Email marketing has long been one of the most effective ways to find new email leads and customers. It's also an unparalleled method for engaging with your existing audience. At the same time, email marketing is getting more competitive. Your subscribers are probably getting dozens (if not hundreds) of messages every day. In order to differentiate yourself, you need to carefully plan your email marketing strategy. This guide will cover everything you need to know to get the best possible results from your email marketing in 2019 and beyond.
While many have been predicting the death of email marketing for at least a decade, it never seems to happen. On the contrary, people are sending and receiving more emails all the time. Statista reports that there were 3.7 billion email users in 2017 and that this number will rise to 4.1 billion by 2021. Here are some of the main benefits of growing your business with email.
• Great ROI. Email marketing consistently provides a solid ROI. According to Salesforce, businesses earn $38 for every dollar spent on email marketing.
• An efficient way to reach mobile customers. More and more people are connecting to the internet using mobile devices. In fact, people constantly check their smartphones for new messages, making email marketing one of the best ways to reach customers in the mobile age.
• An email list is more valuable over time. As long as you keep growing your email list with targeted subscribers, it will provide a greater ROI each year. While you may need to spend some money to get new leads, once you have them it doesn't cost much to send out messages. It's scarcely more costly to email 10,000 people than 100, making email marketing an extremely cost-effective strategy.
• Your list is your own property. Unlike SEO or social media, email marketing doesn't depend on the rules or algorithms of companies like Google or Facebook. Once you have a list, you can email your subscribers whenever you want. Even if your website suddenly loses its ranking or your social media account is banned (such things happen every day) you'll still have your list.
• Email marketing complements all of your other strategies. You can use your list to send traffic to your sales pages, blog posts, social media pages, videos, and anywhere else. Similarly, you can use these other marketing modalities to build your email subscribers.
How do you actually get started building an email list? You may be starting from scratch or you might have a small list or one that's not as responsive as you'd like. There are several key steps to obtaining a growing list of subscribers who are actually interested in what you have to offer.
The key to building a successful list is targeting the right audience. Create a buyer persona for your list, an imaginary ideal customer who you'll be addressing. Over time, your buyer persona will probably change. You'll also want to add additional buyer personas to segment your list (more about that later). To start with, however, you can construct an ideal customer based on demographic research and what you know about your customers based on your website and social media analytics.
You always want to keep your subscriber in mind with your email marketing. This will drive the images, language, and topics that you use. You'd want to use, for example, a different tone when addressing middle-aged prospects for high-end financial services than you would to millennials to whom you're selling energy drinks.
Your landing page is where people will actually sign up for your email list. You need an opt-in form and an offer describing the benefits of your newsletter or list.
• Use attention-grabbing images. With a landing page, you need a balance of getting the reader's attention and not overdoing it. Too many images can distract from the main point. It's best to have a single relevant and compelling image to call attention to your offer. The landing page should not be cluttered, though.
• Offer a clear benefit. This could be your informative newsletter, a free gift such as an e-book or white paper, or a promo code to save money on an order.
• Include a clear call-to-action (CTA). Make sure you point out the benefits of signing up and instruct readers to do so. Don't assume that it's obvious just because you have a form on the page. You need to specify the CTA with something like, "To get your free report, sign up now!"
• Have multiple opt-in forms. While it's useful to have a dedicated landing page to get subscribers, you should also have opt-in forms on all the major pages of your website.
• Keep your opt-in form simple. Ask for as much information as you need but remember that the more fields you include, the more time and trouble it is to complete the form. You obviously need to ask for an email address and, if you want to personalize messages (which is highly recommended), a name. Beyond this, only ask for a phone number if this is essential for your marketing. Additional information may be useful for analytics (e.g. age, profession) but will lower your conversions.
If you want to build an email list, you'll need to use certain tools and services to automate certain tasks. You need to keep track of your subscribers, send out automated responses, schedule your messages, and manage your subscriptions. You can't handle all of these jobs manually. Fortunately, there are professional services that make it simple to automate a large portion of your email marketing. Using an email service lets you perform many tasks quickly and helps you stick to a schedule. Look for a service that provides a complete selection of email marketing features.
• Only send emails to people who have specifically opted in. Double opt-in, where subscribers have to verify that they actually signed up, is safest.
• Never buy an email list. This may seem like a tempting shortcut to having a large list but it could get you into trouble. You have no idea if these subscribers actually gave permission to receive emails. Even if they did, it wasn't for your list.
• Have a clearly visible unsubscribe link in all of your messages.
• Make sure your website and landing pages are GDPR compliant. This includes specifying which data you collect and how you use it.
There are many tactics to help you grow your email list.
• Advertising. Paid ads are one of the fastest ways to get subscribers. Pay-per-click ads on Google or Facebook can be effective for sending traffic to your landing page. Make sure you test your ads and use the optimum keywords and offers that are appropriate for your audience.
• Social media. Send traffic to your website and landing page with your tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, and other social media platforms.
• Blogging. Your blog can be a powerful tool to get more targeted traffic. Post about topics that your audience is searching for. Make sure you have a link to your landing page or an opt-in form following all of your blog posts.
• Videos. Video marketing is a strategy that works very well for attracting new leads. As with blogging, you can use videos to rank in the search engines and send traffic to your landing page.
• Offline networking. Don't overlook offline marketing for building your email list. Simply handing out business cards with our URL on them, especially at relevant industry events, can help you get subscribers. If you speak at a live event, attend conventions or trade shows, you can use the opportunity to hand out business cards. It also helps to give away branded promotional items with your website URL on them.
Obtaining email addresses is only the first stage of successful email marketing. You then need to retain your subscribers' interest by supplying them with great content.
Sending an email newsletter is a popular and time-tested way to stay in touch with your subscribers. This can help you build credibility as well as ensuring that people remember you. At the same time, it's a definite commitment to create content and stick to a schedule. Keep in mind that it's up to you to decide how much to include in your newsletter and how often to send it. If you can only put together a newsletter monthly or even bi-monthly, there's nothing wrong with this.
Even if you only send out a newsletter monthly, it's advisable to also send briefer messages regularly to keep you fresh in your subscribers' minds. Even a paragraph about what you've been up to and what you're planning is a way to stay in touch. You can also link to your blog, social media posts, and other content.
One of the simplest ways to increase open rates and conversions is to personalise your messages. In one survey, 82% of businesses reported that personalising messages increases open rates. People generally prefer to receive messages that are directed at them as individuals rather than generic subscribers. This is easy enough to do as most email marketing services allow you to address subscribers by name in your messages.
Email segmentation is a powerful strategy to ensure that your subscribers are getting only the most relevant and targeted information. If you sell a variety of products or services, it's helpful to create separate lists for different categories. You can segment subscribers based on location, gender, past buying behaviour, or in whichever manner is most suitable for you.
One of the secrets of successful email marketing campaigns is tracking your results. Performing split testing, also called A/B testing, is a good way to improve your results in many areas. For example, you may get better results by changing your subject lines or by covering different topics. Your open rates may increase by sending out your messages on different days of the week or at different times. When choosing an email marketing service, you should also look for one that offers robust analytics so you can track your results and make changes accordingly.
Email marketing is a proven way to generate leads and customers. At the same time, it can seem overwhelming to handle all of the elements necessary to create and grow your list. While it takes time to build a large and responsive email list, if you do everything step-by-step, it's quite manageable. Focus on reaching the right audience, use the most effective marketing tools and services, and deliver relevant content to your subscribers. If you do these things consistently, you'll find that your email list becomes more profitable every year.