Email Is Not Dead…But You Can Be Deadly With It!

Woman watching online videos on desktop

By: Susan DeMatei

I actually looked it up; AOL started in 1993, which brought in a revolution of using email for personal and business communication. Because this is not a new marketing channel, people assume it is passé. In fact, if you look at Google searches, “email is dead” as a searched term appears very frequently. But the fact that there are so many of us using a 27-year-old technology shows just how alive it really is.

  But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In 1997, online emails got a 7% response rate because it was new and shiny and relatively few companies were using it to communicate with customers. In 2019, we saw a 48% conversion rate on winery emails because today’s brands understand the value of this channel. As more emails are sent, we compete for attention and the stakes have increased.

  According to Statista, the daily number of emails received and sent today is 306.4 billion– and 55% of them are spam. Templafy tells us the average office worker sends out 40 work-related emails a day – but gets back 90. With so much demanding attention in the inbox, you’ll need each email to exhibit a killer performance.

The Six Drivers of Success

  About once a month I get a call from a client that says, “my emails aren’t performing well, I want to talk to you about redesigning them.” My response is usually to ask them a bunch of questions about their database and collection plan, which confused them. So much work needs to be done before you get to the design to make sure you have a successful campaign. There are six key drivers to the success of any email campaign:

1. The quality and the rate of the list sign up.

  Even if your tasting rooms are closed or limited, you can still grow your list, so don’t panic. Capturing leads digitally is nothing new to online retailers who don’t have a physical location – they’ve been doing this for years. In a study by of the top 500 online retailers:

•    7.7% put email sign up in the header

•    44.4% used pop-ups to collect emails on their sites

•    54.3% added an email sign up below the fold or in the footer 

•    29% of retailers incentivized people to opt-in to their email program

  So, formulate a plan to capture emails on your website, Facebook page, and send-to-a-friend links in emails. There are probably other touchpoints you can capitalize on if you brainstorm with your team. The point is to not just give up on this objective if your physical operation is closed or limited.

2. Once they click to sign up what are they greeted with – what’s the landing page?

  Landing pages are so important. Don’t just drive people to your home page––drive them to a specific landing page on your website. A specific landing page increases your conversion and is a very effective way to capture leads. Get creative with videos, images, stories, or bios––the more personalized you can be the better the conversion.

3. The management and the health of the database

  The health of the database is how engaged or responsive your database is. When you send out an email, do you get sales, or do you hear crickets? Some stats to look for here are not just the total number of your database, but also pull out the bounces and then the un-mailables. Another helpful thing to know is the makeup of your database––how many people are purchasers, and how many people are just sitting there like deadweight on your list. When you pull this data, it will give you an overview of your database and some ideas on where to start.

4. The email touchpoint strategy (the HOW and the WHO)

  So, what is the right frequency? In January 2018, we started recording our clients and tracking the data in aggregate across 3 million emails, over 1,700 campaigns over 21 months. We released the data last winter as a benchmarking study and it shows that, at least for our clients, they are choosing to email between every 2-4 weeks.

  And, please make sure to segment your list. Segmented campaigns see a 14% higher open rate, a 60% higher clickthrough rate, and a 7% less unsubscribe rate. We talked earlier about the send-to-a-friend, well targeted messages and those sent to smaller audiences are 90% more viral than untargeted messages sent to large audiences.

5. The offer (the WHAT)

  I don’t have a silver bullet here. I can’t tell you what your database wants to hear––but your database can. You should know your average open and click-through rates and look for trends in responses to tell you what your database is reacting to and what topics they are silent on.

  The open rate is largely a factor of three things; your sending address, your subject line, and the teaser text that comes up in Outlook and other browsers that gives you a summary of the email. These three things are so important, don’t make them an afterthought.

  If you can, also get a conversion rate, which is what happens after the click and is largely dependent upon the landing page and your eCommerce cart set up.

  If you succeed with your subject line to get them to open your email – what do you say? This is particularly nerve wracking in today’s market but no matter how you position it, there are a few main points that you need to hit with your copy. Those main points are your customer’s pain point, the solution you have to that pain point, how your solution works (features), how your solution will improve their situation (benefits), and verification that it works (social proof).The majority of what you write needs to address how you can help your prospect, not how awesome you are (because that’s implied).

5. And then, finally, the design

  Design is important and there are well tested and universally regarded guidelines to follow here.

  First, is text length. More is not better in this regard. As a matter of fact, the more you write the less likely you are to get a response; but don’t be too brief. The sweet spot appears to be between 50 and 125 words––or at least the length of this paragraph which is 57 words.

  A second best-practice is to break up your text––meaning layout three small paragraphs versus one long one. Also, watch your graphic elements. They should be there to illustrate, not distract. White space is very important when scanning emails so try to keep white areas around your call-to-action buttons.

  In English, we read left to right, so it is easier for us to comprehend that quickly. Left justification also works for calls to action and buttons.

  Emails are still the most popular marketing channel used with the best ROI. The shelter-in-place orders have made us even more a slave to our phones. Hopefully, some of these tips will help your email campaigns create and sustain sales for you even when your tasting rooms have limited guests.

  Susan DeMatei is the President of  WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing firm working within the wine industry in Napa, California.

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