Email may be one of the oldest methods of digital marketing, but it’s still an essential asset to any marketing team.
The right email campaigns can net huge gains for your business. According to HubSpot, email remains a key part of any marketing strategy because:
- Email can generate $42 for each dollar spent, a 4,200% ROI
- Email engagement is the most important metric for tracking content performance, according to 90% of content marketers
- More than four billion people use email every day
- 99% of the four billion email users check their inboxes daily, with some checking multiple times throughout the day
In fact, email marketing is so powerful, 80% of marketers would prefer to give up social media marketing over email.
For digital marketers, email is a tool you can’t overlook.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing uses emails to build connections with potential leads and customers. The exact approach may vary depending on the company’s or department’s goals. Common email marketing goals include:
- Driving an action, such as getting the reader to sign up for an event or make a purchase
- Building awareness, such as introducing users to more of your products or services
- Educating leads, such as publishing a free guide on a topic that you specialize in
- Re-engaging customers, such as announcing a promotion or new product that encourages customers to make another purchase
How does email marketing work?
Like any advertising tool, email marketing requires careful planning and strategizing to get the results you need. Following the steps below will help you develop email campaigns that drive engagement.
1. Start with the right tools and foundation
Before sending your first email, there are various tools and data that you need to gather in order to set yourself up for success. These include…
If you want to send an email from your brand, you have to have permission from the person you’re emailing. In most cases, you’ll receive email addresses and consent at the same time. For example, whenever you sign up for a brand’s newsletter to get a coupon, you’ll likely see an option for opting into other types of emails from the company.
Make sure that there’s no question about what your leads are signing up for when opting into your emails. Get familiar with GDPR (a far-reaching European initiative intended to protect personal information of EU residents), CAN-SPAM (regulations defining unsafe email marketing practices), and CASL (Canada’s laws regarding email marketing).
You’ll also see many third parties selling email lists online, but these are generally big no-nos. The users on these lists didn’t consent to get your messages, so you may get into legal trouble for sending marketing emails to them. You’re also paying to receive information on people who may not be interested in your brand, which is a big waste of your time and money.
Email service providers (ESP)
Email service providers are platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact that enable you to build emails, manage subscribers, and monitor your campaign’s success.
Features like drag-and-drop builders allow you to create professional marketing emails without having to pay for a developer or learning how to code HTML. Many also support responsive emails, custom branding, and advanced analytics to help you work smarter.
Other common features include:
- Email personalization
- Trigger-based automation
- Email scheduling
- Email insights and recommendations
- User behavior tracking
If you want to create appealing emails that help you reach your goals, an ESP is a must.
2. Determine your goals
Every successful email campaign has a clear goal.
Craft an email marketing strategy that targets a specific audience. Research your audience’s pain points and motivations for engaging with a company like yours. Once you understand what they need and how you can help them, you can then begin creating your campaign.
If you want to drive more traffic to your website, for example, you could send a newsletter that directs readers to articles on your site. Alternatively, you can use emails to raise funds for a cause by showcasing the people and lives that your initiative has helped. As another example, you can create an email campaign to announce new products and spur initial interest.
Once you establish your campaign goals, you can make sure that your content focuses on getting the right results. Just make sure every email offers value to the reader. Spamming users’ inboxes will annoy your audience and potentially get you blocked from email platforms.
3. Design your email
Every email includes a few main components:
- A subject line
- Written content
- The design that brings these elements together
Each component helps attract attention, communicate, and keep your audience interested. Each also has the power to hurt your campaign performance. In the worst-case scenario, a user may delete your email or unsubscribe entirely because they find it irrelevant. To avoid this situation, craft your message with care.
The subject line should stand out in the user’s inbox. More importantly, it should give the reader an idea of the email’s content. In just a few words, you should speak to the audience’s pain points and hint at the benefits they can find inside.
The body copy should be concise and aligned with your campaign goals. An awareness-focused campaign, for example, may be more text-based and intended to educate the reader. Purchase-minded emails, however, may feature images and videos of the product with minimal text.
And finally, the design that you employ should reflect your brand colors, fonts, and overall branding.
Surprisingly enough, the design you use can also affect how people engage with your content. Many ESPs offer templates that are designed for different goals and proven to get users to interact with your content. Make sure the placement of your copy—as well as the buttons, links, and other elements of your email—encourages readers to focus on the parts of your message that drive the right actions.
You can also run your own tests to see how different designs, subject lines, calls-to-action (CTAs), and content perform with your audience.
4. Measure your performance
Once you’ve sent your email marketing campaign, there are several metrics you should use to measure your success, including:
- Clickthrough rate (CTR) - How many people click on your calls-to-action (CTAs)
- Deliverability - How many emails actually reached your audience’s inboxes
- Open rate - How many people opened your email
- Unsubscribes - How many people unsubscribed from your email list
You can use these metrics to understand the weak points of your campaign.
A poor CTR shows that users aren’t engaging with your CTAs. You can try new phrasing, messages, or designs to find a more effective option.
If you have a low deliverability rate, you may be getting caught by spam filters or have old, erroneous emails.
In another scenario where people aren’t opening your emails, you should adjust your subject line to see if you can drive more engagement. You can also try sending emails at different times of the day or week.
Some unsubscribes can be expected, but you shouldn’t be losing a ton of subscribers with every email. If you are, make sure you aren’t sending too many emails or including offensive content. You may also want to confirm that you are using the right email list for this campaign.
No, email isn’t going anywhere
Despite the rumors that “email is dead,” email marketing continues to be one of the best ways to connect with potential customers. Use these tips to create emails that get subscribers excited and help you reach a larger goal.