The digital marketing world is full of fast-moving trends such as the hot new social media platform of the moment, the latest advances in chatbots and search engine algorithm updates, and more changes every minute. But sometimes, the tried-and-true methods are the most effective at getting prospects to become customers. This brings us to email marketing and what it can do for a business
Email marketing has actually been around for decades, but it’s still one of the best ways to win customers. Let’s dive into the basics of email marketing for your small business.
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing for a business is using email to promote your products or services and develop relationships with your customers and prospects. Any time your business sends an email out – with the exception of transactional emails like order confirmations and responses to customer inquiries – it’s a form of email marketing.
Your email marketing can take many forms that are, or are not, exclusively sales-focused. It could be the regular newsletter you send subscribers with your latest updates, blog posts, company happenings, or community events.
It could be a series of nurture emails offering an intro and info to new prospects who have expressed interest but aren’t ready to buy yet.
Or it could be explicitly marketing-focused – about your latest sales, promos or events, showcasing new products or bestsellers, or touting satisfied customers of your services.
(There are so many types of email marketing that we have a whole separate blog post coming, so stay tuned for that!)
Email marketing offers businesses the chance to keep their audience informed and engaged with tailored, targeted messages delivered directly to them. Of course, it’s important to not cross the line from persistent to annoying and driving away customers with spam-like tactics. As such, using restraint and only sending emails with value is critical.
Why Email Marketing is Effective
Email marketing gives your business access to a medium almost every adult in the US checks multiple times per day. And what’s more, most people actually like email marketing. 51% of US consumers actually prefer that brands contact them via email. Your email subscription list has opted in to receiving communications from you, so they’re an interested and receptive audience overall.
Email marketing is also effective because it can be highly targeted and tailored. This is valuable when you have multiple ideal customers or buyer personas who are interested in different portions of your products or services.
Target and tailor to your audience(s)
For example, if your business is a small, independent bookstore, you probably have one audience that loves all the latest big best-seller hits, another one that’s into more classic works of literature, and maybe another that also likes the local goods and stationary you sell in store. With email marketing, you can easily create campaigns that target each of those audiences with exactly the goods and promotions that interest them.
You can also engage in some tailoring of your messages according to audience characteristics. If you have info like demographic data, you could send all the boomers and seniors on your email list (yes, they read emails too!) a reminder before the holidays about buying gifts for their grandkids.
Tailoring and targeting are essential in an increasingly saturated marketing environment. Every one of us receives so many marketing messages a day that we start to tune them out fast – unless they speak directly to our immediate needs and desires. At that point, we might pay attention, and we might even make a purchase. Email marketing is one of the top ways to accomplish that.
As with all effective digital marketing, it’s about providing a solution to your prospect’s problem, and sometimes showing them a problem they did not realize they needed to solve!
How Email Marketing Works
Email marketing is pretty simple, at its core. You build an email, or an email campaign, using an email marketing tool. You send that email or series out to your email list when they take an action or when you have something to share or promote. And then you watch the customers come rolling in – at least, when you do it correctly!
This is why collecting email addresses from website visitors, customers, and prospects is a must for every single business. Sure, you can rely on content marketing and social media content and SEO (or even paid ads) to grow your business, to a certain extent.
But what happens when an algorithm changes, and your traffic disappears overnight? You have no control over that – you don’t own that platform.
But you do own your email list, and you can also reach your most interested customers and leads directly via email. Putting thought and effort into growing your email list is very valuable – if you’re not doing it now, you need to start.
Looking for more ways to grow your email list? Check out our video on 10 tried and true lead generator ideas and watch your list grow.
Steps to Creating Successful Email Marketing Campaigns
The secrets to creating an email marketing campaign that truly works are to keep it simple, keep it clear, and keep monitoring it for success.
State the goal
Start by tying each campaign to a business goal.
Are you looking to increase brand awareness and engage readers with your company? If this is so, email newsletters could be a good fit.
Are you looking to drive sales and increase conversions? In this case, you need a marketing campaign with strong copywriting.
Then think about your subject line by giving readers a reason to actually open your email. We all have overflowing email inboxes, so why should they pay attention to you? The subject line might be the only part of the email they intend to look at, so make sure it hooks them fast and gives them a reason to read on.
Lead to action
Put a clear call-to-action in each email – what are you asking your audience to do? Whatever it is you decide, just make it obvious and easy. Don’t get too fancy with the email designs if it takes away from your core message and confuses customers.
Do a test run
Remember that your emails might be read on a traditional desktop – but let’s be honest, we’re all scanning our inboxes more and more from our mobile phones. Test and preview emails before doing your final send to make sure everything looks good on mobile too.
