Email Marketing: Low-Cost/ High-Conversion Digital Marketing16 min read

This post was most recently updated on December 19th, 2019

Why Start with Email Marketing

Why Email Marketing Works

How to Get Started with Email Marketing

  1. Craft  A Strategy
  2. Make it cross-platform
  3. Choose an email marketing software
  4. Build a list
  5. Build your campaigns
  6. Create a few automations
  7. Know the metrics to keep an eye on

How to Succeed in Email Marketing

  1. Consider mobile responsiveness
  2. Enrich your copy
  3. Stand out with a great subject line
  4. Keep it consistent
  5. Keep it short and sweet
  6. Nurture relationships

Pitfalls to Avoid in Email Marketing

  1. Do not overindulge
  2. Do not buy email lists
  3. Do no let lists grow stale

Why Start with Email Marketing

Email marketing consistently delivers a higher Return on Investment (ROI) than other arrows in the digital marketing quiver. With 40% and 28% of marketers identifying ROI and budget issues as their second and third biggest challenges respectively, email marketing is a good fit in any marketing strategy.

Email marketing can help with ROI
Biggest challenges identified by marketing professionals according to HubSpot

 

Statista found that marketers view email marketing to have some of the highest return on investment. In the same study, it’s noticeable that email marketing is one of the highest used digital marketing platforms. Only social media had fewer marketers who claimed not to use it.

Perceived ROI Levels from Digital Marketing
Perceived ROI Levels from Digital Marketing by marketors

 

Global marketers estimate a return on investment of 124% from email marketing activities. This is a significantly greater return on investment than any other digital marketing platform. With an expected 4.1 billion users by 2021, email has too large an audience to ignore at this return.

If you are not currently using email, here’s how to do it.

 

Why Email Marketing Works

The number one reason email marketing works well is you own the platform. Consider popular medium like social media and even paid advertising, your reach is limited by the platform you use. Even in paid advertising, you still bid for spots.

With email marketing, your reach is limited only by the email addresses you have, the bigger a list you can build, the farther your reach. Your only limit is the number of active email users, which is currently over 3 billion.

 

Additionally, compared to other marketing mediums, people actually want to receive marketing emails. We consider email to be a source of important news and information, so we actually don’t mind being emailed by the brands we interact with.

Few people, on the other hand, go to social media or turn on their TVs to see ads. This could explain why email marketing solicits the most positive experiences according to consumers.

As a result, email has very high conversion rates. eMarketer found that about one-third of email subscribers end up making a purchase. This leads to email marketing generating a whopping 40 times more ROI than Facebook and Twitter ads combined. Translation: email marketing works, very well. 

 

How to Get Started with Email Marketing

Craft  A Strategy

You should resist the temptation to just jump into email marketing without first considering;

  1. What you want to achieve,
  2. How you want to achieve it, and
  3. The time, effort and finances it’s going to take to achieve it all.

For many brands, email can be an afterthought, just an add on marketing channel to use because it’s there. This usually leads to email severely underperforming, and in some cases, damaging the brand name.

Like any other digital marketing outlet, email needs you to put together a comprehensive plan. Have a clear understanding of the resources required to do it properly and a commitment to provide these resources. 

Most importantly though, email marketing should have goals. Just because it is very affordable does not translate to just throwing everything at it and hoping for the best. Without a proper plan in place, a potentially indispensable tool could undermine your marketing efforts significantly.

 

Make it cross-platform

Email marketing is a medium that plays very well with others in the marketing mix. NonprofitHub found that social sharing buttons can increase email click-through rates by up to 158%.

A good email marketing strategy clearly establishes how it’s going to work in sync with other channels to boost results. Email can be used to create tailored follow-ups for leads acquired via other channels. This could be done via more tailored copy, to address any possible previous objections.

Email marketing is also great for promoting other digital marketing platforms, such as your blog. The converse is also valuable. PPC advertising or social media can be used to gather engage leads acquired via email marketing.

 

Choose an email marketing software

There’s a lot to consider when picking an email marketing platform. With over 250 email marketing software available, the choice is definitely not an easy one. Mut-Con chose to partner with Mailchimp because of;

  1. Affordability – Mailchimp pricing starts with a free plan that our clients use to test the waters and continues with very affordable plans to grow
  2. Features – You’ll want to get a platform that lets you get a lot done. Mailchimp is very comprehensive, with not just essential integrations but advanced features to create, send and analyse your emails
  3. Ease of use – It’s important that your email platform not offer a steep learning curve, particularly for small businesses. You want to spend more time crafting great messages that resonate with your audience, not trying to figure out how to use your platform.
  4. Support –  A great email marketing platform keeps essential knowledge at your fingertips. Mailchimp’s knowledge base answers all, in our experience, questions you may have on the platform. Additionally, they have tutorials, general marketing tips, and a good old 101 course to help you know your left from your right. These resources not only help you understand Mailchimp but email marketing as a whole.
  5. Great analytics – It’s no secret how much we are fans of data-based decisions here at Mut-Con. We’ve found digital marketing to offer the best opportunity to collect, analyse and use data to improve performance. you need to invest in a platform that makes this easy. In fact, analytics should be the core of a good email marketing platform, not just an additional benefit.
Contact Mut-Con to make the most of Mail Chimp and email marketing
Contact Mut-Con to make the most of Mail Chimp and email marketing

 

Build a list

A good mailing list is the foundation your email marketing efforts will stand on. Unfortunately, building a good mailing list that performs can be an uphill climb, but done the right way, it will be worth it for your business.

