Email Marketing: Definition And Best Practices

Email_Marketing_Guide_2020
Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy where businesses send emails to customers and prospects.

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Email isn’t dead. Email marketing is one of the few outlets that we can use to build an authentic human connection.

email marketing image.

The first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson, depending on your source in 1971 or 1978. This marked the birth of the modern communications era. The message was a sequence of numbers and letters that looked more like a password than a message, but it is of great importance.

Due to its early beginnings, email is not as shiny as other newer platforms such as messaging and social media. It is an efficient method to develop an audience with results.

Email marketing is not spam or a personal message from an old co-worker. It is something in between. Your customers don’t provide their information lightly, and β€” if used correctly β€” email marketing can be both a tool to create relationships and to generate income.

Statistics show that email is not going anywhere. Every year around the world, we send 102.6 trillion emails, and the numbers are expected to continue climbing.

You should be using email to develop an existing relationship with your subscribers as well as leads by providing relevant, beneficial information that will help them take action on their goals.

Email marketing isn’t only about you, or your business. It’s about your customer.

How Does Email Marketing Work?

Email marketing is a method by which the audience and customers are targeted via email. By offering useful information to subscribers and customers that will help them accomplish their goals, it helps you boost conversions and profits.

Now let’s review when to use email marketing and some advantages and statistics that support why email marketing is so useful.

When To Market By Email

Some of the most common email marketing strategies include:

  • Build relationships: Develop connections through personalized engagement.
  • Boost brand awareness: Keep your business and services at the top of your list when prospective customers are ready to engage.
  • Promote your content: Share related blog material or tangible resources with your prospects via email.
  • Generate leads: Incentivise subscribers to provide their personal information in exchange for something they find worthy such as a contest or discount.
  • Market your products: Promote your products and services.
  • Announce promotions: Send out broadcast emails for new discounts or promotions like a flash sale.
  • Cultivate leads: Delight your customers with content that can help them succeed in their goals.

Email Marketing Benefits

  • Worldwide there are 3.8 billion email users, and if you’re looking to find a way to engage with your customers, email is the best place to reach them.
  • Email produces an average of $38 for every dollar invested, which is a return on investment of 3,800%. 
  • Two-thirds of customers have made purchases as a direct result of an email marketing message.
  • When it comes to customer acquisition, email is 40X more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.
  • You own your own channel. There’s no outside influence other than compliance regulations that can influence how, when, or why you reach out to your subscribers.

Email Statistics By Industry

The rules governing email marketing change based on your industry and who you market to. Below are a few email marketing trends for B2B, B2C, and e-commerce companies that will help develop your strategy.

B2B (Business to business)

  • Emails caused by action do 3X better than nurturing emails or drip campaigns.
  • For 86% of professionals, email is their preference for communication.
  • Clickthrough rates are 47% higher for B2B emails than B2C.
  • Having a subject-line emojis accounted for increased open rates for 56% of brands.

B2C (Business to consumer)

  • 78% of consumers have unsubscribed from lists because a company was sending too many emails.
  • 90% of consumers check their emails every day.

E-Commerce

  • 86% of consumers would prefer to get promotional brand emails they subscribe to at least once per month.
  • Segmented emails produce 58% of company revenue.

Which Platform Should You Use?

Effective email marketing is a combination of variables that work together to accomplish a particular goal but, most importantly, successful email marketing begins with a strong platform a tool, where success can be built.

If you’re new to email marketing, then when researching the best email marketing platforms, you can use this as a guide to see what suits your needs best.

Ready To Use Templates

If you are not a designer, then it’s an absolute necessity to find an email marketing platform with ready-to-use templates. It will save you money, stress, and maybe your sanity. Without ready-to-use templates, you’ll need to build from scratch and code the mailing from HTML. Despite what many people assume, coding HTML emails isn’t the same as web HTML.

Drag And Drop Editing Tools

Even with ready-to-use templates, you might still need to change some stuff here and there to suit your mailing content. For example, you may want to add another text block, include some photos or include more social buttons than included in the template. And you should be able to make those adjustments yourself quickly.

Responsive

As responsiveness has become a basic requirement, most email platforms and providers have a responsive design from day one. Ask your current and potential provider about any extra costs associated with getting your mailings 100% responsive. Certain providers will have high fees to do so. If there are heavy costs incurred, it may be time to swap providers.

Custom Fields For Personalizations

Custom fields on a basic level include using first names, last names, email addresses, and business name in the subject line or introduction. On a deeper level, custom fields could be used to provide personal information such as job title, business size, and even geographic position within the email body.

Automatic Quality Checks

How many times have you sent out an untested email? Probably more than you think.  What’s worse is when you realize there was a mailing error. Oops. 😧

If you use the right platform, the quality of your mailings should be checked automatically to ensure that elements such as subject line and sender address are included in your mailings before it’s sent.

Good Statistics And Insights

If we can’t simply measure and report our email marketing efforts, we don’t have a real way to determine the impact our activities have on bigger business goals. You will want to check basic statistics like open and click-through rates after sending an email, but you should also check out more in-depth analytics like unsubscribes, the device used, and where exactly the user clicked in the email.

Integration With Other Tools

If you’re a big company, you’ll probably need an email marketing platform that integrates with other core tools and software. And given that you picked a good provider, that shouldn’t even be a problem.

If you are exploring providers for possible integration, you should be able to obtain the information you want on the website of any provider.

