I’m just gonna come right out and say it:
No matter what line of business you’re in; no matter what industry you cater to; no matter what products or services you offer:
You absolutely need to have a presence in your customers’ and prospects’ email inboxes if you want to have any hope of staying top-of-mind and engaging with them on a deeper level.
What Can Email Marketing Do For Your Business?
While there are a variety of ways to engage with your target audience by today’s standards, most are not nearly as robust as email. A strategic approach to email marketing allows you to:
- Engage with your audience on a large scale and on an individual basis
- Promote your brand’s offerings to individuals based on their unique needs and expectations
- Nurture leads into customers, and customers into brand loyalists/ambassadors
- Generate feedback based on each customer’s individual experiences with your brand
If you’ve read our recent article on the top 34 email automation tools worth checking out, you already know how effective email marketing can be.
10 Email Marketing Statistics You Can’t Afford to Ignore
To quickly review, 81% of marketers believe email marketing to be the top driver of customer acquisition – and 80% say the same with regard to customer retention.
Additionally, nearly 25% of marketers say email marketing provides the highest ROI of any of their marketing channels (with top performers making as much as $44 for every $1 spent on email marketing).
Now, there are a number of reasons that email marketing is so effective – all of which revolve around the behavior and expectations of the modern consumer.
For one thing, today’s consumers typically prefer to receive branded content via email (versus receiving it elsewhere). To add some context to this, an overwhelming 61% of consumers rate email as their preferred channel for receiving marketing material, with direct mail coming in a distant second, with only 18% of consumers preferring this method.
To add to this, today’s consumers often set aside time in their day specifically to engage with branded emails. In other words, the process of checking email has essentially become a part of everyday life for most of the digital population. Case in point, Adobe found that:
- 69% of individuals check their email while watching TV
- 57% check it every night before bed
- 79% check their inbox even while on vacation
It’s also worth noting that, unlike some of tahe more invasive forms of marketing (e.g., commercials, telemarketing calls, etc.), email marketing typically requires the recipient to actively opt into receiving content in their inbox. So it’s not just that consumers prefer and expect to receive marketing content via email – they actually want to receive it.
Finally, from a “numbers game” perspective, it just makes sense to use email as one of your top marketing channels. According to a study by Radacati Group earlier this year, the world will see over 3.8 billion email users by the start of 2019. Put into perspective, the number of email users eclipses the number of Facebook users by over one billion.
Now, with all this being said, it’s worth noting that the majority of emails sent – roughly 66% – end up never being opened. In other words, simply using email to deliver marketing content to your audience isn’t enough; you need to do it well.
Which, of course, is what we’re going to be discussing throughout the rest of this article.
NOTE: If you’re looking for a way to build your email list quickly, take a look at Fieldboom. You can add a sticky bar to your site to 3x your email sign up rate. You can even sync subscribers to your email software, including Mailchimp, Drip, Klayvio, Active Campaign and more. Try it free.
Email Marketing Best Practices
Now that we have a solid idea of how effective email marketing can be, let’s talk about everything that goes into creating such effective campaigns.
Building and Growing Your Mailing List
Before you can start sending out marketing content via email, you need to have people to send it to…right?
Your first order of business, then, will be to begin building a mailing list full of potential customers – as well as your current ones.
(Note: Before we get too far into a discussion of how to go about building a mailing list, we need to point out that you should never, under any circumstances, purchase a list from a third-party source. As we mentioned earlier, one of the main advantages of communicating with potential customers via email is that they opt into receiving said communications; this wouldn’t be the case if you were to purchase a list of recipients.)
At any rate, there are a ton of ways to get leads, prospects, and customers to sign up for your mailing list – many of which we’ve discussed in a previous post. Still, let’s go over some of the most effective ways of getting individuals to provide their contact information to you.
Create Lead-Magnet Content
Anyone well-versed in the world of content marketing knows that content comes in many forms.
Though we tend to associate “content marketing” with “blogging,” this is really only the tip of the iceberg. Other types of content used for marketing purposes includes:
- Case studies
- White papers
…the list goes on.
While most marketers make their blog posts immediately available to the public, they often hide these other content formats behind registration walls in an effort to get individuals to sign up for their mailing list.
Basically, the original, publicly-available content works to “lure” individuals in, providing just enough information to get them interested and wanting to learn more – then the offer is made for the individual to provide their email address in exchange for this extra information. Once the marketer has the individual’s email address, they can send the additional content as promised – and can send other marketing content in the future, as well.
