Email Marketing Strategy

Believe it or not, email marketing is still going strong! It may be the best possible strategy for your business. Based on the 2020 data, email marketing is still ranked as the most effective marketing channel beating out on social media.

And the main reason for this is:
Email marketing is cost-effective. The cost of driving an already converted customer to spend is lower than attaining a new one. This is true for any marketing channel. And it will stay that way until the end of time. It’s the main principle behind inbound marketing. Email marketing serves as a tool for nurturing an already formed relationship, all while driving new spending.

Fact: Trust in social media companies is declining!
Sailthru found nearly half of all consumers plan to delete at least one social media account in the next year and 40% of people claim to have deleted a social media account in 2017 because they didn’t trust the platform with their personal information.

That shouldn’t be surprising at all, since social Media companies are well-known to mishandle your private data or to be a target of lawsuits concerning data protection. Conspiracy theories aside!

More companies are starting to build up their database of emails and enhancing their marketing programs by adding this amazing channel to the list.

Read on if you want to learn more about how to implement this strategy into your business plan.

Business Requirements

To do this, the business adopting an email strategy should already have a minimum number of customers that may vary depending on their industry. This is simply because of the resources an email marketing strategy requires. Resources being, of course, time and money.

Ask yourself and your colleagues: Can we get enough subscribers to get a more or less meaningful return from the resources invested in creating a scalable email marketing strategy?

Email marketing campaigns can quickly prove as a waste of resources if not created with scalability in mind and if launched too early in your business lifecycle.

This may, in fact, not be of concern for large companies who have their in-house marketing properly doing the work. This is more of a concern for small to medium-sized businesses who outsource their marketing efforts to a freelancer or an agency. And this is where the proficiency of your marketing services provider comes into play.

From what I’ve seen and heard, a good chunk of marketing agencies sells or upsells their services (including email marketing) without a clear understanding of the problem they need to solve. That happens a lot because they sell what they know to do, instead of why they do it. This, in turn, creates dead strategies that are misplaced. Sometimes skipping a marketing channel isn’t such a bad option, since the client’s business will quickly become overwhelmed!

Okay, so we decided we are going with it, what next?

Getting permission and placement

The first phase of getting the email address is asking for permission. The most common way to do this is to offer something for free or to simply offer newsletter updates. Note that the potential subscriber needs to explicitly and unambiguously give you this permission.

Although I would like to tell you what is the best approach, you should be the one to make the final decisions.

So, the questions are:

  1. What is the purpose of your newsletters?
  2. Where and when will you most likely capture the email address?

Answering the first question will give you some creative start in picking the right incentive.

Some common ways to encourage people to sign up include:

  • Free downloads
  • Free white papers or eBooks
  • Update lists, like new releases and product updates
  • Promotion offers

Answering the second question will allow you to properly place your subscription forms naturally as a part of your website visitor’s journey. Note that, while being the most frequent, websites don’t necessarily have to be the only place where you gather your newsletter emails.

You can place your subscription forms in:

  • A clear footer form
  • Sidebar
  • Product checkout
  • Popup

If going with the popup option, try to limit it on once per browsing session/day /other. There is no need to show it the moment a visitor starts browsing, a better strategy is to place it in a way where and when your visitor will be most likely to subscribe.

Please note that it would be a good practice to include your subscription FAQ in your privacy policy, stating clearly as to why, how and where their info will be captured and used.

Another important thing would be to include the possibility of the email recipient to unsubscribe if they no longer wish to receive your emails. This is actually, mandatory according to the GDPR in Europe. Most email marketing tools, such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact have the “unsubscribe” option available in all email that are sent. If you are sending emails without the help of an email marketing tool, be sure to include it.

Remember to be authentic

When you send out your email, make sure to send a message as authentic as possible. The truth is, people are tired of getting constant promotion messages, pitches, and advertisements present everywhere they look in their inbox.

On average, 24.16% of email — that’s one out of four messages — was delivered to spam folders monthly in 2017. – Data from EveryAction NonProfit Deliverability Study

Email service providers are using AI to fight spam. It will only become harder for senders to land in the inbox if they don’t follow authentic email guidelines.

Email deliverability

Due to almost a quarter of emails land in the spam folder, never being seen, there are a few tricks you can do to improve the chances of it being delivered, read, and ultimately drive another conversion.

