In today’s extremely fast-paced world, it’s natural to feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day to get it all done. With the average American adult spending 7.6 hours sleeping, 8.8 hours working, 1.1 hours doing housework, another 1.1 hours eating and drinking, and 1.2 hours caring for others, we’re left with a mere 4.2 hours to do with as we wish—and we want to make them count. In order to be worth our while, whatever we choose to do must offer a return on investment, or ROI, greater than our energy output.
Spend a couple of your free hours in the gym every day and your ROI may arrive in the form of a ripped midsection and impressive biceps a la Jason Statham. Use your extra time to study up on real estate and your ROI may be a hefty profit when you eventually sell your home. It’s all about putting in the time and effort and not trying to take shortcuts or find an easier way to complete your daily tasks. If you have to put the time in, you might as well make certain that you are making the most of it and receiving the best ROI possible.
If you’re a business owner or marketing manager, by now you should know that email marketing offers one of the best opportunities for a return on investment, though the size of your ROI depends on the success of your campaign. Taking the time to make sure your message is on target, and you are following email marketing best practices, is the easiest way to help ensure you receive the biggest bang for you buck (and time invested). Consider these five ways to improve your email marketing ROI.
1. Think about your message and audience.
A recent survey of email marketers by Econsultancy found that 45 percent said message relevance had the biggest impact on their email campaign performance. Of course, in order to craft a relevant message, you need to know your audience. You must discover what they want and need to learn, and then create concise and detailed missives to deliver that information.
If your clients and prospects enjoy your emails, they’ll begin to look forward to future communications and will continue to open the messages they receive. For best results, you may need to segment your list and create targeted variations for each campaign. Fortunately, the right email marketing software can make this easy.
2. Pay attention to appearance.
Brand your emails in such a way that recipients can tell with just a glance that they’re from you. This may mean prominently displaying your logo, utilizing your company colors, or being consistent in your design. If you’re sending HTML—according to studies, 88 percent of people prefer it to plain text—make sure it appears the same when displayed within any email client. Your email may look like a work of art in Outlook and crap in AOL.
Set up accounts on different email platforms and send test emails to each one as you finalize your design. At minimum, view your messages in AOL, Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail and Yahoo. And with nearly 81 percent of people occasionally viewing email on mobile devices, consider your messages appearance there as well.
3. Take a peek behind the scenes.
You have a beautiful email—targeted to your audience—that appears just the way you want it to on a desktop computer, mobile phone, and the major platforms. It’s now time to take a peek behind the scenes at factors that could land that message in the junk folder. Begin by checking your IP reputation. A poor reputation means your emails may be blocked, and you’ll want to remedy the situation before sending your campaign.
Use Spam Assassin or another grading service to identify the words, formatting and bad coding within your email creative that can trigger SPAM filters. If it finds content or links within your HTML code that could waylay your message, make the necessary changes to remove them.
4. Use a clean email list.
If your email marketing messages never makes it to the inbox or are viewed by the intended recipient, your ROI is a guaranteed zero. Send too many emails to invalid or inactive addresses and you can also damage your company’s IP reputation. Accordingly, about 30 percent of all email addresses “go bad” within a year. Read Death by Email Address for more on this. You must confirm your email list is clean and has deliverable email addresses in it. If you’re unsure how to do this yourself, have the email list cleaned and validated by a professional company.
Do you remember that Econsultancy survey we mentioned earlier? Fifty-eight percent of marketers said maintaining a clean list had the biggest impact on their email campaign performance.
5. Get technical.
According to industry experts, 25 percent of emails sent never make it to the intended inbox, and SPAM filters aren’t the only culprit. ISPs will reject emails from ESPs or email marketing platforms with incorrect configurations. This means you must have the proper DNS setup with A, MX, SPF, Reverse, DKIM and Domain Keys records properly configured. Proper DNS is the simplest way to ensure your emails will be handled properly and gives you the best chances of delivering your messages.
Anything worth doing—and email marketing certainly is—is worth doing well. Maximize your return on investment with these 5 simple steps and bulk up your ROI. (No gym membership required.)