Now, there are two caveats, here:
First of all, you need to be clear in explaining what your audience is signing up for when soliciting their contact information, here. As is shown in the example above, you want to be transparent in the fact that the individual will also be receiving additional marketing content in the future, in addition to the lead magnet content they initially requested.
Secondly, the lead magnet content you provide needs to go above and beyond in terms of providing value to the recipient. If it falls short of their expectations, they’ll almost certainly unsubscribe from your list as quickly as they signed up.
Landing Pages and Lightboxes
Now, you don’t necessarily need to offer additional content to get your audience members to subscribe to your list.
Sometimes, they’ll simply want to sign up to receive information in the future, anyway.
For such instances, you can use landing pages and lightbox overlays to provide a subscription form, allowing your visitors to sign up for your mailing list directly.
Again, you need to be sure to follow through on the promise you make, here. We’ll get more into how to do this a bit later on.
Contests and Giveaways
Everyone likes to win free stuff, right?
While it may seem to be a bit of trickery, putting on contests and giveaways is another great way to grow your mailing list – especially if you’re starting from scratch.
When creating a contest, you can choose to make it simple (e.g., require the visitor’s contact info, and nothing more), or a bit more involved by requiring them to complete some sort of task (such as share a post on social media, or post a picture of themselves doing something that relates to your industry in one way or another).
While we’ve already made it clear that the marketing content you provide to your new subscribers needs to be high in quality, this is doubly important when generating new leads via contest registration.
To be blunt: there will almost certainly be a large number of people who sign up for your mailing list just to see if they win the contest. In other words, there’s a huge chance these individuals will unsubscribe from your list after the contest has ended – unless you truly “wow” them with your subsequent content. Like we said, you may have lured them in via a bit of trickery – but you want to keep them hooked by providing major value over time.
Offer Freebies or Discounts
In the same vein as putting on contests, you also might choose to lure subscribers in by offering your new subscribers free product samples or discounts on their initial purchases.
If going this route, you’ll hopefully not only generate a new mailing list subscriber – but also a new paying customer, as well.
Even if a visitor hasn’t converted into a paying customer just yet, they still might have something to say about their experience on your site thus far.
Now, you obviously don’t want to have a survey like this pop up immediately to your first-time visitors; they probably won’t have much of an opinion as of yet. Rather, you might consider setting your feedback form to pop up once they’ve been on your site for a certain period of time, clicked through a specific number of pages, or have revisited your site multiple times.
The benefit for you, here, is again two-fold: Not only do you gain a new mailing list subscriber, but you also gain insight into their initial experiences with your site.
If you already have a steady base of loyal customers, you might also consider leveraging them to generate additional mailing list subscribers, as well.
If using this method, you might choose to provide an incentive to your current customer, the person they refer to your brand…or both. You’ll definitely want to test which method works most effectively for your audience, as well as what offer actually gets them to engage further with your initiative.
Also, if going this route, you may want to cap the number of times a referrer can cash in on the incentive. While you certainly want to generate as much business from others in their network as possible, you don’t want to break the bank to do so.
Again, there are a lot of different ways to grow your mailing list – with the ones mentioned above being among the most effective. As you continue to grow your list, you should also always be looking for innovative and creative ways to capture new leads over time.
Segmenting and Maintaining Your Mailing List
In this section, we’ll dive into how to effectively segment and maintain your email list.
You will learn:
Lead and Customer Segmentation
As you begin to collect more and more subscribers to your mailing list, you’re going to want to start segmenting them immediately.
The most effective way to get started, here, is to immediately reach out to your new subscribers (with an auto-response email) requesting info such as:
- Their demographic and geographic data
- Their interests
- Their preference of content format
With this information in hand, you’ll easily be able to segment your new subscribers and immediately start sending them the exact type of content they signed up for. As we said, you don’t want to miss a beat, here; if they can’t trust you to provide valuable content from the get-go, they’ll almost certainly unsubscribe without a second thought.
Now, as time goes on, you’ll be able to gather more and more information on your subscribers – and should use this info to further segment your list moving forward. This includes data such as:
- Purchase history
- Purchase frequency and/or cycle
- Changes in engagement with email content
Once again, the more you know about your recipients, the better you’ll be able to tailor your content and provide offers and information that matter to them.
Now, in addition to segmenting your mailing list accordingly, you’ll also want to actually trim your list over time, as well.
(Yes, you read that right: There are times in which decreasing your list of subscribers is actually beneficial to your company.)
