Email marketing guide: how to build a solid strategy for 2020
Technology has evolved so much and so fast in the last decade that it changed over and over how we think about Digital Marketing.
Today, data and automation are at the center of any strategy that aims to convert more and spend less. It is all about optimizing costs and engaging the right people at the right time.
In this email marketing guide, we want to show you exactly that: how a well-structured campaign can use this consolidated channel to attract, gather data, advertise, and build brand presence.
All of that relying heavily on cheap, easy and automatic tools.
Keep on reading to discover more about the following topics:
- What email marketing is and how it works
- The importance of an email marketing strategy
- How to start an email marketing strategy
- What to consider while choosing an email marketing tool
- 7 email marketing metrics to keep an eye on
- How to measure email marketing campaign results
What email marketing is and how it works
When we think about how much communication has changed since the internet became popular, we realize that email is an outlier.
We have seen the quick rise and fall of chat rooms and instant messaging, and the constant mutation of social networks from Myspace to Twitter.
People are abandoning all of that due to visual networks, such as Instagram or TikTok, and group chats, like Telegram and Zoom.
But even with so many changes, email still is a primordial and popular way of communicating, almost the same as it was when invented in the late 1970s.
The answer is simple: email is the most efficient, direct, and organized way of sending messages — especially for sharing documents, keeping track of orders online, and being well informed.
Because of that, email is reliable. People trust and pay attention to it. And that is a giant value for marketing campaigns.
What email marketing is
Email marketing is a strategy for offering rich, smart, and relevant content directly to your leads via their inboxes.
It is an approach to build a long-term relationship by constantly contacting them in meaningful ways.
This plan can be adapted depending on what your audience expects from your brand. It can be a conversation, with articles and tips about subjects aligned with their interests.
Or it can also be informative, with updates about the company, including orders or loyalty programs. It usually is a bit of both.
In its core, email marketing is a structure based on planning, timing, and automation.
It can be used to:
- raise brand awareness;
- promote rich and relevant content;
- build authority;
- generate and nurture leads and get richer data from them;
- market new products;
- retain converted leads boosting brand loyalty.
How email marketing works
Usually, email marketing is heavily focused on automation. The most common approach to this strategy is to plan a calendar and write content that will fit in it.
Then, the company uses tools to create triggers that activate certain actions and send the right message at the most appropriate time.
How about an example? Let’s say your company sells shoes and have an amazing ebook about different models and when to use them.
Your lead is interested in it and curious, so they give you their email address to get access to the content. That’s a trigger.
When activated, the automated tool immediately sends them not only the link to the ebook but also another article about pairing shoes with the right socks.
A week later — a time trigger —, you ask about their reading and start showing more rich information.
Or you start talking about what sets your shoes apart from other brands. Maybe they go well with anything. Maybe they match the lead’s style.
Now you have created a connection, a relationship. That is the power of email as a marketing channel.
It talks directly to the lead, and it is constant.
These are two amazing key points for a successful advertising campaign.
It was only a simple example, but it shows a little about how it can boost your brand awareness and your sales.
The importance of an email marketing strategy
So let’s talk a bit more about the benefits that make companies from startups to enterprise invest in email marketing.
First of all, nearly everybody has an email, right? And that it is not just an assumption.
Researches point out that more than 90% of the US population has an account, and most of them check their inboxes daily.
But the key factor here is that email marketing already starts from a vantage point for marketing. If you have the lead’s email, they are already engaged in a buyer’s journey towards you.
This information alone tells us that email gives a lot more return over your investment compared to other kinds of advertising and marketing.
With a great strategy, your conversion ratio can be a lot better than paid ads or other more general ways of attracting leads.
And we can’t forget to talk about costs. As we said, automation plays a big part in the execution of email marketing. When it is set up and ready to launch, the campaign works almost by itself.
The only money you spend is on tools and services that will keep it running. The human effort will be focused on analyzing KPIs and fine-tuning the message.
So you can easily plan a strategy that uses automation to be on 24/7, in a cheap and very effective way.
All of this in a channel capable of reaching almost all your leads and client base.
How to start an email marketing strategy
A successful email marketing strategy is all about planning and structuring.
So let’s list the steps you need to follow so you can guarantee a great response from the audience since the first mail sent.
Start with your goals
Like any other marketing campaign, you can’t trace a path without knowing where the end line is.
So let’s begin with some achievable but bold goals.
What do you want the most? Is it converting more leads that you attract? Is it creating brand awareness? Is it focusing on brand loyalty?
Usually, you can work all of these points together. But each one of them needs its own plan and ways of measuring success.
One thought about email strategy is that you need to have content ready before running it.
Well, not all of it, but enough to cover needs, expectations, and doubts in all stages of the Digital Marketing funnel.
Your emails need to be coherent with your buyer persona. They need a similar voice and style and must communicate in a way familiar to your audience.
Remember, you are creating a relationship.
Writing emails for a campaign involves conversations, information, updates, and system messages. It’s a lot to elaborate on and format.
Setup your triggers
With content ready, the next step is all about predicting the audience’s behavior and setting up the structure accordingly.
Triggers are conditions that drive to action.
If the lead visited a store page for sneakers while logged, then the software sends him tomorrow an email with a discount for those.
If they didn’t visit the store for a month, then an email can let him know of new models and make offers. A trigger can be action based or time-based.
That’s why knowing your buyer persona is so important. You need to understand how they react to stimulation, how they engage with content, and what motivates their buying impulse.
The triggers will be the center of your strategy because email marketing doesn’t work as it should without automation. Imagine having to send them manually!
Build your mailing list
Usually, an email marketing address list starts with the ones you already have from login information.