According to the DMA, the average email subscriber is worth $37.44. Depending on the exchange rate, that translates to a lot of value in rand terms or any other currency. This could explain why Litmus finds a return on investment for email marketing to be 380%, significantly higher than the conservative 124% marketers attach to it.

The most organic places to build your email list is your other online assets. People who visit there show a willingness to interact with you, and they may be easier to convince to leave their email details. 

A few well-placed subscription forms could help you build a great list fast. Just be sure to only include important fields in your forms. The more fields there are, the less likely you are to get sign-ups. Additionally, avoid auto sign-ups. Give your audience the opportunity to opt-in to a newsletter even if there’s a process that requires their email address.

Backlinko touches comprehensively on list-building tactics you could use.

 

Build your campaigns

Now it’s time to put your plan into action and email your audience. The type of business you run will determine the type of emails you can send out. Some businesses lend themselves to email marketing a lot easier.

For example, eCommerce businesses tend to get a lot more opportunities to email, usually as a follow up to transactions. Considering transactional emails get up to 8 times better emails than marketing emails, this is a great opportunity.

 

However, with some understanding of your audience, any business has an opportunity to send out valuable messaging. Here’s a list of 12 email types that work for most businesses from HubSpot.

Be sure to use copy that is consistent with your brand in the emails. This will make the experience a lot more seamless for your client and perhaps increase their willingness to engage with your emails.

 

Make your campaigns visually appealing. Specifically, make sure your campaigns have as much colour as you can muster without being tacky. According to Xerox, colour can;

  1. Improve location of information by 70%,
  2. Improve a brand’s recognition by 80%,
  3. And retain improve attention retention by 82%,

You can, therefore, improve the performance of your emails by incorporating brand colours and colours that convey the emotion of the email.

You can’t go wrong with a few images either. 65% more people remember information if a visual is paired. According to HubSpot,  people process images 60 000 faster than text. As a result, you can use images to convey a bigger message even with diminishing attention spans.

 

Create a few automations

Automating tasks could supercharge your email marketing efforts. This is particularly important for small business owners who have to wear many hats in the business. Automation allows you to do more with less effort, increase your reach without increasing your efforts.

It’s important to properly familiarise yourself with automation that works best for your type of business. Some may be universal, such as welcoming new subscribers to a list. These are a good place to start.

 

Some are more specific to a specific business type though. A blog, for example, may automate notifications for new blog posts, while an eCommerce store sends reminders for browsed products, and businesses can send catalogues to customers who view services pages.

It’s also important to automate actions from integrated services. A good email marketing platform should allow you to integrate with social media services. This can be good for cross-posting, helping your campaigns gain a greater reach.

 

Know the metrics to keep an eye on

Measurement is the cornerstone of successful digital marketing, and this is also true for email marketing. You should know the Key Performance Areas to stay aware of and track the relevant Key Performace Indicators.
This will not only allow you to get a good ROI on your email marketing activities but help you hold onto them. No strategy is going to work well indefinitely, that’s why to keep an eye on the numbers.

It’s also important to stay aware of industry trends and benchmarks. Digital marketing performance can vary wildly and widely across seasons and industry. The only way to have a proper analysis framework is to have a starting point to compare your own performance against.

 

How to Succeed in Email Marketing

Consider mobile responsiveness

Campaign Monitor found that mobile devices constitute about 50% of all email opens. They also found that bad mobile display could lead to an email being deleted within 3 seconds of opening.

This translates to 50% of your hard crafted marketing communication not getting a read past the first line. Any good email marketing platform gives you an opportunity to see how emails will display on mobile.

This is a feature you should make use of extensively. Additionally, you should have an option to send test emails of your campaigns. Take advantage of this as well to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

 

Enrich your copy

Email marketing offers incredible personalisation options. While many digital marketing platforms give you an opportunity to segment demographically and geographically, email marketing allows you to take it a step further.

Because with the right list building strategies your audience actually opt-in, you can gather the information needed to segment. This gives you an opportunity to tailor your message to the specific characteristics of your audience for better results.

 

Receiving a message they actually want to hear would be a nice change of pace for your audience. What with all the noise from all the marketing channels, it’s a nice way to stand out and endear your brand to them.

Your copy should also respect the basic tenants of good communication and writing. Ensuring good spelling and grammar is the kind of etiquette that gets your emails more reads. Not only does it present your brand professionally, but poorly written copy could actually get you flagged as SPAM.

 

Stand out with a great subject line

Don’t forget to invest effort in drafting a great headline. Up to 35% of email recipients consider the subject line as a factor in opening emails. A poor subject could, therefore, derail your email campaign even with the best content.

