Digital Marketing
Email Marketing 101

Email Marketing 101

Email Marketing 101

14 Essentials to Maximize Your ROI

Email marketing is a direct marketing approach that uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial or fundraising messages to an audience. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. However, the term is usually used to refer to (1) sending emails with the purpose of enhancing the relationship of a merchant with its current or previous customers, and (2) sending emails with the purpose of acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something immediately.

The main difference between email marketing and other types of direct marketing is that with email marketing, businesses can communicate one-to-one, as opposed to one-to-many. This allows for more personalized attention that can result in better conversion rates.

While the statistics are overwhelmingly in favor of email marketing as the best method for converting leads, but you can’t expect those kinds of returns without putting a lot of thought and effort into your campaigns.

Having your own email list is obviously ideal, but if you don't have one you can utilize other lead-generation methods to help you get started. Either way, you're going to want to capitalize on the 50% of people who say they buy from marketing emails at least once per month or the 59% of people who say that marketing emails have influenced their purchases.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. How many bad marketing emails have you received for everyone that’s converted you? Nearly 1 in 5 email campaigns aren’t optimized for mobile devices, and 41% of marketing emails are viewed on smartphones (59% of millennials, and 67% of Gen Z).

Email marketing isn't just about sending out mass emails to everyone on your list. The success of your email marketing campaigns depends on three things: the quality of your list, the quality of your content, and the frequency with which you send emails. Keep these things in mind as we go over some tips for successful email marketing.

Keep your list clean and up-to-date. 

Remove any inactive subscribers, bounced addresses, and duplicates on a regular basis. Not only will this keep your list manageable, but it will also improve your deliverability rate (the percentage of messages that are successfully delivered to subscribers' inboxes).

Make sure you have permission to send emails. 

This seems like a no-brainer, but it's important to make sure that everyone on your list has opted in to receive emails from you. Otherwise, you risk being marked as a spammer.

A larger list does not mean a larger ROI.

‍There is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to large email lists. Instead of blasting one giant list with the same content, consider segmenting those lists and personalizing your content as much as possible.

Too few or too many emails per month hurts email ROI.

‍Daily is too much, and monthly is not enough. Based on studies, the sweet spot seems to be between 9-16 emails per month. While slightly more or less still generate significant returns, we're going for outstanding, not pretty good results.

Testing your emails leads to higher ROI.

‍Companies that test their email campaigns enjoyed 28% higher ROI than their counterparts. Keep it simple at first by testing different subject lines. Definitely make sure you're testing for spam filters and deliverability, and preview before sending for formatting issues. Once you're comfortable, you can start testing different content and even the landing pages where you're directing traffic.

Personalized content leads to higher returns.

‍Dynamic content is essential to add a personalized touch to your email campaigns, and companies that do experience ROIs 4x higher than companies that don’t.

Make sure you have permission to send emails. 

This seems like a no-brainer, but it's important to make sure that everyone on your list has opted in to receive emails from you. Otherwise, you risk being marked as a spammer.

Know your audience.

Segmenting your list allows you to send targeted content that is relevant to each group of subscribers. This increases engagement and makes people more likely to open and click through your emails.

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Write great subject lines. 

Your subject line is what gets people to open your email, so it's important to make it compelling and interesting. Avoid using ALL CAPS or excessive exclamation points, and try to keep it under 50 characters if possible.

Keep your content concise and focused. 

No one wants to read a long novel in their inbox—they'll just delete it without reading it! Get straight to the point and make sure each email has one call-to-action (CTA).

Use engaging visuals whenever possible. 

People are visual creatures, so adding images, videos, or infographics can really help get your message across—and make people more likely to share it with others! Just make sure that any visuals you use are high quality and have relevant ALT text for accessibility purposes.

Pay attention to the technical stuff. 

Make sure your HTML is error-free and renders correctly across different devices and email clients (Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.). Test everything before you hit "send"!

Timing is everything—choose wisely! 

Studies show that Tuesday mornings tend to be when people are most engaged with their inboxes, so try sending your emails then for optimal results. Just be careful not to bombard people with too many messages; once or twice a week should suffice for most purposes.

Always include an unsubscribe link. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but giving people the option to unsubscribe from your emails shows that you respect their time and their inboxes. If someone doesn't want to receive your emails anymore, there's no point in forcing them to stay on your list. Plus, having an unsubscribe link helps you avoid getting marked as spam!

Analyze, analyze, analyze! 

Make sure you track your email open rates and link click-through rates to see what works and what doesn't. Try A/B testing different subject lines or content formats to see what gets your readers engaged. The more data you have, the better equipped you'll be to fine-tune your email marketing strategy for maximum impact!

