Simply, email marketing is using email to send relevant content to a potential customer. However, with “sexier” options accessible to business owners, such as social media or experiential, it often feels old hat.
Still, it’s one of the most effective ways for a business to connect and start a relationship with a customer. In fact, it’s possibly the best possible strategy for your business.
It’s easy thinking that marketing is just about how many people you can reach with your message. In truth, sometimes that’s exactly what a business requires. However, you need to ensure your marketing spend not only reaches the right audience, but has a high instance of them acting on it.
So why is email so effective, when there are so many new channels? Why is this decades-old technology still a favourite with marketers?
Think about this, in 2018 there were more than 3.8 billion email users according to a recent Radicati Group study. (That’s pretty much half the planet). The number of worldwide email users is expected to grow to over 4.3 billion by the end of 2023. So, it’s no wonder 73% of marketers rate email as the best digital channel for ROI.
Email as part of your marketing mix
Use of email, should be a crucial part of your overall marketing and sales strategy. You can send content directly to your audience, without worrying how social media algorithm changes can influence your campaign.
You’re in charge with how often and how you communicate with your subscribers—you are able to cultivate an audience of people who are excited to hear from you. But this needs thought and planning. People are inundated with brand messages and advertisements everywhere and every day. You may think your email is important, but it may not stand out or even get to customers.
In fact, nearly 50% of email traffic is spam, with much automatically redirected to spam folders. It’s easy to recognise emails from known sources, but email marketing (even subscribed) may have to compete with an overzealous spam filter. Increase your chances of landing in the inbox by ensuring your content is something they don’t want to miss. Make it relevant and useful, so they actively make sure your email hits their inbox.
Setting up your email marketing
Before anything GET PERMISSION!
Don’t email contacts without their permission, not only have you started your campaign by spamming them, but potentially be violating GDPR regulations. So initially, you’ll need to focus on building a sizable email list.
There are lots of ways to this, of course. Some prefer to give something away for free, others simply offer a newsletter or product updates. For example, Brand agency React highlights fun and interesting marketing news every couple of weeks.
Like everything in marketing, there’s right or wrong answer. It’s dependent upon what your business is and what you’re trying to achieve. However, it’s important to have a clear purpose when asking for an address. A strong call to action is needed and the content you share must be right for your audience.
Establish your credibility, explain what the emails are for and get people interested in receiving them. Get people excited about why they should be letting you communicate to them, give them a benefit to sharing their email address and you can get more people to subscribe. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just have a benefit. For example:
- Email newsletters relevant to them – make your newsletter a part of their routine to find out what is going on.
- Free downloads
- Free white papers or eBooks
- Update lists, like new releases, product launches or service developments
Whatever that incentive is, make it clear and enticing, and don’t be afraid to promote it.
Do as you’ve promised
Email marketing’s success is reliant on setting expectations and ensuring you stick to them in the eyes of your subscribers. If your subscribers have signed up for a weekly or fortnightly email and you send them daily, your campaign may suffer. Perversely, if subscribers expect daily updates or critical news and you don’t deliver, they are likely to be just as upset.
If your call to action is strong, and your follow-up is consistent, then you can count on a positive campaign. Like most things in life, you have one chance to make an initial good impression. This is why you first follow-up email is crucial to ensuring your email marketing campaign is successful.
For example, below is an email from Kickstarter to a new creator. It clearly explains the next steps, gives links to helpful tips and highlights how to ensure their campaign succeeds. Simple, clear and useful.
Your first email.
Once a subscriber signs up, your initial email should be sent immediately. Introducing yourself and business, whilst explaining what you will be doing with your their email address is key.
Initially, it’s better to be long-winded, ensuring your intentions are clear, rather than creating content too short and missing vital details. But hey, if you can pull off quick and to the point, then great!
Thankfully most email marketing services, such as Convertkit or MailChimp, give the option to create an autoresponse. Simply, you can set the service up to take care of the actual job of sending emails out.
It may seem like something you don’t need initially, but once your email campaigns get rolling and become more complex, autoresponse is a god send. By scheduling a set of emails to send in advance, you can ensure regular contact with your subscribers, keeping to the expectations you set.
Usually, businesses will plan out a schedule of emails to be automatically delivered. Your subscriber will then expect your email regularly. This means when you deliver a sales pitch, you know you’ve already been in touch, have built up a relationship and are less likely to annoy your readers.
Using email marketing to sell
At some point, you will need to use your email marketing to sell. You’re not running an email list for the fun. It’s there to engage customers, drive your sales funnel and make sales.
