Email marketing is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. It continues to be the most relied upon marketing channel with 72% of brands using it in the customer journey.¹ Email allows brands to connect with potential and existing customers, build relationships, and drive sales. And yet – it’s so easy to underutilize this tactic!
A Strong One-On-One Marketing Tool
As a highly targetable, longer form one-on-one communication tool, email marketing inherently has the potential to create a strong return on investment. And in fact, while return on investment varies by type of business and objective, email ROI ranged from $51.56 to $59.44 according to the DMA Marketer Email Tracker. And no surprise. Necessarily, with email, you are communicating with the subset of your audience that already knows you and cares enough to have given permission to receive email communications from you – a self-selected, at least somewhat interested, audience.
While we all know this, it’s easy to let email drop off your strategic marketing priorities. List building is a long-term effort. And the benefits of customization through list segmentation can also be daunting to execute. However, any improvements you can make to leverage your use of email marketing will likely be worth the effort. And if it’s not attended to, you may find that customers easily opt-out as easily as they opted-in.
Common Email Strategies
Brands use email marketing for a variety of purposes, but two primary objectives are relationship building and sales. Considering your objective(s), consider this rundown of common email marketing strategies:
Promotional emails are some of the most common types of messages your company will send to customers. Are your campaigns sufficiently targeted so that recipients are likely to be interested in the communication? Are you using personalization to the degree that you can? At minimum, you’ll want to use your subscriber’s name and customize as much as you can. Small detail but list building should always include gathering separate first name and last name so you can address recipients appropriately. Lists should also gather information or be segmented by what they subscribed to receive in the first place.
This type of communication is about building a connection and creating brand loyalty. If a person has provided their email and given permission to receive communications, it’s common courtesy to respond with an acknowledgement through a welcome email. Content in the email should be brief and work to start the relationship off on a good foot. For example, you may –
• Say thank you. If relevant, offer a discount or freebie thank you gift for signing up to start the relationship off well
• Provide brief information that further introduces the recipient to the brand
• Find out more about what your customer needs. If your email software provides for it, ask them to create a profile that will further refine the communications they will receive.
Ecommerce: After-Purchase Emails
Once you make a conversion and get someone to make a purchase from you, you have the chance to use your email marketing strategy to keep building the relationship. Thank them for the order. If appropriate, include information about related resources that help the customer get the most out of what they’ve just bought. Services organizations may want to include links to a resource library or helpful informational downloads.
These emails aren’t meant to be pushy or overly sales oriented. Rather, they are meant to show that your company is committed to a great customer experience. You’re building trust and a positive feeling that they made the right decision. It can also give your customer an easy way to reach out to your support team if they are in need of any help.
Re-engagement campaigns are designed to bring back inactive subscribers. Make an offer they can’t refuse if it’s an ecommerce list. Or if a newsletter subscriber, promote popular articles or downloads to re-engage. If you have a very old list, this can also be a way to clean out old lists. Invite people to unsubscribe to get those who truly are not interested off your database.
Newsletters are a staple for all industries, for-profit and nonprofit alike. They should offer value and most importantly, just enough information to entice recipients to click/tap over to your site for the fuller story. Your goal is to keep the interaction going and not just dead end with the reading of the email. Send regular updates about what’s going on with your brand, innovations in the industry, and helpful information. You want to show customers you care, it’s worth receiving communications with you and continue the customer-brand relationship.
A newsletter is also a good place to offer deals and discounts and make people aware of any upcoming sales or product launches you have planned. You can even give early access to newsletter subscribers, offering them an incentive to sign up and stay involved with your brand. This improves your ability to generate new sales later in the relationship.
Drip campaigns are a great way to engage with potential customers using a series of automated emails based on specific actions taken and at predetermined timing. It’s helping move people with potential interest from a potential customer to a paying customer. The obvious usage is for lead generation. Other examples include abandoned cart email sequences and reengagement campaigns.
Drip campaigns use software platforms that allow you to pre-write messages and automate them on a preset schedule in response to specific engagement points. For example, you can have an email set to go out to people who haven’t made a purchase in 90 days, those who sign up for an event, those who provide information to download a white paper, etc. The goal here is to spark interest and bring a possible customer into, or back into, your marketing funnel. Since these are not people who are fully engaged with your brand, the emails should offer something of value such as a discount on their abandoned cart, free trial, or other offer.
Building Your Email List
The more you can collect and access information about the people you email, the more you’ll be able to write content that is of interest to open, read, and click through. This can be done through purchase information and opt-ins to topical lists.
