5 Secret (Yet Simple) Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing
by Ron Cates

This is the latest in a series of practical columns on “digital marketing made simple” by Constant Contact’s Ron Cates.

Are you using email to communicate with your customers and prospective customers? You should be. Email is an extremely powerful marketing medium.

Here are five easy ways to boost the effectiveness of your email marketing right now.

#1. Keep it short
You may be the best writer ever. You may even be Shakespeare reincarnated. But I'll still never, ever, read your long email. Email is not print! It is a much more concise form of communication. If you’re skeptical, here are three compelling reasons to shorten your email:

•    Reading speed on a computer screen is 30% to 40% slower than on print. Your customers and prospects are time-starved and don't have a minute to waste.

Ron Cates
ron cates 

    Concise communication is more popular than ever. I have three kids in college and they text me every day. Their messages are so concise I often need an interpreter to understand what they mean. Even though I find this amusing, the reality is they are pretty big consumers already (my money) and will be our prime consumers in the future (hopefully with their own money). You need to communicate in a style your recipients like – and that may not be the style you grew up with.

    With so many people reading email on their cell phones today while walking or engaged in other tasks, there's an additional safety factor to consider. A long email can be distracting and even dangerous.

#2. Keep it real
Do not copy and paste your print marketing material into an email. Email is a more personal form of communication and is most effective when written in a human voice.

Write emails to customers and prospects the same way you would speak in person to customers and prospects. What is the persona of your business? What words would it use if it were a person?

#3. Tell recipients why they're getting your email
The first thing the recipient sees should remind them why they're getting your email. It should be brief, in plain text, and at the very top of the email – because sometimes people forget they subscribed.

If I went to an event last week and collected email addresses, my first send to that list should include a message something like this: You're receiving this email because we met at the XYZ event last week, and you gave me permission to add you to my email list.

In my research, including “permission reminder” can reduce opt-outs by more than 50%.

#4. Be smart about personalization
Most email services allow you to merge database fields into your email. Your email can start out with a “Dear Ron” or “Dear Sue,” or even, “How are things in Arizona?” Although this level of personalization once had some impact, it has lost its effectiveness. You know that I did not hand-type a million first names.

That doesn't mean that email shouldn't be personal. But I suggest personalizing it in a different way. Take two minutes and a Sharpie and a white piece of paper. Hand-sign your first name. Scan it. Turn it into a jpeg (or other image file type), and place it at the bottom of your email, so it looks like you hand-signed your email.

One of my pet peeves is when someone types “Sincerely” at the bottom of their email and follows it by typing in their name underneath. I know I am extra picky, but it just doesn't seem sincere to me unless they hand-signed it. Note: use your first name only, unless it's a highly formal relationship. If you decide to use your full name, do not use your legal signature. Some scammer will copy it and buy a house with it.

#5. Include important links more than once
Recipients are more likely to click on a link if the link appears more than once in your email. If you have an important call-to-action that requires clicking on a link (and you should, but not very many of them), place that link in a few different locations.

Digital marketing expert Ron Cates, director of new market development for Constant Contact, is a popular presenter on the topics of social media and email marketing.

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