Is it a dying breed?
With the meteoric rise of live video, disappearing messages and chatbots, it’s no surprise that many startups and small businesses are devaluing the importance of email. But it’s at their own peril.
Email marketing remains one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. According to McKinsey research, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
That’s the power of direct email messaging in a crowded digital market. 90% of emails get delivered right to your audience’s inbox. Compare that to Facebook, where only 2% of fans see your post in their newsfeed, unless you pay to play.
With email marketing, you are building an asset on your own turf. An asset that won’t ever get taken away from you with the change of an algorithm, or an update in a pricing policy.
But even if you have an appreciation for the importance of email marketing, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach things. Unfortunately, the line between right and wrong is severely blurred and constantly changing.
There is a LOT to take into consideration…
Automation, broadcasts, branding, open rates, spam folders, list building, segmentation, and of course – tracking your results.
And if the best practice for all of these things is constantly changing, how do you keep up? How do you actually get results?
We’ve paired up with Venngage to create an infographic that covers all of the key elements of email marketing. To keep this resource somewhat evergreen, we’ve focused the tips and tactics within the graphic on email marketing long stays. Things that form the foundation of a successful email marketing strategy, and will do for years to come.
If you’re just getting started with email marketing or want to revamp your strategy, this guide will help you pinpoint the important things you need to know. Below the infographic I dive into each section in more depth.
This infographic was created in collaboration with Venngage. Want to create one of your own? Get started with this simple 5-step process.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the sections from the above infographic:
Getting set up
In today’s competitive world, email marketing just doesn’t work unless you use software. 56% of companies currently use an email marketing provider, and are 75% or more likely to be purchasers of marketing automation software over the next year.
So picking an email marketing platform is step one. There are a lot of options out there with different features, so you need to find one that suits your needs the best.
Just Google “email marketing software comparison” and you’ll find tons of helpful charts breaking down the features of each.
PCMag shows a nice one here:
Just make sure the chart you’re reading is up-to-date. Email marketing software companies are competitive and roll out new features regularly.
Once you have your email marketing software, you need to start building a list of prospects you can actually market to. This is a long-game strategy – a task you’ll never be done with.
Here are a few of the most common ways businesses start list building:
- On-site calls-to-action (CTAs)
Look to leave calls-to-action around your site asking visitors to sign up for your email list. These can appear on your website sidebar, at the end of your blog posts, or even as a popup ad. In fact, the click through rate for popups is higher than any other ad.
- Lead magnets
Lead magnets are the bread and butter of list building. Essentially they are an irresistible bribe you use to capture email addresses.
Like this free consultation from Single Grain:
They’re something of value that you give away to your target audience for free, such as an ebook, ecourse, guide, cheatsheet, video course, or free trial. You can also create a quiz or tool for people to use.
- Content upgrades
Content upgrades are a lot like lead magnets because you are offering a snippet of value in exchange for an email address. For example, say you write a blog post about the “20 ways to stretch before exercising.” You can offer 10 bonus stretches as a content upgrade. All visitors have to do to access it is type in their email.
List building will take time, but the more qualified leads you can gather, the more powerful your email marketing strategy will become.
Here is some further reading on growing your email list:
List Building – Get More Email Subscribers Than You Can Handle – Blogger Sidekick
40 Lead Magnet Ideas to Rapidly Grow Your Email List – Blogger Sidekick
Getting in the inbox
Getting into people’s inbox is one of the hardest parts of email marketing.
So you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure (1) your emails end up in inboxes in the first place, (2) subscribers don’t mark them as spam once they get there.
- Make sure people know they signed up
This is a mistake I see a lot of people make when collecting email addresses – they ask for an email address but don’t make it clear they’ll be sending promotional material.
When people receive promotional emails they aren’t expecting, they’re much more likely to mark them as spam. And too many spam complaints can land you on the email service provider blacklist.
You can either make it super-clear when someone signs up about the type of emails they can expect, or you can set expectations in your automated welcome email.
- Don’t look spammy
Spam filters look at your email copy, so make sure it doesn’t set off any alarms. Avoid salesy words and phrases (Free, no-obligation, limited time, buy, etc.). Hubspot provides a complete list of words to avoid.
- Ask them to whitelist you
Include a call-to-action in your welcome email asking recipients to add you to their contacts. This way your messages will never appear as spam.
- Make unsubscribe an option
If your email messages have no option to unsubscribe or visit an email preferences page, it’s actually illegal. What’s more, email service providers can blacklist you for it.
Here are some more tips and tricks to avoid spam filters:
- A Marketer’s Guide to Email Deliverability: How to Avoid Email Spam Filters – Hubspot
- How to Avoid the SPAM Folder in 10 Easy Steps – Kissmetrics
Probably the biggest benefit you’ll get from your email marketing software is automation. Automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages.
Here are just a few of the ways you can take advantage of email marketing automation:
- Marketing funnels – Send the right messages to prospects at the top of the sales funnel, in the middle, and at the bottom. Do it all automatically.
- Autoresponders – Set up automated emails to go out when someone completes an action. These can be thank you messages, welcome emails, etc.
- Trigger campaigns – Start a series of special automated email campaigns based on site or in-email behavior. For example, if someone abandons a shopping cart on your site, it can trigger an email campaign promoting the products that were in the cart.
