Email marketing can be a highly effective and low-cost way to attract new business and grow sales, but like anything with digital marketing, it has to be done right.
It’s not simply a case of blasting emails out to people in your database and hoping for the best — if you don’t create an email marketing campaign the right way, it might have the opposite results, and you could turn current and potential new customers right off.
So how can you create an email marketing strategy that’s right for your business and gets the results you want?
In this article, we’re going to look at how you can incorporate email marketing into your overall digital marketing strategy to get lots more business.
Before we do anything, we need to first have a word about emails and the hallowed inbox.
In a world of unrelenting spam tsunamis, phishing and other email-based scams and messages from all sorts of people and organisations we’d rather not get, it’s no surprise that most of us are extremely diligent about what can get into our inboxes — banishing the kind of messages we don’t want.
Trying to coax people to sign up to yet another email newsletter can often be a challenge, as managing ballooning email accounts and trying to keep on top of mails can be a headache for lots of people — all it might take is just one more commercial mail to make them click “unsubscribe”.
At its most basic, the key to effective email marketing is to tread carefully and only offer something of real value to the recipient — information they can use in their personal or business lives to their advantage.
This brings us nicely to our first point in how to create an email marketing strategy.
1. Decide on the Topic of Your Emails
When creating an email marketing strategy, you need to work out what you’ll be communicating to your subscribers.
It’s no good sending out a general blurb about how great your company and its products or services are.
There must be a tangible benefit to recipients, or they’ll quickly unsubscribe. So consider:
- Educational themes — for example, how-to articles on topics in your industry.
- Curated content, including a selection of your new blogs and other content.
- Promotions and discounts.
- Developments and news — something new that’s happened at your company, including new product lines and key personnel changes.
- Invitations to attend seminars, webinars and other events.
- Seasonal emails — wishing customers happy holidays or getting off to an early start with sales, like with this marketing email
2. Use a Template
Presentation is important in email marketing, and lots of companies use snazzy graphics to capture people’s attention, like with the example above.
Can you get away with just plain text? Definitely, and simpler is often best.
But some people expect that the companies and brands they like and love will put some effort into the emails they send, including their design, and so you need yours to look attractive.
Not sure what to do? Consider using one of the many templates available around the internet that will make your marketing emails look fantastic, like these:
3. Choose an Email Marketing Tool
Instead of sending out emails yourself using your database of contacts and your email client, like Outlook or Gmail, consider some of the many email marketing tools and their many benefits.
Services like Mailchimp, Zoho Campaigns and EmailOctopus let you create and run email marketing campaigns with ease — providing the templates, analytics (see below) and support you need to get the job done well and get great results.
4. Create a Subscriber List
The next step in creating an email marketing strategy is building a list of subscribers to send your emails to. Create a list of your current and potential customers if you have their contacts, and to grow it, consider these proven tactics:
Place a pop-up or form on your website advertising your email newsletter (don’t call it a bland “newsletter”, give it a vibrant name like “The Rundown” instead) and urge people to sign up — but don’t forget to give them a clear benefit for doing so. Keep this email-capture form brief and don’t ask for many details, as that will turn people away; all you need is their email.
Run paid ads on Google and social sites advertising your email newsletter and again, provide a clear benefit of signing up. Link your sign-up form in the ads.
Organise competitions and giveaways, and all entrants have to do is — you guessed it — give you their email to enter.
Here are some more ways to increase your email subscriber list:
When you send your marketing emails is also vital. Think about the times of the day when you most often read your emails — is it first thing in the morning, during lunch or late in the day?
Have a look at the marketing emails you receive and see when they’re sent. And then look at some of the research on the timing of marketing emails in relation to the type of email — B2B or B2C. It all makes a difference.
This graph, based on research by marketing software firm GetResponse, offers a glimpse into optimal times for sending commercial emails.
Advice from Exposure Ninja’s email marketing chief, Abi Daunton-Johns:
The most successful email marketing strategies really focus on the person reading the email and send content that subscribers will want to read instead of content you may want them to see.
While your company history or achievements may be exciting to you, will your email readers take time out of their day to read about this?
Focus on providing great content that the reader will find useful, and over time, you’ll develop a strong list of subscribers who are excited to receive your emails.”
Get a free review of your website and marketing right here with the experts in digital marketing at Exposure Ninja.