Despite being one of the oldest forms of digital communication, most people still rely on email for work-related and personal communication. Yes, there are newer communication methods – the world is awash with social media messengers and live chat platforms like Telegram and Whatsapp – and yet email is still used by over 4 billion people.
The truth is that email marketing has been around for so long that it’s just not going to go out of style anytime soon. The benefits are endless, and you have instant access to your customers’ inboxes; with all the available channels, it’s still one of the most effective ways to reach potential consumers.
In fact, email continues to be a top channel for both B2C and B2B marketers, with 87% of B2B marketers and 77% of B2C marketers using email marketing to nurture their audiences.
Email marketing gives you more control and protection against algorithm changes since you’re the one who owns contacts. That’s why email marketing is so important when building a successful outreach campaign. And if you needed more convincing, email marketing has an ROI of 42 USD for every dollar spent, meaning it deserves a place in every marketer’s toolbox.
The big challenge we face with email marketing, however, is that many people are doing it wrong. If you’ve ever received one of those spammy looking emails in your inbox, then you know all about this!
There are many benefits to email marketing, but getting it right can be tricky. Here are useful tips, tools and strategies to help you optimise – or start! – your email marketing campaigns:
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is a form of direct mail marketing used by businesses to promote products and services. It involves sending emails to potential customers about your business and product/service offerings.
An email marketing campaign is a planned series of emails sent out by businesses to their customers. The purpose of these emails is to accomplish a specific goal for the company, such as nurturing leads or engaging customers.
Through email, you’re able to stay top-of-mind with customers. You can keep them in a loop with timely information, and you can do this at scale with marketing automation tools.
When sending out email campaigns, make sure your recipients opt-in to get emails from you. Each piece should also provide value to your email subscribers.
Here are two key things to keep in mind as you dive into the world of email marketing:
- Awareness – Not everyone who opts into your email list is really interested in buying anything. You can use email to stay top of mind and provide valuable educational content that’s most relevant to them. Lead nurturing is another tool to help you stay top of mind and get your emails to become sales-ready.
- Revenue Generation – You can upsell and cross-sell to your existing customers or prospects using email marketing. You can also create emails to capture a sales conversion from leads who are close to making a purchase.
Email Marketing Tips for the Busy Marketer
- Use a catchy subject line
- Include a call-to-action
- Make sure you’re sending emails to people who want to receive them
- Keep your message short
- Add images or videos
- Don’t use too many links
- Be creative
- Offer something free
- Always include a link back to your site
- Give away something valuable
How does Email Marketing work?
Email marketing is one of the top-performing strategies, in no small measure because it’s relatively intuitive and frequently automated.
You can use email marketing to achieve many business goals, such as driving sales, boosting brand awareness, generating leads, keeping customers engaged, increasing customer loyalty, and nurturing existing customers.
Your mailing list and goals must align before you can start executing an effective email marketing campaign. First, you need to segment your email list based on demographic information or actions. Then, craft an email or series of messages designed to get consumers to take some action.
To get started, you’ll need two key things:
1. A Strategy
Before you dive into writing your email marketing campaign and start sending messages left, right and centre, you need to establish your strategy. You need to know why you’re doing this: what do you hope to gain from your email marketing campaign? Why are you targeting these people on your mailing list? How are you going to track your successes and failures?
To break it down and keep it simple, it’s a good idea to clarify these things before you get started:
- Who are you going to add to your mailing list and why?
- What messages are you going to send them?
- How often will you message them?
- What do you want your target audience to do with your messages?
- What defines a ‘successful’ campaign – which metrics are you going to be measuring?
Knowing these things will make it easier for you to draft your email messages and set a catchy call to action (CTA) to go with them.
2. Mailing List
You’ll need the email addresses of the people you want to reach. To be most effective, you must first build an email list with emails that you know are active and reachable. You can do this by creating a lead magnet or offer. Should your target audience become interested in your offer, collect emails and ask them to sign up for your newsletter.
A Note on Email Service Providers (ESPs)
An email service provider (ESP) helps you create and send emails. You can use them to personalise interactions with your customers. Email marketing platforms allow you to automate certain tasks, such as sending out newsletters or other messages to your customers.
There are many different ESPs to choose from, so it’s really up to you what sort of tools you’d like to go with. Some free ESPs include familiar names like Gmail, Outlook, ProtonMail, AOL, Zoho Mail, iCloud Mail, Yahoo! Mail, and GMX.
5 Steps to Successful Email Marketing
Step 1: Your Email Marketing Mailing List
Your mailing list – or adding to an existing one – is the place to get started. After all, you can’t begin sending messages without a mailing list.
Building Your Mailing List
There are two main ways to build a mailing list: collecting email addresses and importing contacts.
For collecting email addresses, you can use pop-ups, sign-up forms, or even just ask for people’s emails at various points throughout your website or app. You can do this by adding an email signup form on your website or blog, using pop-ups, or sending people emails with an opt-in form.
By exploring ways to get people to share their email addresses, you can naturally grow your email list. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that people aren’t going to give you their emails ‘just because’. Trust starts with the collection of email addresses, so a good way for address collection to go smoothly is to offer your prospective audience something in return.
