In this post, I share with you insights on how you can develop the best email marketing strategy for your business and how to structure it to fit within your overall digital marketing strategy.
Even if you are working with a digital marketing agency, it’s imperative to understand the concepts I share in this post which will allow you and your agency execute a strong email marketing strategy.
But first, I want to address a few important areas to make sure we are on the same page.
Why is it imperative to have an email marketing strategy?
If you are just relying on organic search and paid ads and perhaps social media to grow your business, you are most likely leaving a big chunk of positive ROI on the table. In a much more competitive digital advertising world, it’s what you do after the click that separates you from the pack. And your email marketing is one of the cornerstone marketing strategies to uplift ROI. In fact, in my opinion, you can tell if a business is using or having a strong email marketing strategy by how good their email marketing strategy is.
97% (on average) of leads, prospects and visitors are not ready yet to make a purchase. And that’s why a digital marketing funnel is essential. Although, emails are not the only way you can take leads through your sales funnel, it is one of the most effective channels to do so.
In terms of trend and numbers, there is no stopping when it comes to the trends we are seeing in the email marketing industry. It’s GROWTH GROWTH GROWTH. To put things in perspective, the number of daily emails exchanged is expected to grow to 347 billion.
If you don’t have a solid email marketing strategy, you are leaving a lot behind.
Understand Your Email Marketing Metrics
I have an entire blog post that fully explains all marketing metrics. But for this post, I’ll just share on a high-level what the most important email marketing metrics are. If you want to dive more deeply into them, check this guide.
- Unique Clicks
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Unique Opens
- Open Rate
- List growth rate
- Spam complaints
- Overall ROI
How do you create the right email marketing strategy?
At the core of it, email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows you as a business to communicate via email with your leads, customers, partners, media, investors, and other stakeholders. For the most part, when people talk about email marketing, they are referring to communicating to leads and customers.
An effective email marketing strategy is one that allows you to achieve the following
- Maximise marketing ROI
- Increase sales
- Increase customer retention
- Improve cost per acquisition
- Improve brand awareness
- Increase brand loyalty
- Increase customer engagement
- Improve relationships with your clients
Every now and then, I’ll hear people asking, is email marketing finished? Is it an old marketing approach that’s dead in the water?
Couldn’t be further from the truth. Until we stop using emails, email marketing will continue to thrive and be a critical part of any digital marketing strategy. Email marketing is still going very strong at the time of this writing (November 2020) and in my opinion, will remain as one of the best possible strategies for your business.
Here are some numbers to back this up.
Depending on the industry, the average ROI of email marketing is anywhere from 4000% to 5300% – according to a study by Litmus.
I come across blog posts sometimes comparing email marketing to other online marketing strategies including SEO, social media, PPC, etc. And I don’t understand the comparison. Email marketing is one piece of the puzzle. It complements and fits into your entire marketing strategy.
Anyhow, what makes email marketing effective and essential? Here is what I think. Fundamentally, email marketing has the lost cost of reach especially on large scale email marketing campaigns. Think about that for a minute. It costs you virtually nothing in terms of advertising to reach your target audience. If you try to reach people via paid ads or even organic search, there is a cost involved. Emails don’t cost you anything besides the content you develop and the email marketing platform you use.
How to improve the performance of your email marketing strategy
A double opt-in is not only a white-hat lead generation strategy, it brands you as trustworthy. When people receive an email saying ‘hey, just want to make sure you subscribed to this…’ it gives them more confidence that you are not going to spam them. This will make them more likely to engage with you.
Brands that use a double opt-in process generate an ROI of 45:1, compared to an ROI of 40:1 for those using mostly single opt-in.
Subscribers who confirm your double opt-in message are less likely to report your emails as spam in the future. And if there is one thing you don’t want it is being reported as spam. Spam reports can tremendously impact your sender reputation which can reduce your email deliverability.
Here is how a double opt-in email can look. Remember to keep it simple.
