Email marketing: some tools
What is email marketing?
In today’s world, there is a high chance that you have already come into contact with email marketing in some way or another. These campaigns are a powerful tool used to directly promote your business’s products or services to the correct people, according to mailchimp. It’s also an effective way to advertise your brand’s newest items and offers: by integrating it into your marketing automation ventures.
Digital is the key! Additionally, email marketing can play a pivotal role in your marketing strategy. Different types of emails and plans facilitate brand awareness, lead generation, relationship building, and can help keep customers engaged between purchases, as mailchimp reveals. Actually, as far as digital marketing goes, it has existed for a while.
“In 1978, a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp named Gary Thuerk used this new method of direct communication to send out the first commercial email to let people know about a new product. His email list only had 400 addresses, but the emails he sent resulted in about $13 million in sales,” says Mailchimp. The first example of this digital marketing campaign was over 40 years ago; its rate of use and subsequent success have only increased over time.
By the ‘90s, the Internet was widely commercially available in the First World. The channels and ways in which people communicated had already begun to change unprecedentedly, and marketers saw this huge opportunity in which email advertising was proving to be effective. The prominence of powerful marketing emails came hand in hand with a wave of regulatory updates.
For example, the U.K.’s Data Protection Act was modified to require an “opt-out” option for all marketing emails (Mailchimp). With the incredible growth of marketing and humans’ interaction with everything digital in the past decades, many changes in the regulations were and continue to be necessary.
Simply put, “Email marketing is a digital marketing channel that uses an email service provider (ESP) to send large amounts of email to an email list. The goal of email marketing is to persuade the recipient to click or make purchases directly from that email. This action is also known as a conversion, and it is one of the most illuminating metrics of how successful your email program is” (SendGrid).
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective, rewarding manners in which you, a small business owner, can communicate clearly with your customers and followers.
As SendGrid says, it’s a strategy worth trying for multiple reasons. First, email is much cheaper than online advertising. If a lead has signed up for your newsletter or list, you’re already a step closer to profit than with somebody looking at an online ad elsewhere. Note: M Accelerator members receive $5,000 in credits from SendGrid.
What’s more, email is very engaging. Just customize a template with your copy and news, and keeping in touch with your steady customers has never been easier. Finally, emails can generate fantastic website traffic, improving your local SEO performance and raising your page’s views.
This advertising choice still promises to deliver the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing tool available to you—$42 back for every dollar spent in 2020, according to one report. However, although email marketing techniques boast an amazing return on investment, not all businesses are using them. According to the same 2020 report by Aweber, just 66% of the small businesses surveyed say they use email marketing to “promote their businesses or communicate with leads and/or customers.”
Interestingly, a 2015 study by the U.K.-based Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that for every $1 spent, email had an average ROI of $38 (Mailchimp). Comparatively, email marketing’s average return value per dollar nowadays (for small businesses) is higher than it was in the recent past. Those aren’t bad odds to take a chance on!
Why try email marketing?
For many leaders of businesses, startups, or large companies, email marketing is an excellent choice that just makes sense. It gives you easy access to your audience while you build a relationship with them. Simultaneously, you can be driving traffic to your blog, social media, or anywhere else you’d like folks to visit.
It’s also possible and often useful to segment your emails and target users by demographic, age, and other factors (mailchimp). Therefore, you’re only sending people the messages that are most relevant to them: the ones they’re most likely to care about.
When creating and updating your email list, and email design, some necessary factors to study are different ways to segment the list; this will allow you to provide more personalized content, increasing the audience’s engagement. First, demographics are prominent: can you group people by age, region, gender, etc.?
Customer information is also important. When did they join, and how much money/time are they spending? Third, what types of emails (transactional or marketing) are they receiving? Lastly, how engaged are the individuals? Who opens all of your emails, a few, or none? All of these pieces will help you to have an extremely effective email campaign, SendGrid says.
Pay attention to the frequency you are utilizing automated emails, too. As Aweber’s 2020 report directs: “Mark Asquith, the cofounder, and CEO of Rebel Base Media, advises those who are just starting to use email marketing to send an email once a week. “Rather than sending more, test what you already do. Then test frequency,” he says.” Start out small with automated marketing, and scale up once the ball gets rolling.
Furthermore, one very constructive way to use email marketing to your advantage is to have more personal conversations with your customers. Email is an incredible tool, one which can help your business in many ways. Mailchimp suggests some other forms of email marketing that may not be at the forefront of your mind: “Consider taking the occasional break from your regular marketing content to send out surveys, tell your customers how much you appreciate them after buying from you, following up after an abandoned cart, or just say hello. Not only does it give your audience a chance to provide you with valuable feedback, but it also allows them to get more insight into the person behind the business.” (mailchimp)
Often, more personal emails can be automated in an organized, deliberate way that propels your business and public image to new heights.