Now that you know the basics of email marketing, you're ready to start planning your own campaigns! Keep these key points in mind for successful emails, and don't forget to test, test, test! With a little bit of effort and some trial and error, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this powerful form of direct marketing!

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Email Marketing FAQs

What are the best email marketing tools to use?

There are A LOT of options out there. Ultimately, you’ll want to base your decision on what works best for your company (i.e. do you already have a list, is it cold, how many emails do you plan on sending out, how much time do you have to babysit it, are they key automations you can easily set up, does it integrate with your CRM, pricing, etc.)

For the most part, you can’t go wrong with MailChimp, HubSpot, and Active Campaign. If you want a more complete list, check out this Forbes article here.

How do I build an email marketing list?

You should start by establishing a sign-up form for customers to fill out, making sure you acquire their full name and email address. From there, think about what incentives you can offer to entice customers to join your list. Additionally, creating landing pages with forms or calls to action is a great way to grab leads and add them to the list. Finally, use your blog content and social media posts to drive people back to the form, furthering the size of your email list.

The other option would be to buy an existing list, of which there are many options. I typically don’t recommend this, because it is really only a B2B option. However, it has been done with varying degrees of success depending on how you use it.

How do I track the results of my email marketing campaign?

A key element to keep in mind is that not all tracking takes place in the same space or way. Digital platforms like Google Analytics offer invaluable insights into general metrics such as website visits and clicks generated from email campaigns, while marketing automation tools such as Mailchimp allow for more refined analytics related to user interactions with specific emails sent out. Careful analysis and combination of this data allow for customized actions to be taken in order to refine your campaign towards reaching its goals.

What are some common email marketing mistakes?

Many businesses make the mistake of sending out generic emails or not utilizing personalization capabilities to ensure a successful email marketing campaign. They also often neglect to A/B test their messages before launching, thus missing out on valuable insights that could make all the difference in engagement. Additionally, businesses sometimes end up not segmenting their audience sufficiently in order to craft targeted messaging, causing the message to fall flat with subscribers. Finally, businesses need to remember that email campaigns should always include an obvious call-to-action (CTA) so that customers are driven to take the desired action. Without a clear CTA and relevant content, there’s no incentive provided for customers to act. 

What is cold email marketing?

Cold email marketing is an excellent way to reach potential customers who may have never heard of your company before. It involves sending emails that do not require a previous relationship or offer a specific incentive in exchange for grabbing the recipient's attention. As a promotional tool, it has been proven to be one of the most cost-effective methods for engaging with customers, as well as generating leads, and driving sales. By personalizing each message and crafting its content carefully, businesses can make sure their cold emails cut through the clutter and stand out from the masses to maximize response rates.

Why is cold email marketing effective?

Cold emails are an efficient way for targeting people who might be difficult -- if not impossible -- to connect with through other channels. It allows organizations to make personal connections with their target audience and tailor their messages according to each individual's needs.

How do I write a cold email?

To ensure your email stands out, take the time to personalize it with details that are relevant to the recipient. An effective cold email should also contain a clear headline and a concise summary of why you are getting in touch. Take the time to make sure all of your details, from spelling and grammar to formatting, are correct before sending. 

How do I find email addresses for cold emailing?

To start, do some research to find the names and email addresses of your ideal prospects and decision-makers. Search multiple platforms such as Linkedin, Twitter, and job listing sites for contact information. Consider subscribing to a database that conveniently compiles and stores contact information for various industries. While you may also use online directories or search engines like Google to locate email addresses, it takes a bit more effort to find accurate details without the help of a database. Finally, use an email verification tool before sending any emails out just to make sure you’re reaching real people with valid addresses.

What are some best practices for cold emailing?

First and foremost, always research the recipient before you write your email - this way you can personalize your message and increase your chances of success. Secondly, keep emails as succinct as possible while maintaining a professional tone of voice and never send generic emails, but craft each one meticulously. You should also use A/B testing to determine what content generates the best results. Lastly, make sure to keep track of responses so that you can follow up effectively with those who replied positively. 

What are some common cold emailing mistakes?

Making assumptions about the recipient, using language that is too jargony or too informal, overwhelming the recipient with information, being unclear about your goals or intentions, and not following up are some of the most common mistakes people make when crafting cold emails. Humanizing your message by addressing the recipient directly and providing helpful content plus an actionable item are two key elements to ensure a successful cold emailing experience both for you and your reader.

Further Cold Email Reading

I highly recommend “The Cold Email Manifesto” by Alex Berman for anyone who wants to learn more about cold emailing or if you’re trying to do it on your own. Cold email can be daunting and requires a lot of time and effort. Don’t go into it “cold”, and start by reading this book to warm yourself up a bit.