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Five Best Practices for Effective Email Marketing in Economic Development

With more than 300 billion emails sent daily worldwide and the average person receiving 126 business emails per day, it’s safe to say that the email marketing landscape has never been more competitive. Out of a sea of endless emails, how can economic development organizations craft email marketing campaigns that stand out, engage the right audience and generate more leads?

A smart approach to economic development email marketing should be driven by a thorough understanding of corporate executives, site selectors and potential talent, along with data-driven, cutting-edge knowledge of the latest digital trends. Fortunately, DCI has deep expertise in leading the digital marketing forefront of economic development.

For EDOs looking to take their email campaigns to the next level, here are five best practices for effective email marketing in economic development.

1. Keep it Short and Sweet

When it comes creating impactful email marketing campaigns, the data and experts all point to a simple golden rule: the shorter the better. Reducing the length of your emails is your best bet to increase engagement among your target audience.

In fact, research shows that after opening an e-newsletter, email recipients will spend less than a minute looking at its contents. Most people don’t read their emails word by word – instead, they quickly scan the copy and images of email campaigns, often following an “F” pattern to find items that attract their attention.

Consequently, the best emails are structured into bite-size chunks, with a clear visual hierarchy incorporating bolded text, bullet points and images to guide the reader’s eyes toward the most important information. Campaign Monitor has found that the ideal email copy length ranges between 50 and 125 words.

This is especially relevant for e-newsletters sent to site selection consultants. Knowing that readers often skip introductory text altogether, we recommend cutting straight to the chase by starting with your core message – whether that be a major headline or a real estate opportunity in your community.

In addition, crafting shorter subject lines can make a big difference for email open rates. According to Buffer, the optimal length of an email subject line is 28 to 39 characters. We recommend starting from there, and experimenting with different lengths to see what works for your audience.

2. Prioritize Calls-to-Action and Contact Information

Now that you’ve grabbed your reader’s attention with a compelling subject line and email copy, what next? Every campaign you send should lead the recipient beyond the email to read a recent news item, explore a page on your website or get in touch with your team. In other words, make your call-to-action (CTA) and contact information links the stars of the show.

Here are three basic rules for ensuring that your CTAs drive results:

  • Write your CTAs with action-oriented language so that your reader knows exactly what you want them to do. Use actionable verbs like “Get,” “Learn” or “Discover,” while avoiding friction words like “Submit,” “Order” or “Download.”
  • Design your CTAs to be easily identifiable. Campaign Monitor has found that switching from hyperlinked text to clickable buttons can increase click-through rates by 127%.
  • Place your CTA “above the fold” so that it’s visible without the reader having to scroll down. If your main CTA falls below the fold, as many as 70% of recipients won’t see it.

As with your email copy and subject lines, brevity is key for CTAs. Don’t let your CTAs exceed two to five words – you want to drive your point home without distracting your reader.

Personal contact information plays a similarly vital role in generating leads through email marketing. Recipients are more likely to engage with an email if they know it came from a person, not just an organization. Even if your e-newsletters are technically sent out by your EDO’s marketing team, adding that personal touch – a team member’s signature, headshot and contact information at the end of the email – can go a long way.

3. Testing, Testing… 1, 2, 3

It’s every content marketer’s worst nightmare: a beautifully crafted email campaign sent out to a list of hundreds of subscribers – but the subject line has a typo. Or the main CTA directs to a dead link. Or the email design template wasn’t properly formatted for mobile devices.

How to avoid mishaps like these? Test your content!

Make it part of your team’s email campaign workflow to test each email and e-newsletter before you send them out to your contact list. Here is a checklist of common mistakes that can be easily corrected with a simple proofread:

  • Typos in the email copy and subject line
  • Images that fail to show up or load in the email
  • Poor formatting for desktop and mobile versions
  • Broken or incorrect links
  • Not optimized for both HTML and plain-text versions

Once your email campaign has received the scrutiny of multiple pairs of eyes across various devices, you can be confident in hitting the “send” button.

4. Time it Right

When is the best time to send an email? That question has spurred countless Google searches and research studies. Rest assured, the brightest minds in the industry have arrived at an answer to this perplexing question.

According to a compilation of 14 studies by CoSchedule, 10:00 am in your respective time zone is the best time to send an email, while Tuesday is the best day to send an email. Runner-up times include 8:00 pm and 2:00 pm, along with Thursday and Wednesday for days of the week.

It is important to note that these times, based on aggregate data from numerous studies, are not a one-size-fits-all panacea. Research shows that email open rates and click-through rates by day can vary significantly across different industries and regions. Using 10:00 am on Tuesday as a starting point, you may need to experiment with different days and times to find the golden hour for your particular audience.

Location is a critical point to consider as you fine-tune the timing of your email campaigns. Are your contacts spread across multiple time zones? You can try sending your emails at a time that falls within the waking hours of everyone on your list. Or, you can schedule your emails to send at different times to various groups in a segmented list based on geographic location.

5. Track Your Metrics

Data is the final, and most important, piece of the email marketing puzzle. By tracking your metrics, you gain insight into how people respond to your campaigns, which can then inform your strategy and decisions for future campaigns.

Here are the primary metrics to keep an eye on:

  • Open rate tracks how many subscribers opened the email you sent.
  • Click-through rate measures how many people clicked on the links in your email.
  • Conversion rate tracks how many recipients clicked on a link and then completed a desired action such as filling out a lead generation form.
  • Unsubscribe rate measures the number of people who unsubscribe upon receiving one of your emails.
  • Bounce rate tracks how many subscriber email addresses didn’t receive your email.

Popular email marketing platforms like Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp and Constant Contact automatically provide these metrics through campaign reports. Gathering and parsing through data can take time, but the payoff is worth it. Did one of your campaigns about a major company expansion generate high open and click-through rates? Consider focusing on similar company announcements for future email campaigns. Are you encountering a high bounce rate with your emails? Take a look at your campaign reports and remove old addresses from your contact list. With the power of data, the possibilities for continually improving and updating your EDO’s email marketing approach are endless.

If you’d like to discuss any of these best practices or how we might help, our Digital, Brand & Creative Strategy team is here for you.

Written By

Jeremiah Kim

Jeremiah is a Digital Coordinator in DCI’s Economic Development practice. Since joining DCI in 2019, Jeremiah has created social media and website content for a variety of clients including the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development and Think Dutchess Alliance for Business.

More Articles by Jeremiah Kim

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