Email is an indispensable communication tool for our business. This is because it is a free, fast and reliable form of communication that is accessible to everyone with an internet connection. It allows users to foster and build lasting relations irrespective of distances with both prospects and customers.
E-mail is most widely used as a prospect conversion and customer retention. E-mail can particularly be an effective push for your online communications outreach. It comes in handy for customer retention as it can help in targeted email campaigns where your message can be pushed out to customers to inform and remind. As a two-way form of communication, it is valuable to gather feedback and prompt actions from your audience.
Projections indicate that by 2023 the number of daily global email users will jump to 347.3 billion and there will be 4.371 billion email users. Current trends point email accounts are expected to grow faster than the number of worldwide email users, underscoring the need for why your business should focus on email marketing campaigns. Despite skepticism, it is either at par or exceeds other marketing channels such as social media, SEO, and affiliate marketing.
If you’ve ever wondered why your small business should use an email marketing campaign, and how to use it step-by-step, then come check out our guide.
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is engaging with prospects and clients who have subscribed to your emails. Effective email marketing can help businesses turn prospects into customers and convert one-time buyers into lifelong loyal customers. The great thing about email campaign is that it is free and all you have to to to start is to simply get online.
Given the fact that you cannot provide face-to-face meetings if you have a large number of clients spread across wide geographical locations, an email marketing campaign with your clients can be an ideal way to build these relationships. With an email campaign, you can help create targeted and personalized messages. Your marketing campaign can be used to reach both large audiences or smaller recipients depending on your particular needs and objectives.
These relationships could be in terms of subscribing to your newsletter, a holiday greeting, promotional offers, discounts and other types of engagement. With email marketing you can help people understand your company— what you stand for, what your values are and what your latest offerings are all about. What is even greater is you have more control in terms of creating targeted messaging through this form of marketing.
Marketing is all about having lasting and continued engagement and relationships with your clients. As a business owner you will need to continue to engage with your customers to let them know what is happening and what offers are available for them.
Benefits of Email Marketing
Email allows people to act immediately; increase leads and conversions rates; helps create brand or company awareness; promote products, services, and content. Emails allow you to deliver private, exchangeable messages, which can help in prospecting clients, increase customer retention and strengthen relationships.
Once an e-mail is opened it doesn’t take long for the recipients to take action because all it takes is a click of the mouse. Immediate actions include clicking to your landing page, subscribing to your newsletter; buying right away, and any other option you have placed in the body.
According to the 2019 DMA Marketer Email Tracker report, the numbers favor email marketing. In it the average Return on Investment (ROI) from email marketing is $52.30 for every dollar spent. This is in addition to the lifetime value (LTV) of each individual email address which stands at $51.06 for B2C and $43.59 for B2B email addresses. All good news for email marketers.
How to Get Started with Email Marketing
With email marketing, you have a proven, easy and effective tool to reach your marketing goals. Below are some of the basic steps required to start your marketing campaigns.
1. Decide How You Plan to Use Email Marketing
Including e-mail as part of your marketing mix can help maximize the results of your marketing endeavors. The success will depend on the amount of research you put in your strategy. This will help you determine your message; select the right audience; how you will deliver your message and of course evaluate your results and tweak them when necessary. In addition your strategy should help inform you on how to manage your subscriber list; the design and copy of every email; scheduling delivery time; testing messaging; and analyzing results.
Start by getting people to subscribe to your regular email newsletter and provide news about your company or helpful tips. With this you can direct traffic to your website’s landing page for additional interactions. It is yet another way of showcasing your offerings to both new and old customers. You can also use email alerts to let your subscriber know about occasional special discount or offers.
Solo entrepreneurs such as speakers and consultants can use email marketing to share thought leadership advice. They can also announce their upcoming engagement such as webinars or conferences along with how people can attend and participate.
2. Pick an Email Marketing Tool
To get started with your marketing efforts, you can start by deciding on an email marketing tool. Email marketing tools help you to design, send, test, optimize and measure email campaigns. An email marketing tool could be a specific tool related to email marketing campaigns like an email subject line generator, or an inbox placement testing tool, or a suite of tools that enables a marketer to do all their email marketing end-to-end.
Mailchimp is one of the more popular email marketing service providers in the market. It comes free, has an easy email builder, autoresponders’ features, arranges contacts into groups, and analytics. With Mailchimp, you can also set up delivery times based on your contacts’ time zones. Mailchimp offers a free custom domain and can also integrate with WordPress, Shopify, and many other platforms. If you require additional support for your email senders, custom branding and advanced features Mailchimp prices start from upwards of $ 9.99.
Sender is a free email marketing tool. It helps provide you with support to create newsletters without any HTML knowledge. It offers a good selection of templates so you can customize images, videos and text to your specific needs. Sender also allows you to personalize email newsletters for each recipient for a better impact. The free plan will let you cater to 2,500 subscribers and send out 15,000 emails a month. The paid plan which starts from $10 a month offers for more robust support.
