Master the Art of Email Marketing
December 6, 202219 minute read
- Email Marketing
Imagine a marketing campaign or channel that, on average, generates a 3600% return on investment. Too good to be true, right? Nope! It IS good, exceptional even, BUT it is 100% true as well. Do you know what medium we’re talking about? You’d probably think we’re talking about TikTok, Instagram, or Youtube, but nope. You probably won’t even believe it. Since you’re reading this, you probably have an idea, but…
It’s email marketing!
We know what you’re thinking. Isn’t email such an old-fashioned strategy? Well, yes. At least relative to the newer opportunities such as social media or streaming services. But old-fashioned doesn’t always mean less effective. Still, there must be many reasons it’s beaten the test of time and remains one of the most effective marketing strategies, especially considering the current competitive landscape.
Keep reading, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about email marketing and the steps you need to follow to master the important skill.
First, we’ll dive into WHY email marketing is one of the most effective marketing mediums. There are over 4 billion daily email users. That’s four times more than what TikTok had in the year’s first quarter. That’s understandable, considering most social media platforms require an email address to sign up.
Here are 5 fast facts about email and email marketing you need to know:
- 99% of email users check their inbox every day;
- 58% of them check their email first thing in the morning
- 77% of marketers had increased email engagement in the last year
- Email marketing revenue is expected to eclipse 11 billion by 2023
- 59% of consumers have been influenced by email marketing
Considering the weight that these stats and figures hold, are you ready to learn how to plan and create effective email marketing campaigns?
We’ll get there. But first, let’s answer the most basic question of all for anyone new here…
What is Email Marketing?
MailChimp, one of the most popular marketing automation platforms, defines it as follows:
“Email marketing is a form of marketing that can make the customers on your email list aware of new products, discounts, and other services. It can also be a softer sell to educate your audience on the value of your brand or keep them engaged between purchases. It can also be anything in between.”
While the last line might make the definition seem vague, it is also true. In simpler terms, email marketing is any email you send to prospective or current customers for purposes such as the following:
Engagement and Relationship Building
Emails are an excellent way to engage with your current and prospective customers to build relationships with them. Sending customized emails per their phase in the customer journey can make communication more personal and, thus, more effective. Subscription-based emails like newsletters can also help build trust for relationship building.
Let’s face it, marketing has one main goal. Sales. We take a lot of time to build relationships with our customers because we ultimately want a profitable transaction. Email can result in direct sales, especially if done right.
Emails are an interesting avenue for soliciting customer reviews. Post-purchase, you can send them emails to ask for a quick review of the product they just bought. Make sure it can be done quickly and not take up too much of their time. It would also help to preface the email clearly stating that it will be a short survey. For an added bonus, include a discount or reward at the end to try and increase participation.
It’s very common for customers to drop off somewhere along the customer journey? What do you do when this happens? Send them an email!
An email can be a subtle nudge for them to get back onboard. For example, cart abandonment is typically a pretty high metric that retailers struggle with. When an item they left in the cart is on sale, send them an email to inform them. Did they stop when they went to complete the purchase? Offer them a discount or a free shipping coupon to close the sale.
Lastly, your branding can also greatly benefit from email marketing. It’s not usually a focus of email marketing campaigns, but it’s a great byproduct. Make sure that all emails you send align with your branding. Check your tone and your layout. You can experiment with several layouts or wording at the beginning, see which works best, and create a template based on what works! That will help you stick to your brand and create better brand awareness.
While on the topic of what email marketing can include, it would also help to familiarize yourself with the 3 basic types of email based on purpose. There are only three, which should be easy to remember. There’s transactional, a type of email that has anything to do with a transaction with your business. This could range from order confirmation, confirming subscription or unsubscribing, or even password resets. The next type is promotional. Now, what you promote can be different. It can be an invitation, a sales announcement, a new launch, or others. It urges your customers to take specific action. Lastly, we have relational emails. The goal is to build trust and a more intimate relationship with your customers through welcome emails, newsletters, and lead magnet delivery.
Now that you’re aware of the basics, let’s jump right back into our main takeaway.
7-step guide to mastering email marketing
STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR GOALS
In every strategy you decide on to market your business, the first step is almost always to set your goals. It serves as a guide you can always look back to when you feel lost and forget the next step. You first need to know what accomplishments you seek to get out of your campaign.
If you don’t know where to start, consider some of these as goals:
Grow your subscriber list
Email marketing and growing your email subscriber list works both ways. A good email strategy will help you increase your subscriber base, which will help your marketing strategy succeed in turn. The more eyes you have on your content, the better, and the more people you can persuade to choose your product or service.
