Some headlines today will lead you to believe that the days of email are numbered and that it will be made irrelevant by social media and other new startup technologies. Don’t believe them. While the death of email has long been buzzed about, the reality is that it’s stronger and more effective than ever. In fact, over 294 billion of them sent daily.
More than three-quarters of consumers also consider email to be the most trusted form of communication, one reason why the number of people using it is forecast to rise to 2.9 billion by 2019.
Businesses like it too – email marketing is the strongest performing channel generating $44 for every $1 spent. And when it comes to acquiring new customers, email is also 40 times more effective than social media.
Given this, it’s perhaps no surprise that email marketing is now a significant component of emarketing – the use of the internet, mobile and electronic media to sell products and services. In fact, in 2017 many small businesses are looking to make it one of their top marketing channels along with social media and website development.
This means that if email marketing isn’t part of your overall marketing strategy, you are missing out on a huge business opportunity.
Unfortunately, many businesses, smaller ones in particular, don’t capitalize on all that email marketing has to offer because they think it is too expensive to consider, too complicated to do, or they simply don’t know how to choose the best email marketing service.
However, thanks to powerful email marketing platforms, creating a highly targeted email marketing campaign has never been easier.
This guide outlines how small businesses can use email marketing to benefit from using email marketing best practices, a smaller business can benefit from what marketing guru Seth Godin has called “the most personal advertising medium in history”.
What is email marketing?
Think of email marketing as an online version of traditional direct mail.
The difference is that it’s not only faster and more cost-effective to send emails, it’s also infinitely easier to target and personalize the content, so you know you are reaching the right people at the right time with the message most applicable to them.
To be most effective, your email marketing efforts should be tied to specific business objectives, such as:
Brand building – every marketing email you send is an opportunity to familiarize the market with the logo, tagline, colors and graphics that make up your brand image.
Encouraging repeat business – sending your customers a regular ‘nudge email’ with a tempting offer, or news of your latest products, can overcome ‘buying inertia’ and entice them to order from you again.
Creating customer engagement – if you don’t stay in the eye-line of customers, you create a vacuum competitors can fill. On the other hand, marketing emails keep you top of mind until your customers are ready to buy.
Drive revenue – all of the above lead to higher revenues that add to the bottom line. And once your database is big enough, you can even create further revenue streams by allowing others to sell products and services to your list.
“54% of marketers say increasing engagement rate is their top email marketing priority.” Ascend2
A precision marketing tool
Whether you use email marketing to send post-purchase follow-up emails, newsletters, promotions, or surveys, email marketing is highly versatile, affordable and easy to use. This makes it particularly appealing to smaller businesses that typically don’t have large marketing budgets or in-house technical expertise. It’s for these very reasons however that emarketing is used by some as a blunt instrument to promote their message at little cost. However, emails sent randomly and in high volume don’t work. Turning email marketing into a simple ‘numbers game’ is just ‘spamming’, a counter-productive tactic that can damage a business’s reputation.
In fact, email marketing is actually a precision technique that enables you to adjust and fine tune campaigns down to the smallest detail, thanks to the ability to see which emails have been received, opened, clicked or deleted.
“Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers ‘excellent’ to ‘good’ ROI.” Econsultancy
Creating an email marketing campaign
To create an effective email marketing campaign, there are two key metrics to focus on. Open rates (the percentage of people who open your email) and click-though rates (the percentage of openers who click on a link within that email). The clickthrough rate is totally dependent on the open rate – if someone doesn’t open your email, they can’t click on it!
The average open rate for an email marketing campaign is around 24%. This figure has remained largely consistent over the last decade and may actually be on the rise. However, it still means that three-quarters of those who are sent a marketing email will never read it. If you want to improve on these numbers you must:
Know why you are emailing – your emails need to be strategically directed towards a defined goal such as re-engaging with lapsed customers, launching a new product, or promoting a sale.
Meet your customers’ expectations – there is nothing worse than receiving undesired emails. Ensure you are emailing to customers who have given you permission and have agreed to receive the type of content you are sending.
Send to a segmented list – use the smallest nugget of information to qualify and divide your customers by their purchasing and viewing behaviors. This will help you create more effective, targeted campaigns. Have a compelling subject line – this, along with your name, is the first thing anyone receiving your email sees. According to consultants Convince & Convert, 35% of email recipients open email based solely on the subject line.
Make the best offer possible – without a good reason why would anyone want to click through?
Personalize your message – Brands that personalize promotional marketing emails experience 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than those that do not personalize.
Write ‘killer’ copy – the best offer in the world is of little use if no one knows how good it is. The copy you use has to truly resonate with the reader by giving them both emotional and rational reasons to act. The customer feedback that comes through comments, questions and social media can help shape future content.
Design a better email – this not only helps with brand recognition, but also creates an instantaneous impression of you as a business, hopefully one of competence, trust and reassurance.
“47% of email recipients open an email based solely on the subject line.” SuperOffice
Improving results through testing
As every business is different, the only way you can find out what works for you is to test and test again – by changing a component of your email marketing campaign and measuring what happens.
Conventional wisdom, based on analysis of billions of email open rates across industries, concludes that it’s Tuesday. Others believe it’s Saturdays and Sundays. MailerMailer thinks it’s a Tuesday or Wednesday, with weekends the worst. MailChimp on the other hand, considers the best day for sending emails is a Thursday. With no optimal day, it’s just a matter of what works best for your business.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean ‘often’ is bad, just that subscribers want to receive relevant, appropriate emails at a rate that suits them. In fact, 86% of consumers are happy to receive marketing emails from companies they do business with at least monthly, while 15% would like them daily.
“Sending one more email a month to a list of 5 million subscribers could result in $2.9 million additional revenue.” Marketing Charts