For example, you can offer downloads like whitepapers or reports, you can also offer free products or demos. People are more inclined to give you access to the inner sanctum of their email inbox if you’ve given them in return.
For importing contacts, you need to upload your contacts from an existing excel file and then import them into your customer relations management (CRM) system.
Respect the Sanctity of The Inbox
Once you’ve been granted access to someone’s email address, you have access to what is arguably one of the most personal spaces on the Internet. Respecting a person’s inbox means making sure that you’re only sending them what they signed up for and not spamming them to pieces.
A Note on Legal Requirements
In this same vein, it’s also crucial to stay abreast of the legality of email marketing. Many countries have strict rules on spam emailing and access to email addresses as this falls under privacy protection acts.
Do your research and make sure you’re not breaking any laws when sending out your email marketing campaigns! The last thing you want to face is legal repercussions like penalty fines for sending unsolicited emails or breaching data privacy and security regulations.
The law usually has rules about how subscriptions should work, with most countries pushing for double opt-in systems that require would-be subscribers to verify their email addresses. This exists in part to ensure that people aren’t randomly added to email marketing mailing lists that they’ve not consented to.
Step 2: Compose Your Content
Once you’ve established your strategy, set your goals and put together your mailing list, you’ll know what sort of messages you want to be sending out, how many you’ll need and how often your mailing list will be receiving them.
The absolute basics of any effective email marketing strategy need three essential components: subject line, body text, and call to action.
How to Write A Kick-Ass Subject Line
Your subject line is the key to your target audience opening your email. How many times have you flicked an email in your inbox and ignored or deleted it because the subject line was boring, spammy or just plain weird? The email that you’ve clicked to open had an interesting subject title, something that caught your eye and spoke to you on a personal level. To get the best open rates, you need to speak to your audience – in which case it really helps to have fully-fleshed out buyer personas that can help you understand your audience.
Here are some quick tips for your subject line:
- Use keywords: Make it clear to your recipients what the email is about, so use the keywords in the subject line to let them know.
- Make it benefit-driven: People are more likely to open your email if they see a potential benefit to doing so, so be clear in how you write it.
- Use active voice: Be decisive and use assertive tones. No one will open your email if you’re being wishy-washy.
- Personalise whenever possible: Personalising people’s names is a great way to encourage people to open your email.
Step 3: Choose Your Campaign Format
What sort of email marketing campaign are you going to be sending? Is it a newsletter? Is it an offer for a free demo or a trial? Before you get started, make sure you’re keyed into the best campaign format that’ll help you meet your goals. The most common kinds of campaigns are:
- Newsletters – are regularly distributed email campaigns that tend to be about one topic or theme. These are usually sent out once a week, month or quarter. Their purpose is to engage an existing audience or customers to stay top of mind and guide people back to your website.
- Offers – Offers are a nice way to get people to engage with your products or services. By offering free services, product trials, or special discounts for subscriptions, you can drive a lot of traffic to your website. A ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Book Now’ button is a good CTA to accompany an offer and ensure your audience doesn’t stray.
- Announcements – Got news on new products, features or services? An announcement email is a perfect way to get the information out into the crowd. It will keep your customers up-to-date on new releases and latest products, encouraging them to come back to your website to check out the details.
- Invitations – People like to feel special. Inviting prospects to virtual or physical events can sway them to engage with your business. Plus, it also helps you fill seats for your events!
Step 4: Setup & Go
Once you’ve made your decision and acquired some followers, it’s time to start creating the emails for your campaign. Using email marketing tools makes it easy to create beautiful email campaigns, but there are some fundamentals that you should know to get the best results.
A typical adult has an attention span of 8 seconds, so if you’re trying to persuade people, you’ve got a short window to do it. They’ll tend to skim through your message, spending less time on each sentence.
Long-winded email campaigns don’t work. You need to structure your emails carefully so you’ll attract the reader’s attention and keep them interested long enough for them to take action on a call to action.
Step 5: Measure Results and Optimise for Your Campaigns
Once your campaign results are in, it’s time to measure and analyse. Your metrics can tell you a whole lot about what’s working and what’s not. This is the time to optimise your campaign, learn from mistakes, and run tests to see how you can improve your open and click-through rate (CTR).
Depending on what tool you’re using to run your email marketing campaigns, you’ll have access to different types of reporting dashboards. Generally, reports will provide insights into key metrics of your email marketing campaign, including metrics like:
- Unique opens: The number of subscribers who opened your campaign.
- Unopened rate: How many subscribers did not open your campaign.
- Open rate: The number of your total subscribers who opened your campaign, in percentage.
- CTR: The number of people who clicked on a link provided in your campaign, in percentage.
- Unsubscribe rate: People who opted out of your campaign, again as a percentage.
Chances are you see room for improvement in your metrics – after all, we always want to do better, right? Here are a few things you can try to improve your metrics:
1. Split Test Subject Lines
By splitting your mailing list into two or more pieces – aka. segmenting – you can send each segment the same content with a different subject line and see which has more impact on your open rates.
