Saturday, March 18, 2017

SEO 101: Consumer Email Guide

How do you connect with your customers? Social media? Content marketing? E-newsletters? A successful digital marketing campaign attempts to connect with customers across multiple platforms--ideally with unique content for each.

On this blog, you will find articles about building effective social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as well as "Five Simple Steps for the Social Media Newbie."

We've also written about the value of great content, the centerpiece of any content marketing campaign: "Two Simple Questions to Inspire New Content" and "Content Marketing is Useless Without SEO." 

Both social media and content marketing attempt to accomplish the timeless goal of all marketing campaigns: to attract and engage a targeted audience.

But what if you already have an audience? Call it what you will, audience, target list, or followers, a succinctly defined (and refined) audience is marketing gold.

Consumer Emails: One of 88

The trick to leveraging your audience is much the same as attracting new customers: unique and effective content. Unfortunately, quality content creation is a shortcoming for many--or, really, most--established businesses. Many businesses, in fact, own impressive contact lists to absolutely no avail.

Many businesses send mass emails and newsletters without a great deal of intention--let alone editing or revision, the hallmarks of good writing.

Yet, for some reason, these businesses expect sub-par content to work like magic: to inspire some sort of conversion, like a click through.

A recent Email Statistics Report by The Radicati Group, estimated the average number of consumer emails sent and received each day to be about 88. The average office worker, incidentally, receives 121 emails each day. An impressive targeted list can not change this simple fact: Your email is one of 88--or, perhaps, 121.

So how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you inspire a click through?

Great content is a must. If you're writing emails or e-newsletters to your target list, however, you can improve your conversions by following three simple tips.

This image, from an article entitled "Please Unsubscribe Me: How Many Emails Are Too Many?", makes a strong case for testing the frequency of your emails. Yet most brands face a more elemental question: 
How do you craft a single effective email?

Write a Captivating Title

Obviously, you want your recipients to open your emails. Considering the deluge each person receives each day (88 emails!), you must attract attention from the get-go.

Without a captivating title, that speaks specifically to your target audience's needs or desires, your email will likely never see the light of day.

Writing for HubSpot, Ginny Mineo collected 18 of the Best Email Subject Lines You've Ever Read, from Barack Obama's "Hey" to this humdinger from Thrillist: "DO NOT Commit These Instagram Atrocities."

"I always ask myself one question before opening an email," writes Mineo. "Will opening this email be a waste of time? Typically, the answer to this question is based entirely on the effectiveness of the subject line."

Mineo's article offers helpful insight on how to craft an effective, captivating title. As Obama's "Hey" proves, it's not all about surprising your audience. The key is enticement. When writing a title, you have one goal--to inspire a click.

Design a Succesful Template

Many businesses spend hours creating consumer email content only to waste the content on a poorly-designed layout. The way your email looks is important. Chunky blocks of text, for example, might repel readers. Some experts even advise abandoning paragraphs altogether for lists or bullet points.

Remember, even when your email is opened, your readers are likely pressed for time. Pay attention to font, font size, and paragraph length. Attract readership with a clean, simple presentation.

Salesforce's Pardot, which offers B2B marketing automation, collected 7 Examples of Succesful Email Templates with some helpful tips:

"Research has shown that people scan emails in an “F” shaped pattern," Jenn Hannington writes for Pardot. "Keep this in mind when creating your templates. Important information should be at the top, including your company logo, your call to action, and any key points that you’d like readers to take away from your email."

Beyond the necessity of designing a good template, however, remember: Your actual content is the most important element of a consumer email. We especially like this tip from Hannington, which speaks to a core organic SEO practice:

"If you know your readers’ interests, send them content that’s specifically related to those interests. Add value by including additional content that your recipients might find useful."

Optimize for Mobile

Remember, most of your consumer will be reading emails on mobile devices. As with websites, no one wants to read an email that is not optimized for a mobile device. Make sure your template translates well to email, lest your consumers suffer the indignity of pinching and zooming.

Writing for Marketing Land, Chad White created an insightful guide for optimizing consumer emails for the mobile experience: The Five Levels of Mobile-Friendly Emails.

"What’s certain is that with the majority of B2C brands using mobile-friendly email design," Write writes, "consumer expectations are rising. Increasingly, they’ll be expecting an email and Web experience that works on smartphones and tablets. That also means that if you’re not being mobile-friendly, the risks to your brand image and to subscriber engagement are rising, too."

The word "risk" here is apropos: By neglecting the quality of your consumer emails you do your customers and your brand a disservice--in short, you may do more harm than good.

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