As a result, the subject line could be the most important part of your email. The influence of the subject lie could be subliminal at times. So even if your email is welcome, a bad subject line could get it dismissed.

 

Be clear, concise and avoid using too many buzzwords. Write natural subject lines that sound more human than machine. Keep it short and sweet, you can use the preview bar if there’s additional information you want to give before the email is opened. 

Don’t forget that your subject line also matters to SPAM filters. Avoid using words and sentence structure that may get your email flagged. Also, if it looks like SPAMmy to a filter, it might look SPAMmy to your reader. Here’s a list of SPAM words to avoid.

 

Keep it consistent

Humans are inherently creatures of habit, and as such we easily fall into a routine. Effective marketing takes full advantage of this, deliver a consistent message for an opportunity to stay top of mind.

Sleeknote found that 91% of shoppers want to hear from businesses they do business with via email. Additionally, they found transactional emails have better engagement than marketing emails.

 

This means a consistent campaign by your business after transactions would lead to brand lift via marketing that’s actually welcome from your clients. Just ensure that each email sent out adds value to the client. 

Don’t just send a receipt, throw in something extra to reward not only the purchase but the email open. A nice coupon or discount could go a long way in making sure your next email gets a read as well.

 

Keep it short and sweet

Don’t run the risk of your core message getting buried in a tonne of information. Your audience is working with an attention span of 8 seconds, which is increasingly decreasing. That’s enough for a quick glance at most.

So your communication should be clear, concise, and non-distracting. Before sending a message, be sure what is most important to be heard, and put it at the forefront. Even if you start with the important bits, avoid putting extra content at the bottom.

It’ll just increase the length of the email, and that alone may leave your audience lazy to read even the opening part. Be laser-focused on the message, convey it in simple copy, and use a visual aid where possible, and your message may land. 

 

Nurture relationships

Not all subscribers to your email are going to make purchases, make them immediately, or make them recurringly. Email marketing is just as important for nurturing relationships over long periods as it is for making sales immediately.

You should, therefore, expand your email communication beyond typical sales-oriented content like coupons and discounts. Consider clients who subscribe to other sources of value like support. Cater to the as well.

This type of engagement could be the key to unlocking other sources of value like referrals or brand advocacy. Mixing it up with your communication could actually allow you to send more emails.

One email with the same type of content regularly can be considered overkill, but different angles could help with brand fatigue among your audience. You can use marketing automation to make sure clients receive a healthy variety of emails.

 

Pitfalls to Avoid in Email Marketing

Over emailing your audience

The affordability of email yields a new problem; overuse of the medium. It’s very easy for marketers to get carried away with sending emails. Unfortunately, SPAMing your audience with an email every chance you get will not lead to better results.

On the contrary, it will only lead to brand fatigue. According to HubSpot, 78% of your audience are likely to unsubscribe from your emails if they receive too many. Giving an option to reduce the frequency of emails on the subscribe page could help.

 

However, it’s usually too late by the time that page is reached, so try to avoid it as much as possible. There is no universal way to determine the right frequency of emails. A good starting point could actually be to ask your audience with perhaps a welcome email.

At the very least, make sure you email your audience when it adds value to them. That is always an acceptable email frequency.

 

Do not buy email lists

Do not. Just, do not. A purchased email marketing list can never generate a positive return on investment. As a matter of fact, purchasing a list is pretty much giving up every advantage to be gained. 

Purchased lists contain a number of problems. The biggest is that subscribers on purchased lists have not given consent to be contacted by you. This pretty much eliminates all the goodwill that makes email marketing so effective.

 

Additionally, many laws make unsolicited emails illegal. Another problem is deliverability issues. Purchased emails tend to have a lot of outdated and invalid emails. These negatively affect the performance of your campaigns.

This distorted data can be very discouraging. The remaining that do deliver usually just get relegated to the SPAM folder. This negatively affects your domain as a whole. The few that get opened cannot make up for this negative impact.

 

Failing to audit your lists regularly

Stale email lists contain non-openers that negatively impact you on 2 fronts. They can discourage your efforts by bringing key metrics like click-through rates. They can affect the quality of your emails by getting considered as SPAM by filters and your marketing software.

As a result, you have to be very swift and decisive with email addresses that don’t open your emails. Conducting regular audits and removing poorly performing addresses should be a regular priority.

 

While it might be tempting to bask in the reassurance of a long list if it’s full of subscribers that no longer want to hear from you then it may be doing more harm than good.

As a result, you need to have a framework in place to sanitize your list. A good email marketing platform will allow you to view emails that haven’t engaged in a given period, this is a good place to start with the deletions. You can send a final email to give your subscriber an opportunity to say they want out, but take care of such emails.

 

Conclusion

Email marketing can provide some of the best value for marketers. The return email marketing gives relative to time, effort and money spent make for a very good return on investment. Of all the platforms available to you, email provides the best opportunity to;

  1. Personalise your message
  2. Follow up 
  3. Control frequency of communication
  4. And allow users to opt-out of communicating all together

All these factors are becoming more and more important to successful marketing as consumers get bombarded with more and more messages.

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