I decided to write this Email Marketing guide because I find that many business especially small businesses don’t have a sound Email Marketing strategy. Your email marketing is a major component of your digital marketing funnel. It is imperative to get it right and let me briefly make the case.
By 2023, the estimated number of email users will hover around 4.3 billion people. Okay, that’s well and good. What else? Marketers who use segmented and personalised campaigns see up to a 760% increase in revenue. (Campaign Monitor, 2019).
At SAVV Digital, we ran email marketing campaigns for clients that transformed their growth trajectories, thanks to marketing technology, great content, and businesses open to change.
Now that we are on the same page, I’m going to dive into this guide and share with you everything I know about email marketing and how to use it to improve your customer acquisition capability and scale your business.
Here is what we’ll cover:
- What is email marketing?
- Why are emails an effective marketing tool?
- Audience profiling & segmentation
- Lead Scoring & qualification process
- KPI and reporting
- How to choose the right email marketing platform
- How to write emails that convert
- Examples of great email copy
- Top 5 mistakes to avoid
- Integrate email marketing into your entire funnel strategy
- A/B testing
What is email marketing?
Email marketing is a channel through which marketers are able to communicate with their target audience, prospective customers and current customers at scale. You can do everything from increasing brand awareness to increasing sales conversions and upselling customers – through emails.
Why are emails an effective marketing tool?
Everyone checks their emails every day. I personally don’t know anyone who doesn’t check their email EVERY SINGLE DAY! And I’m sure you do too. Compare that to Social Media and other digital channels. Whilst some have impressive engagement metrics, they still don’t come close to email marketing. But here is the thing. What’s really stands out to me about email marketing is that, if you don’t get it right the first time or even the second time, you still have a chance to connect with your prospective buyers. With paid ads, for example, every time you make an impression and you miss, that’s a wasted marketing dollar, right?
Another reason it’s very powerful is that the email platforms we have today have come a long way in their capabilities and features. This means that as a business, not only you can engage your audience better, you can understand them better. From journey segmentation and automation to site content personalisation and user behaviour analytics, there is a lot you can do.
Finally, the ROI of email marketing is a staggering 4000% on average. This means that for every $1 you drop into email marketing, you can expect to get $40 back. Not too shabby.
And the good news is, you can tap into all of that with a couple of hundred dollars a month if you use the tools or platforms I will share with you in this guide.
KPI & Reporting
Measuring the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns will not only give you a lot of important insights, but it will also help you get more customers and sales. The way I like to look at email marketing metrics is over two main categories
These metrics focus on how your emails are performing and they are certainly the drivers of the business outcomes. Understanding and measuring them will allow you to make modifications along the way to get better business results.
This metric isn’t a function of the effectiveness of your email but it’s important to track it as part of your entire framework. You need to understand the flow of your marketing funnel. Let’s say you run a lead generation campaign on Facebook and Instagram. Understanding how many people enter the funnel is going to be key to ascertain what areas you need to focus on. Is it the top of the funnel activities or perhaps the stages that come after that?
Email open rate
This is a pretty straightforward one. What you want to measure is the average open rates of the campaign, across all users, by email, email journey, etc. Some email platforms report multiple opens for the same contact and other platforms report unique opens. So, make sure you are aware whether you are looking at unique email opens or all email opens. This can skew your understanding of the current performance.
Email click-through rate (CTR)
Similar to open rates, click-through rates add another piece to the puzzle. It basically tells you if the email content resonated with your audience, leads or customers. Were they compelled enough to ‘take action’? Similarly, you need to be aware whether you are looking at unique clicks or all clicks.
Your CTR reflects predominantly three things: 1) content inside the email including the look and feel, 2) the call to action, and 3) if this was the right email to the right person. This is important to understand when you are looking at A/B testing.
Website / App Visits
How much traffic your email marketing generates to your website or app is a KPI you want to measure. You also want to segment that metric by the different landing pages you have within your funnel. This will help you understand which part of the funnel needs more focus as well as if the bottlenecks are coming from the pages or the emails.
Your hard bounce rate reflects the quality of email addresses you are collecting. If you are funnel is attracting genuine leads who are interested in what you have to offer, your hard bounces will be naturally low. Generally speaking, any hard bounces you get should be cleaned from your mailing lists. Without going through a lot of technical details, a hard bounce is due to an email address that is not valid. So, I’d remove them right away.
A hard bounce can happen due to
- The email address is not valid and doesn’t exist
- The domain name of the email address doesn’t exist
- The recipient’s email server has blocked your emails
These are serious reasons and you’ve got to get them cleaned right away. Most good email platforms come with great features to clean your mailing lists but you might need to configure these settings.
A soft bounce on the other hand doesn’t necessarily mean that the email address is invalid. What it means is that temporarily, your ISP wasn’t able to deliver the email to that address. This could be due to a few reasons.
- The recipient’s mailbox was full
- The recipient’s server was down
- Your email message was too large for the recipient’s inbox
These are certainly not alarming as the hard bounce reasons but very important to take note of and resolve.
This is a rather uninteresting metric but extremely crucial to monitor and improve. Un-subscribers normally take the step to unsubscribe when and if you’ve become annoying and borderline ‘spammy’. If the un-subscription rate increases, it means you are doing something wrong. Two of the biggest reasons people unsubscribe are 1) irrelevant content 2) sending too many emails. Keep your email value-adding, engaging and spaced out. How often is not too often? It depends on your business, how qualified and engaged they are. It’s something you will need to test along the way. But my recommendation is to start with less frequent emails first and increase the frequency as you go – that way you minimise any risk of damaging your sender reputation.
Your Sender reputation is essentially a score that tells you how trusted or credible your sender IP address is. The lower the score, the less trusted you are by other ISPs and networks administrators view and trust you. A low score can considerably impact the deliverability of your emails. That’s something that can kill your email marketing efforts.
If you have a marketing funnel that involves ‘progressive profiling’ (especially if you are in the B2B space) then forms will likely be part of what you do. Progressive profiling means collecting more demographic info about your users along the way to be able to better serve them with the right content, products, etc. Measuring the form submission rates is important as forms can generally be a source of friction when it comes to user experience. Forms with low submission rate are definitely hurting your funnel and the effectiveness of your email marketing and the opposite is true.
These metrics allow you to understand the business impact of your email marketing and customer acquisition framework. They shed light on the bigger picture and demonstrate to the decision-makers how effective your email strategy is.
Ultimately, what you want from your email marketing is more sales and more conversions. There is a general rule in email marketing and marketing automation called the 3/47/50 rule. It basically means that only 3% of your traffic at the top of the funnel stage will convert. 47% will convert later down the funnel and 50% will never be a customer. The bad news is only 3% will be materialised in the first go but the good news is that half of your traffic can be your customers in the future. Measuring the sales conversions of your email marketing will give you an indication of how effective it is in allowing you to tap into your potential.
Up-Selling & Cross-selling
This is where things get quite interesting. When you look at your ROI, it’s not only a factor of how many customers you converted but also how much value your business received from your customers. Up-selling and cross-selling are ways in which your business can increase your customer lifetime value and ROI. Of course, not every business is a repeat business type of model. However, you’d be surprised how much you can tap into when focus on leveraging your existing customer relationships to get more turnover.
Your return on investment will ultimately tell you if what you’re doing is worth the time and investment. But make sure that you compare apples to apples. For example, let’s say you are a SAAS business. Comparing your email marketing ROI to that of online fashion stores makes absolutely no sense. Ideally, your comparison should be to 1) your historical performance and 2) your industry average