Complete Guide to Email Marketing: how to leverage it for your business
Those who found a startup have many marketing tools and channels at their disposal to promote it, and this “wealth” of means has now led many to underestimate the power of traditional emails. Don’t make this mistake yourself.
If you think email, understood as a marketing tool, is dead, you should keep David Newman‘s words well in mind:
“Email has an ability that many channels don’t have: to create valuable personal touches, at scale.”
To make the most of this ability, of course, you must know how to master the tool perfectly. The first step is to know the definition of Email Marketing.
What is Email Marketing and why is it important
It is essential to be clear about the meaning of Email Marketing because, over the years, it has undergone an evolution that has changed some of its distinctive features.
Definition of Email Marketing
Email marketing is a form of marketing that uses the tool of e-mail to convey messages (of a commercial nature but not only) in a direct and personalized manner to a series of contacts, with the aim of improving the relationship with them and thus acquiring new customers (or retaining existing ones).
Earlier we were keen to point out that the concept of Email Marketing has evolved over time. In light of increasingly stringent privacy regulations, in fact, this particular form of marketing today is based on the principle of consent: in order to carry out Email Marketing campaigns (and, therefore, to send messages to a list of contacts) it is necessary to have first acquired from the email recipients an explicit and valid consent to receive them.
Benefits of E-Mail Marketing
It is important to clarify from the outset why, in this day and age, email is still so useful for marketing purposes, especially for startups. First of all, Email Marketing does not require a large budget and, in relation to cost, it proves to be one of the most effective tools. Not only that, it is also easily measurable in terms of ROI (Return on Investment).
As suggested by David Newman’s previously quoted words, the ability to personalize messages is another crucial aspect: email marketing can help you gather a lot of information about your audience and, as a result, gives you the ability to segment your target audience precisely, building and sending messages focused on each person’s specific needs and interests. One-to-one communication of this kind allows you to create a stronger and more lasting relationship with your contacts and potential customers, gain their trust, and then turn them into happy and satisfied customers over time.
Because of these distinguishing features, Email Marketing can ensure you several benefits, including the ability to reach a wider audience, increase conversions, and improve your brand recognition (and reputation).
How to Get Started with Email Marketing
Now that you know what you can do with Email Marketing, you need to figure out how to do it. Clearly, you can also send multiple emails with a Gmail account, but this is certainly not the best solution.
There are, in fact, platforms that are specifically dedicated to Email Marketing and which, precisely because of this, are able to give you the opportunity to benefit from all the advantages offered by this form of marketing.
These platforms have infrastructure to ensure that the messages you send actually reach the recipients. Moreover, if you decide to join such a service, you can segment your target audience very easily and quickly. Equally intuitive is the procedure for message creation, thanks to the presence of ready-made templates and a drag-and-drop-style editor, which requires no special technical skills in HTML writing or graphic design. Last, but certainly not least, is the ability to be able to measure the results obtained in a timely manner thanks to advanced built-in analysis tools.
As already mentioned, there are several platforms for doing Email Marketing available on the web (among the most popular you can mention Brevo and Mailchimp). To figure out which one might be right for you, you need to ask yourself some specific questions:
- what is the budget you have decided to allocate to this particular activity?
- how many contacts do you have and how many do you think you can collect over the course of a year?
- how many emails (and what kind) do you plan to send in a year?
On the basis of these parameters you can make a comparison between the various solutions, paying close attention to the proposed offers and, in particular, to one aspect: several platforms propose “basic” plans that are very cheap but useful only for those who have few contacts, while the costs are bound to rise rapidly in the presence of a higher number of contacts.
Create your contact list
Ensuring that your Email Marketing messages are received only and exclusively by those who wish to receive them is not only important to shelter you from any problems with the law; targeting only people who have given explicit consent to be contacted, in fact, also gives you the opportunity to maximize your results because those who know nothing about you and what you deal with are unlikely to show interest in your communications to the point of becoming your customer. For the same reason just mentioned, it is equally important to include within your emails the option to unsubscribe from your service.
A great way to build your contact list is to make use of pop-up forms on the website, which give visitors the opportunity to enter their contact information to sign up for the service, perhaps in exchange for an incentive (such as, for example, could be a reserved discount).
