Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2021 and was updated with additional content in June 2022.
Whether you’re just starting up or you plan to celebrate your thirtieth year in business, there’s always room to grow your customer base. But how do you grow your business when you devote all your time to running it.
It would help to have something fast and easy that won’t detract from daily operations. Email marketing remains the most effective marketing tool at your disposal, but only if it’s done correctly.
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is a powerful type of digital marketing that involves sending emails to a list of customers and prospective clients. Using an email service provider, your business can reach an entire list of customers and potential clients with the click of a button.
Since customers need to opt-in to join your email marketing list, it means they already like what you offer. Email marketing is an opportunity to convert their “like” into loyalty, which keeps those customers coming back for more!
What Are the Benefits of Using Email Marketing?
Email marketing may be one the most powerful digital marketing tools available. More than four billion people around the world use email to communicate. Since a valid email remains necessary to use many alternative platforms, including social media, it’s not going away anytime soon.
When it comes to ROI (return on investment), it’s almost impossible to beat email marketing. One email service provider notes an ROI of $42 for every dollar spent on email marketing. Other sources figure it’s slightly higher or lower, but that’s still a notable return for any business.
Grow Your Business
It may seem strange that an existing email list could grow your business, but it’s an effective method for gathering more leads and increasing your sales.
Say you offer a lead magnet that requires the prospect to provide their email. Follow up that lead magnet with a series of emails leading to a purchase. You just turned a prospect into a client!
On average, people check their email 15 times per day. That’s 15 opportunities to make a connection with a customer directly instead of hoping they come across your ad on social media. Remember, the people on your mailing list opted in, which means they want to hear from you!
Email marketing also serves as a direct line from your business to your customers. It doesn’t matter whether you're a B2C or B2B company; building loyalty is crucial. Email marketing is a fast and effective way to reach your customers and start that conversation.
Personalized emails in your customer’s inboxes also reinforce your presence and remind them how you can meet their needs. It’s also an effective option for communicating sales or special events.
Foster Brand Awareness
Sure, you can customize your email to match your brand’s colors and include your logo and your taglines, but that’s not all. Emails can reinforce your brand’s voice and message. If you’re light and friendly, an informal copy can reinforce that fun spirit. Email marketing is also an efficient way to share your goals, mission, and future endeavors.
Drive Traffic to Other Platforms
Emails can support your other marketing efforts as well. Highlight new blog posts, direct customers to engage in social media campaigns, and include links to alternate content whenever you can. Email should be one component of a comprehensive strategy that includes multiple platforms.
Test the Market
Feedback is a crucial component of any business, and you can gather plenty of it through emails. Your business can stay in touch with your customers’ needs through surveys as part of a scheduled email campaign.
Has your marketing team ever struggled with two ideas for one campaign? Email can help you stop the struggle because you can create A/B tests for almost anything from the subject line to the call of action and everything in between.
Instead of debating a particular campaign's wording, try using both by sending one option to half your list and the other to the remaining customers. See which performs better and adopt that one!
Conversions and increased sales
Emails give recipients an easy way to follow your call-to-action since the promotional link is present in the email. Additionally, emails can be used for the multiple stages of the buying process. For example, you can send new product release emails, nurture existing customer relationships, send post-transaction emails, and encourage future purchases.
There are many web analytics software out there that you can use to monitor the success of your email marketing campaign. By using these tools, you can test subject lines, content, designs, and more to see which strategy works best for your business.
Email marketing is a less intrusive marketing tactic since recipients can open and read the email whenever they want. Moreover, recipients have the choice to unsubscribe from your email list if they feel that your product or service isn’t what they’re looking for anymore. Other marketing and sales strategies like cold calling might make potential customers feel uncomfortable or pressurized to answer the call.
Quick and real-time marketing
Marketers can use automation to send emails to customers when that customer performs a certain action on their site. For example, you can send an automated welcome email when someone signs up for your newsletter, a thank you email once someone makes a purchase, or offer a discount when someone leaves items in their shopping cart. These types of emails can help you reach the right customers at the right time – with the right offer.
Disadvantages of Email Marketing
Although the benefits of email marketing are almost endless, there are also a few drawbacks to relying on this form of marketing.
Here are five disadvantages of email marketing:
Spam: A successful email marketing strategy relies on emails being sent to the right target audience. This is crucial since spam or commercial emails can annoy consumers and lead them to delete your email or even unsubscribe from your email list. Additionally, you need to ensure your email marketing strategy complies with privacy and data protection regulations in your country or state. The click-through rate of random, untargeted emails is incredibly low and won’t amount to anything for your business.
