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Email marketing offers local businesses ample opportunities to connect with local customers and drive sales throughout the area. To make the most of your locally driven email efforts, take the time to focus on a few key areas. Follow these eight steps to improve your local email marketing and build a list that gets results.
Image via Flickr by Leah L. White
While your brand’s biggest fans might open every email you send, most subscribers need an eye-catching subject line to convince them to click. After all, over 280 billion emails go out every single day, which means you’re competing with quite a few other senders to get your subscribers’ attention.
To make your messages stand out to your audience, use local references in your subject lines so your subscribers immediately know your message is relevant to their interests. Try mentioning your city, town, neighborhood, or trivia only locals will understand. If you’re concerned that you might alienate some of your subscribers, remember that keeping your subject lines local gives you real power to appeal to your target audience.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to send emails when your subscribers are most likely to open and click through. The optimal time to send to your list may be at the beginning of the workday, in the evening after the kids go to bed, or over the weekend when subscribers have more time to enjoy your messages.
When you’re marketing to an audience in your local area, you have a unique advantage. Virtually every subscriber will be in the same time zone, which means timing your messages just right couldn’t be easier. Rather than segmenting your list for subscriber location and sending to different groups at various times, you can send to everyone at once.
To find the ideal time for your list, try emailing subscribers at a few different times. Then dig into the analytics to determine which time generates the most opens and clicks for your audience and which time tends to result in ignored or deleted messages. Don’t hesitate to continue testing out optimal times as your list grows and gains momentum, especially if you notice a drop in open or click-through rates.
One of the easiest ways to get your audience to unsubscribe from your list or even report your emails as spam is to send them messages that don’t resonate. In contrast, you can easily avoid unnecessary unsubscribes by keeping your emails relevant and interesting.
Whether you’re offering a special in-store discount or a printable coupon, double-check that the deal you’re highlighting is relevant to your local audience. If your business has more than one location, consider segmenting your list to ensure that subscribers can opt into receiving deal alerts and other messages tailored to their local interests.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started growing your list or if you’ve been emailing subscribers for years. Split testing is always a good idea for email marketing optimization, especially for local businesses.
Split testing can boost your conversion rates substantially, but you’ll want to test just one aspect at a time to ensure that you’re collecting accurate results. Try splitting your list into two segments, and then send each group the same message with slight alterations in the subject line, content, or call to action (CTA). Then analyze the best-performing messages, and put what you’ve learned to work in future email campaigns.
No matter where your local area is, there’s a good chance that many of your subscribers will open your emails on a mobile device. After all, recipients open over half of all emails on mobile, which means your messages could end up in the trash if you don’t ensure that they look great and read easily on tablets and smartphones.
If you really want to make the most of your local email marketing efforts, take the extra step to ensure that your messages drive in-store sales for your local business. Include directions to the store closest to your subscriber segment or link to the mapping app that your audience is most likely to use on a mobile device.
If your business has multiple locations or if you’re creating hyperlocal deals for your audience, don’t send every subscriber to the same URL. Instead, consider creating customized landing pages for various audience segments or for subscribers in different areas.
By sending subscribers to landing pages designed specifically for their needs, you’ll ensure that they find what they’re looking for with just one click. You’ll also be able to point them to great content that you’ve created just for them, leaving them with a sparkling impression of your brand.
Synchronizing your email and social media efforts can help your local business get even more out of its online marketing efforts. Secure permission to connect with your subscribers on social media networks, and you can reach out to them with highly targeted local offers.
Naturally, your subscribers already know and trust your brand. That means there’s a good chance you can convince them to convert easily, generating traffic to your website or driving sales in your brick-and-mortar store.
Rather than setting and forgetting your local email marketing efforts, make a point of updating your approach regularly. Email service providers offer increasingly sophisticated targeting options, so make an effort to keep your subscriber data current and stay on top of segmenting and tagging capabilities.
After all, improving your local targeting or taking your campaigns to a hyperlocal level only increases their relevance. Since highly relevant messages are more likely to resonate and drive conversions, keeping your targeting efforts up-to-date is likely to benefit both your subscribers and your business.
With these strong strategies in place, email marketing has the potential to help your business achieve a long list of goals. Keep these eight tips handy to take your local email marketing strategy — and ultimately your business growth — to the next level.