ConvertKit is a subscriber-based marketing tool and starts with a $ 29 base plan. It helps you track the interests and purchases of your audience through tags and segments. Allows you to see individual subscriber history and profile info by clicking on any subscriber from any part of your list. It also helps you design fully customizable landing pages with customizable templates to help you grow your email lists.
Other email marketing tools providers you can choose from include iContact, EmailBrain, SimplyCast, Conatctology and others.
A good email marketing service will make the process a lot easier. Any email marketing tool should help you do the following:
- Manage your database list of subscribers. It’s where you keep your subscribers
- Give you opt-in forms to add to your website, so prospective subscribers have a place to sign up
- Automatically send confirmation emails, and handle the confirmation process for new subscribers
- Automatically remove those who unsubscribe, so you no longer send them messages
- Provide easy-to-use templates to compose email messages
- Handle the process of broadcasting (sending out) marketing emails
- Provide reports and statistics, so you can improve your email marketing
- Automate some messages
3. Build a List
Building your e-mail address list is not an easy task and you will need to get the information and permission from the person or business you want to communicate with. You can start building your lists from repeat customers and interested prospects who know your business well enough to recognize your e-mails.
If you collect information without asking permission it can cause recipients to think twice about subscribing, delegate your emails to spam or bring about legal repercussions. Make sure you comply with CAN-SPAM and GDPR laws. Your prospects and customers have to agree to share their email address in order for you to deliver your offering.
Use an opt-in form for your potential subscribers and invite them to sign up for promotional information about one or more categories of products or services. This will show you have their consent to contact them. To eliminate any doubt you can also use a double opt-in option. This is when a user signs up for an email marketing list and a subsequent email is sent out to the user which includes a link to click for the confirmation of the subscription. Make sure to show your subscribers how to whitelist your emails and ask them to add you to their email address book
More importantly, always backup your updated list on your PC and if possible, have a printed spreadsheet for added protection. Nothing is as painful as having to lose the list which you have painstakingly built up. Data breaches or PC malfunctions can easily wipe out months or even years of hard work. Losing your list can mean all your efforts at engaging with your clients have all gone down the drain.
4. Compose Your Messages
Let’s face it we all get lots of emails in our inboxes. Sometimes we simply scan through them at other times we do not even open them. You will need to make and plan content for your email marketing campaign before sending out your first email. Just as you would with any other social media content platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook – you need to know what you are going to update subscribers with. Be sure to develop an email strategy for your business. Developing a strategy may take some research and time, but it will pay off in the long run.
A great email is all about engagement or conversations with customers. As such you will need to write as you talk. Write your email as if you are speaking to just one particular individual. This will help your emails get higher open rates and click-through rates. Start your email conversation by dropping the reader right in the middle of the action. By cutting through the chase you pull the reader directly into the matter of discussion in your emails. Thus, garnering their attention, and they know clearly what you want them to do or get out of the emails.
Always make sure your subject line, email text, video all stand out starting from your first email. Presentation is key here, make sure you don’t go overboard with graphics that take too much time to load. Your emails should be clear, concise and straight forward, and it should be enticing enough to have readers engaged. You will need to have a content strategy for your email subscribers that is both engaging and helps direct them to making concrete actions. Especially with email click rates, your subject lines determine whether they are enticing enough to warrant a click. Always try to stand out from the subject line as well as in your content.
Your email should be informative, entice curiosity, be humorous have both a friendly and conversational tone. You should also have a single clear call to action, if you are tempted to cram as many calls to action in a single email you risk having your most important call to action sidelined.
Try as much as possible to avoid spam trigger words such as ‘buy, ‘discount’, ‘earn extra cash’, ‘incredible offer’, free cash and others like these. These might cause your emails to directly go to the spam box.
Start your email with salutations to the individual in question. Your message should be based on your understanding of your recipient in terms of their values, problems, desires and likes. Remember you are holding a conversation not pitching. For better results try integrating your email marketing efforts with your social media outreach. You can use chat platforms on your social media tools, blog and articles on your website to get more people to subscribe.
5. Send Email Messages
Believe it or not, there are good times to send emails to get the best responses in terms of email open rates and email click-through rates. The best days to send emails are on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Studies indicate that Thursdays enjoy the highest open rates with an average of 18.6%. Wednesday comes in second wth an average of 18.3% of messages being read. Sunday has the least impact on open rates with an average of 17.1% across all industries. The best time to send an email is 11 am EST according to a study.
For a more effective determination of when to send emails, picture yourself as your customers with which days are good for them to have time to reflect on your offering?
6. Review Reports and Tweak Processes
Your email marketing campaign analytics and metrics can give you valuable insights to track the progress of your marketing campaign. Two common email metrics are open rate and click-through rates.
An open rate refers to the percentage of people who opened your emails from the total number of recipients. This usually means your subject line resonates with subscribers; subscribers are familiar with your name and brand, and recipients associate you either with an emotion or value.