Undelivered emails: If your emails have poorly thought out subject lines and body text, they’ll likely be filtered out by internet service providers and email software. Additionally, you should avoid mentioning spammy terms in the subject line and email content. This includes words like “free” and “click here”. Another reason why emails never get delivered to your prospects is that you have the wrong email address. Consequently, you need to work hard to keep your list up to date.
Mobile usability: Whether you're planning on targeting millennials or corporate clients, or if you’ve got a list of recipients who prefer text emails only, you need to ensure your email is designed for mobile devices. Recipients will most likely click out of an email if they’re unable to view it.
File sizes: If you’re planning on including images and videos in your emails, you still need to ensure that the email loads quickly, or else your audience will lose interest and ignore the email completely.
Lack of resources and skills: Email marketing campaigns are only successful if you have the right team, resources, and skills to execute the project. As a result, you should consider outsourcing copywriting, design, and marketing list creation if your in-house team lacks the appropriate skills.
Types of Emails Your Business Can Use in Marketing
One massive perk of leveraging email marketing is versatility. You can shift gears to meet your customers’ needs and determine which email types work best for your business.
Informational emails provide your customers with valuable information about your business. It’s not the best idea to overdo it with data, keep the emails concise and direct, and include a call-to-action.
- Introduce a new product, service, or content your business will offer. Include a link to a targeted landing page.
- Feature an upcoming special event and invite your customer to attend. Don’t forget to link to a sign-up or registration page!
- Highlight features stories on your blog or published articles.
Complete a Transaction
Though transactional emails sound like sales emails, that’s not the whole story. A transactional email is triggered by an action, like a prospect signing up for your newsletter. There are two general types of transactional emails, confirmation, and appreciation.
Confirmation emails notify the prospect or customer that you received their response. For example, a customer completes a survey, so the triggered response would indicate that their responses were recorded.
Appreciation emails are similar, but they primarily thank the customer or prospect for completing an action. Also known as kickback emails or thank you emails, this response usually fulfills your promise to the individual. For example, somebody requests your lead magnet. The kickback email would thank them and include a link to the lead magnet.
How Do You Build an Email Marketing Strategy?
To achieve positive results with an email campaign, you can’t just throw an email together and send it out. Like any other form of digital marketing, there’s a process that helps you focus on the approach and make the most of each email.
It’s easy to jump in and start sending emails to your customers, but to what end? If you don’t set goals, how will you ever tell if your email marketing works? There’s no limit to what goals you set, but it’s a good idea to focus on one idea to start.
- Websites earning money through ads might focus on driving more traffic to your site.
- If you aim to educate people on a cause to gain their support.
- Ecommerce stores can drive more sales through email campaigns.
Create goals to drive the copy and, ultimately, the action you want your audience to perform. Once you have a set goal, each step of your email marketing strategy should further that goal.
Find the Right Email Service Provider
You could feasibly send individual emails to a small list of subscribers, say five or ten people, but it’s unlikely you could manage fifteen, thirty, or more. That’s why you need an email service provider.
With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to find the right email marketing platform for your business. It helps to narrow the list by considering a few parameters that vary slightly between services.
- Pricing is important, but not just the initial costs. Some services charge a flat fee based on your list’s size, others offer free trials and many discount subscriptions if you pay for a year or more in advance.
- Look at the interface and how easy it is to navigate. Drag-and-drop features, templates, and other tools can simplify your process.
- Tracking and data metrics help you determine the success of a campaign. Some platforms offer more than others, so make sure you compare apples to apples.
When comparing email service providers, keep your goals at the front of your mind. You may love the shiny bells and whistles of one platform, but if it doesn’t fit your goals as well as a less flashy option, it may not be worth your time.
What Should You Look for in a Good Email Marketing Tool?
According to a recent survey, 60% of marketers state that email marketing is definitely worth the time and effort, and 32% state that it eventually will produce a significant return on investment. As a result, if you want to create successful email marketing strategies, you need to choose an email marketing tool that will help you get results faster.
And unfortunately, relying on things like Excel spreadsheets and Outlook to help manage your email campaigns is no longer an option since these tools lack automation and efficiency.
Here are four things to look out for in email marketing platforms:
Integrations: The email marketing tool you choose should come with integration options. This way, you can connect the tool to your existing project management software or client management tool. Integrations give marketers an easy way to manage data and keep track of key metrics without switching between apps.