Distribute more content
Content marketing can be amplified through emails. However, good content doesn’t always guarantee people flock to them. You need to sell them, and by sell, we not only mean money as currency but time as well. You can use email marketing to push content to your subscriber base to inform them about new content you have up or even create hype around future content.
As mentioned, one of the main byproducts of email marketing is branding. You can amplify people’s perception of your brand through carefully written and designed emails, increase brand awareness, and encourage deep-rooted customer trust.
Lead generation and nurturing
You can also generate leads through email marketing. You can send opt-in forms, usually by soliciting their contact information, such as name and email address elsewhere. Successfully having new subscribers or getting new leads isn’t all it takes; you have to nurture these leads to convert them into customers, which you can also do through email. Make sure you provide high-value content to convince your customers of the value of your product or service.
Customer retention and loyalty
Providing high-quality content with value for your subscribers also ensure that you retain them and that they are loyal to you. Customer loyalty goes a long way to making one-time buyers into repeat buyers, increasing the average lifetime customer value.
While building trust and a good relationship with your customers is one thing, they are only bridges to help us get to the main destination: additional revenue. Email marketing goes hand-in-hand with increasing company revenue. As mentioned in the intro, email marketing has generated an average return on investment of 3600%. (Source: ConstantContact)
Of course, the objectives for each campaign can look very different. It can be one of the objectives mentioned above, but it can also be a combination of two, three, or even all of them. Practically, these goals will help you stay focused and let everyone working on a campaign know which direction it needs to go. However, it can also be a motivating factor; seeing the goals will push team members to achieve them.
STEP 2: BUILD YOUR EMAIL LIST
The next step is building the list of people you’re sending your emails to. List building, then, is simply collecting a number of email addresses that you could indoctrinate and persuade to become a subscriber, ultimately working towards conversion. However, list building isn’t as easy as making one lead form and expecting a significant increase in subscribers overnight. It takes patience, some creativity, and a suitable strategy.
We’ve listed some list-building strategies you can use below:
A lead magnet, like its name suggests, works like a magnet to attract new subscribers to your email list. Lead magnets can come in various forms. There are free trials, ebooks, discounts, guides, step-by-step lists, vouchers, and many others. The key is to ensure that your “offer” or “bribe” is valuable enough to take their contact information in exchange.
How do you make an effective lead magnet or offer?
First, you need to know who your target audience is and what they really want. If your target audience is marketers, you can’t offer free recipes in exchange for contact information. Instead, you can use free marketing ebooks or a newsletter that suits the industry. Strikepoint Media, for example, offers the Clicks to Conversions report! It’s our monthly newsletter. We know that our ideal audience or customer avatars are marketers. In knowing so, we also know that a report on profitable and effective marketing campaigns is most likely very valuable for them. So, we guarantee a newsletter each month in exchange for their email address, enabling us to send them other promotional or relational emails.
Are you running out of ideas for finding new leads? We got you! Check out our post on 9 ways to find new leads.
Take Advantage of Website Traffic
One way to build a substantial email list is to make sure that you take advantage of the traffic visiting your website everyday. Your website needs to be primed for new visitors and make sure that it’s not only easy to go to your website, but also that the user experience is good. There are two types of traffic, organic and paid traffic. Organic traffic is comprised of unpaid traffic usually from search engines such as Google. Leveraging social media can also play a huge role in getting organic traffic. If you have a good presence on any social media platform, you’d have a high chance of being more recognizable by your audience. Let’s say your social media activity does not generate many conversions, but it makes up for it by increasing awareness. If they need an item you sell, your brand comes to mind first because they see you on their feeds. They might search for your brand on Google or go through your social media pages to purchase. The second type is paid traffic, which is obviously traffic you’re paying for. Paid traffic can come from ads on social media or search engines. Usually, businesses have to pay based on how much traffic an ad can generate or the cost per click. Other paid traffic campaigns include pay-per-acquisition (PPA) and cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM).
Build Landing Pages
So, you’ve successfully gained traffic both organically and by paid efforts. You need to make sure that the landing page you’re sending visitors to encourages them to subscribe to your email list. After all, if they’re being taken to a product sales page, they’re probably not anticipating signing up for an email list. A popular way of doing this is through pop-ups. When you visit a website, a pop-up would most likely, well, pop up. It can be triggered when you scroll down a page or even when you exit.
Neil Patel, a well-known marketer, uses an exit pop-up to encourage opting in with your email.
Take into account the following factors that could make this pop-up very effective:
- It starts with a benefit-based headline.
- It clearly states that the process will be short with only “5 quick questions.”
- It highlights the lead magnet, in this case, the “7-week action plan.”