Here are some ideas for building an email list:
1. Offer a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a valuable resource that you offer to people in exchange for their email address. This could be a free ebook, a template, or any type of resource that your audience would find valuable. For example, one of the ways our client National Garden Bureau gains signups to their extensive email list is through popups on the website offering ebooks related to key content on their site:
2. Offer sign up to receive notice of blog updates. Add a sign-up form to your blog articles. Verve Marketing Group designs almost all website blogs with a blog sign-up. If readers have enjoyed an article, they may be interested in being notified when new content is posted.
3. Host webinars or events. Any content or experience of value should be “gated” where visitors provide an email address to receive it or attend.
4. Run a contest or giveaway. Use a contest or giveaway to attract new subscribers. You can ask people to enter by providing their email address.
5. Offer a discount. Consider offering a discount or other incentive to encourage people to provide an email address. This is common for first-time customers on ecommerce sites.
6. Offer trial usage of your product or service. Service platforms often use this to continue engagement and buy-in. Rather than going so far as to require the potential customer provide a credit card, requiring an email address for a trial lowers the bar to engagement and starts the process to “close the deal” on a paid subscription.
Creating Effective Email Campaigns
My view is that there are 3 main factors for success in any direct marketing tactic:
1. Your list
2. Your offer, and
3. Quality of creative execution
Be Mindful of Who You’re Communicating With
As with any communication, it’s important that the content is written in a way that will resonate with individuals on your email list. To the degree possible, you’ll want to understand their interests and how they came to be on list. Even just trying to image yourself in the consumer’s place and mindset can be helpful to communicate appropriately.
Gather the information you can as separate fields and as your list grows you’ll be able to segment effectively by relevant demographics, behavior, and preferences and tailor your email marketing efforts to meet their specific needs and interests. For example, criteria such as location, purchase history, engagement level can be extremely helpful in tailoring messages that result in higher open, click-through and conversion rates. We all wish we knew more about our lists than we do but at minimum aim to segment by at least one relevant factor—such as past purchases or how they opted-in.
Craft Engaging Subject Lines and Offers
Subject lines are analogous to old direct mail’s teaser envelope copy. You’ll want to give just enough information to let the subscriber know what the email is about and pique their curiosity to open it. We aim for a maximum 60-character count email subject line. And always use custom “preheader” copy – the copy that subscribers see in their inbox before fully opening the email – to help get them engaged.
Good Creative Matters!
Once opened, your email should expand upon the tease in the subject line. The design should be engaging and functional for both desktop and mobile. To achieve a high ROI, make sure to personalize your emails and design clear call-to-action buttons and text links.
Test and Optimize Your Campaigns
Testing and optimizing your email marketing campaigns allows you to test difference-making elements of your email campaign. If you have a large list and future emails can benefit from the test, it’s worth the effort. Results can be surprising. You can test any aspect but subject lines, headlines/offers, and lists are typically the biggest difference makers. Subject lines would be a first step, as increasing your open rate can make a significant difference. By judiciously testing and optimizing your campaigns, you can improve the performance of your email marketing overall.
Utilize Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is a powerful tool that can help you to optimize and streamline your email marketing efforts. By automating repetitive tasks, such as sending welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, and follow-up emails, you can save time and resources, and focus on more important aspects of your campaigns.
Review Metrics and Make Improvements
Every email service provider (ESP) provides metrics. You probably receive these after your sends. Try to set aside at least a yearly review and create a tangible plan for making at least one significant improvement to your program for the next year. Again, the three big areas for improvement are likely going to be with your lists, offers and/or creative. For example, a new email template design might be implemented with an updated mix of content. A “small” thing such as perhaps adding a section at the bottom with a monthly freebie offer could make a meaningful difference in sales and engagement.
Investing in an Email Marketing Strategy for Growth
Email is one of the most effective tactics in the marketing toolbox yet is easy to underutilize. With more than 4 billion people using email worldwide – and a whopping 92% of online users in the U.S. using email – it’s worth considering a tweak to improve your current email efforts. Among online users 25-56 in the U.S. Statista reports that 98% use email. Email is one of the best marketing tools every company has, but as simple as it sounds (“Let’s email our customers”) it can be hard to get started and keep the momentum going.
Verve Marketing Group is here to help. Our experts can help you figure out what types of offers work best for your target customers, how to craft offers that get clicks and even measure your conversion rates. Reach out to start a conversation about your email marketing strategy.