By Paula Chiocchi, President and Founder, Outward Media, Inc.
Gone are the days when open rates reigned supreme in e-mail marketing. Today, engagement is emerging as the most important measure of e-mail success. Knowing that those whom you are targeting with your messages are not only hearing what you have to say, but also actively engaged with your brand in conversation, is powerful, and it’s the difference between good and great e-mail marketing in today’s competitive B2B landscape.
With that in mind, consider these six proven tips for reaching and interacting with your organization’s target audiences through e-mail:
- Engagement as a performance metric: As B2B e-mail marketing continues to evolve, the tactics and measures of success are shifting. These days, the goal for marketers is to enable prospects and customers to engage with your content. As such, it’s less important to track open rates and more crucial to measure click-through rates as a key performance metric, in addition to leads generated and sales closed.
- Team up with social media: Using e-mail in conjunction with your social media program gives you a larger sandbox in which to play. For example, a good call to action (CTA) in an e-mail campaign would be for the prospect to simply tweet the e-mail content, as opposed to a hard sell and less engaging “buy now” CTA. Offering an easy “click to tweet” button linked to a valuable asset is an easy way to generate shares—and pave the way for an important engagement. With analytics, you can also track these shares and attributions.
- Responsive design: Technology advances continue to make marketers more effective. Responsive design is HTML programming language that will actually change its design based on the device that’s opening the e-mail message. This technology is ideal today, as more people are accessing e-mail on their mobile devices. In fact, this is not only true for communication, but people are using their mobile phones as the primary way to engage—more than their desktop computers or even television.
- Videos, GIFs and graphics: Video can help any message be more engaging and stand out from the crowd. However, there can be certain technical considerations, such as file size limitations and the fact that not all e-mail providers support the myriad of video technologies. But movement doesn’t have to mean video—animated GIFs create action, increase the cool factor and are a great option if video doesn’t work for you. In tests of static vs. animated banners, results have shown that animation draws more engagement every time. The good news is, animation is easy to create and doesn’t have to involve an expensive agency to design—there are some great resources available online.
- Testing as an ongoing process: Studies show that when marketers guess as to which e-mail features will draw better results, they are most often wrong in their predictions. As such, testing is an e-mail requirement these days for optimal success. But it doesn’t have to be complicated: send your next e-mail version A to 10% of your list and version B to another 10%. Whichever draws the best response is the version you send to the rest (80%) of your list.
- Gain trust: It would not be appropriate (or likely successful) to ask for marriage on a first date. The same should be true in your e-mail campaigns. Successful marketers today make the majority of their content about thought leadership and educating their audiences on best practices—or on how to approach a particular challenge. After all, buyers first need someone they can to relate to—and that means a person, not a product. The actual solution is an afterthought in the overall process, and only discussed at the end of the buyer journey. Building relationships and trust creates more value to prospects than any product sheet possibly can.
It wasn’t long ago that marketing and sales siloes were separate and unequal. Today, marketers have more power in business than ever. That’s because marketing content leads the buyer experience and is the primary conduit through which prospects are moved through their buying journey. Marketers today are more technical, can measure their activities and know their numbers. In addition, they not only deliver new customers, but also help produce repeat customers—and create and promote loyal brand advocates. More than ever, engagement is the key to making all of these successes come together.
Paula Chiocchi, president and founder of Outward Media, Inc., is a marketing industry veteran whose mission is to help businesses realize their full potential by effectively reaching their target audiences and converting more prospects into customers. Under her direction, in 2012, the company launched BizFACTZ, a cost-effective, self-service platform that gives clients fresh, accurate contact data to fuel marketing campaigns and drive sales and profits. An expert and innovator in multi-channel marketing data, Chiocchi began her career with Dun & Bradstreet and developed her skills by creating direct mail, online advertising and e-mail campaigns for leading mortgage companies, financial institutions, telecom, software, online gaming sites, sweepstakes enterprises and e-commerce companies.