As a business owner, you need to think in advance about how and when you pitch your company. You don’t want your subscribers expecting useful free content to be suddenly behind a paywall, with you now pitching your consulting services. You’ll be much more successful if people expect sales pitches every once in a while. It’s surprising, but people are happy to be pitched to if they feel they’re getting value.
Again, it’s about the expectations you set up front with your email marketing. If you’re consistent and your subscribers are interested in your content, send offers aligned to it. That’s fine and potentially useful to them. Sending them offers with no relevance will likely mean you lose permission to keep talking to them.
Each business and company has different needs – what works for one, may not work for another. Remember, craft your contact strategy and be responsive to feedback positive and negative. Listen to your subscribers or they may just leave.
Analytics and segmentation
This is where it can become easy to become glass-eyed and distant – but segmentation and analytics allow you to refine your campaigns, making them more effective and drive better results.
Analytics are useful no matter what the channel you are using to market your business. Similar to SEO and social media, email marketing can benefit from a good understanding of what the results are showing you.
Though they’re all important, the 3 vital areas to understand are open rate, click-through rate and unsubscribes.
This how many people open your emails, measured using a single invisible tracking pixel that loads when someone clicks or opens your email. Open rates are a barometer for how subscribers value your contact with them.
A good open rate means your subject line is strong, resonates well and your audience is engaged with you. If your open rate is low, it usually means you have a lot of unengaged subscribers. You need to work harder on providing value and managing expectations.
MailChimp provide some great examples of good email marketing opening rates
- The most opened emails are related to hobbies, with an open rate of 27.35%.
- Emails sent by government entities come in second, with a 26.52% open rate.
- With a 26.03% open rate, emails about the arts and artists came in third.
- The average open rate for all industries is 20.81%.
Click Through Rate
The click through rate (abbreviated to CTR) shows how many people clicked on a link (if any) in your email. For instance, if you are find your CTR is low, either your message is not targeted enough or simply not getting through. The likely culprit here is the content and copy. Improving this should increase your CTR.
Again, MailChimp provide some useful insights here.
- Hobbies also have the highest click rate, which is 4.78%.
- Media and publishing emails see the second highest click rate, at 4.55%.
- Government comes in third, with a 3.65% click rate.
- The average click rate for all industries we looked at is 2.43%.
The unsubscribe rate tells you how many people have decided they no longer want to receive communication from you and have clicked the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the email
If your unsubscribe rate is high in relation to your opt-in rate, you’re not providing value and writing good copy and you’ve got some serious work to do. For example, 1% is very high if your are targeting your audience correctly, where as between 0.18% to 0.25% (depending upon your companies size) would be average.
Analytics are critical in managing your email marketing. If you’re paying attention, they’ll give you very specific clues as to what you’re doing wrong.
Segmenting your subscribers
Segmentation is the practice of splitting up your email list into more targeted groups. Segments create target audiences based on shared data. When you create a segment, you’ll set conditions to filter contacts based on the information that’s available in your audience.
For example, you could split your contact list like this:
- Subscribed contacts who opened any of your last five email campaigns
- Subscribed contacts who didn’t click in your last email campaign
- Contacts who recently purchased a product from your business
- Demographics (age, status, etc)
- The Interests your contacts have or business sector they work in
By segmenting your audience, you give yourself the ability to be refined in targeting your email marketing. For example, if your business sells kitchen products, some customers may want updates and tips on how best to use them, while others might only want to hear about new versions. Segmentation allows you to stay relevant to your audience. Since customers are more likely to buy again, you want to keep them subscribed to your customer email list.
You can also split test messaging amongst different groups in order to refine your best practices, called A/B testing. Basically this allows you to compare 2 versions of something to learn which is more effective. Simply put, do your users like version A or version B? A/B tests are an effective method to refine your message and develop a strategy for your different segments.
It’s not as complicated as you think, but it is time consuming to properly segment your audience, which is why most don’t take the time to do it right. See this as an opportunity and beat your competitors!
Email marketing delivers huge returns for marketers willing to get started and it’s really not too complicated. You just need to remember a few key things.
- Be polite, respectful, and deliver value
- Ask permission. (GDPR means it’s also a legal requirement.)
- Set expectations and stick with them.
- Create good content. There is no set way to do this, it depends upon your circumstances. However, if you can’t do it find help or crowdsource the skills.
- Understand analytics and segmentation. Provide different content in your emails for different groups of people.
Anything you think we missed? Comment below.