Everything you need to know about email marketing for mobile apps

Anne Verhoeven

Feb 25, 2020

Email marketing is a critical practice that is proven to strengthen your overall strategy. A study by UK-based trade organization for marketers, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), found that you can expect a return of £42 for every £1 spent on email marketing. Moreover, Statista found that 49% of consumers want to receive weekly promotional emails from their favorite brands. It is vital that you avoid common mistakes when launching email marketing, and make use of the opportunity this marketing channel presents. In this guide to email marketing for mobile apps, we will:

  • Define what email marketing for mobile apps means
  • Explore why email marketing is important
  • Outline how to produce your email marketing strategy
  • Share best practices for marketing your mobile apps through email

What is an email marketing strategy?

Marketing emails can be used to send your users regular newsletters, important updates, and promotional offers. They can be extremely successful in improving your mobile app’s retention rates, return on investment (ROI) and brand awareness.

Why is email marketing for mobile apps important?

With more competition in the app store than ever before, marketers are using email marketing to build their brand and keep their users engaged. Email marketing is a critical component for many app marketers and is the main driver in customer retention for small to midsize businesses: 81% rely on emails for user acquisition, while 80% use email marketing to retain valuable users.

Email marketing offers a way for marketers to regularly reach users and benefit from a win-win scenario: by notifying your customers of promotional deals, you can ensure your users feel valued for their loyalty while also increasing ROI. Compared to social media channels, email marketing is also more direct. While social media channels allow their algorithms to determine whether your content is shown to users, email marketing will reach your customer’s inbox as long as you aren’t labeled as spam. This is because every user will have subscribed to receive emails from you, making them prime targets for your latest promotions.

How to put together an email marketing campaign

  1. Set your targets

    Even if you are an experienced email marketer, it’s important to spot any potential issues prior to launch. The first stage of your strategy should be to define the goals you want to achieve. This could be ROI, more engagements or overall growth. If you have already marketed your app via email campaigns before, you should also identify areas for improvement. This can be used to inform your overall performance once launched and give you actionable insights over time.

  2. Pre-launch: How to develop your email marketing strategy

    Choose an email service provider: Once your targets have been defined, you need to consider your campaign’s creative and decide which email service provider is best for you. The benefit of knowing your targets prior to choosing an email service provider is that you can now deduce which company gives you the best deal according to your performance indicators.

    Build a mailing list: This can be done by implementing a pop-up for your newsletter on your official website, as well as giving users the option to join your mailing list in-app. Remember to include which users should expect to gain by signing up.

    Optimize your emails for desktop and mobile: It’s important to note that your emails should be easy to read on desktop and mobile. This is a critical step that must be included prior to launch: 70% of emails that display incorrectly on mobile will be deleted within three seconds, with 15% of users choosing to unsubscribe as a result.

  3. A/B testing your email campaigns

    A/B testing is an efficient way to fine-tune your creative and have confidence that your campaign has been optimized for best results. The data you collect from A/B testing can be used to learn more about your users and develop your overall strategy.

  4. Beta testing your email campaigns

    In addition to A/B testing, you should also beta test your campaign before launch. This gives you an opportunity to fine-tune your creative and avoid any mishaps that could damage your reputation, waste your users’ time, and discourage them from opening your emails in the future. To avoid this, invite a smaller audience group to sign up for beta testing and collect their feedback. Note that for best results you should be testing users that use different devices and platforms when opening their emails.

    You should also send a test to one or more of your colleagues beforehand. This is also a great way to gain general feedback from your team and double-check your emails work efficiently for mobile and desktop.

  5. Post-launch: troubleshooting and analysis

    Troubleshooting: Even with steps 1-4 in place, it’s likely that you will experience some issues with your campaign after launch that need to be solved to achieve the best possible results. The data you collect once launched, along with any requests for support from email recipients, will help you optimize future campaigns.

