Using Email Marketing to Improve the User Experience

By Ángel Antonito Acosta Roa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsTrends come and go in the marketing realm, but one trend brands can’t afford to lose sight of is carving out experiences that fully accommodate the user. Whether it’s website visitors, app downloaders, or paying customers, the user experience is everything.

Thanks to around the clock coverage, we are constantly reminded of just how important catering to the user really is. Experts tell us that its importance spans from the social media networks to the mobile arena across multiple platforms. In this post, we will focus on the role it plays in the email channel and how email marketing can be used to improve it.

Setting the Tone and the Mood

Email marketers have the power to mold an ideal user experience right from the outset of the relationship. The sign-up process you design to capture contact details and obtain permission is essentially an opportunity to make a great first impression. So instead of just boosting subscriptions and growing your list, you can take advantage of that opportunity by giving users an idea what’s ahead in terms of content, format, and frequency. Right off the bat, you are letting them know what to expect and etching what is indeed an ideal experience in their minds.

If the user-friendly sign-up process sets the tone, then the look and feel of your email campaign sets the mood. Design is not only about presentation, but the usability of your message. Both of these elements can determine a number of critical things, including whether the subscriber reads it in full, clicks through to your website for a deeper experience, or actually makes a purchase. Needless to say, this is one aspect you want to have in order at all times.

Meeting Expectations

By nature, there are some messages your subscribers will look forward to more than others. Examples of those anticipated messages are welcome messages, confirmations, and other triggered emails that are programmed to arrive following a specific event. Depending on the engagement level of your list, this could be a rare moment when you have the subscriber’s full attention. Make sure you capitalize on it by fulfilling expectations in terms of brand tone, personality and value, in addition to what you’re sending.

Crafting Pleasant Marketing Experiences

Having willingly given their information and consent, subscribers know the newsletter or weekly specials they signed up for are coming eventually. They generally have a higher level of interest than the first-time website visitor, so that’s one plus for you. Still, it is vital to pay special attention to the user experience even when you’ve got them in your grasp. This is often what separates the aggressive advertisers who get ignored from the effective marketers who get results.

The ideal email marketing experience is all about specifics, of course, but there are some general things you can do and they all point to cohesive branding. For instance, make sure your message has a look that’s similar to your website so it’s familiar to where they signed up, and will look familiar when they come back. Whether it’s from the social channel or the brick and mortar environment, whatever you incorporate must be seamlessly tied into your message. Consistency in branding will enable your marketing efforts to go over much smoother.

Tying Up the Lose Ends

There are a number of other email-related accessories with something to offer the user experience. That’s if you act on their potential. For example, many of your subscribers are probably active on social networking sites communicating with family and sharing content with friends. Including conveniently accessible buttons that allow them to share email content right from the message makes their life easy, and gives you a chance to reach a much larger audience. You could also link keywords in your campaigns to specific pages so subscribers can go right to the content they need on your website.

All Hail the User

This user experience thing is big and is only going to get bigger. Havas Worldwide, an integrated marketing communications firm, recently announced the launch of the UX Academy, a new program designed to train select interns on the best practices of user experience design. The academy is one of numerous examples that highlight the growing awareness of the trend.

Staying on top of the user experience can be a challenge. The good thing is that it runs into your brand at so many different touchpoints you have ample opportunity to jump in and seize control. If email marketing is your tool of choice, than you’ve got plenty of opportunities at your fingertips. Hopefully you’ve been using them to mold experiences that reward you and your user base. If not, there is no better time to start than now.

Aidan Hijleh is a freelance copywriter and serves as the Non-Profit Partnership Liaison for Benchmark Email. Aidan advocates free email marketing services to assist with the flourishing of grassroots organizations.

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