Once your email campaign is launched, you’ll be directing traffic and visitors to your website, landing pages, or online store – whatever fits with your current email strategy. Always makes sure your brand voice is consistent across those platforms so you don’t confuse people who click through onto your site or store.
Then, your final step in email marketing is to measure your success using analytics and data. Most email marketing tools will offer at least basic analytics, like how many people opened your email.
The real measure of effectiveness though is how many people click a link, or multiple links, in your email (that’s your CTR, or click-through rate). That means they were interested enough to take action – that’s a vital measure, especially in more marketing-focused emails.
If you’re seeing low open rates, or low CTR, compared to benchmarks in your industry, you need to be proactive in making changes.
- Are your subject lines bland or confusing, or your calls-to-action too hidden?
- Do your emails need to be shorter – or longer?
- Or perhaps does your targeting need adjustment?
You won’t know until you adjust and analyze again – so, keep trying until you get the results you want.
How to Find the Right Email Marketing Tool
Email marketing is a valuable tool for any business of any size. You don’t need to have an expensive, complex system to send out your emails and build your business. You just need to find the right email marketing tool for your needs.
There are plenty of options for tools to build and send your email marketing campaigns out there today. And this is great news for businesses who are tackling their digital marketing themselves – you can do it with the right platform in place.
But which email marketing plan is best for your needs?
We have three top options to consider, depending on your email marketing strategy and budget.
For small businesses just starting out with email marketing, small, simple, ad inexpensive email marketing tools are your best bet. Mailchimp is the most popular option in this category because they offer a forever-free option. If your email list stays small (under 2,000 subscribers) and your needs stay simple, you never pay a dime.
But it lacks many advanced features like marketing automation, sophisticated analytics, and extensive customer support. Plus building an email is not super-simple if you’re not experienced at creating emails.
Slightly more costly
Constant Contact is a popular option for the business looking to grow their email marketing strategy in an affordable way. Their plans start at $20/month and include a very beginner-friendly process to build an email, no HTML knowledge required. They also have ecommerce integration for your online store, good analytics, and strong segmentation capabilities.
If you’re looking for a powerful option with all the bells and whistles, ConvertKit is your best bet. They’re a full-service email marketing platform with plenty of marketing automation capabilities to build drip campaigns, moving prospects through your marketing funnel with ease.
Writing Effective Marketing Emails
Now that you’ve selected the technology to set up your email marketing campaigns for your business, you need to write them. While it’s not hard to write an email – how many do we all write every day? But writing one for the purpose of getting results is more challenging.
Every email campaign will be different, and every business will have a different tone and voice in their emails. But there are a few hard and fast rules that work for every email you send to customers to keep them engaged.
Keep Emails Short
Look at your email inbox – it’s probably overflowing, despite your best efforts to manage it. We all get a lot of emails trying to sell us something every day, and there’s just no time to read lengthy, dull emails. Those get skipped over or sent right to the trash.
Hence, keeping emails short helps reduce the time your audience can encounter a distraction that takes them away from your message.
Your content also needs to be highly engaging – keep the reader moving quickly through the content, eager to see what comes next down to the final line. This is where a professional email copywriter can be very valuable.
Keep Your Tone Friendly
Unlike other, more impersonal digital marketing methods like search engine ads, emails are much more like a direct conversation with your customer. Thanks to personalization options, you can even address them by name. Keep your content sounding more like a conversation than a one-sided lecture.
This doesn’t mean you need to be super-casual all the time, especially if that’s not appropriate in your industry. But it does mean working within the range of professional tone to build a connection.
Keep the Focus on the Customer
Often, an eager business owner writes up a marketing email detailing how amazing their product is, or their services are truly ground-breaking. Actually, this can easily tip over from promotion into bragging, and it turns customers off.
It’s boring for the customer, as even though you’re proud you have a great product, what’s in it for them? How will what you offer change their lives? If your emails are ignoring this critical point, they’re going to get deleted. Focus on the customer instead, and let the content flow from their point of view.
Looking for Email Marketing Experts to Help Your Business?
Creating and managing highly successful email marketing campaigns can be a game-changer for your business. But what if you don’t have the time or expertise to do it yourself? You can’t afford to miss out on the benefits of email marketing, and this is where Content First Marketing comes in. We help you create the perfect email marketing strategy that brings in prospects and converts them to customers.
Schedule a free business review here to find out how we help businesses grow. You can use these insights for inspiration, and let us do the marketing for you.