Email has revolutionised the way we do business. With 96% of UK households enjoying internet access, email marketing can be very effective and the costs are low. The right emails with engaging content can turn interested prospects or one-time buyers into loyal customers.
- What is email marketing?
- Why you should be using email marketing
- How to create an email marketing strategy and what to include
- 5 mistakes to avoid when setting up email marketing
What is email marketing?
Sending out targeted emails is an effective way to reach out to existing and prospective customers to encourage future purchases of your product or services. Through regular and consistent communication it’s possible to establish a relationship between you and your customers. This builds trust, which in turn encourages future sales.
Every marketing email should contain a clear direction for the customer on what they should do next. The marketing term for this is a Call to Action (CTA). So make sure you include a button / link to click through to your website, subscribe, purchase, forward to a friend or any other action you want your customer to take.
Why should I use email marketing?
Emails are easy to personalise for your customers. Simply including their name at the top can increase open rates by 5.2%. And of course you can personalise further, making the email entertaining and useful for your specific customer base. A study showed that shoppers are 81% more likely to purchase again from a vendor that used targeted, personalised emails.
It’s the number one communication channel with 99% of users checking their account on a daily basis. More than half of us will have a look at our emails before we do anything else online, even before jumping on social media.Marketers estimated the return on investment in 2020 on email marketing to be £35.41 for every £1 spent. And the average value of an order that comes via email marketing is three times higher than via social media.
Targeted emails are a way to stand out from the crowd and reinforce your brand identity. A carefully curated email will give you the edge over your competitors. You can even use it to gain useful feedback with a link to a survey or an online poll.
Creating an email marketing strategy
A successful email marketing campaign needs several elements:
Suitable email marketing software
First of all, you’ll need the right email marketing software. This will let you create, send, track and measure your emails in one dashboard. There are plenty of options out there but it’s a good idea to try a few to see which one you find easiest to use. Most email marketing platforms can integrate with your website via a simple plugin, so you can receive email sign-ups through the site.
A defined target audience
You may already have done this as part of your marketing strategy or when starting your own business. If not, think about who you want to sell to and what problem will your business solve for them. Your emails will need to be of interest to them and should provide useful information.
Once you know your audience in detail — their age, gender, interests, hobbies, disposable income, problems, needs etc. — it’s far easier to tailor your marketing emails to what will interest them. Segment your list even further so you’re not sending the same emails to everyone on it. How you split it might be by age groups or gender and then you can create different campaigns for each group.
An email capture process
There are two main business objectives to send out emails: to attract new leads and to retain existing customers. You can attract new prospects to your business via a ‘subscribe’ button on your website. Or add a call to action (CTA) to content, asking them to sign up. You can also add an incentive to encourage new subscribers, for example: “Sign up to our newsletter and receive a free copy of our beginner’s photography masterclass.”
For existing customers, your focus should be about building and cementing the relationship with your business. By keeping in touch with a useful newsletter you’ll stay top of mind and nurture future purchases. Some tactics here include thanking them for their purchase or for leaving a review; making your customer feel special with early notification of sales or deals; a discount sent on their birthday or a VIP status for those customers who regularly spend with you.
Consent for email communications
Don’t forget that under GDPR rules, you can only send marketing emails to someone who has specifically opted in or subscribed to your list. Or to an existing customer who is given a clear option to opt out if they wish. On all your emails, you must legally include a clear ‘Unsubscribe’ link. If someone asks to unsubscribe, make sure you do this within a reasonable timeframe.
Once you’ve got your email marketing software in place, identified your target audience, segmented your email list, pinned down your CTAs and incentives to subscribe, you can start planning and writing your emails. Worthwhile questions to consider in this planning phase include:
- Decide how often you would like to send emails to your prospects vs current customers. Will they be daily or will you send a weekly newsletter? Think about what’s realistic in terms of your time.
- Do you know what your subject line will be? You only have a few seconds to grab your reader’s attention so make sure it has impact. Limiting it to 50 characters is a good rule of thumb but bear in mind that mobile devices cut off at 25 characters so make them the focus. Avoid using words such as ‘free’, ‘help’, ‘reminder and ‘save’ as they can trigger spam filters and your customers won’t see your carefully crafted email.
- What do you want your audience to learn / do as a result of reading your emails? Make sure that your content counts. Your customer’s time is valuable so keep your content interesting, valuable and informative and don’t forget to include a clear action to complete at the end. Do you want them to sign up, go to your website, visit your sales page etc?
- What will the format be? If you don’t have access to a designer there are online email marketing templates you can use to add in text, images, videos and CTAs. Make sure you have consistency in your look and feel across all your emails. Try using numbered lists or bold sub headers so that readers can easily skim the page and find what they’re looking for.
- What will you write about? Your text should tie in with your subject line and be easily readable and to the point. Keep it relevant — what pain points do your readers have that your business can solve? Serve their interests at all times.
Whatever form your emails take, make sure your email marketing fits with your brand and the main message you want to convey.
Five email marketing mistakes to avoid
Email marketing may mean some trial and error until you achieve the right mix for your audience. But there are some things you should avoid right from the start:
1. Broken template designs
Nothing will turn off prospects faster than receiving something that simply doesn’t work or where you’ve forgotten to include their name and it simply reads “Dear [insert name here]”. Make sure your email is fully functional before you hit send.
2. Not optimising for mobile
Most people check their emails on their smartphone, so if your email doesn’t work on a mobile device it’s likely to be immediately deleted.
3. Sending at the wrong time
If you only get time to work on your campaign at 11pm at night, for example, don’t hit send right away. Schedule your email to be sent at a time when your customers are most likely to read it. Test out different options to see which has the best response from your audience.
4. Not segmenting your subscribers
Segmenting means splitting your subscriber list into different groups and sending a different email to each group. You could segment based on age, gender, interests, previous purchase types, geography or any other common factor. The benefits are that you can focus on the needs and wants of a particular group of customers. For example, you could advertise a particular range of products to those who have purchased a similar product before. Perhaps you want to encourage those customers who have bought from you but not signed up to your email list to do so?
If you don’t segment your list you risk sending out emails which are of no interest to the recipient. It’s far better to put some effort into segmentation early on so you know your email is landing in the inbox of someone likely to read it.
5. Not adding in a call to action
You’ve gone to all this effort to create a campaign, choose your target audience, build an email template and create compelling content but by not including a call to action you fall at the final hurdle. The aim of email marketing is to get people to buy your services / products, so give them an easy-to-find button where they can do just that. It can be as simple as a ‘Shop now’ button that hyperlinks to your website.
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