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Since founding Winbox in 2013, email marketing expert Marc Woodland has become a well known face on the Bristol business scene. Named Entrepreneur of the Moment by Entrepreneurial Spark Bristol, he’s also appeared on the infamous Gary Vee show. Winbox works with small businesses across Bristol and beyond, and Marc and his team help their clients gain open and click through rates that are usually around twice industry standards.

What makes email such a powerful marketing tool?

It’s been proven time and time again that it’s the channel that delivers the highest return on investment. It’s easy to set up with all the different email service providers (ESPs) that are out there now like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor, and so cost effective that any business can use it.

What are the common mistakes you’ve seen people make in their email marketing?

The biggest one is just thinking about yourself rather than our audience, only sending sales messages and transactional messages, going in for the sale without building a relationship first. With email, you’re being invited into someone’s inbox, so you need to think about what they want to see, whether that’s blog posts, competitions, product galleries and so on.

The other thing is misuse of data. Some people just find data from wherever they can and presume people want to be on their list, rather than using an opt-in system to get good quality data - people who want to be subscribed and will engage. With GDPR around the corner, this is going to become even more important soon.

In your experience, what’s the single most important element of a marketing email?

There are so many critical factors working together - you’ve got to make sure you get the subject line right, the frequency right, the design right. But the first place we start is the data. You can have the best campaign in the world but if no one is reading it, then it’s no use.

The best data is made up of clients, prospects and people who have opted in on your web form or through social media. The higher the level of opt in, the higher the engagement will be, and by engagement I mean open and click through rates.

What’s the difference between a newsletter and a sales email?

A newsletter has lots of different features - usually five to eight, maybe different blog articles, industry news, case studies - that people can scan and read what they want to read first. Sales emails are a bit more direct, they get to the call to action very directly, whether that’s to book a consultation or email for more information.

How do you come up with ideas for your email newsletters?

We have a look at what’s worked before - what’s been the most popular blog articles, tweets, Facebook posts - and what’s been most shared in the industry as a whole. We also look at our clients’ goals; for example if the goal is to raise awareness, we create content around that, or if it’s to cross sell to customers, we focus on segmenting the data and focus on upselling to do that. Plus any research into the audience that has been done, to see what they want to receive.

How important are the words you use within your email?

In email marketing, you want it to be as concise as possible. The average person receives 121 emails a day, so they don’t read everything, they scan. So it’s important that they can get the message by scanning. Headlines are critical, as are call to actions, the buttons - you need to show the value proposition of the blog you’re linking to, for example, or get them to take action. And of course, subject lines to get them to open the email in the first place.

What kind of subject lines have you found to be most effective?

It differs per client, you have to test and measure. But usually descriptive ones are better, and ones that are relatively short, about six to eight words. We’ve been using emojis a fair bit recently and they've been working well. Also first name personalisation - that will almost always increase open rate.


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