- It has a clear call to action.
Aside from pop-ups, gamification is another way to get new subscribers already on your website. Quizzes are very good, relatively easy “games” you can do. NaturallyCurly, for example, offers a quiz to determine curl type.
After you’re done answering the quiz, the next page will encourage you to make an account with them and register your email so they can send your results to you.
You already have your prospect’s attention. After all, they chose to click your ad or voluntarily searched for one of your products. Your landing page should nudge them towards continuing on to the next stage in the customer journey beyond merely being aware of your brand’s existence.
STEP 3: KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
The most foolproof way of gaining and retaining customers is to know them and their preferences. After all, they are at the center of your business, they are who your products are made for. In order to really understand them, you need to first know who they are.
- Who is your target customer?
- What does your ideal customer look like?
- What are their needs and wants?
- What do they like and dislike?
A great way of condensing all of this information into one succinct profile is by creating your customer avatar. It’s a detailed representation of who you want your business to be catering to and to be able to know them more deeply. Some might think of this as an extra step, but we argue it’s vital. Having a jumbled, non-specific idea of a customer wouldn’t help. This extra step is something you can turn to every time you tailor a marketing strategy.
If you don’t have a customer avatar yet, check out one of our recent blog posts where we break down how to build one.
Before & after grids are also commonly paired with customer avatars. Before & after grids show before and after states. You imagine your avatars having an undesirable issue that you can solve, which represents before. The after, then, is what it would look like when you are able to provide the solution, making a more desirable situation for your customers.
Digital Marketer provided 10 questions you can use in making a before and after grid.
- What does your prospect HAVE in the “Before” state? What does your prospect HAVE in the “After” state?
- How does your prospect FEEL in the “Before” state? How does your prospect FEEL in the “After” state?
- What is an AVERAGE DAY like for your prospect in the “Before” state? What is an AVERAGE DAY like for your prospect in the “After” state?
- What is your prospect’s STATUS in the “Before” state? What is your prospect’s STATUS in the “After” state?
- What is an EVIL plaguing the prospect in the “Before” state? How does your prospect conquer it and bring more GOOD to the world in the “After” state?
It’s also a good idea to survey some of your biggest spenders and an equal number of people who dropped off the customer journey somewhere. You can ask them why they like the product or don’t, what issues they’ve met, or how you can improve as a seller. The juxtaposed information would help you gain valuable insights into why people are loyal to your brands and why some left. Make sure to give them something in exchange for the survey. A discount code or gift will do!
STEP 4: MAKE A WELL-OILED MARKETING FUNNEL
We’ve mentioned the customer journey several times in this post. It’s the process of steps your customer takes, from being aware you exist until they become buyers and eventually promoters of your brand. On the other hand, the marketing funnel is a simplified visual representation of the customer journey. Different companies and marketing experts usually have different terms and even different numbers of phases based on what they sell or what their marketing strategy is. This makes planning imperative to the success of your campaign. Imagine the kind of journey you want your customers to have with your company.
Here’s a simple, 5-phase version of a marketing funnel:
In this case, awareness is when your customers get to know you exist through a lead magnet or an ad. They move down the funnel when they engage with any of your content, e.g., on social media, watch any of your content, or others. They move down to conversion when they’ve finally moved the product, loyalty when they become multi-buyers, and finally, advocacy when they become active promoters of your product or service.
However, if you’re only starting and don’t know how to make a funnel quite yet, take a look at this example specifically for email marketing. This email marketing funnel example is all about converting your leads into paying, repeat customers.
Similar to the one above, this phase involves making prospective customers become aware of your existence. This can be done through ads or referrals from current customers already in phase 5. Once you get their attention, you can offer a lead magnet in exchange for information. And it can’t be emphasized enough, lead magnets should be of value. The gated content you promised in exchange for their contact information should be high-quality, lest you risk them dropping off at a very early stage. And, of course, a promise for more!
This stage is quite specific for email marketing. Once you get your prospect’s emails through the lead magnets, you can send them emails. Once you have their information, you can send them an indoctrination email (more on this in step 5), introduce yourself, and lay a foundation for a relationship. You should also nurture your subscribers with continued high-quality, high-value content.
The next phase is conversion. This is where you turn subscribers into paying customers. Did you know that a subscriber who has taken you up on a smaller, lower-value offer is more likely to purchase your core offer as much as 10x? So, it would make a lot of sense to divide phase three into two subphases: (1) Entry point offer & (2) Core offer. The entry offer as you might have already guessed is the smaller, lower-value offer previously mentioned. The conversion doesn’t even have to involve money. Time is a valuable currency as well. Something like attending an event or a webinar, which is more accessible. The event would be a good segue into promoting your core offer.
