Email Marketing Tips: How To Maximize Your List

Email Marketing Tips

Photo credit to Flickr user Rob Jennings

It took me a good couple of years to really understand the fact that “the money is in the list” isn’t just a horrible cliché trotted out by internet marketers – it’s the truth!

In a world where social media is now perceived (wrongly) as the hub of online visibility, I found it hard to believe that email marketing was still effective. After all, I see any promotional email that lands in my inbox as an annoyance – I found it inconceivable that other people didn’t feel that way.

I was wrong.

In this blog post I want to look at five email marketing tips to help you crack email marketing with great effect. When done properly, email marketing can add zeros onto your turnover figures – it can build a rapport with your customers, and it can turn a lagging ecommerce store into a traffic generating machine for all of your product listings.

Time is of the essence

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned about email marketing is that you have to time messages right. If I were to send a message at 9am on a Monday morning, I would expect very little response to it. If I were to send a newsletter at 6pm on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, however, I could realistically expect to smash our record sales figures. The timing of your email newsletters is absolutely crucial.

The time slots that work for me may not work for everyone else – the time that works for you will depend on your location, and of course, your niche. So my advice is simple: use those early days when your list is small to work out when people are most responsive. Try different times of day and different days of the week until you find the day/time that people are the most responsive.

Of course it’s not just the time of the day and the day of the week that matters – the time of the month can be crucial.

In the UK, the majority of people are paid around the end of each month, or the last Friday of the month. We see a spike in sales the weeks either side of “payday”. We almost always have email marketing campaigns planned for these weeks of the month to capitalize on the fact that people have money in their pockets to spend.

The month of the year is a big factor too. Around the holiday season, for example, you can expect a good response – certainly better than normal.

Don’t mess around “creating a relationship”

In my naivety, I used to read a lot of email marketing tips, guides, and books by “gurus” – the reality is that a lot of these gurus knew less than I did about the topic.

One common step in these guides was to create a relationship with your audience – apparently you have to gain their trust before you can start selling things to them. The best way to gain trust? A load of poorly executed auto-responder messages, apparently.

I’d have to disagree with this in the strongest possible terms. We experimented by sending people links to our blog posts, and even writing exclusive style guides that were distributed only to our email newsletter subscribers. These exercises were an all out failure – a waste of time, a complete disaster. The only time we see a strong response to our email newsletters is when we have something to sell.

Why waste your time pumping out great content if it doesn’t actually make sales for you?

Send offers, good offers!

So I’ve laid bare the fact that building a relationship with our email list didn’t really work. That said, we’ve found that the best way to invoke a response to our emails is to provide news about offers, good offers.

I’m not talking about a 10% saving on some rubbish stock that we’re having trouble shifting – I’m talking about substantial discounts on popular products and brands. If you give your email list good offers, you can expect to make a lot of sales.

Each time we send an offer out we expect to relinquish some of our profit margin, however that’s usually made up for by the fact that average check goes up significantly during our offer periods. Instead of sending just one email about an offer when it goes live, we also send follow up messages to our customers (usually one or two) – to wring every last sale possible out of every offer that we run.

In my opinion, there’s no better way to build a positive, engaging relationship with your email list than by giving people a great deal on the products they actually buy and use. They don’t want creepy emails where you try to force them to trust you. Instead, just give them what they really do want: A great deal!

Carefully choose how to add emails

Ecommerce email lists aren’t the most difficult to build. If you drive traffic and sales via your website, you can build a list without even thinking about it. By default, all customers who purchase via my websites are placed on our email newsletter lists unless they specifically opt out. Within a few months of launching our websites, we usually have a good, solid list to start sending offers and promotions to.

If you’re not running an ecommerce website then building a list can be challenging. However, if you’re emailing people who have already purchased from you in the past, the trust is there, and you know for a fact that these people are interested in what you have to sell, because they’ve already bought things from you.

Your list is never too small

It took me a while to really get into the groove of email marketing with some of my earlier websites – I thought sending out newsletters was a bit pointless when I only had lists of a few hundred people. Wrong again.

Look at it this way: If you have a list of 400 people, and 5% of people that you email go on to make a purchase from your website that they wouldn’t otherwise have made, you’ve gained an extra 20 sales. And 20 sales are not to be sniffed at no matter what niche you operate in.

It’s never too early or too late to step up your game in regards to email marketing – you’ll struggle to find a more effective platform through which to target deals at your customers in order to increase sales and revenue on an ongoing basis. Think about how you can adopt these email marketing tips. From a complete sceptic, I’ve turned into an email marketing believer.

Nick Whitmore Nick Whitmore is a regular contributor to the Sellbrite Ecommerce Blog. He sold his first item online at the age of 10 and now runs an ecommerce cosmetics business and a monthly ecommerce subscription service. Nick’s specialties range from content and digital marketing to procurement and logistics.