Are you still not sure about dipping your toes into the highly lucrative waters of email marketing? If so, perhaps you don’t realize what an effective way it is to share your message, or maybe you’re simply overwhelmed by the strategies involved. If it’s the former, you’re missing out on an incredible marketing opportunity. Email is often the most understood area of marketing, because it is forgotten that the content is as important as the methods. While email marketing can seem overwhelming, we’ve broken things down into a few bite-sized pieces to help you start building exceptional email marketing campaigns that advertising legend David Ogilvy would be proud of:
The power of email marketing
Here are some stats that show why email marketing is one of the best ways to build a relationship with present and future customers:
- According to HubSpot’s inbound marketing course, good email marketing can generate a 4300% ROI
- 77% of consumers prefer email for marketing communications, according to a survey.
- 60% of marketers (in a case study) found that email had great ROI – another 32% believed that they would definitely see results in the future (92% in total).
- A company survey showed that automated email campaigns accounted for over 20% of email marketing revenue
If you’re confused by all the stats and acronyms (e.g. CTA and CTR) surrounding email marketing, you’re not alone. Many people are grappling with how to ‘convert’ prospects, and how to improve their hit-rate. Actually, it’s similar to any other marketing endeavor, in that planning and preparation are crucial. For example, whenever you’re trying to reach a customer, you know how important it is to:
- Know your customer – often referred to as a ‘buyer/visitor persona’. The better you know your customers, the better chance you have of providing them with relevant content.
- Know where your customers are in the buying cycle. Some people will know nothing about your product or service and will need an education on all the various features and benefits. Others will already need a product or service like yours and will be actively searching and comparing what different companies have to offer.
- Segment your market according to different buying cycles/needs – this is important whether you’re communicating through print, telephone, or email marketing. The more appropriate your message, the better your chance of success. One study shows that companies sending automated emails with a message corresponding to a customer’s buying cycle is 133% more likely to achieve their goal.
With this in mind, you’ll quickly see that ‘one size fits all’ is not the way to embark on email marketing
So – where do you begin with your email marketing?
Here are 4 aspects to get you started:
1.) Compile lists of contact email addresses
Building lists of contacts is a vital first step, and will be an on-going part of your marketing plan.
- According to Hubspot’s inbound marketing course stats, 25% of your contact list will become outdated every year. If you don’t keep your lists current, you will start to get bounce-backs and your emails will be relegated to spam folders. When this happens, you could actually damage the reputation of your company.
- To maintain a vibrant list, you must find new contacts. Generally, you need to offer something to get an email address in return. It could be that you provide an interesting white paper regarding your industry, a relevant article, a special offer, or a giveaway of some description. The way you do this will often be through social media, or through a targeted email – this is often referred to as a ‘call to action’ (CTA). Once people are interested in what you’re offering, they’ll be taken to a ‘landing page’ on your website, where they’ll be able to redeem what you’re offering. The trade-off is that they’ll need to give you their details in order to get the offer. This way, you are constantly bringing in new contacts to augment your lists.
- Keeping all this information current and engaging effectively with existing customers and new prospects is impossible with just an Excel spreadsheet and Outlook! You need a good platform that will help you make your email marketing effective.
2.) Decide on an email service platform to manage your email campaigns
When you’re starting an automated campaign, your marketing software will enable you to program triggers that will allow automated response emails to be sent. This will be familiar to you if you’ve ever ordered something and have immediately received a follow-up email. The platform you choose will enable this, along with generating stats and reports on your customer activity.
Here are some points to consider:
- Integration with other software: if you’re involved in digital marketing you probably have certain software running – such as Customer Relationship Management software (CRM). You should look for a platform that will integrate with what you have, including any activity on social media channels. This way you will be able to pull through the data you already have, but will also be able to add on a whole range of different metrics to help you make better marketing decisions.
- Viewing options: almost 50% of people read their emails on their smartphones, so the platform you choose must ensure a good layout for mobile devices. If there’s anything wrong with the way your email is displayed, expect it to be instantly deleted.
Some popular platforms include:
It is best to research different platforms, deciding what is best for your business. There are questions you should ask, such as:
- Is the platform right for the size of my business? Most platforms charge depending on your number of contacts, while MailChimp is free if you have less than 2,000 addresses and send up to 12,000 emails per month.
- Does it integrate with various social media platforms, or sites such as WordPress, so that I can get a wide range of analytics?
