Email marketing might be one of the oldest digital marketing techniques, but it’s not lost its power yet. It continues to be a leading marketing strategy. According to the 2018 email marketing industry report, email marketing is still best for ROI even though video, chat bots and AI are the latest digital marketing trends.
With 25% of marketers planning to spend more on email marketing over the next year than the previous, and the wide use of email service providers (ESPs), the email marketing field is highly competitive. You have to put your best foot forward with your email marketing efforts. This article will guide you through everything you need to know about email marketing in 2018.
Email Marketing Explained
Email marketing means marketing commercial messages directly to the target audience via email. Usually, the emails have the purpose of selling products or services or building brand awareness, loyalty and trust.
In a broad sense, email marketing can be said to cover every mail sent to a current or potential customer. Email marketing can be broadly split into three main categories:
- Including ads in 3rd party emails sent to customers
- Sending emails to convince current or prospective customers to make a purchase
- Sending emails to improve customer relationships in a bid to encourage repeat business.
Is Email Marketing Dead?
No, email marketing is certainly not dead. In fact, it can be said to be enjoying a resurgence. The idea that email marketing is dead stems from the notion that people hate receiving unsolicited emails. The truth is they simply don’t like getting emails they don’t want.
Many marketers understand that email is one of the most effective marketing weapons in their armoury. No longer is spamming so prevalent, as targeted, opt-in marketing has taken over. Email marketing is booming because mobile phones allow users to access their mails on the go and people like to be updated with the latest information on deals and promotions. Email is also versatile and free to use.
Use these email marketing best practices to fuel your e-marketing
There’s a lot that goes into creating an email marketing campaign that works. To ensure that you take full advantage of email marketing, you should adopt certain email practices that have been proven to work time and again.
Creating an email campaign that works is an ongoing, evolving effort. Read on to find what best practices you should follow.
Understand your customers
Audience insight is among the most crucial data you can take advantage of to enhance your email strategy. However, you’ll need to go beyond simple demographics to understand your audience. When you have a deep understanding of audience behaviur, you’ll be able to personalise your messages with a tone and language that your audience can connect with.
You also have to consider usage patterns, such as how people use their mobile devices to access email. User experience also matters with emails; just as it matters with websites and apps. Make the call-to-action buttons large enough for a user to tap with their finger and consider using a large typeface and single-column design to ensure optimum user experience. In short, think responsive design.
Delivering a superior experience
Communicating with existing and potential customers via email is a great way to interact with them on a one-on-one basis. This can help them feel more comfortable with your brand and improve the experience. It’s up to you to take advantage of the opportunity to humanise your brand with this form of communication.
With every word you write, imagine that you’re having a physical conversation with your clients. Don’t hesitate to share failures, obstacles and challenges. Use fewer images and alternative text—not everyone downloads images. Too many images can cause the email to load slowly or cause it to be flagged as spam.
Selecting the right marketing technology
Gone are the days when Outlook and Excel were all you needed to send emails and manage your lists. Now, there are tools that are much more efficient and effective. With 21% of email marketing revenue being attributed to automated email campaigns, it’s crucial to ensure that you opt for the appropriate software to get the job done.
Any software you decide to adopt must offer response handling, reading and viewing options, as well as integration with other tools that you use. Response handling is useful for aggregating customer responses and sending automated responses. Also, you’ll save time when you’re able to integrate your email marketing tool with your CRM (Customer Relationship Management Software).
Implementing processes and governance
Achieving success with email marketing doesn’t solely rely on getting the latest email marketing tools. You’ll need to use them effectively to implement processes to set your marketing strategy in motion. This includes segmentation of your email list, which has been found to profoundly affect email engagement.
With email automation, you can create relevant and personalised email campaigns to convince customers to make a repeat purchase or nurture new leads to make them buy for the first time. Most importantly, it also saves you a great deal of time, leaving you to focus on your business.
Using the best metrics to drive success
No email campaign is complete without a way to measure its success. Right from the initial stages of an email campaign, you need to determine which metrics you’ll be measuring against and remain consistent in monitoring them. That’s the only way to track your campaign.
Once you have your marketing goals spelled out, it becomes easier to determine the best metrics to track. Some of the best metrics to track include the number of email signups, CTR and open rates.
Email Marketing: Do’s and Don’ts
- Know your audience and segment them according to their wants, needs and motivations.
- Make your call to action loud and clear and ensure that it offers some value to drive customers to take action.
- Obtain permission and allow customers to determine email frequency to ensure you have high quality lists.
- Personalise emails and ensure they offer so much value that your subscribers feel special.
- Write a subject line that’s so irresistible the reader will need to open it.
- Don’t send an email if you haven’t defined your audience.
- Don’t send an email that doesn’t provide value.