One of the main efforts related to this strategy is how to get new and fresh addresses with which you can build a relationship.
A great way of doing that is by offering something in exchange for contact information.
For example, ebooks, tutorials, rich data, and webinars are attractive material that grabs the persona’s attention and is valuable enough to make them willingly share info with you.
You need to build your list organically, looking for people who want to be contacted by you. The golden rule here is never to buy an email marketing list!
Segment your mailing list
If you are doing it right, your company will have thousands of email addresses to feed the automated marketing campaign.
]But you wouldn’t want to send the same content to all of them, right?
Some leads are yet in the discovery stage. They don’t even know for sure what they want. Others are about to make a buying decision. Another portion of them includes clients who are looking for a new discount.
So it is important to create segments within your list and different paths and triggers for each one.
That way, you can distribute your content right and be laser-focused with your message.
Know the dos and don’ts
A list, structure, content, and goals: that’s all you need to start a great email marketing campaign. But we want to give you some additional tips that may optimize your work. See what you have to do and what you have to avoid.
Let’s start with dos:
- always give some reward in each email — for example, an interesting article or a discount coupon;
- be a constant presence, so the brand is always remembered;
- create a newsletter to improve your strategy and build a deeper connection;
- finish emails creating some excitement or expectation for the next one;
- always deliver what you promise.
And now the don’ts:
- don’t be inconvenient, both on content and frequency;
- never send emails to people who didn’t authorize you to do so;
- don’t buy email lists — they can boost your reach, but will never translate well into conversions;
- never lie or deceive your leads with misleading messages.
What to consider while choosing an email marketing tool
It is now clear that technology has a huge part in email marketing. Automation, intelligence, and data analyzing are constant demands for creating and improving campaigns.
So what you need is to choose the right ones. You do that by betting in products and services that integrate content creation, trigger and structure planning, and performance monitoring.
Take a look at the best tools on the market!
Mailchimp is one of the most popular and complete email marketing platforms, and it offers free plans for those who still have a small email list.
You can use it to everything: manage email addresses, elaborate content, build email layouts, set triggers, segment messages, and even analyze results.
Constant Contact is a similar platform that helps even small businesses on creating great email marketing campaigns with low investment.
When we say low, we are talking about $20 a month for unlimited emails, customizable templates, mobile responsive layouts, everything with an easy and intuitive interface for planning, producing, and measuring.
Every company can use the same structure created for email marketing as a sales and CRM tool. Keap is a service that does exactly that.
With the platform, you can program your campaign, but also automate relationships with customers.
It’s a perfect way of integrating marketing and sales into a killer strategy.
7 email marketing metrics to keep an eye on
Now that we talked about how to plan an email marketing campaign and what tools can help you, we need to discuss the most important process to guarantee success when the strategy is being executed.
Yes, metrics and measuring performance. The data you gather from emails will help you tweak layouts, adjust the language, and create more efficient triggers.
Let’s see the 7 most relevant metrics you need to look at constantly.
1. Open rate
The percentage of recipients from the total emails sent that opened the message.
A bad performing open rate metric suggests that the subjects you wrote are not intriguing enough or that the mailing list is not well segmented.
2. Bounce rate
Email bouncing happens when the message is sent from the server but never reaches the recipient.
It can be caused by temporary problems (soft bounce) or if the address is invalid or non-existent (hard bounce).
When the bounce rate is too high, you should probably take a look at your email list.
Something may be wrong about how you are gathering leads, or there may be a performance problem with your email marketing solution.
3. Click-through rate
CTR is one of the most important metrics for your marketing campaign success.
It is the percentage of people who receive your email and not only open it but click in one or more links in the content.
A low performance here can indicate that your message is not clear or engaging enough.
It can also have something to do with how well you develop your CTAs. You have to be objective, charming, and convincing.
4. Conversion rate
Conversion goes beyond click-through, but it is not necessarily about buying something in this context.
It refers to the rate of people who performed the desired action in each email.
It can be reading and responding to an article, filling a form, or buying a product.
It is important to set goals for each message so you can track its efficiency in moving a lead forward.
5. Email forwarding rate
Sometimes an email has so good content that people just want to share it with family and friends.
Email marketing tools can measure that and point out those that were forward the most to other recipients.
Learning from them will help you improve all your strategies.
6. Unsubscribe rate
If sharing shows that your content is doing well, the rate of people unsubscribing to your newsletter or choosing not to receive emails from you can be a bad sign.
Usually, the number grows when content is inconvenient or not useful.
If it happens, maybe, it is time to revise your strategy.
7. List growth rate
Sharing, engaging, and converting help you have a bigger email list to work with.
More addresses, more leads. More leads, more sales.
This growth will show you how the company is performing overall in its email marketing strategy.
It also will tell a lot about how effective your content is in attracting new leads and nurturing them.
How to measure email marketing campaign results
Now that you know the metrics, it is necessary to understand that numbers are nothing by themselves. A good analysis is always a combination of measurement and context.
So we want to end this conversation proposing a reflection to you. It doesn’t matter if you have the best-designed plan and great content if they are just not suitable for your target audience, your budget, and your goals.
A company needs to be smart to make it in this digital era. It needs to gather as much data as possible and translate it to feasible actions — creating better content, tweaking triggers, and investing in the lead acquisition.
In the end, the results of this campaign are measured from an ROI standpoint: how much you had to spend to reach the goals you wanted to achieve.
There is no other way to end an email marketing guide. It is not a matter of how much you can do, but how you can do better with resources and tools at hand.
So start by researching your audience and planning the best structure possible. With some smart decisions and specialized help, you can make big things with less effort than you think.
And if Digital Marketing is all about optimizing, why don’t you keep learning about it? You can start by visiting our post about its most important terms.