Personalisation is one of the fundamental building blocks of email marketing today and over the last 5 – 10 years. The basic premise of personalisation is that instead of casting a wide net and trying to use one email marketing strategy and one communication tactic, you approach every customer persona differently and talk to them based on their interests and wants.
Personalisation here means personalising your communication as granular as possible. Every detail counts. What you understand about your audience and mailing list can be grouped into two categories.
- Demographics: This includes things like Age, Gender, Interests, Income, Geographic location, etc.
- Behaviours: This category is about how your audience interacts with your email communication. It includes things like which emails they engaged in, which pages they interacted with, what products they added to the cart, etc.
Your content should not only be personalised in terms of their names and other personal information. It should be tailored to their buyer personas, interests and behavioural attributes.
This is where segmentation is key. Segmented lists allow you to categorise and group people who are similar in lists that you can approach with relevant emails and content.
A/B test all your emails
If you constantly A/B test your emails, you are in the club that generates 4800% ROI vs. an ROI of 3500% for those who don’t.
A/B split testing is a proven way to understand the best way to communicate to your audience. Instead of asking them or doing qualitative research that might not lead to any meaningful conclusions, you simply make some hypothesis and test across your audience. Testing on your actual audience removes many barriers to effective testing. But that’s not to say that A/B testing can be inaccurately measured. TO simplify it, many email platforms today have cool A/B testing features that cut out the hassle of carrying out the tests.
Your job is primarily to come up with a list of things that you believe can potentially improve the ROI and performance of your emails.
Here are a few important things to be aware of when you do A/B testing
- Test the things that matter (Subject line, Call to action, visuals, email layout, sender name, topics.
- Collect enough sample size. Hubspot has a good resource that explains how to do that.
- Control all other variables. Make sure only one variable changes.
- Choose a metric that reinforces or negates the hypothesis.
Dynamic content is a great email marketing strategy that’s not used by a lot of business especially small businesses. It’s become more available over the last 3 – 4 years by many email marketing platforms.
Respect their inbox
We should all respect the inbox. Whilst not many email marketers do respect people’s inbox, you can be the the outlier. And it will serve you well being one.
We get a ton of emails everyday. Think of emails like a currency. The more you print money (i.e. send emails) the lower it’s value becomes. So, generally speaking, you want your email strategy to be focused on quality not quantity. People are slammed with a ton of ads and messages everywhere, everyday.
Although you might assume that your emails are different or somewhat special, they are more likely to be just another email in their inbox. Even if they weren’t, it’s a good practice to assume so.
If you think that way, you’ll go about your email marketing with a different mindset that will get you better results in the short-term and long-term.
When you respect their inbox, they’ll appreciate you for it and pay you more attention next time you send them an email.
Remind them why they signed up
You might think this is counterintuitive. Why would I remind them about signing up. It might result in high number of unsubscribes. It actually increases your their trust in you and also keeps your mailing lists clean and up to date.
For example, you can drop your mailing list an email once every 3 – 4 months saying something along the lines of, ‘Hi First Name, we haven’t heard from you in a while. We first got in touch back in July when you signed up to our newsletter. We thought we’d touch base and see if you are still enjoying our content.’
Grow your mailing lists
Growing your mailing lists is very crucial to the success of your email marketing strategy. After all, if you have great email content and funnel but there is no one subscribing, it won’t be successful. Nothing in = Nothing out.
To maximise the flow of new subscribers to your mailing lists, there are many ways to do that. This is what some people refer to as lead magnet.
But first, what makes a lead magnet effective?
1. Clear and straightforward: You should clearly communicate what’s in store for them. If it’s a promotion, or white paper, or anything else, make sure this is clearly communicated.
2. Gives a high perceived value: If what you are offering in the lead magnet is what all your competitors are doing, you are most likely going to get average results. Instead, look for new offers that your competitors and industry are not offering.
3. Relevant: Your lead magnet should be relevant to your online visitors. If for example, you have an online shop, your lead magnet on every specific product page, should be more relevant to the nature of the product on that specific page.