These resources will help you make the most of email marketing automation:
- 8 Email Marketing Automation Workflows You Can Use Today – Wishpond
- How To Build An Automated Email Marketing Machine (In 1 Hour) – Sumome
Automation isn’t the only tactic you need to engage your list. You also need to develop eye-catching broadcasts in order to stay relevant and present.
So what makes a good broadcast?
According to Adestra, half of people check their email when they’re bored. It’s your broadcast’s job to solve that for them.
There are a lot of ways to write compelling email copy.
Here are some quick fire suggestions:
- Keep it personalized
- Be relevant
- Show off your brand personality
- Tell stories
- Shine a light on your customers
- Articulate benefits, not features
- Focus on one clear call-to-action
Here’s an example from Death to Stock, where you will see they use a number of the elements above:
Learn more about creating broadcasts from these posts:
- How to Write a Marketing Email: 10 Tips for Writing Compelling Email Copy – Hubspot
- 10 Golden Rules for Email Blasts – Copyblogger
You want to make sure your emails are designed with a good user experience. Emails that aren’t optimized for your readers’ needs will be much less effective.
- Subject Lines
Your subject lines are probably the most important area to optimize, because if people don’t click, there’s no way your marketing message will get through.
You can optimize your emails by A/B testing your subject lines. Your email marketing software will probably do this for you. Create 2 or 3 subject lines for each email you send, and alternate which one you use. Check your analytics to see which is the most effective.
You’ll also want to optimize your email body content to get more clicks. Make sure your calls-to-action are easy to see and enticing enough to improve your click through rate. These elements can also be A/B tested.
- Design and Visuals
Design is the most important aspect of improving user experience. According to Campaign Monitor, one out of every three clicks within an email occurs on a mobile device.
So make sure your email messages adapt to any device, and your visual elements are compatible with different email platforms.
Here are some more resources about optimizing your emails:
- 16 Actionable Tips for How to Increase Your Email Click Through Rate – FlypChart
- How to Write An Email Subject Line That Gets Opened Every Time – FlypChart
Segmenting your list
Your email marketing software will collect all sorts of information about your prospects, like what kind of marketing messages they engage with, their purchase history, etc. Pair this with the information you gather as part of your list building efforts (name, gender, location) and you have some pretty detailed profiles of your prospects.
You can leverage this information to segment your list. This strategy can really pay off – segmented campaigns are known to increase revenue by as much as 760%. And that’s not the only benefit:
Here are a few of the ways you can segment and send out personalized marketing messages to your list:
- Interests: Curate information about their onsite behavior (what pages they visit, what blog posts they read) to discover which products they’re the most interested in.
- Location: Send messages specific to your audience’s region, or time your emails for their time zone.
- Purchase history: Offer related products or upgrades based on what your customers have already purchased.
- Demographics: Promote certain products or services based on age, gender, or other factors.
These posts will help you get some more ideas on how to segment your list:
- 10 Ways to Segment Your Email List for More Clicks, Engagement and Sales – FlypChart
- The Art of Smart Email Marketing Segmentation – Email Monday
Campaigns are a critical component of your email marketing strategy. They are different to broadcasts in that they are more like an auto-responder, but sent at specific intervals over a set period of time.
According to MarketingSherpa, 60% of people say email is their preferred communication method to receive updates and promotions from companies they’re interested in. Your campaigns will not only share these updates and promotions, but use a series of emails to encourage prospects to take action.
Some examples of email campaigns you may run are:
- Product launch campaign
- Flash sale campaign
- Book launch campaign
- Affiliate campaign
- Event campaign
- Webinar campaign
Here’s one email from a campaign run by Uber for their uberPOOL promotion. It focuses on the benefits, keeps it simple, and answers peoples’ questions:
Here’s some content that will help you get the most out of your email campaigns:
- A Beginner’s Guide: Email Campaigns From Start to Finish – EmailOnAcid
- The Ultimate Guide for Creating Email Campaigns – SitePoint
Analytics and results tracking
Without analytics, there’s no way to know how well your email marketing efforts are paying off. Amazingly, only 21% of marketers use analytics to measure marketing ROI.
Track your results, and you can find actionable insights to improve your strategy even more. Luckily, most or maybe all of the metrics you’ll need are available through your email marketing software.
Here are some of the most popular metrics you can use to improve your strategy:
- List growth – What’s your overall list growth rate? Which lead magnets are contributing the most to list growth?
- Open rate – How often do people open your emails? You can also A/B test different subject lines to see which ones improve open rate.
- Click through rate – How often do people click through to your landing pages from emails?
- Conversion rate – How often do leads become customers after reading your marketing emails?
- Unsubscribe rate – How often do people unsubscribe from your email list? What factors might be contributing to this?
- Overall ROI – How much revenue can you attribute to your email marketing efforts?
Here are some helpful guides that will help you get the most out of your email marketing metrics:
- A Practical Guide to Email Marketing Metrics – Digital Marketing Institute
- How to Analyze and Perfect Email Marketing Metrics: 4 Examples of Successful Campaigns – Marketo
Email marketing is a multifaceted strategy with a lot of moving parts. But if you take advantage of and optimize each of them, you can make sure your marketing message is relevant and effective.
This ultimate guide is a lot to take in, but think of it as a launching pad to create an email strategy that really drives results. Then all that’s left is to integrate your email strategy with your other marketing efforts!
What do you think, is email dying or just getting started?
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Awesome post! Email marketing is not going anywhere. It’s also an essential part of marketing automation. I’ve recently started using GetResponse for my first campaign.