Here’s a more detailed and real-life example. Let’s say you have a digital marketing company. You have subscribers who receive a monthly newsletter from you, and the goal is to turn them into customers by buying a course for email marketing. You send these subscribers an invitation to a webinar (entry point offer), and they accept. You’re in a much better position to sell your core offer. Of course, the event should be carefully tailored to seamlessly transition to the benefits of email marketing and why they should learn more about it. They’ve just listened to a very informative discussion with you as an authority figure, so why not enroll in the course and learn more?
Upselling is the fourth phase. Upselling means offering an upgraded or a more premium version of the product they’ve already purchased. Using the example in the conversion phase, you can sell a bundle that would include an ebook or a discount for another service, such as a social media marketing course. The goal is to maximize the profit gained from a customer. There are several types of upselling you can use, depending on your core offerings. To give you an idea, here are some examples you can consider:
- Premium versions
- Best-selling products
- Complimentary products
- Extended warranties or insurance
You’ve successfully converted your subscribers, and they’re full-fledged customers now! However, you don’t want your customers to purchase once and just leave. You want them to become repeat-buyers. As much as possible, you want to have increased customer retention and average customer value. There are several ways to encourage customer loyalty through email marketing. You can send out promotional emails about new products, products like one they’ve already bought, or something complimentary. Another is to have an amazing loyalty program. Loyalty programs can be a point system for every purchase and special discounts for members to encourage them to buy more.
While loyal customers will likely transition to advocates, it’s not always guaranteed. You need to continue nurturing your relationship. Enough so that they are willing to refer you to people they know or even on their social media profiles. Recommendations and referrals are still one of the best ways for new customers to learn about your company. There’s already a sense of trust there, especially if a family or a friend recommended you. In this case, a good referral program would come into play. You can offer a discount or some benefit if your customers have referred a certain number of people. You can also offer a smaller reward for people who came to your site through a referral. It’s very common on social media platforms now! Something like going through an influencer’s affiliate link and getting a discount.
Another way for your customers to be advocates is by leaving great reviews or testimonials about your product. You can email them, asking them to write a review about your product. Let them know their words will be used and published, and reward them! Make sure not to make it too long, though! These requests for your customers should be as painless and hassle-free as you can make them to increase the chance of them completing it.
While not exactly a phase in the main funnel, it’s imperative that you have planned and prepared for re-engagement. It can’t be specifically put in any particular order, as people drop off from different funnel phases. However, you can send them emails, probably promotional ones, that would help them get back on the funnel.
You don’t have to use the exact terms here! You can use a combination of the first or the second example. You can even make up every phase as you see fit. However, from becoming aware to being advocates, the general flow of the customer journey will most likely look very similar. Creating your marketing funnel will help you anticipate the needs of your customers and be able to act accordingly. Sending the right email at the right time can be very beneficial. You don’t want to send an advocacy email to a subscriber! Nor do you want to pester loyal multi-buyers with promotional emails about new user discounts; they can’t even use them! Ultimately, it will help create the sense that you treat each customer as human, not just a faceless person among a crowd, further strengthening your relationship with them.
STEP 5: MAP OUT YOUR EMAIL SCHEDULE
While this step is short, it’s still extremely crucial.. As mentioned, timing is very important in the success of your campaign. What makes this step more complex is the different types of emails you have to send depending on your customers’ phase in the marketing funnel. In planning your schedule, consider the following types of email campaigns:
1. Welcome campaign
While calling it a welcome email seems simpler, indoctrination is a much more fitting term. You’re trying to introduce your prospects to a way of life or a set of beliefs they need to embody. For example, you are a digital marketing agency. You need to introduce the idea that hiring a marketing agency is THE way for them to maximize their marketing budget. This triggered campaign is sent to new subscribers to build a relationship.
2. Conversion campaign
Emails under conversion campaigns only have one goal: to turn subscribers into customers. Conversion campaigns are also triggered emails following a specific action done by a customer, like adding an item to the cart.
3. Upsell campaign
A triggered campaign sent after a customer finishes a purchase. The goal is to sell them a premium or a complementary product to turn customers into multi-buyers.
4. Segmentation campaign
Segmentation emails are broadcast campaigns sent to your email list (usually all) to segment subscribers by interest.
5. Re-engagement campaign
These are triggered campaigns sent to unengaged subscribers to add value and rebuild a relationship. Cart abandonment, for example, is usually very high at an average of almost 70%. You can send customers an email if one of their items is on sale to encourage them to make the purchase.
