Q: I’ve been regularly emailing my list of prospective small business customers, and I’m getting the hang of it. But, I feel like I could be doing more to make my emails even more effective. How can I optimize my marketing emails to help grow my business?
We’re glad to hear your email marketing campaigns are off to a good start! It’s clear that you’re dedicating the time and resources to make email marketing a priority, so now you can begin to optimize those emails to bring in even more leads for your sales team.
When we got your question we talked with Jeff Dale, the email marketing manager at Intronis MSP Solutions, to tap into his expertise on the subject. Here are Jeff’s tips for optimizing your marketing emails:
Optimize the subject matter
Start by looking at the emails that have performed well so far. You can pinpoint these emails by looking at their performance metrics in your email marketing software. The highest performing emails will have a low unsubscribe rate, high open rate, and high click-through rate. You should also look at the emails that did not perform as well. Once you’ve determined which emails did the best, you can note insights and begin A/B testing, comparing two versions of emails to see which performs better.
The most important piece of an email is the subject line, so this is an easy element to start A/B testing. Test two versions of a subject line on the same email. For example, one subject line can be fun and punchy while the other is more straightforward. Testing this will tell you which messaging your audience prefers and help you improve your open rates with better subject lines.
Another critical part of every marketing email is the Call to Action (CTA) which is typically a link that takes the reader to a webpage you want them to visit, or it could take the form of text reading something like, “reply now to set up your free IT consultation.” As a best practice, you should have a few different versions of a CTA within every email. For example, you could include a CTA displayed toward the top of the email to give readers a chance to click through early on, a large button midway through the email, and a standalone hyperlink at the very end of the email, etc . However you chose to include your CTAs, make sure that they’re prominent and impactful so the reader takes action.
If you have a very large list to email, you can run individual A/B tests on each CTA to find out what size, color, and text versions receive the highest click-through rate. For example, you can test the background color of a CTA button within the email, using a different color in each email to see if your audience responds better to one over the other.
Probably the most overlooked part of an email message is the preview text that displays below the subject line in most inboxes. This short bit of text is important because it’s the second line of text the email recipient will read before deciding whether or not to open the email. Unfortunately, this valuable space is often wasted real estate because marketers tend to overlook the preview text. You need to take advantage of this space to help get your message across to the recipient. As a best practice, always include preview text in your emails and treat it like an additional subject line.
Test the cadence
In my last post about email marketing, I advised MSPs getting started with email marketing to send an email every 15 days. If you’ve been following this email cadence, I recommend splitting your list of email addresses into two groups, with one group receiving emails every three days and the other every 20 days, for example. Whatever cadence you choose, make sure there’s a drastic difference in the amount of time between emails. If you test emails with cadences that are too similar, your results won’t different enough to reliably choose a winning cadence.
Be patient when testing the cadence. You will need to wait at least two months before you can really see the impact and adjust your email strategy accordingly. Resist the temptation to draw conclusions from a test early on because things can certainly change. Successful testing takes time and patience to gather a large enough sample size to be able to draw conclusions that can help your business.
Segmenting your audience
After you’ve tested the content of the email message, you can segment your email address database. This means assigning groups or values to your different email names. For example, you can segment based on the size of the small business, the type of business, the level of interest in your services, their previous interactions with your emails, etc. There are many different ways you can segment your email database so you can test more targeted emails that cater to those specific audience types.
Generally speaking, you should avoid doing A/B testing if you have a very small list of email addresses. In order to draw accurate conclusions, the larger the sample size of an A/B test, the more informed results you will get. If you’re not sure if your email list is large enough, Raj Khera of Presstacular consults MSPs in their email marketing efforts and can provide more information on whether or not your business is ready to begin A/B testing.
As you perform each of these A/B tests, always make sure you’re only changing one factor between the two emails so you can take away a clear winner. Once you’ve run an A/B test, compare the open rates and click-through rates between the two emails. From there, you can determine which email performed better and then send that email to your remaining contacts. As you begin segmenting your email list, keep in mind that you will still need another set of email addresses to send the winning email.
And if you’re reading this and you only have 50 people in your database, don’t worry! There are methods for adding names to your email list. Small businesses that could benefit from your services are out there, so you can attend local events, network with other small businesses, and begin prospecting to grow your email database. Best of luck in your email marketing.
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.
Photo Credit: Esparata Palma on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.