When you build email marketing templates, one indispensable piece of advice from Mailchimp is to avoid buying and using email address lists. They warn that many email marketing companies, including themselves, have a “strict, permission-based policy when it comes to email addresses.” This means that it is prohibited to send emails to purchased lists. In preference, you should focus on encouraging your customers to voluntarily opt into receiving your messages by using lead magnets.
Many interesting lead magnet strategies could make your email marketing be that much more effective. One method is to offer a discount on your customers’ first orders when they sign up for your email list via a custom signup form. Perhaps you choose to entice your customer base with samples in an optional monthly or weekly newsletter; this utilizes two strategies in one.
You could have customers fill out a form to receive more data about potential customers. “Or maybe you can offer new subscribers free shipping on their next order—or give them a chance to win a prize when they join your list” (mailchimp).
Having a solid plan when you start your email marketing attempts will make them so much more effective. These tips will probably save you money (your customer list will be free and not restricted, as the purchased ones usually are). Plus, your emails are more likely to reach interested eyes.
Again, remember to never buy, rent, or share any type of email list. Instead, create and use lead magnets to organically grow your email list. Lead magnets are some sort of incentive that you provide to acquire a lead (i.e. email address). Some more examples include:
- Best practice guides, white-papers, or case studies.
- Data-rich infographics.
- Downloadable PDF checklists.
- Other sales incentives or promotional discounts (Sendgrid).
How effective is it?
An email will sit in someone’s inbox until it’s read, deleted, or archived. Email marketing has become an increasingly popular business marketing tool partly because it forces the user to take action somehow. Emails are also one of the most cost-effective tools available in today’s business world, Mailchimp notes.
However, there are certain factors that make an essential difference in the level of success your startup will experience: the length of your email list, budgeting, awareness of regional email regulations, and using the tools available. Take these factors into consideration to stay on a winning path.
So why should you trust these strategies to work for you? A 2020 Aweber report about small businesses using email marketing shares: “Of those surveyed, 79% say it’s “important” or “very important” to their businesses. However, while business owners acknowledge the importance of email marketing in general, only 60% think their own email marketing strategies are “effective” or “very effective,” while 26% say it’s either “ineffective” or “very ineffective.” There are certain determining factors that are helpful to study in and outside your business’s plan.
As the report goes on to say, it is only possible to track and know the effect your business email marketing has if you define the parameters to be measured. “The two most common measurements for small businesses are open rates and click-through rates.” Open rates are the amount of emails that are actually opened; the Aweber report found that 65% of small businesses average open rates between 11% and 50%.
Click-through rates, or the ratio of users who click on a link in comparison to the total number of users who viewed your email, are an element that many small businesses could improve. 77% of small companies average email click-through rates between 0% and 10%.
Follow the advice in all the sections of this article and you could save your startup business lots of time and money in the long run. Moreover, another imperative tip is that you and your team are aware of national and international email marketing regulations before starting. Always adhere to all legal requirements and laws applicable in your area of residence when sending automated emails.
For dealing with personal information, pay attention to the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL), or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (mailchimp). The regulations go off of your location and the location of your audience, and it is your sole responsibility to know which laws matter in your circumstances.
What about list size; does it impact the effectiveness of your email marketing? “Yes, but don’t let that discourage you. It appears having at least as few as 500 subscribers makes a difference. Of the small businesses surveyed, 42% with more than 500 subscribers say their email marketing strategies are effective or very effective, while only 20% of businesses with 500 or less subscribers say the same.
Most (43%) of the participating small business owners have email lists between 0 and 500 subscribers. Slightly more than 30% have between 1,001 and 9,999 email subscribers, and less than 7% of small businesses have more than 50,000 subscribers,” Aweber reports. Despite the fact that 500 people might seem like a daunting number, finding and retaining those customers shouldn’t be difficult with the combination of tools and resources at your disposal.
Finally, nearly 40% of the survey’s respondents report they send emails “at least once a week but less than daily.” More than 30% send emails “at least once a month but less than weekly.” Only about 12% either send emails daily or less than once a month (aweber). Timing is key as well, so try to find the best balance for your specific situation!
What are tools and strategies for email marketing?
A myriad of tools, platforms, and strategies exist for email marketing, but there are a few more we feel are worth mentioning. One fantastic strategy to retain clients is to only send pertinent emails. When someone has trusted you with their email address, don’t abuse your power.
Flooding your audience’s inbox with excess or redundant emails will cause them to lose interest quickly and often unsubscribe entirely. “Focus on sending them relevant, engaging messages about the stuff they like, and they’ll be loyal for a long time to come” (mailchimp). This is very important for startups to keep in their best practices.