If you’re a new business, you can just start your schedule from the first campaign, which coincides with the second phase of the marketing funnel. When they’ve been made aware and have subscribed to your email list, you can send the indoctrination email, then move on to the next stage until they become advocates. However, a schedule is much more necessary if your business has been around for a while and has customers in different funnel phases. How about this: whip out a 8-week planner for starters to not make it too overwhelming. You don’t need to plan the entire year but start with two months. Start with jotting down when you want to send the indoctrination emails, and then go down the list of email types. Remember that you can schedule different email types on the same day because you’re likely sending them to different segments of your email list. Remember to provide yourself enough time to craft a high-quality email, and don’t sacrifice quality over following your schedule. It could also be very beneficial to have a fixed schedule for sending emails, especially newsletters or other content-based emails.
Here are other quick tips to keep in mind:
- Give yourself at least 5 days before sending out the first email for the creative process.
- Plan around holidays and vacation times, or even long meetings – jot them down first to take them into consideration.
- Have regular brainstorming sessions with your team, so you have an “idea bank” in case of a time crunch.
- Post on social media. You can post the newsletter topic, maybe with some excerpts to invite new subscribers.
- Make room for measuring performance and resulting adjustments.
STEP 6: WRITE YOUR COPY
You have clear goals, a substantial email list, done research on your customers, a well-planned marketing funnel, and a schedule. What’s next?
Finally! The copywriting phase. You might be surprised at that, considering this is a guide for email marketing, the actual writing step comes 6th! As a famous saying goes, “Good planning is half the battle won.” But then again, we still need to conquer that other half. Remember that email marketing requires you to write emails for different audiences to maximize and build customer relationships.
Here are 7 quick do’s and don’ts to remember when writing your emails. Remember, these tips can work for any industry, any niche, any topic!
- Have an attention-grabbing subject line.
- Be clear about what you want your customers to do with the email – in short, a clear CTA is vital.
- Keep it short by trimming away unnecessary fluff.
- Personalize the emails based on factors such as phase in the marketing funnel, interests, or demographics.
- Watch your language and layout. Make sure it is consistent with the brand tone and style.
- Link your other content, such as blogs and social media profiles, to increase engagement.
- Test your email by sending it to another account and viewing it on both desktop and mobile.
- Don’t send too many emails. A consistent schedule is advisable, but don’t send multiple emails every single day.
- Don’t forget your preheader text which, when viewed from mobile phones, can be more prominent than the subject line.
- Don’t go overboard with the design and images.
- Don’t be pushy; aggressive marketing almost always turns away prospects.
- Don’t send too many generic, impersonal emails.
- Don’t forget to add contact information to your emails.
- Don’t ignore your analytics.
You can also try signing up for your competitors’ email lists or newsletters. Vetting your competitors’ performances can greatly help in knowing what works and what doesn’t. If you’re looking to conduct a competitive analysis, check out our guide!
Since writing emails can be time-consuming, templates can come in very handy.
Given that you’ve done your tests on which formats are most effective, templates will make your email marketing campaigns much easier. It could also help with your tone and design consistency.
STEP 7: TRACK AND MEASURE
Congratulations! You’ve finally sent that email. But what now? Do you just send it and forget it? Of course not! As with most marketing efforts, digital or otherwise, you need to know just how effective your efforts are. Depending on the goal you’ve set for a particular campaign, relevant KPIs or key performance indicators can be different.
Here are some KPIs to keep in mind:
The number of clicks divided by the number of times it was shown
The number of conversions divided by total click throughs.
The number of single-page sessions divided by all sessions (AKA people who land on our site and immediately “bounce” off)
List Growth Rate
The email list’s rate of growth by subtracting unsubscribes from the number of new subscribers and further dividing over the total number of subscribers
Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate
The total number of shares or forwards divided by the number of all the emails sent
The number of subscribers who opened an email divided by total number of subscribers
The number of unsubscribes divided by the number of emails sent
Spam complaint Rate
The number of scam complaints divided by the total number of emails sent
The total amount of profit earned divided by the cost of earning that profit
While email marketing is a very accessible marketing medium, you always have to keep in mind that you’re one mistake away from your subscribers clicking that unsubscribe button. At the same time, you can’t stress about customers unsubscribing too much. It’s a normal, sometimes even beneficial part of email marketing, and a little list churn wouldn’t hurt. However, it emphasizes the importance of careful planning and creating every email you send to your list.
If you haven’t been using email marketing as part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on untapped potential. Email marketing will significantly up your marketing game. Start now! It’s a relatively simple and fuss-free strategy that delivers. The amount of information you find in this guide might be overwhelming, but we all start somewhere! Start slow, follow all the steps in this guide, and you should be good to go!
Copywriting, Digital Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media