Three Must-Haves for Effective Customer Emails

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As a communications and marketing professional, you know your interactions and communications with current and future customers are key to building loyalty. Every touch point must provide a valuable, high-quality experience—across your products, services and messaging.

One challenge is breaking through the noise. The average consumer receives 120 emails daily—and that figure is expected to continue to grow 3% each year. Add in social media, texts and calls and your target market is completely overwhelmed with information.

Yet, email had a median ROI of 122%—more than four times higher than any other marketing format, including social media, direct mail and paid search—per a 2016 survey.

Despite the competition for attention, there is plenty of opportunity for marketers to use email to establish trust, build brand awareness, drive customer engagement and increase sales. The following best practices can help your email marketing stand out in customers' jammed inboxes.

The Subject Line is Crucial: Creating interest starts with the subject line. One-third of email recipients decide whether to open an email based on the subject line alone. Of course, grabbing someone’s interest in 50 words or fewer is easier said than done. You want to capture the reader’s attention while also telling her what’s inside—especially if you’re offering a gift, such as a discount code.

  • Some marketers use get-to-the-point subject lines, such as retail giant Target: “Your new Weekly Ad is here” or “KitchenAid appliances: 25% off.” This shows the consumer exactly what she is getting before opening the email.
  • Showing personality through humor is another excellent strategy, if it matches your brand. Examples include OpenTable’s “Licking your phone never tasted so good.”
  • Using statistics and numerical lists to draw the reader in, generate a WOW factor or showcase proof points, such as “5 ways to avoid a PR disaster,” also is extremely effective.

Personalize the Content: In the age of marketing automation, it may be tempting to “set and forget,” but readers expect marketers to speak directly to them. Impersonal, irrelevant or untimely emails can undermine your campaign. Brands that personalize promotional marketing emails experience 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than those that do not personalize.

To create a personal greeting, begin with what you know about your audience members. Are they based in a specific geographic region or interested in something particular? Use that intelligence to your advantage by asking a question or mentioning something that relates to them. As you segment down in the market, you need to realize that the motivations and issues of your clients are diverse. For example, the pressures facing a nurse informatics officer are very different and distinct from those of a CIO. Although there are commonalities for both, understanding and addressing unique pain points will keep readers engaged.

Personalize the Delivery: One way to ensure you are providing value is to enable your subscribers to choose the content they want to receive and the frequency. This way they are receiving only the information they have self-identified as important. An email preference center allows companies to provide a menu of options where subscribers can determine what content they want in their inbox.

Should subscribers opt to receive multiple emails each day, also provide them the opportunity to get a weekly summary email that rolls all the valuable information into one email for consumption. It’s important to protect your database from unsubscribes and allow prospects to control their experiences, which helps maximize the reach of content distribution efforts.

The Bottom Line: Email marketing is a vital part of establishing and retaining customers. When you share something of value, you are building trust. Trust leads to loyalty and longevity—exactly what you want in a customer.

Elisabeth Deckon is an SVP and Michelle Morris is an account director at Dodge Communications.