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Everything You Want to Know About… Email Marketing

A conversation with email expert Vicky Glass

Welcome to Everything You Want to Know About Marketing, where we pose common marketing questions to our community of certified Mailchimp experts.

We spoke to Vicky Glass, Mailchimp partner and founder of Coded Vector, to ask her how to effectively identify your audience, optimize your emails, and grow your business.

How often should small business owners consider sending emails and newsletters?

Vicky: Try and choose a frequency that you can meet and be consistent with. Weekly is great, but do monthly at a minimum. I know some people who do daily emails—for me personally, that’s just too much. I like weekly because it means you can send ad hoc emails during the week and it doesn’t feel like you’re overwhelming your subscribers.

When it comes to timing your email sends, are there any general best practices? Or do you just try to see what works and adjust accordingly?

Vicky: It depends, but if you’re stuck and have no idea, then start with weekdays, then get more specific depending on your audience. If your audience is parents, for example, then they’ll probably be dropping off their kids at 9 am and picking them up at 2 or 3 pm, so you want to avoid those times. Or maybe your audience is corporate workers who eat breakfast at 6 am while reading the news—then you might want to send it at 6 am. I’ve even been successful sending on the weekend. But it really depends on your audience. If you’re stuck, then try weekdays between working hours and you should be alright.

You can also tailor your schedule to someone who bought something from you, and automate another when they’re likely to buy again.

I also love Mailchimp’s Send Time Optimization, which identifies the best time to send your email. Sometimes I’ll tweak it, but very rarely. I also really love Timewarp. The email arrives based on your audience contacts’ time zones, so when you send for 10 am, it arrives at 10 am everywhere, not just in your time zone.

How do you know if you’re sending too many marketing emails?

Vicky: If you’ve been sending weekly emails, then suddenly start sending two per week and people start unsubscribing, that’s an indication that you’re emailing too often. But if you send daily emails, more people may just ignore them instead of unsubscribe, and then your open rates might dip. Basically, if you do make a change and then people start unsubscribing, that’s an indication that your frequency is not quite right.

Do you coordinate your emails with social media? Is there any strategy to that?

Vicky: I like to tease the newsletter that’s coming. So, if I send out a weekly email on Wednesday, I’ll post on a Tuesday or Monday and highlight key content there. It’s probably not something you want to do every week, but every so often I’ll say, “This is dropping. Go and look at it.”

I also like posting about the email on social media after it’s gone out. Email subscribers get something exclusive first, and then you trickle that down to social media. It creates an incentive there for people to join the email list and be the first to know.

What are the key things you focus on when crafting an email?

Vicky: The subject line is probably one of the most important things you will ever write. That can get people to open it, and the more they open, hopefully the more they click.

With long emails, repeating the links throughout can really work because people might just read the top paragraph and click on a link if it’s there, or they might read everything and then click the link at the end. You get to know where people are likely to click on things, and that informs your future link placement—I tend to use the Click Map for that.

And generally, your content matters as well. What you’re telling people to take from your call to action, how you word it, and whether it stands out all matter.

What are some do’s and don’ts for writing a subject line?

Vicky: First, look in your own spam folder. Whatever’s going on in there, don’t do that!

Otherwise, keep the subject line relevant to the content. I really don’t like ones that are just there to provoke a reaction. Also, think about the context that your audience is receiving these emails in. With occasions like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, people are getting emails saying your dad wants this, your mom wants that, and they may not have moms or dads.

Emojis are also quite good, but I use them sparingly. Maybe add one, but don’t use them all the time because people might switch off. And bear in mind that on some platforms, emojis show up as a square.

The takeaway: Vicky Glass’s top email marketing tips

  • Time your emails based on audience behavior
  • Stick to an email marketing schedule
  • Use social media to show the value of your newsletter content
  • Create compelling subject lines to help draw your customers in

Vicky Glass is the founder of Coded Vector, a U.K.-based digital marketing consultancy. From building audiences to developing content, Vicky helps SMBs optimize their email campaigns so they can supercharge their growth.

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