How To Write A Non-Annoying Marketing Email

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If we are to believe the hype, email marketing has an average of 3800% ROI ($38 per every $1 spent). And, if that’s an average, it goes without saying that some companies are getting higher than 3800% ROI on their emails. While that figure covers transactional emails also, let’s focus on what everyone usually thinks of when they think of email marketing: direct email marketing.

This week, we’re running our favorite deal: Taco Tuesday. Taco Tuesday is a Tuesday – Tuesday promotion where everything is 20% off. I jokingly compared it to the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale on our Slack channel the other day, because it’s sort of like that: a sweet deal that only happens every once in a while.

I remember the first time we did it. Josh and I had just started working together and we had lots of ideas about how to maximize this partnership. Josh had been building a list and sending them updates, so like smart marketers, we decided the list was a great place to run some tests.

One of the ideas we had was that we should try out lighter tones for the company. It seemed that customers responded to Josh’s friendly, conversational tone on Twitter, but Caldera Labs’ corporate tone fell flat. So we said: let’s do the thing everyone does, and have a sale.

Also, let’s make the sale fun.

A cat sitting overlooking the Santorini CalderaThe concept was simple: here’s a certain percentage off, here’s how much you can save per product, here’s when it ends. We wrote 3 direct emails: one announcement, one reminder, and one hard sell. We had just released bundles, so we stuck the promotion to bundles. Those three emails made my month’s revenue 150% of the previous month’s revenue.

Yes, we almost doubled our sales via a simple email marketing series. We didn’t even have enough people on the list to pay for Mailchimp, so our only investment into this strategy was our time. This lines up with what the research knows of email marketing: it’s one of the strategies with the highest return on investment (ROI) around.

That’s what Taco Tuesday was. I told you that story because it’s an example of how we maximized our email list’s potential for profit. Many companies have a list, but are you maximizing its benefit? We implemented a handful of tried-and-true best practices when it comes to targeting your list – segmentation, testing, good design, etc. – that yielded big results. In this blog post, we’ll cover what those were, and how you can run your own ultra-effective email marketing campaign.

Our Platform For A Direct Email Marketing Strategy: Mailchimp

Caldera Forms MailChimp BannerWe’re fans of Mailchimp. We like its ease of use, reasonable pricing, beautiful layouts and funny loading screens. There are best practices for having a clean, useful list in Mailchimp, and to do that, it’s useful to understand some of the terminology behind the list.

Best Practices For Email Marketing Strategy: Lists, Groups & Segments

Mailchimp, naturally, has a great guide on understanding its platform, but let’s do an overview. First, your list is just that: the list. It’s a rookie mistake to make separate lists for what should actually be segments: I’ve seen it before where a new form will be created for a campaign, and a new list will be created to capture leads from that new form. Don’t do this!

This is resubscribing people who have previously unsubscribed, and will lead to high abuse complaints. Additionally, it could cost you money: Mailchimp charges you per user, and if you have the same person in 5 lists that should have been segments, you’re paying 5 times as much for that person.

From there, understand your fields vs. groups. Both of these tell us things about our customers, but in different ways. Fields collect customer data, vs. groups, which collect customer interest groups. To determine whether something should be a group or a field, I like to ask myself the following question: would this data exist if I didn’t know this customer? If the answer is no, it’s a field.

A man standing on a peak of a mountain.For example: your customer’s name, birthday and lifetime value should be fields. However, what products your customer is interested in, or what industry your customer works in, should be organized as groups. Groups are flexible. With fields, I should make sure that my fields are correctly formatted so that they can be the most useful (i.e., let’s not label zip codes as text fields, because text fields cannot be used for location radiuses, but zip codes can be).

This matters for a very important reason: the secret sauce of email marketing, segmentation. Segments are lists of customers with a combination of characteristics. Being able to tailor an email for customers of a specific product, in a specific location, allows me to send an email that is more personal, more useful, and therefore more likely to produce results.

Your Email Marketing Strategy Should Be Ultra-Personal

If I am to believe Mailchimp’s relentless insistence (it will notify you of the following fact on every screen if you try to do a blast-all email), segmented emails have a 14.99% increase in click rate. You should be segmenting your emails. Customers are bombarded by advertising messages every day, and if you can get yours to seem like it’s not a nameless blast, you’ll stand out above the crowd.

So, make sure your fields are up to date, and use your customer’s name. It feels nicer, and it will help you avoid spam filters. Try to sort your customers by who they are to you (are they free vs. paid users? Lovers of highlighter powder vs. regular purchasers of lipstick?), and address the things they love. Mention when the last time you saw them was, or remind them of your last interaction.

Your Direct Email Marketing Strategy Can Be Automatic

Automate everything. You already know you should do this, and we are big proponents of this. If there’s a way in which you can reduce the amount of work you do to communicate via direct email in a personal way, you should. I’ve seen things like birthday promotions and recurring sales be extremely effective. Dig through what you know about your customers, and figure out natural touch points that you can set to repeat.

Your Email Marketing Strategy Is A Mini Website, Every Time

We’re really into WordPress websites here at Caldera Labs, and presumably, you are too. As a fan of WordPress websites, you probably know a few of the rules surrounding good website practice. For example, you know to not make your sites have unpleasant colors (or worse, inaccessible color schemes). You know to use alt tags with all of your images so that people using screen readers can interact with your awesome content, you know about text contrast, whitespace and ensuring mobile-friendliness.

But, are you applying all of that knowledge to your direct emails? Every email you send is a mini-website. It could be interacted with on a variety of platforms, by a variety of users of different abilities. You should ensure that everything you know about how to make a website people-friendly, you are applying to making your emails people-friendly as well.

Wrapping Up Your Direct Emails

Caldera Forms MailChimp Segments
Look it’s a segmentation option, and less checkboxes!

Building your business with WordPress is smart. Building your business with WordPress and Mailchimp is smarter. You know you should be collecting emails so that you can communicate with the people that are interested in what you’re doing, but are you making sure that those communications follow good practices so that your emails have those astronomical ROIs we keep hearing about?

If you are doing all of these things, go you! And if not, don’t worry: these are easy-to-implement practices, and awareness is the first step to making sure your direct emails get more clicks and more sales. Next time you’re working on a blast, reference this list to make sure you are engaging in good practices. 

And if you haven’t found a good solution to bring together your Mailchimp list and your WordPress site, check out Caldera Forms and our Mailchimp for Caldera Forms add-on. It’s a powerful way to get your website visitors into your Mailchimp list with the right fields filled out, and in our upcoming update, also into the right groups, and even into the right static segments. And, if you have other practices you use, share them in the comments or tweet them at us (@calderawp).

For more information on email marketing: click here.

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