As a modern-day Mark Twain might say, the reports of email marketing’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Despite changes like the rise of social media and chat-based communication platforms, email marketing remains a foundation of any digital marketing strategy. According to Mailgen, 54% of marketers rate email as their most effective type of digital marketing and the least difficult to execute. Furthermore, marketers have consistently ranked email as the single most effective tactic for customer awareness, acquisition, conversion and retention (which, as the chart below shows, is where marketers consider it to be most effective).
So if you’re just getting started with email marketing, you’ll know you made the right decision. But what’s next? Read on for our five-step beginner’s guide to email marketing.
Before You Start: Set Your Email Marketing Goal
The most important thing to do as you’re getting started is to decide your email campaign’s objective(s). Are you trying to accomplish one of the goals discussed above, or are you trying something different? You may want to use email to increase your average customer purchase amount through a loyalty incentive program, or you may want to use email to test a list that you’ll be giving to your sales team. The important thing is to have a clear goal in mind. Email is just one tool in your marketing toolkit, and it’s not a cure-all. Like any other marketing effort, you’ll need to test and measure its performance over time to see if it’s worth the investment you’re making.
1. Choose an Email Marketing Software
Now that you know what you want to do with your email campaign, it’s time to go shopping. And that means reviewing email software providers. These programs allow you to easily send bulk emails that would otherwise be flagged as spam by internet service providers. More importantly for you, email service providers will provide analytical data such as open rates and click-through rates about your email campaign. While we don’t typically recommend a particular software, the following providers are in widespread use and will help you get started with your email marketing campaign:
Factors to consider when choosing an email marketing software include:
- Fee structure: some email programs charge for your total list, while some only charge per send. If, for example, you’ll be sending a high volume of emails to a small number of people, look for the best deal for your particular email marketing scenario
- Ease of use: The days of needing to know HTML to send email campaigns are long gone, but every email software handles its interface in a unique way. Try out each tool and see which one is most efficient for you
- List Management: Spend any amount of time working with email campaigns, and you’ll soon find that your day will revolve around managing subscriber lists. The easier your email software makes this chore, the more time you’ll have to spend on other tasks
- Automation and Integrations: Most leading email marketing tools will link with other aspects of your marketing software stack like web forms, CRM databases, etc. in order to seamlessly pull data in and out of your systems and even send automated campaigns based on triggering events. The more capabilities you have here, the more manual burden you can remove from your email marketing efforts. As you can see in the example below, MailChimp allows you to import your contacts from other services, making it easy to create a list
2. Create Email Marketing Lists and Segment Your Subscribers
After you create an account with an email software provider, your next step is to figure out what you want to send to whom. In other words, you need to create a list of people to which you want to send emails. Our rule of thumb is to add everyone you come in contact with to your email list, but who you have in your email campaign cross hairs depends on your objectives. Here are a few examples:
- Your past and current customers are a great list to start with for a newsletter or other retention campaign to keep your brand top of mind
- Former sales prospects who haven’t committed make a good segment for the occasional discount or deal offer
- Friends and supporters of your company make a good source for reviews and referrals
As your list grows and you have more of an activity history, your next step is to segment your list. This can be done in various ways depending on the email you are sending, although it is common to segment by subscriber engagement (opens, clicks, etc.), customer behavior (type of product purchased, past expressed interest, etc.), or demographics (e.g. offers available in certain location). Segmenting your lists make it easier to send relevant, targeted content to your subscribers. For example, if you are an active subscriber, you probably don’t want a “Welcome” email six months after you have signed up. Non-segmented campaigns are more likely to result in unsubscribes due to irrelevant content. Furthermore, clicks on segmented campaigns are 63.03% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
3. Create Your Email Campaign Template
The next step is to actually create your email campaign’s design. Email software providers make it easy to choose from templates and customize them with your content, and most will allow you to create your own template and re-use it for future emails.
When designing your emails, keep a few rules in mind:
- Simplicity Wins: the entire goal of your email is to get your audience to take an action. The more graphics and links you include in your email template, the less your recipient will be able to focus on what you want them to do
- The Mobile Experience is Key: the majority of email is viewed on a mobile device. What does this mean for your email design? If you have large pictures getting in the way of your call to action, your users might not want to scroll
- Images Aren’t Always Downloaded: many users have image-blockers on the email, which means that if you have a jpg call-to-action button, they may not ever see it. Make sure you’re formatting your calls-to-action in text as well
4. Write Your Email Marketing Copy
It’s easy to overlook, but email copy plays a very important process in convincing your recipient to take an action. Here are some tips to writing email copy:
- Use a Direct Call-to-Action: Your call-to-action is a critical step in turning leads into customers – this is where you tell your recipient what to do. Create a large call-to-action button that is central in the email so the reader can’t miss it. Create a sense of urgency by saying something like “Deals expire in 2 hours. Shop Now!” And most importantly, repeat your calls-to-action in various formats throughout the email. The last thing you want is for your recipient to miss the point of your email.
- Stick to the point: Keep your copy brief and focused. Don’t beat around the bush, and remember that the days of letter-length emails are long gone.
- Personalize the email: Readers are more attracted to personalized emails. According to Experian, personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates. Make sure to add a personalized touch to the email such as using the recipients name and company.
- Don’t Overlook Your Subject Line: Choose an email subject that is short and descriptive but will still creative enough to make the recipient want to open your email. If you need inspiration for subject lines, check out these examples from HubSpot.
5. Track Your Email Marketing Results
Lastly, you’ll want to track email campaign results – specifically open rates, click-throughs, and unsubscribes. If you don’t analyze results, you will have no way of knowing whether your email campaigns are effective or not. As you notice changes in performance, start testing different elements within your email campaigns like buttons or text links, personalized subject lines, and sending at different days and times. The important thing is to keep continually improving your campaign.
We hope this email helped you craft your first email marketing campaign. Still need help with your email marketing strategy? Why not contact Young Marketing Consulting.