So far, you’ve heard a lot from Mailchimp, but we find it necessary to include two more amazing automated marketing tools which might be a good fit for you: Mailmodo and Twilio Sendgrid. First, Mailmodo is “a complete email marketing solution enabling users to create and send app-like interactive emails to improve email conversions,” according to their LinkedIn.
note: M Accelerator members receive 50% discount for Mailmodo service, plus a dedicated success manager and consultations for the first 3 months.
Because all interactions happen inside the platform, it eliminates the need for user redirections, providing both a smoother user email experience and higher conversions. They boast the ability to add interactive elements like forms, carts, a calendar and more to your emails. Check them out!
Comparatively, Twilio Sendgrid is another marketing service available to you. Their website maintains that: “Since 2009, through sending email for 82,000 customers, we’ve learned that email is an important mix of technology and people.” They “pioneered transactional email, have more delivery experts and support engineers than any other email provider, and continue to deliver new email and communication products to [their] customers” (SendGrid). Not to mention, they serve 2 trillion email addresses in total- an impressive track record.
Another tool is that email marketing allows you to run A/B tests of a subject line or call to action. Through A/B testing, individuals, teams, and companies make conscientious changes to improve their users’ experiences, while collecting valuable data for the future. This way, you can identify and improve the best-performing messages.
We’ll overview the A/B tests more in the next section. You can use the same email marketing software which can be easily configured to send out emails and promotions. Marketing automation is extremely helpful because emails and social media content can be set up to send at certain strategic times.
Both transactional and engagement marketing emails are effective strategies to follow, and knowing the difference is crucial to building your overall email strategy, according to Sendgrid. Transactional emails are sent when the customer requests to initiate something; this includes password resets, shipping notifications, and appointment confirmations.
On the other hand, marketing emails are strictly promotional emails. Examples of these include sales promotions and special discounts/offers. These two forms of email are essential to your company’s successful communication with others.
Moreover, although email marketing and email newsletters are similar, they shouldn’t be confused. As Sendgrid explains:
- “An email newsletter shares a collection of news, stories, or other business updates. The goal of an email newsletter is to maintain the relationship and engage recipients. Although this doesn’t mean newsletters don’t push to a harder sell of a product or service, it’s generally not the primary purpose of the email.
- Email marketing can be considered more promotional than newsletters and typically has a primary goal of converting recipients into completing a specific action (for example applying a discount code, or visiting a landing page with the opportunity to make purchases). Marketing emails are also typically shorter than email newsletters and contain fewer CTAs throughout. Email marketing can sometimes be referred to as an email blast. While that term can carry a negative or spammy connotation, it can be used interchangeably for promotional email.”
How do you conduct tests and measure success for your email marketing efforts?
Measuring email metrics gives you precious information about what changes should be made to your emails over time. Opens, clicks, unsubscribes/spam reports, and email list growth over time are the most essential marketing data to start measuring right away. Sendgrid suggests the following strategies to measure metrics’ success:
- Try waiting about 48 hours before tabulating email metrics. This gives your recipients a chance to see your email and it also accounts for various time zones.
- Open rates vary across industries, so it’s hard to provide one hard number to measure against. It may be more beneficial to see the specific numbers for your industry. According to Sendgrid’s 2018 Email Benchmark Report, which analyzed open rates across all industries, the aggregate average open rate is a mere 18%.
- Sendgrid’s email benchmark report found that the aggregate click rate for senders is 2%. Also, consider tracking the click-to-open rate which will give you a better idea of how your customers view the quality of the content inside the email. The click-to-open rate is calculated by comparing the percentage of clicks compared to total open rates.
- A higher unsubscribe rate likely signifies that you aren’t providing relevant and valuable content for your recipients. Some user depletion is expected. But if unsubscribe rates start to spike, it’s probably worth reviewing your email content and changing up your strategy at that point.
- Lastly, it’s crucial to keep a close eye on your delivery metrics. These include delivery rate (percent of emails that make it into the inbox), bounce rates, unsubscribes, and spam reports. They can give you an advantage with lots of information that many businesses don’t take into account.
A huge key tool to optimize your business’s emails is to A/B test them. Performing this kind of data-backed testing allows you to see exactly what type of content or messaging is making the best impression on your audience. The testing variables likely fall into the categories of content, design, or timing. Sendgrid actually has a very useful guideline for these testing variables more in-depth.
Overall, email marketing is a beneficial tool for countless small businesses in today’s digital world. If you haven’t given it a try yet, results suggest that you should. Hopefully this article clarified some of the reasons to try this digital communication technique, and the best practices you should follow in order to maximize its potential. Happy marketing!