    Don’t be discouraged by negative feedback – this not only means that the user opened your email, but also gives you a chance to gain valuable insights from a valued customer.

    Analysis: Once you have that data, you can compare your defined targets against the result. You should also be analyzing how to improve open rates, how to generate more revenue and how many users unsubscribed. You can also compare these to industry averages to see how your campaign performed.

    Having gained more information about your users’ behavior, you are now in a better position to succeed with your next campaign. The results you have are now benchmarks on which you need to improve. The data collected during this campaign should also inform your creative and – depending on results – affect your overall offering. You can now repeat these steps for your next campaign.

Email marketing for mobile: 7 best practices

In addition to the step-by-step guide above, here are email marketing best practices to help you achieve your targets.

  1. Clearly state the value of your emails

    Your email campaigns won’t be worth the time and energy they take to create unless you have a sufficient number of subscribers. This early step in the process requires you to communicate the value of your emails, encouraging them to sign up.

    The good news is that by communicating the benefits, you can encourage the most valuable users to subscribe. For example, by stating that your email is the best way to be notified of new features and limited promotions, you will capture the attention of users most likely to convert.

    To reach the widest audience, the opportunity to subscribe should be promoted in-app, on your official website, and across your social media channels. You can also prompt users at optimal moments in the user journey. For example, once a user has completed a purchase, you may want to offer them the opportunity to subscribe and get the latest deals. However, It’s also important to consider when these prompts may be intrusive to avoid frustrating your users.

  2. Use data to successfully target users who will benefit

    Sending emails that are suited for your targeted users is essential to your email marketing success. This means getting the right message into the inbox of the user who is going to get value from your marketing.

    To ensure your targeting is sufficient, you must segment your subscribers into audience groups based on the information available to you. This also means that the more information you have on your users, the more useful your emails can become. Define how you want to segment users, collect that data and use it for you and your customers’ mutual benefit.

    If you have implemented email campaigns and have a low open rate or click-through rate, you should look to improve your targeting. It could be that you are sending quality updates and offers to the wrong recipients.

  3. Perfect your call to action

    No matter how successful your open rates are, they don’t mean much if your call to action doesn’t work. This is the all-important component of your email that can increase ROI and boost retention rates, so it’s critical for marketers to master.

    With your call to action, less can be more: clothing and hardware website Toast found that emails with a single call to action increased clicks by 371% and boosted sales by 1617%. A study by Hubspot also revealed that personalized call to actions can outperform basic CTAs by 202%.

  4. Personalize your emails

    By sending an email to a user’s inbox, you are asking them to invest time and energy into your user experience. It is therefore essential that your emails are personalized for best results. Not only is this courteous, it’s also the best way to achieve your email marketing targets. For example, personalizing the subject line of your emails is proven to generate 50% higher open rates. At the bare minimum, your emails should address users by name whenever possible, but you should also be seeking out more ways to personalize your email if you want to succeed.

  5. Implement interactive emails

    Interactive emails are a smart way to increase user engagement and go a step beyond the average newsletter format. This requires you to embed interactive content (such as GIFs and video) into your emails – a practice that has proven to increase click rates by 300%.

  6. Build and maintain a clean list

    If you have been collecting subscribed email addresses for some time but haven’t launched, you should set up a reminder campaign to ensure these users are still interested. This will keep your data clean and ensure you aren’t frustrating users. For the same purpose, you must also include an unsubscribe link in every email you send.

  7. Stay out of Gmail’s Promotions tab

    Gmail automatically sorts emails into tabs labeled Primary, Social and Promotions. This is a useful tool for users but it can result in marketing emails being hidden from view. In order for your emails to go into a users’ Primary tab, you must avoid words that are commonly used in spam emails. You should also consider using fewer links and images if you find that you are being placed in Gmail’s Promotions tab.

If you’d like to learn more about mobile marketing strategy, take a look at our three rules to modern mobile marketing. You might also be interested in our guide to mobile marketing automation and how to optimize the user lifecycle.

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