How to Effectively Maintain Your Email List
First of all – and perhaps most obviously – if a subscriber actively reaches out and requests to unsubscribe from your list, you want to acquiesce without hesitation.
While it will, of course, be a bit disheartening to see a potential (or even current) customer slip through your fingers, there’s no sense in beating against the current, here. For one thing, failing to comply with their request will only serve to make them even less likely to do business with your company in the future. Furthermore, if they no longer wish to receive content from you in the first place, but you keep sending them emails, they’re just not going to open anything they receive from you, anyway.
Again, the above scenario is pretty straightforward: if an individual requests to be taken off your list, it’s pretty clear what you need to do.
How to Determine When to Remove a Contact From Your List
However, there are also times where you’ll want to take it upon yourself to delete individuals from your mailing list – even if they haven’t actively requested that you do so. Basically, this boils down to cutting out those who have subscribed to your list in the past – but have not opened or otherwise engaged with your emails in quite some time.
Now, there are two basic methods for determining when to cut an individual from your list:
- Based the length of inactive time
- Based on the number of emails they haven’t engaged with
For example, you might decide that anyone who hasn’t opened your emails in 90 days should be cut from your list; or you might decide that those who haven’t engaged with your last 25 emails should be unsubscribed. Of course, you’ll want to base this decision on the number of emails you typically send out, as well as how frequently you send them.
If you’re able to get a bit more granular, you might want to take both of these factors into consideration when determining whether an individual should be cut from your list or not. For example, it may very well be that a given recipient does a sort of “deep” checking of their inbox every few months – at which point they end up reading a decent amount of the emails you’d sent out in that period of time. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to automatically delete this person without diving a bit deeper – so you might send an email specifically to them asking if they’d like to continue receiving correspondences from your company.
(We’ll get more into this in a bit.)
Why You Should Actively Clean Your Mailing List
At any rate, there are a few reasons why you want to actively trim down your mailing list over time:
For one thing, the open rate of your emails plays into whether or not email service providers label your emails as spam. So, if you have a large number of recipients who never open your emails (perhaps they no longer want to receive them, but haven’t actively unsubscribed), this could cause your content to automatically be placed into the spam folders of recipients who actually want your emails.
Secondly, the more inactive subscribers you have on your mailing list, the more difficult it’ll be to determine your open rate among active subscribers. Similarly to what we said in the above paragraph, your inactive subscribers will be negatively contributing to your open rate, which may make it look like your email marketing initiatives aren’t panning out all that well (when the reality is, many of your recipients simply aren’t the right fit for your company in the first place). So, by trimming your mailing list and keeping only those who are truly interested in what you have to offer, you’ll be able to gain a much more realistic picture of how effective your email marketing campaigns really are.
One final thing worth mentioning with regard to mailing list maintenance is the fact that all mailing lists tend to decay over time. While it may seem like a wild number, the reality is that the average mailing list loses about 22% of its subscribers over the course of a single year. Looking at this from a different perspective, these lost subscribers simply make room for new subscribers who are a much better fit for your brand moving forward.
Crafting Marketing Content for Your Mailing List
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of actually creating content to be delivered via email.
While there certainly is no limit as to the content you provide your mailing list subscribers, we’re going to discuss the most popular and effective types of email correspondence to use for marketing purposes, here.
We talked about this a bit earlier on, but it’s worth diving back into.
When an individual subscribes to your mailing list, you want to immediately reach back out to them with an email welcoming them to your brand.
This email should serve a number of purposes, including:
- Thanking them for taking the time to subscribe (and, if they’ve made a purchase, for their business)
- Confirming their subscription, as well as their permission to send future emails
- Setting the stage with regard to what’s to come (i.e., the value they’ll be receiving via future emails)
- Requesting further information on their reasons for signing up
- Providing immediate value in some way or another
- Calling them to take action and engage further with your brand
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Thank you message? Check. Value proposition? Check. Added bonus value? Check. Call to action? Check.
Even though this email doesn’t overtly request more information, it provides enough CTA buttons for the brand to determine exactly what its recipients are looking to do once they receive this initial email. Again, all of this behavioral information should go into the vault, allowing you to further segment your new subscribers.
In this example, the focus is on setting the stage, and orienting new subscribers with regard to Airbnb’s services. While much less “busy” than the example from Kate Spade above, this welcome email serves to help new customers hit the ground running right from the get-go.
In addition to a friendly welcome and an immediate presentation of value, Fab provides a crystal clear way for new subscribers to input their preferences with regard to receiving future emails. By providing this simple option, Fab communicates the message loud and clear: “We want to give you exactly what you’re looking to receive from us.”
