Ask 10 email marketing experts what the key to success is and I guarantee they’ll all say the same thing. The secret to writing email messages that people actually read and act on is to send them information that they truly want.
You might want to send everyone on your list a coupon for a specific product or a heads up about a product you’re launching or event you’re holding for your marijuana-related business, but guess what? If recipients don’t want that information, your efforts amount to little more than wasted time and money.
Bottom-line, you need to understand the number one rule of marketing: No one cares about you. They care about how you, your business, and your products and/or services can help them by making their lives easier, happier, or better.
Again, it doesn’t matter what you want to send to your email list. All that matters is what they want to receive from you. When you accept that, your email marketing results will improve dramatically.
What Does Your Audience Want from You?
That leads us to one of the most common question that businesses ask about email marketing, including cannabis-related businesses. How do you know what information your audience wants from you?
Fortunately, you can figure this out by publishing content on your blog and across your social media channels and monitoring the topics your audience responds to the most. Which topics engage them? Which topics get the most page views, social media shares, backlinks, and comments? All of these trackable statistics give you an idea of whether or not your content is resonating with people.
You can also send market research surveys and ask your audience what they want from you, how they want to receive it, and how often they want to get it. This could include educational messages, videos, promotional offers, and more. The best way to find out what people want is to ask them.
An essential part of successful email marketing is testing, so be prepared to invest time into experimentation once you have an idea of the type of messages your audience wants to receive from you. Create a variety of A/B split tests, and test everything from your message subject lines and sender’s name to the content, images, sending time, and more.
Ideally, you should test every element of your messages to optimize your results, but don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s better to start testing and learning how to improve your messages a little bit at a time than to not test at all. Start slowly and work your way up to testing a wide variety of elements.
5 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Messages
Now that you have a basic introduction to begin strategizing your email marketing campaigns, it’s time to consider different ways that you can improve your messages to boost open rates and click-through rates. After all, if people don’t open your messages, they can’t read them.
Here are five key elements that I discuss in my book, Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business, which you should test and work to improve in order to motivate more people to read your messages:
1. Sender’s Name
Most often, you’ll get the highest open rates when recipients see a real name in the sender’s position within their email inboxes. However, it’s always best to test each element to see what works best with your audience.
Try sending messages from a person’s name versus your business name to see which performs better. Once you have your answer, send all of your messages from that sender so recipients recognize it when they see it in the future.
2. Subject Line
The subject line of your email messages must capture people’s attention and motivate them to open the message so they can see the call to action in your message. Therefore, keep your subject lines clear and succinct.
Focus on communicating a benefit recipients will get when they open the message or mention how the content of the message will solve a problem they have. Remember, your email marketing messages should focus on the information your audience wants from you, not what you want to tell them. With that in mind, write a subject line that tells them what’s in it for them when they click and open the message.
In addition, consider including the recipient’s name in the subject line, which can increase click-through rates. This has actually been proven in research conducted by HubSpot.
Subject lines are one of the most important elements of your email marketing messages that you should split test to ensure the majority of recipients get the message with the best performing subject line.
3. Inbox Preview Text
The inbox preview text (also referred to as the preheader text) is the text that shows up in some email inboxes after the subject line when space allows and the preview feature is turned on. This is an element that many email marketers don’t bother with, but they’re missing a big opportunity to communicate more to recipients before opening their messages.
Therefore, fill the inbox preview area with copy that motivates people to open your message by focusing on benefit-oriented messages that appeal to recipients’ emotions. Test this on multiple devices to ensure what you think people will see in their inboxes is what they’ll actually see.
4. Body Copy
The body copy of your email marketing messages should be action-oriented, highly relevant to the audience, and easy to skim through quickly. That means you should start with your most important messages and use formatting to make your body copy easy to scan. For example, use short paragraphs, headings, and bulleted lists to break up long blocks of copy. This is particularly important for recipients who read your messages on mobile devices.
You can learn more about writing effective email copy in my book, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps. In the book, I also explain the importance of focusing on the benefits of your product or service, not the features as well as writing in the second person using “you” more often than you use “we” or “me” in your copy. This simple tactic makes your message seem more personal because you’re talking to and about your audience more than you’re talking about yourself. It also helps to build an emotional connection between the recipient and your brand.
Your body copy should also include your call to action, which must make it extremely obvious what you want recipients to do after they read your message. Include clear instructions and links and/or buttons so there is no doubt what their next step should be. Also, don’t make people have to scroll too much to get to your call to action. It’s better to include your call to action multiple times if your message is long.
Finally, make sure the body of your message is designed so recipients can easily see and read it whether they open it on a desktop or mobile device. Research from Campaign Monitor in 2018 found that mobile is responsible for at least 50% of all email opens, so if you’re not taking the time to optimize your messages for mobile devices and testing your messages to ensure they render correctly on mobile and desktop devices, you could be missing the opportunity to connect with half of your audience.
5. Avoid Mistakes that Keep Your Messages from Being Delivered
If people don’t receive your email messages, they have no way to read them. Therefore, it’s critical that you avoid making email marketing mistakes that set off spam flags and keep your messages from being delivered to people’s inboxes.
You should review the 10 reasons email messages don’t get delivered and make sure you’re not doing any common email marketing don’ts. Avoid these mistakes at all costs because the mistakes you make today could affect the deliverability of all of your email marketing messages in the future!
Email service providers monitor the messages sent and received through their services. If you continually send messages that contain spam flags or aren’t opened by recipients, then your messages are more likely to go to recipients’ spam folders in the future, regardless of whether or not they contain any spam flags. You don’t want that to happen to your messages. Therefore, make sure they’re free from spam triggers and highly relevant to your audience, so recipients actually open them.
Email Marketing Works for Cannabis-Related Businesses
Email marketing is essential to marijuana-related businesses and can help drive significant profits. However, there are rules to follow and tricks to implement in order to get the best results, and it’s imperative that you follow those rules.
Whether you’re a marijuana retailer or you provide ancillary products and services to the marijuana industry, there are email marketing messages you should be sending to generate profits. Don’t miss out on that opportunity, because I guarantee you, your competitors won’t miss it.
Originally published 5/29/18. Updated 2/8/19.
Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.