- Don’t send an email with no clear call to action.
- Don’t use pushy or sales-y phrases and words in emails.
- Don’t use third-party, rented or purchased email lists.
How email marketing operations can transform business
When done properly, email marketing operations can lead to improved marketing effectiveness in terms of customer engagement and ROI. Interestingly, as businesses and marketers continue to gain access to newer marketing channels, many aren’t doing enough to expand their business and marketing models.
When it’s done correctly, email marketing can be highly effective for making conversions and reaching target markets. When you have your tactics right, you can get better results, increase response rates and achieve better engagement, all of which are great for your marketing objectives.
Direct mail gets cut through
It can be tough to cut through all the noise in the digital marketing world, but direct mail ensures that your message gets through. It’s such a personal channel that it appeals to the human senses more than any other marketing channel. Therefore, it’s a fantastic way to engage with your target audience.
Direct mail is highly personalised
With direct mail, you can communicate branded messaging in a personal manner through intelligent use of data. This can help you create a fully integrated customer experience that can make your target audience feel like they are valued. When you put in the extra effort to ensure that you craft personalised emails, you’ll be creating a richer experience for your customers.
Direct mail prompts action
When customer data is used intelligently in direct mail, you can drive engagement by creating relevant communications. Compared with other forms of marketing, direct mail produces a higher conversion rate. Don’t be tempted to think it’s the older generation that’s more interested in direct mail, and it also works with millennials.
Direct mail encourages retention
No matter how carefully your message is written, it must be memorable. With direct mail, the retention rates are higher than those of any other marketing channel. When you have a carefully designed email marketing strategy, your customers are more likely to retain the messages you send to them.
Direct mail sees results
The most important metric to track in any marketing endeavour is return on investment (ROI). Studies have found that direct mail results in impressive ROI. Marketing campaigns that include direct mail as one of the marketing channels are more likely to deliver higher acquisition levels and better sales performance.
Email takes advantage of mobile technology
The prevalence of mobile technology has contributed to the success of email. Most people with mobile devices are always connected to the Internet. This means you can reach out to your target audience any time of the day. Not only can you personalise your marketing message, you can deliver it directly to the pocket of the customer.
Best Email Testing Tools Online
It’s not enough to simply build a mailing list and begin to send emails out. To ensure that your efforts are not in vain, it’s important to test emails to prevent damage to your credibility or a high unsubscribe rates. There are a number of tools you can use to test for different issues, including spam and design issues:
- Aurea Email Marketing
- Campaign Monitor; email testing and powerful analytics.
- Email on Acid (Free trial)
- EmailReach; email preview.
- IBM Email optimisation
- Inbox Inspector; email preview.
- Litmus (Free trial)
- Mailtrap; email testing, viewing and analysis.
Custom Email Marketing Campaigns to Advertise Your Services
Email marketing gives you the opportunity to advertise your services directly to people who have agreed to receive such messages from you. There are different formats a marketing campaign can take, including emails for:
- Announcing new content
- Co-marketing campaigns
- Confirmation of transactions, signups and so on.
- Nurturing leads
- Promoting upcoming events.
- Sending a roundup of articles or stories published monthly or weekly.
- Sending dedicated emails to a specific group of people.
- Updating customers with the latest functionalities and features of products or services
Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Strategy
Your email strategy is not a one-time effort, but should be continuously worked on to ensure that it improves over time. To do that, you should:
- Be consistent
- Consider using emails without images
- Create compelling subject lines that are to the point.
- Determine the best time to send emails
- Don’t send ‘no reply’ emails.
- Ensure that emails are mobile friendly
- Ensure you personalise your email
- Include a clear call to action (CTA)
- Make use of A/B testing
- Segment your email lists to improve CTR and open rates
- Track audience behaviour
Why You Shouldn’t Buy Email Marketing Lists (and What to Do Instead)
Some marketers buy marketing lists because they seem to be an easy and cheap way to build an email list. However, it’s not an ideal way to build your reputation, deliverability and engagement. In fact, it can cause long-term damage to your marketing efforts and reputation.
The problem with purchasing email lists is that the owners of the email addresses didn’t voluntarily subscribe to receive your emails. They most likely won’t engage with your content since your emails will be considered unsolicited SPAM. With the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), your company may face fines if you buy email lists of people based in the EU.
To ensure that your marketing efforts are not wasted and to prevent legal trouble, focus on growing your lists organically. It will take time, but it is worth it. Be sure to get personal with your signup forms and emails. It also helps to create fantastic content on social media channels or blogs. Be sure to present customers with opportunities to subscribe and offer discounts they can’t resist.