An onboarding drip campaign is a bit different than a simple “Welcome” email – although it includes a welcome message to get started.
Basically, an onboarding series of email messages is meant to introduce a new subscriber and/or customer to your brand’s product or service, and to guide them through the initial stages of using it. While there is no “standard” number of emails such a series should contain, they typically range from at least three to seven emails in total.
You’ll want to set your onboarding emails to be triggered in one of two ways: time elapsed, or milestone reached. So, you might set your emails to be sent to your new users at 8:00AM every day for the next five days, or you might want to send them after an individual has accomplished a certain task with regard to your site, products, or services.
Or, as the case may be, you might choose to send your next email after a certain period of inactivity, as RunKeeper does here:
By the end of your onboarding series, your new subscribers/users should have a decent grasp on the basic functionality of your services – and be prepared to engage with your brand on the next level.
Like their non-digital counterpart, email newsletters allow brands to make announcements, provide information, and celebrate milestones with regard to their company and community.
Basically, newsletters can act as a “mixed bag” of sorts, in which you can include any and everything you feel your recipients will find valuable.
The last part of that sentence, of course, being most important.
In other words, you don’t want to send out a newsletter that’s full of information your recipients don’t care about. For example, they’re probably not going to care all that much about the inner workings of your company (unless it will affect them in some way). Rather, you want to use your newsletter as an opportunity to showcase your most valuable content, offers, and other such information.
In the above example, Litmus uses its newsletter to round up and present its most popular blog posts as of late. In the following example, the same company takes a different approach, showcasing email templates created by a partner company:
As we said, it really is up to you* as far as what to include in your newsletters.
*When we say “you,” we mean “your recipients.” But you know this by now, right?
Needless to say, one of the main benefits of growing a mailing list is that you have a ready-made group of potential and current customers to advertise to at any given moment.
However, you don’t want to take advantage of them or anything, so you shouldn’t just start sending out promotional emails to the point that you annoy them.
Rather, save these promotional emails for special occasions, such as:
- New product or service releases or updates
- Limited-time offers
- Seasonal sales and promotions
That said, you don’t necessarily have to wait for a certain time of year or anything to put on promotions worth announcing via email. Take a look at the following example:
What’s special about March 31? Absolutely nothing. But the offer in this email just that much more attractive since it specifies a certain date – no matter how arbitrary that date may be.
(In contrast, imagine if Walgreens sent a generic email announcing a 20% off sale week after week. It’d certainly lose its luster – especially to those who haven’t engaged with the previous offers in the first place.)
That said, you certainly want to test out variations of promotions over time to see which perform best. Again, though: avoid overusing them, or you’ll run the risk of annoying your otherwise happy customers.
Re-Engagement and Cart Abandonment Emails
We alluded to the notion of reaching out to your inactive subscribers after a certain period of time before you decide to trim them from your mailing list.
But, in order to truly re-engage your potentially-lost audience members, you’ll need to do a bit more than simply ask if they “still want to hear from you.”
(Hint: If they did, they wouldn’t be ignoring your other emails.)
Rather, you want to go all-in in terms of providing value to these individuals. You can do this in a number of ways, such as:
- Showcasing what they’ve been missing out on
- Presenting improvements to products or services you’ve recently made
- Providing discounts or freebies
- All of the above (and more)
Here’s how clothing and fashion company SurfStitch does it:
As we said, you want to leave it all on the table in your re-engagement emails. If you still aren’t able to grab their attention after providing all that – as we said before – there’s no use beating against the current.
As for cart abandonment emails, we’ve recently gone over some of the best examples of such from around the web, so we won’t dive too far into the topic here. Real quick, though, your goal for these emails is similar to your re-engagement emails: remind your recipients of what you have to offer, and provide whatever incentives you can to get them back on track.
As we’ve said throughout this article, email as a marketing channel provides you with a ton of opportunities to engage authentically with your audience members and customers on a one-to-one and segment-wide basis.
The key thing to keep in mind when creating marketing emails, above all else, is that you need to provide incredible value to your recipients in some way or another. As your emails definitely aren’t the only ones in your audience’s inbox, you need to figure out a way to stand out from the crowd – or risk being ignored like most of the other messages your customers receive on a daily basis.
If you’re looking for a way to build your email list quickly, take a look at Fieldboom. You can add a sticky bar to your site to 3x your email sign up rate. You can even sync subscribers to your email software, including Mailchimp, Drip, Klayvio, Active Campaign and more. Try it free.