Email marketing is often seen as a quick and easy way to reach your readers, leads, customers, etc. But, it’s not as easy as just writing content and hitting send to a long list of email addresses. It’s much more complicated than that.
Nailing an effective email marketing strategy takes time and practice
It’s not done easily; you have to be patient and experiment with what works best for your business, and what your audience likes to read the most. It may be a case of seeing what they like most in terms of content, layout, imagery, CTAs, etc. Knowing and understanding what works best for each of these categories is absolutely essential.
The process of figuring out what is most effective can be a tough one. It will take a lot of time to completely understand the fundamentals of your audience and which emails work.
Growing your email list
Before even thinking about creating an email, you have to have an email list. You may actually find it quite tough to grow this email list; getting first time readers engaged in content is one thing, getting them to sign up and give you their details is another. So, how do you do it?
i. Create a free opt in offer
Giving something valuable away for free is always one of the most effective ways to achieve ‘sales’. This free offer can range from an eBook, helpful lessons in the form of a blog, etc., a demo of your service, and so on. These free offers can actually be personalised for people, depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey. If they are only just entering the awareness stage, it’s best to offer them an eBook to assist them in something. If someone is in the consideration or purchasing stage, a suitable offer would be a demo or consultation. Think carefully about what offers you want to provide.
Whatever you choose to offer, simply make sure it adds value to the audience. If it fails to add value, they’re not going to feel obliged to opt in and see how the offer can help them. You need to deliver something of use in order to get details. If something seems useless, people aren’t going to want to hand over their details.
ii. Make subscribing easy
Even if the content is something a reader is interested in, chances are if it’s difficult to subscribe or there are a multitude of layers to subscribing - they won’t. You need your email sign up to be as obvious as it can be; in a place that is significant and will definitely be seen by readers. It’s also important to make sure that an email sign form is short and simple and doesn’t require a lot of information. People may feel discouraged if they notice a sign up form that’s lengthy and requires a lot of their personal information.
You don’t always have to have a sign up form on its own page. It’s a good practice to include a sign up form wherever you can; most preferably, your most popular web pages. These most popular web pages are, obviously, gaining the most traffic and a large proportion of people are seeing it.
Don’t buy an email list
You may think that just purchasing an email list will be a much easier option for you. Is it? No! People don’t enjoy spam emails and / or emails from senders they’re not aware of. Alongside this, the emails won’t be beneficial to you. It’s most likely that the email addresses for sale aren’t high quality and they definitely won’t necessarily be your target audience.
i. Recipients won’t trust you
Receiving an email from an email address / business you’ve never heard of is always unnerving. You don’t know how they acquired your email, you don’t know why your email address is open to find, and so on. No one ever likes spam emails - recipients either immediately delete them, unsubscribe, report, etc. All this negative response will have a negative impact on your brand and your brands reputation.
An email newsletter is a brilliant way to build up your customers trust and connect with them more. However, buying emails does the complete opposite to this. For starters, the emails you bought aren’t people who have shown interest in you - they’re simply strangers to your business. These strangers won’t want to listen to you, they won’t take any notice; is there any point?
ii. Putting your deliverability / reputation at risk
When sending a newsletter to a database of bought email addresses, you’re going to see a decline in your deliverability. You’re more than likely going to see an increase in hard bounces, error messages, unsubscribed, etc. The increase in this automatically raises red flags with your email provider; they will be able to see that you’ve purchased an email list and a large majority of the recipients are unhappy with your emails
All of this combined will put your reputation at risk. Your email provider will begin to feel as though you’re dishonest and far from trustworthy. They will also be able to recognise that the emails you’re sending out aren’t being well received. All these factors could potentially put your account in a position close to being blocked from sending any more emails.
iii. Can’t trust lists
As mentioned, you can’t expect the email list you buy to be full of people in your target audience. They’re more than likely going to be email addresses belonging to people outside of your target audience, and the consequences of this can be detrimental. The list of email addresses could’ve been given out to absolutely anybody. The recipients could be getting emails off your competitors as well as you. There are so many aspects to email lists that you simply cannot trust.
Marketing and Advertising: The Law
In the UK there are strict laws that you must abide to when email marketing. It's important to abide by each law set and make sure each email you send out to your subscribers complies to the marketing and advertising law.
i. Including an obvious unsubscribe list
Whilst it may seem unproductive adding an unsubscribe button, it’s genuinely useful and imperative. You may think it’s too much of a loss to let people unsubscribe, but in fact it’s beneficial to you. Admittedly, it’s not nice seeing people purposely unsubscribe but it shows you they possibly weren’t interested or that you need to improve your newsletter content. As well as this, there’s no point in having a subscriber that doesn’t actually want to read your email. Them unsubscribing manually rids you of email addresses that won’t benefit you.
