As a sector, we don’t talk about emails enough. No really. Email is actually 40 times more effective than social media at acquiring customers, but you’re more likely to hear or read about what makes a good Facebook post than what makes a good email.
So we’re going to share a few ideas we’ve seen that go beyond segmentation and targeted relevant content, although that is still the number one thing to put into practice, before tackling the ideas below. First, be sure to check our CEO Michael’s advice for creating targeted email campaigns here and here.
At the same time, if you’ve nailed segmented and targeted emails (go you!) there’s a whole world of possibility around emails that we’re just not making the most of. It’s about being creative, being smart and having fun. Here are four of our favourite advanced email marketing ideas.
1. Contextual email marketing
We all know people like to open their emails on smartphones so if you’ve nailed mobile responsive email templates, that’s great. If not, read Dotmailer’s guide here. However, it's not just mobile we need to worry about. The types of technology people are using, how they use it and why, are more diverse than ever. That’s why creating email campaigns with an awareness of context is the next frontier in email marketing.
You might want to think about adapting your content based on the types of devices your recipients read your emails on. If you send your emails through an email service (such as Dotmailer), you can look retroactively at what devices your contacts are using. For example, if it turned out lots of people open your emails on a smartwatch, you’d need to write really short, impactful copy. After all, who want to read a long piece of copy on their wrist?
Check your email design translates across the many email clients that are out there now. Litmus have written a brilliant breakdown of everything you need to know about making your emails look good on whatever email client they’re being opened on.
Another thing to consider, is where you recipients will be when they open your email; what time of day will it be? What season of the year is it? Any of these things might affect the content of your emails. For example, if you know there’s going to be a particularly rainy week in the middle of the summer, you could look into enticing people looking for something to do to come to the theatre. Do a bit of testing on this to see what circumstances work best for you.
2. Represent your brand strongly through visuals
Got a nice website that shows off who you are and why you’re different? Great! So why let your emails be any different? Emails are an equally valuable touchpoint between customers and your brand.
And in fact it is possible to create emails that look as beautiful as your website. There are some great things you can do just by playing around with the tools in your email platform but if you really want to step up your game, work with a designer who can put something together for you.
Here are some great examples:
3. Question your assumptions. Make a radical change.
As marketers, we all make assumptions about what format emails should take. For example, we see lots of organisations sending email newsletter-style roundups of everything they have going on. This is fine, but it can sometimes feel like you’re throwing out a bunch of ideas hoping one of them sticks.
This is a huge missed opportunity to experiment with the format, especially since emails are the perfect medium for testing new ideas: they’re temporary, include loads of variables, are relatively low-cost and you can easily measure their impact.
Look at your emails and think about what assumptions you’re making about what your customers want in their inbox, then test those assumptions. Be radical. Push the envelope.
Here are a couple of ideas:
> Try copy only, no images.
> Pick one show to promote.
> Use one call-to-action.
> Limit your copy to 150 words.
> Change the colour scheme.
4. Be dynamic and reactive
If you can send a friendly email that arrives at the perfect stage of your customer’s relationship to you, then you can nudge them along a path towards loyalty. We’re great at sending emails detailing all the shows in our new season, promoting memberships and offers. But there are ways that you can delight your customers by sending emails which are reactive and reflect the status of their relationship to you in the moment.
Here are some examples of what we’re talking about:
- A welcome email the day after someone signs up to your mailing list
- An email to new members the day after they sign up with 3 tips for making the most of their membership
- A reminder email to your non auto-renewable members expiring next month, reminding them to renew manually
- A scheduled email to all regular attenders who aren't members, inviting them to get a membership
- A thank you email to all donors who have given over a certain amount within a certain period
- An email notifying one-time visitors about an offer on the first of every month
This can all be automated with Spektrix using the Scheduled Customer List tool which allows you to run Customer Lists to a schedule send them directly to your choice of email address or to Dotmailer. Pretty nifty right?
As ever, if you need help with any of these ideas or just want to pick our Support team’s brains on more ideas for pushing the envelope with your email campaigns, just pick up the phone or drop us a line. Let us know if you’ve seen any great email campaign examples too - we’re always looking for inspiration.