Tips To Get You Started With Email Marketing

Before you get overwhelmed with email marketing possibilities, let’s break down some critical steps to get you started developing a solid email campaign that will delight your customers. Those measures can be thought of as the way to build an effective email marketing strategy.

Create An Email Marketing Strategy

Your customers are receiving a ton of emails every day that means, if you do not take time to create a strategy, your emails will get lost in a sea of emails, or worse, be in spam.

The following are six steps to serve as an outline for your email strategy:

1. Define Your Audience

An effective email is a relevant email. Start with your buyer persona, understand what they want, and adjust your email campaign to suit the needs of your audience.

2. Establish Your Goals And Frequency

Gather some background before you come up with your campaign goals. Research your industry’s average email stats and use them as benchmarks for your targets. If you send emails quite often, your subscribers are likely to ignore what you have to say or completely unsubscribe. Send your email campaign at your own pace, and monitor the unsubscribe rates and click-through rates to adjust the frequency if necessary.

3. Create A Way For People To Sign Up

An email list (we will go over in the next section) is a group of users who have authorized you to send relevant content to them. You need several ways to get prospects to opt-in to receive your emails to build the list.

Don’t get frustrated if you have only a few people on your list, it may take time. Meanwhile, treat every single subscriber and lead like a diamond, and you’re going to start seeing your email list organically grow.

4. Make Segments And Groups

Once you have identified smaller groups of people within your larger audience, you will be able to create groups and segments to send your recipients more relevant and personalized emails β€” and the more relevant the campaign is, the better the results.

5. Decide What You Will Write

Now that you know who you will be writing to, it’s time to evaluate your content. What do you want to tell the audience? What’s your content marketing strategy? You’re going to want to send meaningful emails that appeal to your subscribers, so always be aware of what they signed up for.

6. Make A Schedule

Decide how much you want to get in touch with your list, notify your audience upfront, so they know what to expect, and adhere to a clear schedule; so they don’t forget you.

Build Your Email List

Now for the fun part: fill your email list with keen prospects that want to hear from you.

There are plenty of creative ways to build your mailing list (and, no, buying emails is not one). Purchased emails are ineffectual. If you send emails to a list of people whose contact details you purchased would mark the majority of emails as spam, and you will also get higher unsubscribe rates.

To create a list:

  • Make signup on your website. When people first come to your website and like what they see, they’re going to want a way to stay in-the-know of your brand. Create a newsletter signup form, and install a pop-up to collect your visitors’ customer data.
  • Use a good old-fashioned signup sheet. Be it in your brick-and-mortar shop, or an event you’re hosting or attending, provide them with a place to register and learn more.
  • Post your signup form on your social media channels. If you don’t have a significant email list (or would just like to see it grow), but you have a social media engagement to follow, use that resource to your advantage.
SH1FT email subscription sign up.
SH1FT Digital‘s signup for blog

To add more subscribers to a list:

  • Host a contest, or give a discount. Try offering some lucky new subscribers a prize or a discount code for their first purchase.
  • Make an attractive landing page by using your best content and images.
  • Make your emails easy to share. When you produce beautiful, convincing emails, with useful information, people will want to share them.
JCREW email marketing incentive for signing up.
J.Crew Discount Incentive

Design Your Emails

Focus on your message when designing email campaigns and keep your design straight forward. We recommend you set out all the elements in a hierarchy for your campaign, bring the most valuable details, or the key point to the top so that people can search the email easily if they do not have a lot of time.

Test Your Emails

Test in different email clients and ISPs

All email clients are created differently, meaning the campaign you design could look different in the inboxes of your subscribers. Check the emails on a mobile device; they may also look different in responsive designs.

Send test emails to friends and coworkers

If you have any friends or colleagues who can check your email for typos and provide you with feedback on the layout, you can send them a test email so that they can preview the campaign directly in their inbox.

A/B Testing

Not sure which subject line will get more clicks and opens? Think your customers are most likely to purchase through your campaign a certain time of the day? Running an A / B test allows you to experiment with various versions of your emails to see how the adjustments you’re making will impact your results.

Here is a step-by-step process to A/B test your emails:

  • Select one variable to test at a time, e.g., subject line, CTA, images.
  • Create two versions of the email: one with and one without the variable.
  • Allow your emails to be sent out simultaneously for a period of time.
  • Analyze your results and keep only the version that performed better.
  • Test a new variable and repeat the process.

Marketing Automation

In contrast to regular campaigns, automation is a targeted email or sequence of emails you can set and not worry about. From a welcome email series to follow-up emails after purchase to motivating your customers with a special incentive. Automation greatly simplifies your customer communications, so you have more time to concentrate on content creation and elevate investment return (ROI).

Measure Performance

It’s important to monitor the data that is collected to refine your marketing strategy.

Open and clicks

These are the most evident statistics for assessing campaign engagement, as they show how well a specific list resonates with your subject lines and campaign material. But considering how your open and click-through rates compared to other companies in the same industry is important β€” otherwise, you’ll be looking into your statistics in a vacuum.

E-commerce data

If your store is connected to your email service, you can view purchase data from your subscribers.

Clickthrough rate (CTR)

The percentage of individuals who click on your CTAs.

Unsubscribe

This measures the number of people who opt-out of your mailing list.

Although there are several guidelines for email marketing, the most important is: Treat your subscribers like human beings.

And remember, your subscribers want to hear from you, and they want to connect to you. Be a credible resource, and they’ll be looking forward to opening up an email from you as if you were a friend of theirs.

If you need any help with email marketing, check out SH1FT’s Email Marketing Agency.

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