Email marketing almost seems to have become the “red-headed stepchild” of digital marketing channels in the last couple of years. Too many local business owners are not taking advantage of this cost efficient and effective way to create new customers and enhance the relationship you have with your existing customer base.
If you are not utilizing local email marketing, in this post I want to demonstrate that now is the time to get started.
In many cases the marketing needs for a local business are somewhat different than businesses targeting a larger geographic area. In this article I’m going to focus on how you can optimize your email marketing for a local audience.
As business owners, we are constantly evaluating our advertising spend against the return on investment from that spend. If you have not been using email marketing then what I’m about to share with you will be a pleasant surprise!
How to Optimize Your Local Email Marketing
One reason that email marketing has fallen out of favor for many local businesses is they are not aware of how to properly design and optimize a campaign. Here are my email marketing strategies tips for optimizing your email marketing for a local audience.
1. Compelling, Attention Getting Subject Lines Are a MUST
Subject lines play a huge role in click-through rates. Did you know that 47% of email recipients open emails based on the subject lines alone? By the same token, 69% of those recipients who report an email as spam do so based on the subject line.
Here are a few tips to make your subject lines more engaging:
- Personalize the subject line with the person’s name or location.
- Ask a question.
- Use ellipses (the three dots you see at the end of a sentence…)
- Speak to the benefits the person will receive by opening the email.
- Pique curiosity.
- Make an offer. Here you might include the business name.
- Create urgency or scarcity.
When thinking about subject lines you’ll also want to avoid some obvious spam words like “free”, “today only”, “special price” and other generic terms.
Something else that is important is to be certain that your subject line is relevant to the content in the body of your email. Back in the early days of magazine advertising it was a common practice to include babies or a puppy at the top of the ad. This would catch the reader’s attention but then as they scrolled the ad they would see that the product or service had nothing to do with the baby! We call this a “false beta” and you do not want to engage in this deceptive writing style. You will definitely get spam complaints if you do.
2. Consider the Optimum Times to Email Your Audience
Think about your ideal prospects and when they are most likely to be at their computer or available to open an email on their phone. For example, here at Alchemy we work with many companies in the building trades. When we send emails to these groups we send much earlier in the morning than other prospects. We know that most contractors are in their office early getting organized before they leave for the jobsite.
Conversely, for our professional practice clients we rarely send an email before 10 am, knowing that their day starts at 8:30 or 9 am and they need a little time to get into the flow of the day before engaging with emails.
There have been several studies done in recent years about the best days of the week to send an email, as well as times of the day. The results are revealing, and you should remember them as you consider your own email marketing strategy.
Tuesday is the number one day for email, followed by Thursday and then Wednesday. If you are thinking about sending a sequence of two emails to a group of prospects it makes sense to send one on Tuesday and the second on Thursday.
What’s the best time of day to increase your open rate? As a general rule it is mid-morning, 10 am. Curiously the second-best time is 8 pm; people are checking email on their phones before relaxing for the rest of the evening. What about the afternoon? 2 pm gives you the best opportunity for engagement.
3. Your Email Content MUST Resonate with Local Customers
A quick way to alienate your customers and prospects is to send email that is not relevant to their interests or needs. Not only will you get marked as spam, but people will also not even open your emails if you get this reputation.
One way to ensure relevance is to segment your list by location, prospect type, or preferences. An example of this type of thinking is an insurance broker who organizes his or her list by the types of insurance the customers have purchased. This can serve two purposes. First, you can send relevant information about the products to the right audience. Second, you can upsell clients to a product they have not bought.
4. ALWAYS Optimize for Mobile Users
Did you know that 59% of email opens occur on mobile? If your email messages are not optimized for mobile, then your email marketing results will suffer.
Optimizing your local email marketing for mobile users is a smart and profitable business move. Many of your subscribers will open your email on a mobile device no matter where your local area is.
Here are ways to optimize your email for mobile users:
- Use mobile-ready templates. Most autoresponder services have these included in your package.
- Shorten your subject line to 30 characters.
- Write a compelling preheader text (this is like a meta tag used on your website)
- Optimize the ‘From’ Name if your email audience isn’t familiar with you personally. For example, “John at XYZ Services”.
- Balance image size & text in your email.
- Always apply big buttons in your email body.
- Use larger font sizes (16-point font or higher) to ensure easy readability on smaller screen sizes.
- If you link to a landing page make certain it is mobile-ready.
5. Regularly Purge Your Email List
Your email list is an important asset for your business. You want to manage it just like you do your inventory or bank balance. It’s important to consistently review your email list for accuracy and identify updates or changes you should make. Ask these questions:
- Are your segments working well?
- Do you need to add additional segments?
- Are there people on your list that never open?
- Do you have email addresses that are bouncing and need to be purged?
- Do you need to update subscriber data?
- What are you doing to add new prospects to your list?
- Do you have a disciplined process for collecting email addresses from prospects/customers?
Managing your email list is an ongoing process. You should plan to do a detailed review at least every 4 months.
6. Are You Split Testing?
Split testing is always a great idea in any digital marketing channel. Whether you’re working on Facebook ads or a local PPC campaign, split testing will provide rapid feedback on what is effective and what is not.
Email split testing can increase your conversion rates, but you’ll want to test just one aspect at a time to ensure you’re collecting accurate results.
Try following these simple steps:
- Step 1: Split the group you are going to email into two sub-groups.
- Step 2: Email each sub-group the same message with one difference. Your one difference might be the time an email is sent, the day an email is sent, a subject line, or a call to action in the email content.
- Step 3: Based on the one difference, identify what metrics (open rate, click through rate, etc.) you need to analyze.
- Step 4: Analyze the metrics for each sub-group to determine the winner.
- Step 5: Apply the results in your future email campaigns and keep testing.
7. Coordinate Your Email and Social Media Campaigns
Social media can help your local email marketing campaigns and vice versa.
How? Here are some ideas:
1. Build your email list by getting social media followers to subscribe. There are a host of ways to do this, but here are a few:
- Ask followers to opt-in with a post.
- Run a social media contest.
- If you are using lead magnets (ebooks, checklists, etc.) on your website, promote them through your social media channels.
2. Use your email list to build your social media following by:
- Including social sharing icons in your email messages.
- Including a call to action to follow you on social media in your emails.
- Provide a prompt when people sign up for your email list to follow you on social media after the email opt-in process.
I hope you found these local email marketing tips helpful. And I hope you have a newfound appreciation for this important marketing channel.
At Alchemy we’ve been managing email campaigns for our clients since 2008. If you’d like to talk further about your business and how we might be able to help you with email or other marketing channels let’s have a discovery conversation. You can find a time that is good for your schedule here: https://calendly.com/gordonvanwechel/45min