Even though is often characterized as spam, email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools. It can be used as a direct way of communicating with your previous, current, and potential customers and a perfect channel for building a strong customer relationship.
You probably already know that email marketing has the highest return of investment of any other marketing channels. By knowing this, you are probably eager to use its advantages and start driving more sales for your business.
But from where to start? What is the best strategy for email marketing, what service to use, and how to be sure that your campaign will be successful?
In this short but detailed guide, we will explain all the necessary means for an outstanding first email marketing campaign.
What is exactly email marketing?
Email marketing is one of the direct marketing channels that enables your business to directly communicate with the end customer using techniques such as email newsletters. An email newsletter is an electronic commercial message that is sent to a group of people (on a subscriber list) using an email service/platform.
Such type of emails must have quality and useful content that can be informative, promotional, sales, or educational. We’ll get more to that later.
But how did the whole email marketing even start? Before the Internet and numerous email providers, marketers relied on traditional mail for distributing advertisements in the form of flyers, catalogs, and promotional letters.
The first email was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson and by 1978 first email blast was sent to 400 Arpanet advertising machines. In the late 90’ first email services launched such as Hotmail and Outlook. Over the last decade, emails have become so much more than messages filled with general text.
Thankfully, email marketing has transformed the way people and businesses reach their customers, turning what used to be a distribution channel into a swift click of a button.
What is a newsletter and how does it all work?
There is no big secret behind any sent newsletters and the logic is pretty simple – users/consumers that wish to receive your email newsletter will enter their email address in the provided field – on your website.
The email addresses you now received are stored in your database and now you have your own “mailing list”. If you use any of the ready-made email marketing services such as MailChimp, you are creating and designing your newsletter in it.
Once you are done and satisfied, you send it to your specific list. After sending, users receive your newsletter in their “inbox” – whether on their smartphones, tablets, or laptops.
If you think that your work here is done, you are wrong. This is only the midway to a successful email campaign. After receiving it depends on the quality of your newsletter whether the users will open it or not.
Supposing that your newsletter title (subject) is interesting and striking enough to make people want to open it, and if you have appealing content and good CTA (Call-to-Action) links, the clicks will go high in the sky.
Then, and only then, your email marketing goal is completed. The rest of the story belongs to landing pages, which again have to be so good user makes a certain conversion on them, that is, to buy your product/service.
Basic advantages of email marketing
Wondering why you should start using email marketing? Here are the four convincing reasons:
1. Driving traffic
One of the obvious advantages is that newsletters are a perfect way to drive traffic to your website, social media, or any other type of content you want. By sending regular newsletters you can show off your content, products or special offers to already interested consumers.
2. Communication with your customers
You probably already know that it is very important to keep in touch with your audience and what better way is there than through emails. With email marketing, you can reach your audience directly and easily. And with that, you can build an army of customers who willingly give their email address and information directly to your brand or business.
3. It’s cheaper and faster
Producing email marketing campaigns is significantly cheaper and faster than the classic forms of direct communication. Moreover, email campaigns, unlike traditional marketing channels, don’t take much time to make. You can even produce and send a newsletter in one day.
After all, time and money are always key points for any business, and that’s why email marketing campaigns are more efficient, while also generating ROI.
4. Great way for building loyal customers base
Email marketing campaigns are a great place for building and retaining loyal customers. How? By adding value to your brand even when there is no shopping form your customers.
You can regularly remind your customers about the latest trends in the industry or even personalize every newsletter targeted directly to their interest.
In that way, you can stay close to your customers and create a relationship beyond profit.
Which email-marketing platforms to use?
Ok, now you know how and why you should use email marketing. You want to start with sending newsletters – but how?
There are several email marketing platforms that make email marketing a lot easier. They can be divided depending on what you want to achieve with email marketing, how much time and knowledge you have to prepare the newsletter, and of course according to the depth of your budget.
Here are some of the best:
MailChimp is definitely the most popular email marketing platform. You probably have received dozens of newsletters sent from the MailChimp platform – whether you noticed it or not.
The platform is so popular because – it’s free if the number of your email subscribers doesn’t exceed 2000 and it’s all in one platform with drag and drop system that is simple to use.
Also, it has email templates that you can use for free and created different kinds of newsletters targeted to different customer segments. For example, when you have a new sign-up to your newsletter, you can send an automated welcoming email.
