More than just sending an email
Are you looking to start email marketing? Or maybe your current strategy just isn’t working. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.
The first marketing email was sent in 1978 and made over $7 million in sales. Now, decades later, email marketing is still one of the most popular marketing channels in use today.
But, like most things, email marketing isn’t as simple as just… well… sending an email. To convert those emails into sales you need a strategy – that’s where we come in.
With decades of combined experience in email marketing, our experts have put together this essential guide to help businesses like yours create an email strategy that converts.
How does email marketing work, anyway?
If email marketing is more than just sending an email – how does it actually work? Well, we’re glad you asked.
Email marketing is the process of targeting your audience and customers through email. It helps you to boost conversions and revenue by providing subscribers and customers with valuable information to help them achieve their goals.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Here are some tips to help you take this information and turn it into sales!
Read to find out more…
What ways should I use email marketing?
There are lots of ways to use email marketing. But the most effective ways to increase your conversion rate are to:
- Build relationships: Create connections with your customers through personalised content.
- Boost brand awareness: Make sure your brand stays in your customers’ minds. They might not be ready to buy now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be sometime in the future.
- Promote your content: Sharing is caring. By sharing useful content and blog posts with your audience, they are more likely to engage with your brand.
- Generate leads: Encourage subscribers to provide their contact information in exchange for an asset they will find valuable.
- Market your products: Promote your products and services.
- Nurture leads: Provide your customers with content that will help them achieve their goals.
The benefits of email marketing
- Over 3.8 billion people have an email address worldwide. If you’re looking for a way to reach customers, their inbox is a great place to start.
- Email generates an average return on investment of 3800%.
- Two thirds of customers have made a purchase as a direct result of email marketing messages.
- Only 20% of leads that get sent directly to sales will qualify. Beat those numbers and nurture your sales with quality email content.
- Email is 40% more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined when it comes to customer acquisition.
- You are in control. There are no external entities controlling when, how or why customers see your messages.
Getting started with email marketing
Almost everyone with an email account received 121 emails every single day. That’s a lot of emails. If you don’t develop a strategy, your emails will most likely get lost in crowded inboxes. Or even worse, in the dreaded spam folder.
To create an effective strategy, you need to create a plan. How? By following these simple steps:
Define your audience
Like everything else in marketing, start with your buyer persona. Understand what they want, and tailor your content to ensure it meets their needs.
Establish your goals
Before you come up with your campaign goals, gather some context. Research the average email stats for your industry and use them as a benchmark.
Sign people up
There’s no point sending out a great email if nobody will receive them. Build an email list by creating ways for customers to subscribe to your email list.
Choose an email campaign type
Not all emails are created equal. Finding the campaigns that work best for you will take a little bit of testing. Whether you decide to send a weekly newsletter, a new product announcement or share blog posts (or maybe a mix of them all) keep a close eye on how they perform. Not every business will have success with the same types of email campaigns.
Make a schedule
There are three key steps to this:
- Decide how often to contact your list
- Tell your audience upfront how often they can expect to hear from you
- Stick to your schedule. Religiously. It is the best way to build trust with your audience and make sure they don’t forget about you.
Measure your results
This should come as no surprise. When it comes to marketing – we measure everything. Take a look back at the goals you set for yourself, and see how your email campaigns are performing against them.
Building your email list
Now for the fun part – finding people who want to hear from you and filling your email list.
There are plenty of ways to build an email list – but successfully growing your list essentially boils down to two key factors:
#1: Opt-in forms
If there’s no form, nobody can get on your mailing list. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to hear from you by giving them the option to opt-in.
#2 Lead magnets
Remember what we were saying before about exchanging value? That’s where this comes in. Offer your audience something they want or need, and they will usually be happy to join your email list to get it. A lead magnet usually comes in the form of a free offer, such as:
|Whitepaper||Report or study|
|Template||Webinar or course|
Don’t have any of these? Then you have two options. You can create one, or you can repurpose some of your existing materials to create a template.
Creating the perfect lead magnet
While having a lead magnet is great, it is no good if the magnet doesn’t attract the right customers – or worse, any customers at all.
Here are a few guidelines to help you create a lead magnet with gusto:
Make your offer solution-oriented and actionable
Provide practical information that solves a problem and create a realistic way to achieve the solution.
Make it easy to consume
Lead magnets should be delivered in digital format. Whether it is a pdf, spreadsheet, webpage or video, make it easy for your new lead to obtain it. And do so quickly.