Email List Management Best Practices
It’s important to properly maintain and manage your contacts list. To do that, you can start by ensuring that every new subscriber gets a welcome email. Give subscribers some level of control over how frequently they receive emails and what kind of emails they would like to receive. It’s also a good idea to get rid of any invalid or old emails in your list, as well as subscribers with valid email addresses who don’t open any of your emails. Embark on re-engagement campaigns every now and then and make it easy for people to unsubscribe anytime they want.
Why Lead Magnets + Email Marketing Are a Killer Combo
If you’re having a hard time growing your email list or have no way to reel in the many visitors to your website, you might need to invest in lead magnets. They’re useful because they can help you build your email list effectively. A lead magnet is a piece of content, such as an e-book, video, webinar or course that attracts leads to your business.
It has to be of value to attract your target audience. Ordinarily, it’s tough to get anyone to give up their email address, but if you offer them something of value, they will happily give it to you.
What customers hate about your emails (and how AI can help)
Have you ever wondered why only a few people ever seem to engage with your emails? One of the reasons may be that they are too promotional. Contrary to what you might think, not everyone is interested in a coupon. Instead of having a human write a pushy subject line, natural language generation (NLG) and natural language processing (NLP) can be used to produce subject lines that are 98% more effective than those written by humans.
There are many other areas where AI can be used to correct human mistakes. For instance, your emails may not be personal enough, they may be badly written, or too frequent. AI can achieve close to one-to-one level segmentation, predict how likely your email is to engage the receiver and make it easier to determine how often and when to send emails.
Getting started with email marketing
By now, you must agree that email marketing is a no-brainer for anyone who is serious about digital marketing. To get started, the first step is to establish your goals. Next, you’ll have to focus on building your email list and then decide what kind of campaigns you would like to send. After that, it’s time to create your first campaign. Be sure to monitor your progress using the right metrics.
Planning your email marketing
A plan is essential for successful email marketing. Start by determining the important dates for your business, so you can have a comprehensive picture of what will happen in the year ahead. Any special events or seasonal sales should be included. There is a good chance there’ll be empty months or stretches of weeks where nothing is really happening. In those places, include holidays, both little-known ones and the major ones that your audience may relate to. Then, use your calendar to plot your emails.
Building your email list
There are a number of effective ways you can organically grow your email lists, including special offers, events, direct mail and paid search, as well as more traditional methods. However, the challenges lie in respecting subscriber preferences, complying with all legal requirements and using the tactics responsibly.
Once you know how to keep to the rules, you can advertise email signup in direct mail order forms, directory ads and catalogues, and on your website. You can also embed email signup into online e-commerce and account registration forms. Word-of-mouth is another way to go, as well as point of sale signups, downloads and customer requests.
The importance of permission
While the law requires you to obtain permission from a user before you can send them emails, it’s also simple courtesy to do so. There are different ways to interpret permission, but as far as email marketing is concerned, permission refers to express and verifiable agreement by one party to receive marketing communication from another party. If you don’t have someone’s permission before sending them emails, you could be hurting yourself because you can end up being blacklisted if you are reported as a spammer.
Managing your email contacts
If you have an extremely long contacts list, you should consider segmenting them into different categories and buyer personas. Taking the time to manage your contacts is good for your business and can help bring in more sales and new leads. You can do this by designing an opt-in process for certain types of emails and getting rid of disengaged emails based on the data. To ensure that you remain a trustworthy email sender, be sure to get rid of addresses that bounce.
Understanding your spam risks
Users can mark your email as spam and when that happens they are essentially notifying their Internet service provider (ISP) that your email appears suspicious. In turn, the ISP checks how many people have reported your email as spam. You can then end up on blacklists. Individual users can report your email to spam blacklist databases too. Even customers who know you may report your email as spam, so don’t ever feel too confident. However, the users who are most likely to do that are those who don’t recognise the email address or brand name used. Obtaining permission is essential to avoid being marked as spam.
Using your email reports
Analysing and interpreting email reports is probably the least fun part of email marketing. There is a good chance you won’t even have the time to do it, but that doesn’t make it any less important. No matter what, there are certain metrics you must pay attention to. These include the number of opt-outs, bounces, unique opens, spam reports, delivery rates, click through rates, average industry rates and all opens. These should help point you in the direction of where to make improvements.
Improving your email open rate
One of the most effective ways of improving the number of people who click your emails is to write better subject lines. Other things you can do include altering your ‘from’ name and ‘from’ email address, consistently sending your emails at the best time possible, revisiting your signup process and getting to know your audience.
Using your click-through rates
Your click through rate, or CTR, is the proportion of recipients that clicked on the link contained in your email. Usually, getting the link clicked will be the primary goal of an email campaign. The more clicks you get, the more engaged your prospects are. Some of the elements that can affect your CTR include your design, your offer and your message. So, monitoring your CTR can help you improve these areas.
