Is email marketing dead? Can your business truly make an impact with its email marketing solution? Should you know more about about email marketing software? Time to start reading. Set your timer to 9 mins. Tips, Tricks and ideas included.
What is Email marketing anyway?
Email marketing is the combination of strategy, content and software, with the purpose of engaging customers via email in order to achieve business goals. How is it different than, say, sending a mass email to your friends about a barbecue on Saturday? Well, it’s pretty similar, except that with specialized email marketing software, you can do it smarter, easier, more elegantly and, most important of all, more effectively.
Love it. How do I start?
At the beginning, of course. Let’s get some important questions out of the way:
Who am I targeting?
That would be your customers, who might very well react nicely to receiving an email, and may even end up making a purchase at your business because of it. You know what’s especially fun about email marketing? It’s cheap. You don’t need to choose email subscribers with too much scrutiny. If somebody has even the remotest chance of buying from you, get their email on your list. This is not the place to get picky.
How can I get people's email addresses?
Uh, ask them for it? It’s honestly that simple, but you’ll get much better results if people actually have a reason to subscribe. If customers are expecting an update in the future, they should join your mailing list. If customers would like to receive coupons and deals in the future, they should join your mailing list. If they would like a small discount when they check out? You got it: They should join your mailing list. And if a customer would simply like to receive emails from you because they love your business? Give them a hug, and whisper in their ear that they should join your mailing list.
Ok, I got everyone’s email. What now?
Choose your email marketing solution. Prices vary from free to not free. Here are our recommended platforms in no particular order: Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Emma and Vero. They are friendly, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive tools that will help you bring your email strategy to life. Don’t have an email strategy yet? You came just in time.
How do I come up with an email marketing strategy?
Coming up with a Strategy is just a fancy way of deciding what your plan is.
- Plan your desired results: Do you want to bring customers back into your store? Do you want customers to buy products online? Do you want them to refer their friends to your business?
- Plan interesting content: Do customers want to hear about new products, or wise words about your industry? Do they just want to look at cute pictures of puppies? (yes).
- Plan your email frequency: Do you want to send an email every month? That would be a great start. Every Week? Even better! Daily? Please. No.
By now you should know who your customer is, what you want them to do, what you believe will make them do it and how often you wish to prod them with your email wizardry. Now, there’s just one last question to ask yourself and you’re good to go:
Do I need to segment my audience and, by the way, what does segment mean?
Some advanced email marketers decide that they need more than one plan, because they have more than one type of customer. They group one kind of customer into group A, and the other kind into, you guessed it, group B, and make a different plan for each group. If you feel the need to segment your customers this way, please do. A little bit of segmenting goes a long way, but don’t be segment-happy, or you’ll end up spending more time with your email marketing software than with your family. What kind of a person are you?
Ready for take off? No you're not. Go prepare your landing page.
Before you can start sending emails, you need to make sure you have somewhere to send all those email-thirsty customers. That’s where landing pages come in. Landing pages are places on the interwebs that people will reach when they click on a link in your email. Those pages will be designed to get customers to perform the action you planned for them. Here are some best good practices:
- Make sure your landing page content is relevant to what you wrote in the email
- Less is more, which is the hipster version of ‘just get to the point’
- Use bullet points - people love bullet points
- One message - one goal. Decide what action your landing page needs customers to perform, and focus only on that.
Super Sonic Bonus Question: Can I make do without landing pages?
Yes! You can self-contain your desired action in the email itself, for example “50% off all massages till Wednesday. Call Now: 1-800-MASSAGE” or “Last day for our free ice-cream frenzy - Visit us today at 34 Bowery Street till midnight”
Dying to learn more about landing pages? This wouldn’t be the worst place to start. Onwards.
How to not use “Dear valued customer”, and other awful things to avoid.
Time to talk about writing emails. Let’s go over the essentials:
The subject line
The subject line is the single most important string of words in your entire email. Spend as much time as you need to come up with the most compelling, tempting piece of text you can fit in under 60 characters. Subject lines can make or break an email, shifting the open rate anywhere from 3% of all email recipients (yuck) to a whopping 60% if you are the rockiest rockstar of email marketing.
- Bad: Weekly update from Joe’s Pizza
- Better: This Pizza will save your life: ignore at your own peril
- What are you doing: A recurring missive to the customers of Joe’s pie establishment
Remember all those terrible emails you’ve been getting since the invention of reading? Don’t do that. Do better. Your customers are, wait for it, actual people, and they expect actual value out of reading something, otherwise they will find the spam button and they will press the spam button and they will not think twice about it. Be a human, write something interesting. Make sure your email is short, to the point, relevant, and leads up to the inevitable ‘call to action’.
Modern email marketing software does a lot of heavy lifting for you. The most important job it can perform is take a piece of information that is unique to each customer (their name, for example), and plant it right in your email as if you wrote those emails one by one. The more you personalize your emails, the more likely recipients are to actually read them. Pro tip - you can even personalize the subject line!
The call to action
Second in importance only to the subject line, the call to action is crucial to getting as much engagement as possible from your prospective customers. The rules are simple: Remind yourself what you want your customers to do after reading the email. Write it down in a firm yet friendly tone. That’s your call to action.
Call to action magic in the flesh:
- Why wait? Call now
- Get your free copy here
- Click to make it happen today
Life goes on
Remember one important thing: this is not the last email you’ll ever send, so don’t burn any bridges. Be smart about the recurring nature of your email marketing campaign:
Plan ahead, write emails that are fresh, relevant and timely, and use one email to leverage the next.
Don’t make any mistakes (just joking, but learn from them!)
We’re reaching the cusp of our 9 minute limit, but here’s one last, and intensely important tip: Improve. The vast majority of email marketing tools allow you to track, test and experiment, in order to achieve the best performance in your email campaigns. Here are the main two metrics to track and improve on:
This is the percentage of email recipients who actually open and perhaps even read your email. To improve open rates, the main thing you want to do is play around with your subject line, but also try different ‘from’ fields, and make sure the first line or two of visible text in your email are interesting enough for further reading.
Click through rate (CTR)
This can be measured as Clicks out of Opens, which is the percentage of people who clicked on your call to action, out of the total number of people who opened your email. This can also be measured as Clicks out of Delivered-- the percentage of clickers from the total number of people who received your email. To increase CTR you have to improve the content of your email, and the wording and placement of your call to action. You can try to duplicate the call to action and place it strategically throughout the email, or reduce content that doesn’t add to the emotional need to click the call to action button. Improving CTR can be tricky, because sometimes it’s your subject line letting the wrong audience in, and sometimes it’s a more holistic issue like the general vibe of your content or the impact of your visuals. But fear not - as long as you test and improve - you’ll get there. We believe in you.
Make a lot of money impact with your email voodoo
To conclude, and nobody likes conclusions less than we do:
- Choose the right email marketing software for you
- Get as many email subscribers as you possibly can
- Make a plan
- Prepare your landing pages (or not)
- Write killer emails
- Track, learn and improve
- Retire to Morro de São Paulo, Brazil
- Marry the first person who serves you alcohol
If you are reading this in the year 2017
Update: Email marketing is probably dead by now. Future-proof your marketing by joining Flok, which was a thousand times* more effective than email marketing to begin with (*not really a thousand). Here’s a free month to get your business up and running without all that fussy commitment. Do it. Now.