Another (non-alternative) route is the one that leads to service membership via social media: if you want to increase the number of contacts on your list you should include links to the membership page on all of your startup’s social profiles, listing users the benefits they can enjoy.
Types of Email Marketing
Up to this point we have been talking about messages to be sent by email in a general sense; however, you need to know that there are different types of email messages.
Email advertising (DEM)
Advertising emails consist of e-mail messages sent when deemed necessary, based on business trends.
This particular type of email is focused specifically on marketing and sales and has a specific purpose, which may be to promote a special offer, sign up for an online course, or download a text. The frequency of an advertising email is related to the objectives of the campaign.
Automated emails, on the other hand, are those particular e-mail messages that do not require someone’s physical presence to send them, since they are sent automatically in response to specific events.
An example is the welcome email to be sent when a user signs up for the newsletter, but birthday greeting emails and emails sent when users abandon the shopping cart on ecommerce also fall into this category.
All the cases just mentioned fall under the category of “marketing automation emails” because their content is related to user behavior.
It is important, however, that you also know what transactional emails are: these are the emails sent as a result of a transaction. such as, for example, order confirmation emails or those that update customers on the process related to the shipment of their orders.
Email Marketing Best Practices
This is it: get comfortable because now you are finally about to discover the best Email Marketing strategies to increase conversions and retain customers.
Legal collection of e-mail addresses
The introduction of the so-called GDPR has turned the spotlight on the need to protect consumers’ right to have their personal data and privacy protected, including their email addresses.
In light of this, to do Email Marketing, it is necessary to create a contact list by following a very specific “opt-in” process, through which it is the user himself who expresses his explicit consent to the collection and use of his data by signing a subscription form.
Segmentation of your mailing list
Before figuring out how to segment your mailing list, it is worth recalling the meaning of Buyer Personas: they are the ideal representations of your typical customers, created on the basis of well-defined characteristics and behaviors.
Building these consumer archetypes is a critical step in the success of your Email Marketing activity because it allows you to convey content to the “right” customers.
In fact, customers are not all the same and, indeed, have specific needs and preferences that differ from each other. This is why it is essential to segment your mailing list, that is, to classify your contacts according to certain factors (e.g., demographics, geographic location, predisposition to purchase, etc.) and divide them into sub-lists created from common characteristics.
The goal is to present, at the right time, personalized and relevant content to each contact, thus maximizing engagement and conversion rate.
Sending the right messages at the right time is important, but making sure they actually reach their destination is even more so.
Deliverability is the ability of an email to get through filters and reach the recipient’s email box. To optimize it (i.e., in practical terms, to increase the chances that an email will actually reach the recipient), some precise strategies must be followed.
You should know, first of all, that there are some words that trigger spam filters because they are considered fraudulent and/or harmful. The word “some” should not mislead you: the list of these words, in fact, is very long (you can look it up in different versions on the web). These are words that, for the most part, are related to offers, payments and rewards (but not only).
Using these words does not automatically result in the email being placed in the recipient’s spam box because spam filters consider several factors. Avoiding the use of these terms in the subject line of your emails, however, shields you from nasty surprises.
There are other tricks to follow to increase the chances that your messages will actually reach their destination: you must avoid writing in capital letters or with oddly formatted characters, you must include in the body of the email the option for the user to unsubscribe from the service, and you must keep your contact database perfectly up-to-date at all times (removing inactive ones).
Personalization of your emails
We have already mentioned several times the importance of personalizing emails: remember that in order to create personalized emails, you can take as a reference point several factors, starting with customers’ preferences and ending with their buying habits and behaviors, going through characteristics such as their age, where they live, and much more.
In addition to building your messages by shaping them to the specific needs of each contact and managing them according to the way the customer interacts with your products or services, you should also address your caller by name, avoiding generic texts. This small action will make the user feel special and put your brand in a good light.
How to Start Your Email Marketing
You now have all the theoretical tools to know how to do Email Marketing effectively. It’s time to get down to practice: you first need to build your contact list (remember, over time, to try to increase the number of subscribers). The next step concerns the content to be sent: take care of every aspect of it, from the design to the subject of the email.
Always do a check before sending the email so you can avoid mistakes. Not only that: to optimize your Email Marketing campaigns you should also do A/B testing, so you can understand which messages get better results. Always remember: measuring your results, in Email Marketing as well as in any business, is absolutely crucial.