GetResponse is a powerful, well-rounded email marketing platform suitable for small to medium businesses. GetResponse has a simple interface with drag and drop options and lots of templates that you can use for free when creating a newsletter.
Additionally, GetResponse can send emails for you and in the time that is most suitable for your audience. According to the behavior of subscribers, GetResponse determines when is the best time to send a message your subscribers will open.
Get Response is indeed easy to use, but it is not free. You can have a period of 30 days of the free trial, afterward, the cheapest option is 15$ per month for 1 000 subscribers.
Constant Contact, like the previous two email marketing platforms, offers a whole package of services. From newsletter templates, email metrics to an event management tool – constant contact has it all.
The interface is user-friendly, and the best part is their integration system that lets you integrate any other apps or services that you currently use.
This email automation software comes with a 60-day free trial after what the prices start from 20$ per month.
How to build an effective strategy for your email marketing campaign
Now that you know what is email marketing, its advantages, and service providers it’s time to learn how to start building an effective strategy for using it. Without a clear strategy that reflects your brand/business the emails you send will get lost in a crowded inbox or even recognized as spam.
- What are your goals?
Before doing anything else, you need to know what you want. What are your marketing goals and what do you want to achieve with sending emails? Is it to drive new signups, new leads, or only driving traffic to your website? The answers to these questions will control everything else regarding your email marketing strategy – from who you need to target, what content to include, and what type of emails to send.
- Define who is your audience
This one is the basics of marketing – for creating an effective strategy you need to know whom you are talking too? Start by creating your buyer persona, understanding their behaviour, their wants, and need. From there you will know how to tailor your email campaign.
- Create options for people to sign up
When you establish your goals and your audience, you need to have an email list so you can actually send the newsletter. As we mentioned, the email list is a group of users who have given you their consent to send them your content.
However, to actually start building that list, you need a few ways people can choose to give their information in exchange or your emails. For example, you can have a basic newsletter registration option on your website or you can give a 10% discount if the users sign in for receiving newsletters.
It can take some time to build an email list but be dedicated and with your goals in mind, and you’ll soon start to see your email list grow.
- Decide on the type of campaign
There are different types of email campaigns and deciding between them can sometimes be too much. You need to decide what type of email campaign the best reflects your business and your audience – is it a weekly newsletter? Only product announcement or sending your blog posts?
When you decide, you should make different lists for different types of emails, so users can sign up for only the emails that are relevant to them.
- Make a plan
Now that everything is set, you need to make a plan for your email campaign. How often to send your newsletter, on what days and what time, which type of content, and so on. Making a schedule is one of the top priorities for email newsletters to function – it builds trust and your audience won’t forget about yours.
Measure your email marketing results
When you decided to launch your first email marketing campaign you must feel very happy after following all of our previous steps. Nevertheless, after sending the newsletter, your work is not done yet. We could say that the hardest work just begins – and that is tracking, measuring, and analyzing your marketing campaigns.
The most important metrics to follow are definitely Open Rate and Click Rate, so let’s dive into these two:
Open Rate is the percentage of those people who opened the newsletter in their “inbox”. To ensure you have the highest possible open rate, play with your subject line to entice people to click on your email. Moreover, make sure to track the metrics and try to adjust the time and day that you send your email to see what works best.
Click Rate is calculated as the percentage of those who clicked on one of the links in the newsletter. For improving your click rate, rewrite your copy to make sure that it’s clear what you want from the reader. Also, try different CTAs, e.g., graphic vs.inline copy, bold vs. subtle and similar changes.
Tracking of these two gives you an idea of the kinds of content your subscribers respond to, which can affect future campaign decisions.
In addition, you will definitely keep track of the number of those who have unsubscribed from the list (Unsubscribed) from which you can also calculate the Unsubscribe Rate.
Quick Tips & Tricks
- The “From” and “Subject” fields are extremely important. Make sure they include your company name, to remind the recipient from whom and why they are receiving the newsletter. This will make it easier to “recognize” you so your email will not end up in the spam folder.
- The content of the “Subject” field (title) is crucial in the decision of the recipient and its quality depends on whether your email will open – invest your time and creativity in it.
- Stimulate subscribing to your newsletter by offering additional benefits. Don’t just sell your products/services, offer them discounts, promotions, and educational content.
- Create a “mobile-friendly” newsletter using Responsive design.
- Test your email newsletter regularly before sending (From and Subject fields, links, grammatical errors, different browsers, etc.)