This unsubscribe button needs to be easy to find and use. You simply need to add a one click button your recipients can use to automatically unsubscribe just from following that button. If you make it any more difficult in hopes they don’t unsubscribe, they’ll most likely mark you as spam or report you. This, as mentioned before, can have negative long term effects.
ii. Direct Mail
You must check, if anyone has unsubscribed, that everyone on your mailing list wants to be sent direct emails. If they've chosen to opt out and your email provider doesn't automatically remove them from the list, you must manually remove them to make sure that only people who want to be sent your email is sent it.
iii. Including your location
Including your location may not seem very important, however it simply reiterates the point that you’re a reliable and trustworthy company. Not only does it prove this to your recipients, it also proves that you’re a credible sender to your email provider. It ensures the trust is there.
Email Marketing Automation
A lot of marketers worry about the time they have and if they have enough time to send out emails. Most of the time, they may not. This is where automated emails come into play. Wonder how?
How it saves you time
Being able to automate emails, essentially, means you spend some time creating emails ahead of time and automating them. These emails can be ones for when a person completes an action, e.g. if someone signs up. Or they can simply be the monthly / weekly / daily newsletter all automated for when you want them sent out, but done when you have the time.
It’s recommended to have automated emails that send out when a person signs up for your newsletter. This way, you’re already helping them build trust and making them feel welcomed. It also means you don’t have to spend time manually emailing every single person who signs up. This automated email needs to begin to implement your brand values and voice. This being said, do not begin to start selling your products at this point. If you immediately do this, people may feel discouraged and disheartened by your first email as that may not exactly be the reason they chose to sign up.
You need people to take notice of this first email and encourage them to continue reading your emails. It needs to be eye-catching, attractive, and so on. Don’t think of it just as an automated sign up email, think of it as a first impression and this first impression needs to be spot on.
Converting readers into leads is all about consistently offering them good content that adds value to them and that they can learn from. Once you’ve converted these leads, it’s important to nurture them - allow them to be won over by your sales team. Nurturing these leads enable you to stay connected with them and build up relationships until they are ready to buy.
i. Automate welcome and thank you emails
As mentioned, you need to automate welcome emails when people sign up. At the point of lead nurturing they should’ve already been sent the welcome email as they have already signed up. Thank you emails can be sent out to thank them for taking the action that converted them into leads.
ii. Send different emails to people in different stages
It’s more than likely everyone on your email list will be in different stages. In terms of the buyer’s journey, they’ll either sit in the awareness stage, consideration stage or decision stage. It’s important to personalise emails for the groups in each stage. It’s no use sending an email all about your company to those in the decision stage; they already know everything! You must adapt each email newsletter to what content will be most useful for each group.
If you make sure you do all of this, the odds of guiding more people down the buyer’s journey is much higher. You’re, essentially, showing each group why they should move onto the next step. Sending emails that don’t encourage this move will more than likely not get the attention that emails personalised to a person’s group would.
Segmenting your list
Segmenting is a great way to ensure you’re delivering the right message to the right person and, as mentioned above, this is absolutely imperative. Segmenting your list simply means separating the list into groups due to their demographics and lifestyle; for example, one group could be those who are female, work in a certain sector, earn x amount of money, is interested in x, and so on. Having these groups simply allows you to send out more personable and unique emails that possibly wouldn’t attract another group, but is the best way to earn the attention of one group.
Here are some of the most popular ways to segment your list:
Lifecycle stages (buyer’s journey, etc.)
Demographics (gender, age, location, etc.)
Behaviour (did they complete your email course?)
Buying frequency (how many times do they buy from you?)
Where and why they signed up (sign up form, etc.)
Measuring your Efforts
As with everything in business, you must measure your results. It’s important to understand what you did right, wrong, etc. to see what you need to improve next time to get better results. There are multiple metrics to measure in terms of newsletters and you need to decide as a team which metrics will be most beneficial to you to compare the performance against your goals. Here are some important metrics…
i. Click through rate (CTR)
Measured by: [ (# of users who clicked a link) / (# of email opens) ] x 100
CTR is expressed as a percentage and shows how many people clicked on one or more of your links, in comparison to how many people opened your email. Being able to see these interactions shows how engaging your content is and how engaged your audience are.
ii. Conversion rate
(# of people who took a desired action} / (# of emails opened)
A conversion is not just someone clicking a link. It’s about a reader taking an action after they clicked a link in your newsletter. This then shows how many people of those who engaged were actually interested by the content and found it intriguing enough to complete your desired action.