Crafting email subject lines
The subject line must never be considered a minor detail as it’s the first thing the reader will see before they even click on your email. When crafting email subject lines, you can emphasise an offer, create a sense of urgency and play on the user’s self-interest.
It’s also a good idea to use social proof and to start a ‘story’. It’s important to test and revise to determine what works best for your readers. Use concise action words and try to pose compelling questions.
Coming up with content ideas
This is no doubt one of the biggest challenges of email marketing. The focus should be on what your audience is most interested in. You can send an online survey to get valuable feedback and analyse your email reports for insight. It’s also a good idea to talk to your employees and pay attention to what customers are saying as you interact with them on a daily basis.
How to write email content
Unlike social media, email marketing is more targeted and personal. Therefore, you cannot adopt the same approach as writing for social media. First, you’ll have to invest in writing a good subject line. Then you must ensure that your emails are clear and catchy with a personalised message. It’s also important to keep your message relevant and your subject line related to the content of the email. Ensure that all your email copy is written in the second person and that you focus on the benefits of your offer, while keeping your message short.
Choosing email templates
Online marketing tools that allow you to create emails with templates are extremely useful. Such templates allow you to easily insert content, including video, images and text, in a manner that’s best suited to your brand. You’ll be able to create a highly professional look by selecting the appropriate fonts and colours that go with your brand aesthetics. In order to select the perfect template, you’ll have to understand the type of campaign you would like to run. Some of the different kinds of campaigns you could run include reviews or feedback, events, sales or promotional, press release, business letter, cards or announcements, newsletters.
Email design essentials
The design of an email is not simply about using pretty colours and nice-looking fonts. It’s about getting the reader to act. Before anything else, be sure to communicate your brand immediately by ensuring that your logo is one of the first things the user sees. Use CTA buttons—they’re more effective than plain text.
Put the most relevant information in the top portion of the email and be careful with images. Ensure that any buttons you include are large enough to be clicked with a finger and that the entire email is mobile-friendly. Use at least 14pt for body copy and 30pt for headers.The layout shouldn’t be more than 600 pixels wide.
Adding images and video
We have discouraged the use of too many images and videos because it can reduce the load time of an email. However, good images are advised if they deliver the essence of the message you’re trying to pass across without distracting the reader from the text. An image should never be added just for the sake of it.
Using premium images is vital. Of course, be sure to use only images that have been licensed to avoid infringing anyone’s copyright. In addition, try to avoid stock photography clichés that have been used time and again by different brands.
One of the most effective approaches to email marketing in 2018 may be combining bulk emails containing images with targeted follow-up emails. Generally, bulk emails are discouraged, but if used intelligently, they can produce results. Use them for product launches and the like and then follow up with a personalised, text-only email that drives the message home. By this time, you’ll be targeting people who already interacted with your previous email, so you can expect better results.
Considering the number of people who access the Internet using their mobile phones, it makes sense to focus on mobile as you would on desktop, maybe even more. Therefore, to create mobile-friendly emails, you have to adopt some of the same best practices that you would if you were building a mobile friendly website. This will include using shorter paragraphs rather than longer ones and ensuring that the width of the layout is appropriate for the screen of a mobile phone. Images shouldn’t be too large to make loading on mobile slow and any clickable buttons should be large enough for a finger.
Combining email and social media
Both email and social media are powerful marketing channels on their own, but they can be combined to produce a highly effective marketing strategy. There are several ways to do this, like encouraging your readers and followers to share your email newsletter and post email updates across social media.
Within your newsletter, you can include social media snippets and links to your social media profiles. On social media, you can use content snippets from your newsletter (Facebook and Twitter), pin your newsletters (Pinterest) and include a mailing list sign up app (Facebook page). Finally, you can use a common calendar for both social media and email marketing plans while unifying themes across both channels.
Automating your email marketing
Automated email marketing refers to sending emails to prospects and customers automatically, based on triggers or a schedule that you define. It’s not complicated, but you’ll learn more as you spend time to improve and test your campaigns. It’s important to differentiate automated emails from transactional emails, like those that inform customers when their product has shipped. Automated emails aim to engage, not notify.
Promoting emails beyond the inbox
As previously mentioned, you can promote your emails on social media, but there are other channels where you can do so too. There are really no rules about it. You can promote emails on your website, on your podcast and even offline at the point of sale.
Non-profit email marketing
Email marketing can be important for non-profit organisations just as it is for commercial entities, because it can help drive more donations, widen your reach and develop a loyal donor base. You can get email marketing for non-profit right by making sure you capture the appropriate information for your lists, including in-person gifts, membership details, event registrations, and so on. You also have to be careful to grow your donor base in an appropriate manner, sending only the most compelling messages, measuring your progress by monitoring the right metrics and using design and copy to develop lasting connections through a humanised message.