  • Be sure that the email address from which the emails are sent from isn’t blacklisted.
    You can check it on MX Toolbox.
  • Keep your “FROM” field consistent from day 1. It’s best if you use your name and business role.
  • Remove the hard bounces (non-deliverable emails)
  • Check your lists for blacklisted emails and clean them. You can also use a service, such as NeverBounce.
  • Don’t include SPAM keywords, such as “money”, “dollar”, “extra”, “free”, etc.
  • Use a third-party service like ReturnPath to assess your emails and whitelist them across many different Internet Service Providers (ISP)

Think more holistically about touchpoints

In 2020 brands are looking to stay engaged with their audience, as a key to improving deliverability.

If your call to action is strong, and your follow-up is consistent, then you can count on a positive campaign.

First, follow up is crucial in a successful marketing campaign.

Almost all email service providers give you the option to create an autoresponder sequence, and you must take advantage of it.

The initial follow-up email should be sent immediately as a way to introduce yourself and detail what you plan on doing with your new subscriber’s email address.

What your newsletter should include

Whether you are in the food business or sports, you should always look for diverse content in your newsletter campaigns. Copywriting is key to successful marketing campaigns.

As a rule of thumb try to send your newsletter to connect with the subscriber.

Your newsletter should consist of eye-catching images, good content, call to actions, and most importantly, the title. The title, or the so-called Subject Line, is one of the first things your readers will see so make it fun and intriguing, but NOT misleading!

Same as sharing interesting information, your newsletter is also the perfect platform to encourage people to do something. That can be signing up for an event with a discount or directing them to view the new product on your website.

Content-wise, there are a few recommendations I would like to note:

  • Due to the nature of the emails, they are stripped down – email clients don’t support CSS or JavaScript. Including that kind of code in the newsletters will, in addition to your email not having the desired effect, alert the spam filters. This also goes for any embedded content, videos, large images, forms, documents, and similar.
  • Make use of alt tags. Some email clients block images. If you want them to retain their purpose, try to describe what the image is about with an alt tag. This will in-turn seem more friendly to the spam filters. Just like SEO.
  • Use only inline styling.

Design

Newsletters make up for a part in your business’ image. If you have followed all of the best-practises steps we outlined before, there is a good chance that your email will be delivered to its recipient it all of its beauty.

This is where design comes into play. It’s all about sending a clear message, all while retaining the natural design look of your website and social media posts. It’s very important because the user will immediately filter the email out if it’s not immersive to your already attained image.

Try to sketch your email layout in a UX tool on your PC or plain paper, keeping in mind the not-so-endless possibilities of email design. This is because email is usually coded in a robust version of HTML called “tables”. If you will hand-code your HTML for the newsletters, it would be wise to first get acquainted with how table HTML tags work and how to style and align the elements.

This is where the email newsletter tools like Mailchimp or Constant Contact excel is because they give you a templated, shortcoded possibility of designing your emails. That could be all that you need to design a beautiful, immersive email!

Let your creative juices flow! Here are some tips on what you should also keep in mind while designing your emails:

  • Include your business’ logo
  • Don’t use a single image for your newsletter
  • Be sure that it’s responsive and mobile-friendly
  • Use only a few web-safe fonts – most of the time the editor will give you the safe options itself
  • Whitespace is your best friend
  • Use only a few colours, don’t rainbow-style it
  • Use icons or emojis to convey only meaningful messages
  • Make Call To Action (CTA) buttons stand out and clear, don’t overcrowd them!

Statistics

One of the most important bases to cover here are the ways to track your newsletter performance. Most email marketing tools offer auto-calculated conversions such as:

  • Open Rate – Percentage of how many recipients open the email – the most important statistic
  • Bounce Rate
    • Soft bounces – Full inbox email return
    • Hard bounces – Non-existent email
  • Click-Through Rate – Percentage of how many recipients click a link inside your email
  • Click To Open Rate – The percentage of unique click divided by number of unique opens

You can improve the analytics of your email by implementing UTM links, to better understand and separate your audience that comes from email link clicks.

This is the point where I cannot stress this enough: Although your statistics may not lie in your industry standards or the email campaigns not getting over 100% hard ROI (return-on-investment) according to them, keep in mind as to WHY you are doing it – to nurture the customer base already in place. Not every purchase or subsequent that was driven by your email newsletter can be captured.

For Example:
What if the customer made the conversion a week after the campaign, not following with a click-through from a campaign itself?

That is why the Open Rate is the most important statistic. You should aim for an average open rate of 20-25%. Also, note that non-profit emails have about 4% higher click-through rates than their counterpart.

Final Word

To sum it up, the email newsletter marketing strategy is a great tool to build trust and drive subsequent purchases or conversions. It should be used as a complementary channel to strategically supplement your business, all while providing effective scalability and ROI.

If you don’t already have an email marketing in place, yet you think that your business may reap the benefits from this brilliant marketing channel, let us know and we might just set you up for success.

Thank you for the extensive read!