There’s nothing worse than signing up for a great offer, downloading the content… and then realising the content that follows is disappointing. Make sure your offer is aligned with the value the lead can expect from you throughout the business relationship.
A stepping stone to a sale
The whole point of an email list is to guide subscribers to a paid offer. You offer free content to demonstrate the value you can provide, and those free offers should eventually lead to a purchase.
Keep it relevant
Every new lead will be at a different stage of their buying journey. It is your responsibility to know which. Segment your list as early as possible by providing separate opt-in offers or options that are relevant to each stage of the buyer’s journey. You can tell a lot about the mindset of a prospect by what they consume.
Create an enticing opt-in form
The opt-in form is the gate between your leads and the asset you have created. To make sure you capture as many leads as possible, you need to make sure your form is enticing. Not sure how? We’re glad you asked:
- Create an attractive design and attention-grabbing header: Your form should be branded, stand out, and entice people to sign up. Entice readers with your offer.
- Make the copy relevant: While it is tempting to have as many people sign up to your list as possible, the leads won’t convert if you deceive your readers about what they will receive. Make sure any copy is relevant and honest.
- Provide a positive user experience: Take yourself through the journey before you go live. Double check everything works as it should, the thank you page is live, and your offer is delivered as promised. This could be the first impression you have on your new lead – make it a good one.
- Keep it simple: Don’t add too many fields, it will just make potential prospects want to give up and leave (or worse, they may actually do it!). Make sure you keep it to essential information only: Name and email are a good place to start! And maybe even stop.
- Double confirm your opt-ins: It may seem silly to ask your subscribers to opt in twice, but studies show that customers prefer a confirmed opt-in email to a welcome one! Still not convinced? If you have even one European citizen on your mailing list, it is important for GDPR compliancy that you set your opt-in for double confirmation.
How to send a marketing email that works
Choose an email marketing service
An email marketing provider is a great resource if you’re looking for any level of support while sending out email marketing campaigns. There are a variety of providers out there to suit every budget, each one with a slightly different offering. Below are some features to consider before making your decision:
- CRM platform with segmentation capabilities
- Good standing with Internet Service Providers
- A positive reputation as an email service provider (ESP)
- Easy-to-build forms, landing pages, and CTAs
- Simple ways to comply with email regulations
- Ability to split test your emails
- Built-in analytics
- Downloadable reports
Follow best practice
There are lots of elements to consider before sending a marketing email. Everything from the time you send your email to the devices on which they are opened can have a huge impact on your conversions.
The goal of every email should be to generate more leads, which is why you should think carefully about the following:
Copy: Make sure this is consistent with your voice and sticks to only one topic.
Images: Choose images that are optimised for all devices and relevant. Oh, and if they’re nice to look at that would be great too.
CTA: Your call-to-action should lead to a relevant offer and stand out from the rest of the email.
Timing: Do research and A/B testing into the best times to send emails to your list. There is no point crafting a great email if it never gets opened!
Responsiveness: The majority of emails are opened on mobile. Make sure your emails look great on all devices.
Personalisation: Write every email like you’re sending it to a friend. Be personable, address your reader and create an emotional connection between them and your brand.
Subject line: Should be clear, actionable and enticing. Oh, and don’t forget to make sure it’s related to the body of the email!
Segment your list
Segmentation is breaking up your large email list into sub categories that are relevant to their unique characteristics, interests or preferences. This allows you to send specific and relevant content to your list. Why bother? To decrease unsubscribes and increase conversions. Segmented emails generate 58% of conversions after all!
If you’re not sure how to segment your list, consider the list below and decide which is most relevant to your business and content:
- Geographical location
- Lifecycle stage
- Awareness, consideration, decision stage
- Previous engagement with your brand
- Job title
Personalise your emails
Personlised emails have a 26% higher open rate and 14% higher click through rate when compared to others. So, don’t waste your time and effort on generic emails that don’t hit the mark. You know who you’re emailing and what’s important to them, use that information to convert!
Here are a few ways to personalise your emails:
- Add a first name field in your subject line and/or greeting
- Include region-specific information when appropriate
- Send content that is relevant to your lead’s lifecycle stage
- Only send emails that are relevant to the last engagement a lead has had with your brand
- Write about relevant and/or personal events, like region-specific holidays or birthdays
- End your emails with a personal signature from a human (not your company)
- Use a relevant call-to-action to an offer that the reader will find useful
Use email marketing automation
Automation is putting your list segmentation to use. Once you’ve crafted specific subgroups, you can send automated emails that are highly targeted. There are a few ways to do this:
- Autoresponders – Autoresponders are a series of emails that are sent out automatically once your lead carries out a certain action. For instance, when someone downloads your free eBook. The great thing about autoresponders is that you can create and set them, and then forget about them! Your email platform will do the rest for you.