Start with small changes – you want to make sure you know the variables you’re throwing into the mix. A great place to start is by sending identical subject lines, but have one lead with the subscriber’s first name – see if the personalisation makes a difference.
2. Improve CTR
A strong call to action is always necessary. If you want people to follow up and buy something, you should also consider other factors:
For example, make sure your email looks great, and try out different images to see if they work better than the ones you’ve been using. You can also try redesigning your template to make it easier to read – audiences are quick to turn-off emails that are complicated to follow.
Your CTAs should be easy to find as well – let them stand out, so people know their links. Play with the phrasing to see if you can entice more subscribers to click on them. Where you place your CTAs is also important. Some companies get a better CTR when they put their call to action in a sidebar on the right side of an email. However, this may not be true for your audience, so experiment.
The timing of your campaign is another essential factor to consider when improving all your metrics. Does your audience have the time and state of mind at that point to open and read your email? Consider the day and time you’re sending your campaign and try testing a segment on a different schedule to see if that makes a difference.
3. Different types of Content
Subscribers can be fickle: they can get bored if you send the same kind of content to them every time, and they might get turned off if you mix it up too much. Find a balance of what content formats your audience prefers overall – videos, articles, just a message? – through segmenting and A/B testing your campaign style.
3 Things to do After Every Email Marketing Campaign
People have their reasons why they didn’t open your email. So, segment your list and resend your campaign specifically to those who didn’t open it the first time around. This offers them a second chance to see the email in case it got lost, or it provides you with further opportunities to test your subject lines and send times. It also lets you know who’s really not interested.
2. Clean Your List
After several rounds of split testing, segmentation and sending your campaign out, you’ll notice who’s not into what you’re offering. When that happens, remove those people from your mailing list. Good mailing list hygiene can help you improve your engagement and open rates.
3. Build Brand Awareness
After your campaign has run its course, it’s time to build awareness for your brand across different marketing channels. More people will know about your brand, and you’ll be able to get more subscribers and followers. You’ll also increase engagement and get more leads and conversions. Diversification of your audience – within reason! – is a great way to build your mailing list and bump up those metrics.
What’s the Deal with Email Marketing Automation?
Depending on the kind of email marketing campaigns you want or need to run, you might want to consider automating your email marketing. Automation is a great way to streamline your email communications and increase the ROI of your campaigns. You can use it to automate email broadcasts and response sequences, for example, but it’s not for everyone. It’s a great option if you are running an e-commerce store or if you have a lot of subscribers.
Email marketing automation offers a variety of benefits, including:
- Boosts time efficiency: After you’ve set up your email marketing automation system you can just hit ‘go’ and sit back.
- Improve UX: You’ll never have to worry about forgetting to follow up with your leads or prospects.
- Drive Sales: With built-in conversions and nurture email campaigns, you’ll be able to grow your customer base – and bottom line.
Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation
Email marketing and marketing automation are two terms that are often lumped together, so to be clear: they are not the same thing. There’s a bit of overlap to be sure, but it’s best to think of email marketing as a subset of marketing automation:
Email marketing automation is the process of sending targeted email campaigns to your customers automatically through a pre-built and self-operating system, usually made with the help of software. When you use the right tools, you can automatically capture leads, get them sent to your mailing list, and create and send automated email campaigns to transform them into paying customers.
Marketing automation software, on the other hand, monitors all of a lead’s digital interactions with your business. It also compiles all this data into an activity history that lets you quickly and easily get information about lead behaviour and their digital habits.
Do you need both?
Both email service providers and marketing automation platforms are handy tools for any marketer but deciding which tool is right for your business depends on whether you are looking to close leads faster or just provide quality, valuable information.
If all you need to do with the leads is send them a few valuable content pieces before passing them on to the sales team, then a lead scoring software might be perfect for your needs. Lead scoring is a solid tactic for strengthening your lead generation strategy.
If your sales cycle is relatively simple and prospects don’t need a lot of hand-holding, an email marketing automation solution might be ideal for you. A marketing automation platform may be too sophisticated and expensive.
14 Email Marketing Tools to Consider
- SAP Sales Cloud (Formerly CallidusCloud)
The Conclusion: Is Email Marketing still a ‘thing’?
The short answer is ‘yes, it’s still a thing’. In fact, it’s still a big thing! Yes, we know: email isn’t a new technology. In 1971, it was one of the very first means of digital communication. Today, it’s used more than ever before. People still use email!
When you think of the advantages that email marketing provides, it remains one of the quickest and easiest ways to reach your business goals, whether they be revenue growth, customer outreach, or raising brand awareness and engagement.
Consider that email marketing campaigns can be personalised more than any other channel, making them more interesting and engaging for target audiences. Additionally, costs are comparatively low, especially when compared to social media marketing, making email marketing an accessible option for all businesses – no matter the size or budget.
Embarking on your email marketing journey? 2Stallions is experienced in setting up and even running email marketing campaigns, and we know that it can be tricky to get it right. If our experience can help, give us a call or shoot us an email.
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