iii. Bounce rate
(# of emails delivered) / (# of emails sent)
The bounce rate is how many times an email was bounced back - essentially, how many times the email couldn’t be delivered. There are hard and soft bounces. A hard bounce is more serious than a soft bounce and is caused by sending an email to an inactive, closed or incorrect email address. A soft bounce simply happens if the inbox is full or the email server is down. Soft bounces are a lot less detrimental.
iv. List growth rate
[ (# of new subscribers) - (# of unsubscribes and email / spam complaints) / (# of email addresses on your list) ] x 100
As previously mentioned, growing your email list is possibly one of the biggest goals. To track how the growth is progressing, you can measure your list growth rate. List growth rate is always good to measure as it enables you to see how many subscribers you’re losing compared to how many you’re gaining and see what could be done better.
v. Email sharing / forwarding rate
(# of people who click share / forward links) / (# of email opens)
A content share is always a positive. It shows you’re doing something right and people want to share it with others they think will be interested. Sharing means your brand message is getting spread about and hopefully word-of-mouth will increase.
vi. Return on investment (ROI)
[ (£ in additional sales made) - (£ invested in the campaign) ] / [ (£ invested in the campaign) ] x 100
Knowing your ROI is essential in business as you can measure up and see whether your monetary results are worth it. You can clearly see if your emails are effective enough and if they’re worth it in terms of monetary values.
A / B testing emails
A / B testing is essential in terms of anything nowadays. It’s vital to test and experiment what works the best, what gains the most engagement and so on. Without experimenting you’re never going to find out what is most effective in gaining you the most results.
Here’s a simple A / B testing checklist to follow…
Pick one variable to test
Choose your goal
Determine your sample size
Decide how significant your results have to be
Split your email list equally and randomly
Run the test long enough to get substantial results
You may not think A / B testing will help you, but it most definitely will. It will give you advanced insights on what is most effective, which then benefits you in the future and enables you to do more specifically unique emails and emails that people want to see.
Different Kinds of Marketing Emails
Marketing emails aren’t always newsletters. In fact, only ever sending out newsletters may be restrictive and limiting. You need to branch out and send out various kinds of marketing emails to see which is received best.
A newsletter will be something that you send out on a regular basis. Whether this may be monthly, weekly, or daily - it’s your newsletter. A newsletter may typically include content that you recently created and uploaded; putting it directly in their inbox to ensure they see it.
Not all companies need a newsletter. To find out if you need a newsletter and if it’s beneficial to you, you most probably need to either experiment or do your research. You can also ask questions and find real answers from real readers. This way, you know whether doing a newsletter will actually be useful or whether it will be a waste of your precious time.
ii. Lead nurturing emails
Lead nurturing emails are ones designed to help guide people further down the buyer’s journey. They’re there to assist leads in their decisions and make them feel much more welcomed and comfortable. It’s about building connections and relationships.
iii. Educational emails
These emails are the ones most similar to newsletters. They are there with the intention to educate the readers, whether it be on your product or on something related to your company. Here are a few examples…
Sending emails out with relevant information that will educate readers is a great way to show your expertise and knowledge. It shows readers that you are up-to-date in your industry and that you do hold a great amount of relevant knowledge. If recipients are interested in the topic you’ve written about, the email itself (e.g. the subject) in their inbox should be enough to entice them to open it and read more.
iv. Transactional emails
Transactional emails are always great ways to indicate to your readers that you have received their action and you’re grateful for it. For example…
Welcoming a new subscriber is a way to begin the connection and relationship building and shows your friendly and human side.
Confirmation emails can be similar to welcome emails in a way that they can be sent out to confirm that your business has received whatever action that particular reader has taken.
Follow up emails
Follow up emails are always great ways to show to the reader that you’ve listened to them or, again, you’ve received something they’ve done.
Email marketing is a lot more complicated than just sending an email out to a list. It’s about segmenting that list, sending out various kinds of emails to different groups, A / B testing your emails to decipher which work best, monitoring and measuring performance, and so on. It’s important you do all of this to ensure it’s even worthwhile you sending out emails and using an email provider.
Getting started may seem impossible - but, in reality, it’s all about slowly but surely growing your email list
The more and more people you have on that list, the more you need to be thinking about segmenting them and planning what emails should be sent to them.
Once you’ve sent emails out, the most important step to take is measuring performance. It’s essential to do this to have a clear understanding of what works and what is less effective. You need this information to be able to consistently improve your emails and encourage more engagement, clicks, opens, and so on.