- Workflows – Like autoresponders, but so much smarter! Think of workflows as a flow tree with yes / no branches that will complete actions based on what you set. Workflow tools are smart enough to know when a user has completed a certain action, and will send an email series based on what the user does at each stage.
Use email marketing templates
Email marketing templates are another great resource to help you with your email marketing. They can save you lots of time when it comes to designing and crafting your emails. Just make sure you choose templates that are proven to be effective! The highest-quality templates come from reputable ESPs that have tested them against thousands of alternatives. So, stick with the experts!
Email regulations to be aware of
Before you send your next marketing email, here are a few key regulations to be aware of:
While some see the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a headache, it actually offers a great basis for your brand to build long-lasting relationships with its customers.
In a nutshell, GDPR gives your customers the right to choose. And that is really what email marketing should be about.
It is important to note that GDPR only applies to businesses that operate in the European Union or the UK, and businesses that market to citizens of the EU and the UK. Noncompliance can result in eye watering fines that aren’t worth the risk. So, if you have even one EU citizen on your email list, be sure to familiarise yourself with GDPR laws.
Avoid Spam Filters
After all that hard work, the very least you want your email to do is reach your prospect’s inbox.
You can avoid the spam folder by:
- Getting whitelisted: Ask your subscribers to add your email address to their address book. Include directions of how to do this in your welcome email.
- Watch your copy: Avoid using lots of caps, multiple exclamation marks and spam trigger words like “order now” or “click below.”
- Use a reliable service provider: Your email service provider’s reputation affects your deliverability. Stick to established and reputable companies.
- Implementing double opt-in: After someone opts in to your email list, send an email asking them to confirm. This ensures your new subscriber is genuinely interested in hearing from you.
Measure your success
Every email list is different. Where some audiences like bright, eye-catching CTA buttons, others prefer something a little more subtle. Some may prefer to read their emails on the train to work, while others open them before they go to bed. Whatever list you have, the best way to find out their preferences is to A/B test.
A/B Testing allows you to test which emails perform best for your audience by comparing the results for email A against email B.
Here’s how to A/B test your emails:
- Select one variable to test at a time. E.g. Subject line, CTA or images.
- Create two versions of the email: one with and one without the variable.
- Allow your emails to be sent simultaneously (unless you are testing optimal open times) one with, and one without the variable.
- Test over a period of time.
- Analyse your results and keep only the version that performed better.
- Test a new variable and repeat the process.
Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
There are four main metrics to take note of when evaluating the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign.
- Deliverability measures the rate at which emails reach your subscribers’ inboxes.
- Open rate is the percentage of people that open your email once it reaches their inbox.
- Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the percentage of people that click on your CTAs.
- Unsubscribes measures the number of people who opt out of your email list when they receive an email from you.
Adjust different elements and watch your results improve
It takes a little bit of experimentation and guesswork to figure out which tweaks to your emails will generate the biggest results. If you aren’t getting the results you want, try playing with these variables:
- Ensure you are following email best practices.
- Remove inactive accounts from your email list.
- Check which emails hard-bounced and remove those addresses from your list.
- Play with language in your subject lines.
- Adjust the days and times that you send your emails.
- Try different CTAs.
- Evaluate your offer to ensure it provides value to your list.
- Make sure your emails provide value to your audience before you try to upsell
Use an email marketing report template
The easiest way to understand how your emails are performing over time is to create an organised report. You can find templates online, or create one yourself based on your business needs. Your marketing report should help you make inferences from your KPIs and take actions to improve them.
Here’s how you should organize your report:
- Total number of emails sent
- Number of emails delivered
- Deliverability Rate
- Bounce Rate
- Open Rate
- Clickthrough Rate
- Unsubscribe Rate
- Subject line
- Length of email body
- CTA (inline or graphic)
- List segment
Questions to ask:
- Was your deliverability rate high in comparison to previous periods?
- How did your CTR compare to your open rate?
- Were your unsubscribe numbers consistent with other emails?
- Did a certain subject line perform better than others?
- Does the length of email make a difference in CTR?
- Could another style of CTA perform better?
- Was the offer appropriate for the list segment?
While there are many rules to email marketing, making sure you provide value to your list is the most important. When you provide value, your readers will genuinely look forward to receiving your emails and the information you provide.
But what if you don’t have time to manage your own email marketing? We can help! Get in touch today for a free consultation with one of our experts.