Email is one of the longest serving methods of digital communication. However, even in the increasingly Meta world, it still retains a key role in marketing.
In fact, email marketing consistently performs as a more effective marketing channel than SEO, social media and affiliate marketing. Every pound spent on email marketing yields an estimated ROI of over £35. So email marketing is a key strategy for any digital marketing or SEO agency.
In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about email marketing. What it is, and how to use it effectively.
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing does what it says on the tin. It is the process of sending emails to current and/or prospective customers to achieve a particular business goal.
Email marketing is a key inbound marketing strategy. It enables you to meet customers where they are at, and have an interaction with them relevant to their point on the customer journey.
And your customers will have email. Over 4 billion people have email worldwide, so there is an amazing marketing opportunity just waiting for you to break into.
Let’s take a look at the advantages of email marketing.
Advantages of email marketing
Email marketing is by invitation
Email marketing is most effective when a customer has already subscribed to your business. We will explore later how to encourage them to do this, and build a valuable email list for your business.
But by giving you their email address, a customer is inviting you to interact with them. This is a key marketing opportunity, and one that you need to treat with the utmost respect. It is also a communication channel that you own and can use flexibly as needed.
Email marketing gives you direct contact with your customers
You can get your messages across to your customers, knowing that they are likely to read them. Emails are convenient, because customers will read them when they want to. The good news is that an estimated 21% of emails get opened within the first hour of being sent.
Email marketing can be personalised
With email marketing, you are not stuck with “one size fits all”. You can segment your email list, and can tailor different email campaigns for different groups of customer. Whether this is based on location, demographics, stage in the customer journey or any other criteria is completely up to you. But it means that your customers will see your emails as relevant and timely.
Email marketing can easily be scaled
Whatever kind of emails you are sending out, the good news is that email marketing campaigns are easy to scale either up or down, without significant effort. So you can tweak campaigns as you go, and change the recipient groupings without any adverse impact on quality.
Email marketing is measurable
It is easy to track progress and measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. We will explore this in more depth later on in this article.
So far, so good. But are there any disadvantages to email marketing? Let’s take a quick look.
Disadvantages of email marketing
Email marketing is only as good as your email list
The success of email marketing depends largely on the integrity of your email list. We will look later at how to build an effective list, but you need to put the effort into doing this or you could be wasting both resources and opportunity.
Email marketing is a crowded market
With all the advantages listed above, you won’t be surprised to hear that most other businesses are also chasing the email marketing opportunity. This means that your customers are likely to have busy inboxes.
Whilst this is somewhat of a disadvantage, it can be turned into a positive by keeping aware of it and ensuring that your emails are going to stand out from the crowd.
Email marketing can suffer from delivery issues
Sadly, email marketing campaigns often have to contend with delivery issues. Your email may “bounce”. There are various possible reasons for this:
- A hard bounce is when an email is permanently rejected by the recipient’s mail server. This is most commonly caused by an incorrect email address or the sending mail server being blacklisted.
- A soft bounce is an email that reaches the recipient’s mail server but is not delivered to the recipient, perhaps because either the server or the recipient’s mailbox is full.
- Sometimes an email is not delivered because a recipient has reported your email as spam, even if they have previously subscribed to your mailing list.
Your email marketing service – see later – should be able to resolve some of these issues.
So if you do decide to carry out email marketing, how do you make sure you do it effectively? Here are the six key things you need to know.
The six key elements of successful email marketing
1. Build and maintain an accurate email list
Your email list is a database of customers who have subscribed to receiving email communications from you. For B2C email marketing, some of the most common ways to build your list are:
- Have a sign up form for visitors to your website;
- Share your sign up form to social media channels;
- Offer discounts and special offers in return for signing up;
- Run competitions with appealing prizes, but consumers have to sign up to take part;
- Encourage customers at face to face events to sign up for news and offers.
If you are doing B2B email marketing, you are allowed to send out cold call emails as long as you target your prospects carefully. Your business activity should have some kind of logical connection with the business activity of the prospect you are targeting, and you need to be confident that they can benefit from what your business is offering in the email.
Once you have an email list up and running, it is essential to keep it as accurate and up to date as you can. Clear out hard bounced email addresses, and update your list with replacement contacts.
Also give recipients the clear opportunity to unsubscribe if they want to, and ensure that this is promptly reflected on your list. This will help to preserve your sender reputation.
2. Find a reputable email marketing service
An email marketing service provides software to help streamline your email marketing campaigns. You will be able to automate the sending of initial emails and the content and timing of follow up emails depending on the actions of your prospect.
You will also be able to track how well your emails are performing, and make changes to your content or strategy as needed.
There are many email marketing services available. As a good starting point, check out:
3. Set clear goals
Email marketing is not about one size fits all. And this applies as much to the goals of your campaign as anything else. At different times, you may have different goals from the same segment of customers. Some possible goals could be:
- Driving traffic to your website;
- Raising awareness of products or services;
- Upselling to existing customers;
- Sales conversions;
- Abandoned basket;
- Keeping customers engaged;
- Increasing customer loyalty.
Whatever your goal, it is best to focus on one thing per email campaign, as this will be a clearer message for your readers.
4. Create the best content
Never be tempted to scrimp on content. Just because your emails are being automated does not mean that their content is any less important than content you are uploading manually to your site. If anything, the email content should be even better because your customers have asked for it and will be much more likely to read it than randomly browse your site.
So, as always, create content that is well crafted and will appeal to your chosen audience. A few quick tips specifically for email content creation are:
- Create an attention-grabbing subject line;
- Ensure preview text (generally between 35-90 characters) makes them want to read more;
- Make your email easy to read, ideally with personality and humour;
- Let your email tell a story, and tap into the psyche of your readers;
- Use good design tactics, lots of white space but also bright, warm colours.
We have briefly referred to timing already, but it can make a critical difference to the success of your email marketing campaign.
You can either schedule email timings in advance or use customer-driven triggers to send out the next automated email. For example:
- When their last purchased supplies of your product are likely to run out;
- When they open a previous email or click on a link.
- If they don’t open a previous email within a certain timescale.
However you decide on the timings of your emails, you need to keep an eye on the unsubscribe rates and the click through rates and adjust the content or frequency if needed.
Measure your success
As with any digital marketing strategy, it is essential to tracking the performance of your campaigns.
Five of the measures you could use to do this are:
This indicates how many people open your emails and how quickly they do so. Both of these are good indicators of how positive your relationship with each customer is. Ideally you want them to look forward to your emails and open them quickly.
Click through rate (CTR)
This shows how many people clicked on any links you have included in your email. If people are reading the emails but not clicking the links, you need to rethink your call to action.
Most email marketing services will enable you to track trends in website traffic resulting from an email marketing campaign.
If your site has e-commerce facilities, you should be able to link email tracking to them and view resulting purchase data from email campaigns.
This tells you how many people have decided to click the unsubscribe button in your email. You need to look not just at how many have unsubscribed, but the stage at which they do so. This can help you understand the parts of your campaign that you need to improve.
Email analytics are critical. The more you pay attention to all available data, the greater insight you will have as to what does and does not work with your target audience. This will help you to identify if you are doing something wrong, and also enable you to continually increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
We hope that this article has been a useful introduction to effective email marketing. If you need any specific help or advice then do get in touch with us here at Xcite Digital.