User-friendly interface: A good email marketing tool should let you create an engaging email newsletter and have a friendly user interface like a drag-and-drop editor.
Automation: You should also be able to send personalized bulk emails without having to put in much manual work. Additionally, your email marketing tool should help you manage your email list, segment recipients, and track the performance of your email marketing campaigns. This is especially important for large businesses that can’t spend all their time manually managing email responses.
Mobile-friendly: 43% of people check their emails on their phones daily. This means that whatever email marketing platform you select needs to be able to help you send out emails that can be displayed properly on a mobile screen. If someone receives an email that doesn’t load properly, they’ll definitely close the email immediately and forget about your brand’s efforts.
Here are some notable email marketing service providers you can try:
Build Your Email List
Your email marketing strategy needs a list of subscribers. Start with what you already have. Pull contacts from existing lists, your email account, your company’s CRM, or your online store. No matter how small your list is in the beginning, it’s a foundation to build upon.
Growing your list takes work, but it’s not impossible! Your business already has plenty of tools to draw a crowd, so put them to use.
- Blog about industry-relevant topics and provide value that draws a crowd. When people like what you have to say, they tend to want more, like your emails!
- Offer a lead magnet (additional custom content) to subscribers in exchange for signing up for your email list.
- Use social media. Add a call-to-action on your Facebook page and tweet about the benefits of your newsletter.
- Keep your email list healthy. Marketers need to keep their email lists relevant and healthy in order to avoid email list decay. To do this, you’ll need to remove inactive email addresses – email addresses that bounce and email addresses that are never opened. It’s a good idea to send a re-engagement email to those email addresses before removing them from your list.
- Send out valuable content. Valuable content is crucial for a successful email campaign. If you’re not providing your recipients with content that entices them and answers their questions or needs, you’ll end up with high unsubscribe and low engagement rates.
- Encourage subscribers to share and forward your emails. Adding a share or forward to friend button at the bottom of your emails can help you reach a larger audience and expand your contact list.
Don’t forget to assure subscribers that you won’t spam them or sell their information to spammers. It also helps if you make signing up easy with a clear call to action and a custom landing page.
Create a Campaign
With the right email marketing platform, this step is a snap! Generally, the platform guides you through the creation and automation process from beginning to end. You need to provide the content, and the service handles everything else.
Tips for Developing a Successful Email Marketing Strategy
Best practices guide many marketing processes, including email campaigns. Though some standards change over time, there are a few consistent best practices in email marketing.
The Power of Personalization
How much does it mean to you when somebody you don’t see often remembers your name? Personalizing emails is the modern equivalent of greeting people by name, and it’s a powerful message to your customer.
Address Your Customer by Name
Make “name” a required field when somebody signs up for your mailing list. That way, you can address them personally with every email you send. It’s a simple but meaningful touch.
Segment Your List
Reach the right people by creating segments of your list to receive specific messages. People open emails if they think it’s relevant to them, so keep that in mind when creating segments. You don’t necessarily want to send information about an unforgettable Wednesday afternoon event to customers who live eight hours away.
Consult your available data to help segment your list. Some popular data points to consider include:
- Geographical location
- Basic demographics like age, gender, and language
- Purchase history, including the amount spent, last purchase, and types of purchases
Send Valuable Content
Do you waste time reading pointless or empty content? Neither do your customers. If you want to stand out against the noise, you need to give people a reason to open your emails every time. Providing valuable content hooks your readers and builds your reputation as a trusted business.
Automate Your Campaigns
Nothing makes an email campaign easier than enabling autoresponders. These programs allow you to set certain emails to send when customers trigger a specific action. For example, if somebody signs up for your newsletter (yay!), you can create an automated welcome email to greet your new recruit and let them know what to expect from your newsletter.
Welcome emails are just one type of auto-response that you can leverage to grow your list, convert, and retain customers. Thank yous, confirmations, upsells, and even shopping cart abandonment emails can be critical parts of an email marketing campaign.
Don't Forget to Enable Tracking
Data is your friend, and it tells you what works versus what doesn’t. Enable tracking features from your email service provider and set up Google Analytics for the best results.
Comprehensive tracking can help you finetune existing emails and optimize future campaigns. Popular statistics to track include:
- Open rate and unique open rate
- Click-through rate
- Bounce rate
- Unsubscribe rate
Know When to Get Help
There’s a lot of information and advice about creating and running email marketing campaigns, and not all of it helps. The digital marketing world is highly competitive and continually changing, so it may be in your best interest to seek assistance.