Want new customers? Think old-school (as in email)

email, customer acquisition

When you turn to the Internet to market your practice are you looking to build awareness or generate new business?

The answer may matter more than you think. On the simplest level, it can help you determine where to spend your time, energy and marketing dollars. But, according to a new report, it also underscores the fact that one of the oldest forms of digital marketing — email — is still one of the best.

Compiled by the customer-acquisition experts at Custora, the report found that online retailers acquired 7% of their customers through email marketing. That not only crushed the results from Facebook and Twitter (both less than 0.2%) but represented a quadrupling over the last 4 years.

That’s not to suggest that social media isn’t important — it’s still a great channel for building awareness and community — but rather that you need to give your email marketing campaigns the attention they deserve. Here are 5 key elements to consider:

Grab readers’ attention: Subject lines are part science, part art form and all-important. Be concise, be informative and give readers a genuine reason to open your message. Check out the open rates for various messages in this blog post from Mail Chimp for a comparison of what works and what doesn’t.

Make them feel welcome: Any email marketing platform worth its price tag will allow you to personalize emails with recipients’ names and/or other targeted data, underscoring the idea that the message is coming from a trusted contact. Doing so can boost open rates 5 to 10%.

Get to the point: People don’t read emails for leisure; they read them for information they can use. If they don’t find it — and find it fast — they move on. Put the most important information up front; use headers to facilitate scanning, and forgo big blocks of text that prompt people to reach for the delete key.

Encourage them to take action: Once a subscriber reads your email, what do you want them to do? Click on a link to read a blog post? Call your office? Share it with her friends? If you can’t answer that, they won’t be able to either, so make sure you provide a clear call to action, complete with a link or button, to facilitate it.

Make ‘em mobile friendly: With 40% of emails now being opened on mobile devices, the design of your messages is more important than ever — and more challenging as new devices with different screen formats hit the market. You don’t need to be an expert in responsive design but your email marketing provider should be able to explain what they’re doing to ensure your messages are optimized regardless of where they’re being read.

Doctor Takeaway

For acquiring customers, email still rules

A good email campaign combines efficiency, relevancy and a clear call to action. As Wacarra Yeomans of Responsys says email subscribers should be able to “answer three key questions with just a glance: (1) What is the email about? (2) Why should they care? (3) What should they do about it?

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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