- Does the platform allow me to customize emails and add design, and does it have helpful automated templates (such as a landing page creator)?
- Is the software user-friendly so that I’ll easily be able to produce fully-integrated campaigns?
- What kind of support does the platform offer? Does it offer tutorials to help me get started?
- Are the analytics details easy to decipher?
- Does it offer free stock images (adding graphics definitely helps make your email more readable)?
The good news is that many platforms offer you a free trial, so you can ‘try before you buy’.
3.) Devise a strategy for an email campaign (including nurturing and drip campaigns)
With your software and lists in place, it’s time to concentrate on your strategy, as email marketing should never be totally random. Firstly, you need to have a clear goal for your email campaign. It will be difficult to produce great content if you don’t have a defined objective.
With your goal in mind, you’ll be able to prepare a series of strategic emails that will move your prospects steadily towards taking action and becoming customers. This process is known as a nurturing or ‘drip’ email campaign (based on the idea that constantly dripping water is impossible to ignore). Marketers see this process as a creating a sales funnel, with the emails informing and engaging people to move them through various stages of the buying cycle. The content of these emails is vital, and each should build on the last.
When planning your content, remember that the excitement of “you’ve got mail” expired decades ago. These days, most people consider wading through their emails a boring chore, so you really need to innovate to dazzle. The following points may help:
- The golden rule is to focus on providing value, rather than trying to sell immediately – even though this may seem counter-intuitive. A good campaign warms up slowly towards a strategic goal. In other words, create trust before attempting a hard sell.
- Don’t think about your own needs – you need to do role reversal and stand in the place of your customer and establish what the reader of your email really needs
- Having segmented contact lists will help ensure that content is tailor-made for a specific audience, as far as possible.
- No one likes receiving an email that is clearly generic – fortunately, almost every platform will allow you to personalize your emails
- Make certain that your emails sound as though a real person is speaking – the the best way to engage is to forge a human connection. Think of some of the dreary emails you receive and try to do something different, such as entertaining or educating your customers.
4.) Analyzing your results, optimizing, and planning the next step
A vital step in reviewing an email marketing campaign is analyzing the stats generated by your chosen platform to evaluate your areas of failure and success. This way, you can make adjustments for your next campaign.
The following ratios will give you great insights:
- Delivery rate – this will show you how up-to-date your lists are. Remember, you have no chance of success unless your email reaches the targeted contact.
- If you receive a ‘soft’ bounce, it means you’re getting into your contact’s inbox, but are being relegated to a spam folder
- Open-rate – this will tell you how many people actually click on your emails. It’s a good metric, but probably has more to do with a great subject line. It doesn’t always mean that action is taken. A word of caution – writing an enticing subject line that gets your email opened will backfire if your content doesn’t match what you’ve promised!
- Click through rate (CTR) – voila! This means that the person has engaged with your email and is pursuing what you’re offering. Improving a CTR is what all email marketers aim for.
- Conversion rate – this metric allows you to see whether people have taken action and have placed an order – usually within a few days of opening the email (the chances of a sale decrease dramatically after a few days)
- Abandoned cart – this metric gives you the perfect opportunity to send a follow-up email. If someone has gone to the trouble to place your product in the cart but hasn’t checked out, perhaps a small nudge is all that is needed.
- Churn rates – this is the number of people who unsubscribe when your email hits their inbox. It’s disappointing, but at least you know that this person is no longer a part of your target market.
The reason you keep track of metrics is not simply for information but to guide your future action. If the stats look poor, make small changes and see what works and what doesn’t.
Although these 4 steps are important, ultimately your copy and content will be king. If you don’t get this right, it won’t matter how good your lists or your platform are. If you generate outstanding copy you’ll build strong relationships with your customers and have people looking forward to receiving your next email.
The downside of email marketing is that, if its poorly executed, you could lose people’s trust, head straight for spam, or be unsubscribed. The upside is that there are 4.3 billion email accounts out there; 95% of online consumers use email and 91% say that they check their email at least once a day. No other form of marketing is as universal as this and it’s never been easier to reach your target market, which is why mastering this skill could be just what your business needs.
Have you been experiencing issues with your email marketing strategy, perhaps your email marketing has fallen flat recently, or you just don’t know where to start building your sales and email marketing strategy? The Pony Group specializes in developing integrated, strategic marketing plans and email marketing campaigns. Get in touch and schedule a complimentary Marketing consultation here: CONTACT US