Similarly, a click-through rate is the percentage of people who clicked on a link in your email from the total number of people who opened it. This will show how people are responding to the content of your emails. A positive response entails clicking through to your website for more information or offers.
Good open and click-through rates will result in more visitors to your website and sales. A good way to test your messaging is by running A/B tests on your email marketing campaigns. A/B testing refers to sending one variation of your marketing campaign to a subset of your subscribers and a different variation to another subset of subscribers. The goal here is to work out which variation of the marketing campaigns will provide the best results. Once the test is over and you find the best campaign, your marketing platform will automatically send that version to the rest of your list. Learn how to use all of the tools available to you with the platform you choose.
7. Grow Your List
For optimum results, you will need to continue growing your email list with a viable subscription list. One of the best ways to make a big impact among possible subscribers is to offer a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a free gift you give to recipients in your mailing list. Through a lead magnet, you can attract people by providing enticing offers. To encourage people to sign up you can offer up freebies such as free trials or samples, a free e-book, a free report, help in donations, or a free video training series. You can also use your website and social media channel to help encourage customers to sign on.
8. Perform List Hygiene
Always remember that email lists expand and contract. As your email list gets bigger, the more money you will have to pay your email service. What is key is to know how engaged your email list is. After some time, people might opt to stop opening your emails. They may actually cause you to waste resources on unresponsive recipients.
This is why it is important to always monitor and update your lists by deleting people who no longer open your emails. Always keep your email list fresh and filled with engaged subscribers. Your VIPs are those that open your emails the most often.
9. Segment Your List
It is important to note, you will need to break up your subscribers into smaller groups based on your specific criteria to make them more personalized and relevant. Not all clients and their needs are the same so you should be able to tag and segment your recipients based on whether they are new to your company or have made previous purchases. The goal here is to avoid sending irrelevant messages to everyone and risk sending your emails to spam purgatory. You might want to include a checkbox on your opt-in form for those who wish to receive emails with discounts and offers and others for new product launches.
Try to avoid sending irrelevant messages to everyone where they might end up in the spam box. In fact, less than 50 percent of businesses are not using any kind of targeted email marketing technique at all. This fails to meet your email marketing campaign goals and misses out on opportunities.
For better impact personalize the emails to your recipients. The more you personalize your marketing emails, the greater the rewards for your business. According to a study, marketers who invest in advanced personalization efforts can see more than $20 in return for every dollar they invest. They also drive over 17% more revenue than marketers that rely on more basic methods.
This will help you to better target your audience(s) based on whether your goal is to attract, acquire or retain the particular segments and go into advanced marketing automation.
Another advanced practice involves setting up automation. You will need to keep leads warm and maintain marketing “touches” with your list to stay top of mind for when they are ready to buy (again). But you’re busy and may not always have time. This is where automation comes into play and an autoresponder comes to play here. Autoresponder is simply a series of emails that are sent out automatically once triggered by a certain action. Through your lead magnet you as an email marketer can offer an e-book that would require customers to sign on to your subscription platform. This helps you send an email series to increase engagement with customers.
Email Best Practices
There are many tips for email marketing campaigns, but certain practices should be followed. For example, experts recommend the following best practices:
- Think like your customer — By thinking like your customer you better understand why the customer subscribed or purchased from you. Then you can better meet their needs with brand association
- Write good subject lines — Your subject line will determine whether or not the recipient opens your emails. Subject lines should have a call to action and get the recipient interested enough to click and open the email
- Make your emails mobile-friendly — The majority of emails today get opened on phones. So it’s good to ensure they look right and are easy to read on mobile devices
- Send emails at the most effective time — The best time varies by industry, the purpose of the email and other factors. Check metrics to see at what times people are opening your emails
- Offer email-exclusive content — Send content that is available only to subscribers. It encourages new subscribers and delivers something unique
- Provide the option to opt-out of receiving future e-mails
- Emails should include your physical address
- Email subject lines do not mislead
- Your emails have to clearly state it is a solicitation
- Send a welcome email to all new email list subscriber
- Send periodic permission reminders to confirm if subscribers are still interested in your emails
- Be transparent while describing your email’s content and the typical frequency in your sign up process
Email Marketing Laws
When email marketers use sent out mail, they have to allow their subscribers the opportunity to opt-out of their mailing list by being transparent on how to unsubscribe. It is extremely important to be upfront about what subscribers can expect from subscribing to a mailing list as well. No one likes to be duped in getting unsolicited emails that simply cram up their inboxes.
You will need to comply with spam laws. Always be sure to be transparent and above board on how you acquired your subscriber’s email address. The CAN-SPAM and GDPR regulations are strong when it comes to enforcing illegally obtained email addresses in a bid to protect individual privacy rights. This includes purchasing an e-mail list from a company that allows you to keep the e-mail addresses as a data file; collecting e-mail addresses from web sites and other online directories; using an e-mail address collection service (unless there is confirmed permission from every subscriber).
See the following articles for more tips:
- Email Marketing Statistics
- Personalized Email Marketing
- How A/B testing works for small businesses
- Targeted email marketing