relevant email messages. 1. Benefit from short-burst email communications. In …
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