4. Creates a sense of urgency: If your visitors feel that they can get this offer in a month’s time, they are most likely going to skip this time. Make sure you effectively communicate a sense of urgency.
With that said, here are some of the most effective lead magnets.
- Interactive quizzes
- PDFs (Whitepapers)
- Time sensitive promotions (e.g. 35% off – offer expires in 24 hours)
- Online demos
- Webinars (e.g. How I reached 2 million Instagram followers)
- Contests / Competitions
- Free trials
Email Marketing Strategy Quick Wins – Optimise your emails
46% of email opens come from mobile devices (Litmus, 2018). That’s basically half of email opens. And that’s why you need to make sure your emails designs are suitable, functional and optimised for mobile.
Here is what the means.
- Create shorter and more readable subject lines.
- Make sure email design is responsive (maximum width of 600px)
- Using larger font size to ensure people can comfortably read. 16px for body text is the suggested font size.
- Unless it’s a must, avoid double column templates for mobile. Keep it a single-column layout.
- Write short, distinct Call-to-actions (CTAs).
And finally, make sure you do rigorous testing on multiple mobile devices. Testing on various devices might not be practical so, many email marketing platforms will have a feature to test how the email looks on all different devices, email clients, etc. Make sure you look out for this feature before you sign up for an email marketing platform.
Create engaging content
Email marketing at the end of the day is about communication. And regardless of what channel you use to communicate, your content needs to be highly engaging for it to work.
To create engaging content, here are a few points to focus on
- Utilise storytelling in your email copy
- Stay up to date with what’s happening
- Leverage influencers content in your emails
- Have minimal distractions in your emails
- Go straight to the point
- Be authentic
Basic of creating a newsletter
- Make sure people remember you!
A great way to do this is not letting your emails too spread apart. If your audience do not recall you when you send them an email, that’s not a good sign. One of the reasons this might happen is if you send too few emails. One email a month is the bare minimum you should have to maintain contact with your mailing list and audience.
2. Make your email content different every time.
Next, make sure your content is new, exciting and different every time you send. If your newsletter emails are not interesting or repetitive, your recipients will start to tune out.
For example, if you are always sending emails about this new product launch, people will get tired of it. Instead, here is a list of things you can
- On this day (something happened on that day)
- An interesting event taking place in their country / city
- A new philanthropy initiative you are taking
- A new testimonial you received
- A fun fact related to your product or service
- A thank you message
- A behind-the-scenes look at your company
- A message from the CEO
- Insight into your company’s history
- Business changes that might impact them
- Your company anniversary or important milestone
- A recent award nomination or win
- New use cases and case studies
- A how-to product video
- Little known uses for your product or service
- Updates about new products and releases
- An exclusive tip of the month
- Images of your mobile app in action
- Partner mobile app reviews
- Deals and discounts
- A cool new best practice or tip
Create an impactful autoresponder
An autoresponder is essentially the first touch point in the email marketing journey.
Autoresponders are one of the most important emails you’ll ever send. Why? First impression is the most important. So, make it right. Your autoresponder will set the tone and establish the relationship.
The first step to create impactful autoresponders is to understand and do a full sweep of all the ways people connect with you online.
Here are the main ways people enter your email marketing funnel.
- Subscribe to newsletter
- Enquiry form about service
- Enquire about a product demo
- Sign up for a trial
- Make an online purchase
- Abandon a cart
- Submit a survey
- Enter a quiz
- Sign up to your blog
- Free white papers or eBooks
Regardless how they enter the funnel, the main reasons are
- Learn more about a specific topic
- Get offers and promotions
- Stay up to date
Use Emails to establish more trust and credibility
When was the last time you received an outstanding review for your product or service and have shared that with your leads or customers? Various researches have shown that 80% to 90% of people check reviews before making a purchase. When you get that awesome review or testimonial, make sure you share that story with your prospects.
When you market your products, people will always wonder whether they should trust you or not. If they are not convinced on the first encounter, there is still a chance. Utilising user generated content and testimonials later on will increase the chances of sales.