One of the best ways to stay in touch with your audience is by getting into their inbox. In a way, email marketing opens up paths to communicate with your audience that social media never can, thanks to its ability to automatically respond to the viewer’s input. Here, we’re talking about what email marketing is, what benefits it offers, and what service providers are out there. Let’s get into it…
Article Breakdown with Quicklinks
- What is email marketing
- Reviewing different email marketing tactics
- Marketing automation in use
- A few best practices when sending emails
- Email marketing service providers
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
Now, what is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is a brand’s ability to communicate with its audience through an inbox. It is very useful for selling products and services, communicating brand updates, promoting events and news, and much more. Besides, it’s not just you and me who use email regularly. In a study performed by Statista, they concluded that more than 5.59 billion active email accounts are in use in 2019. Think that number is huge? It’s projected that over 270 billion emails are sent daily! That’s an average of 48.3 per account, and you’d be right to think that a good portion of those are marketing related. That’s why it’s important to put out only the best content that is sure to grab attention and generate clicks!
How email campaigns are used day-to-day.
There are a lot of different ways that brands leverage email marketing. Retailers use it to promote products, sales, and stay top-of-mind (example below). Service providers use campaigns to share new offerings, service updates, and scheduling. And within these emails there’s a lot of different avenues marketers can go down, such as marketing automation (or funneling), A/B testing, segmentation practices, and event-based launches.
Marketing Automation takes a very strategic approach to how a brand plans its campaign. An email chain is designed to respond and adapt to each individual user based on their inputs. This sounds complex, and it is, but there are programs that offer simplistic drag-and-drop creation methods.
Example: A user opens an email and clicks on a featured product that’s being promoted. They view the item but don’t make a purchase. The program registers this action and sends a follow-up email that grows on the previous one – perhaps with an incentive to buy.
A/B Testing is when you create different versions of the same email and see how they stack up. This way you can improve upon your designs, copy, graphics and ultimately your results.
Example: We have a new product launching and we want to spread the word. We write and design 3 emails that all share the same objective to increase awareness and sales. Each one hits on the same points but vary in layout, verbiage, and graphics. We then review how each performed based on open rates, clicks, conversions, shares, etc… Then we run a campaign that shares aspects of the emails that performed well. It’s an ongoing process that ideally returns better results each time.
Segmentation uses the data provided by a user during the signup process to customize an email’s message. This allows brands to adapt their message to each market segment.
Example: Our bike shop sells road bikes, mountain bikes, comfort bikes, and triathlon bikes. If we have a questionnaire during the signup process that asks users about what kind of riding they enjoy, we can then use that data to send emails based on their answers. This way road cyclists get communications focused on road bikes and triathlon participants get more tri focused content.
Marketing Automation in use
Tina is shopping for camping gear and visits a website focused on outdoor items. (1). After the page loads, she’s greeted with a welcome bubble that offers a 15% discount and free shipping on her first order. All she has to do is give them her name and email address then the promo code will be sent to her inbox. (2). Tina continues to shop and adds a tent, sleeping bag, and some cookware to her cart. But before she can check out something comes up in her day and she exits the website. The next day, Tina receives an email reminding her of the items in her cart, so she continues the checkout process and places her order. (3). The day after Tina’s order arrives she receives another email asking about her recent purchase and shows other items that she may want based on what she bought.
Does this seem familiar to you? These are all examples of how a brand can gather leads and effectively use email marketing. Now, let’s review what’s happening at each point.
(1). Whether it’s through an incentive or just through the checkout process, gaining lead data is the first step in the email marketing system. In our example, the website was able to see Tina was a new visitor by accessing her browsing cookies.
(2). In this situation, the retailer has in place a system that detects cart abandonment and is able to use the guest’s email address to follow up. In a Shopify post, they state, “By using shopping cart recovery emails BlueMonkey was able to recover 13% of their abandoned orders within days of the campaign starting.” Recovery emails can play a significant role in reconnecting with the 67% of guests that leave their cart.
(3). The purchase follow-up email is just the beginning of the communication that will continue after the purchasing process. This gives the retailer an opportunity to stay top-of-mind, get product reviews or service feedback, and offer a simple method of exchanging or returning items.
A few best practices for email marketing
(1). Gaining that initial click from a user to open your email can be a chore in itself. Be sure to always write eye-catching subject lines and enticing descriptions. It’s easy to add a bit of flair now that most email clients offer emoji support!
(2). Track your performance so you can better set and achieve goals. Most, if not all, email marketing service providers offer Google Analytic tracking. Through Google Analytics you can track how campaigns are performing for sales and traffic to specific pages on your site.
(3). Just like in social media, try to avoid using every email as an opportunity to jam a sales pitch down a viewer’s throat. Offering information that is useful to your audience builds your brand’s ethos and strengthens its connection with viewers. An example of this would be… A hardware store sends out an email tutorial discussing how to hang drywall without mentioning any specific products that they sell. This is a great way for them to build credibility while also placing the thought of, “Hey I need a hammer to do this job. Oh, Jim’s Hardware has hammers, I’ll go there,” without making an obvious sales pitch.
(4). Make it engaging! We live in the era of social media where everything is animated and flashy. Using motion graphics and embedded videos create a polished look and can offer significantly more information than writing ever could. There’s an infinite number of ways to do this, a few examples are product reviews, eye-catching gifs, and how-to videos.
Email Marketing Providers
There’s no shortage of email marketing providers. A few of the big ones include Active Campaign, MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Oracle’s Eloqua and Bronto. Each one has its benefits and drawbacks. It’d be a whole article in itself comparing and contrasting the different features. So if you’d like a quick overview of pricing and pros/cons, go check out the Best Email Marketing Services by EmailToolTester.com. Consider what kind of communications you want to send before committing to a specific platform and make sure the provider can offer solutions at a reasonable price.