What is Email Marketing?

What is Email Marketing

If you have yet to get started with email marketing, there’s no better time to jump in.

Email marketing has changed a lot since Constant Contact introduced the first email marketing tool for small businesses in 1998.

But what hasn’t changed is its effectiveness.  

Studies show that email marketing continues to outperform other digital marketing channels including social media and paid search. And with an average return of $38 for every dollar spent, investing in email marketing can have some serious payoffs.

Email marketing has several advantages over traditional marketing channels, including:

  • Smart metrics allow marketers to track an exact return on investment from email marketing.
  • Small businesses can reach substantial numbers of email subscribers who have opted in to receive emails.
  • Over half of all Internet users check or send email on a typical day.
  • Email allows marketers to reach out to consumers with personalized, relevant, and dynamic messages.
  • Transactional emails allow businesses to respond automatically to important consumer events, like purchases or shopping cart abandonment, with targeted follow-up emails.

Want to try email marketing for your business? Sign up for your free 60-day Constant Contact trial here. 

Why email marketing is the way to go

Email marketing is relatively cheap. Whether you do it yourself, or through an email marketing provider, marketing to hundreds of customers via email is going to cost you peanuts compared to other channels of advertising. You can send targeted emails based on what you know about your customers – such as likes, dislikes, content preferences, age, location, and buying patterns.

With Facebook boasting over 1 billion active users, and Twitter boasting 255 million, it’s tempting to believe that social media is the most effective way to reach the masses. According to a 2018 Radicati Group study, there will be more than 3.8 billion email users before the start of 2019, over 100 million more than the previous year. In other words, over half of the entire planet uses email right now.

While this might seem surprising at first, think about your own online behavior: When you sign up for a website (like an online store), you must enter your email address to create the account. You even need an email address to create a Facebook or Twitter account. What’s more, Facebook and Twitter use email to notify users of recent activity, like when someone is tagged in a photo.

Email is the currency of the web, and for every business, the ultimate goal is to turn potential customers into paying ones. When it comes to these conversions, there isn’t a more powerful channel than email.

The average click-through rate of an email campaign is around 3% (of total recipients), whereas the average click-through rate from a tweet is around 0.5%. This means you are six times more likely to get someone to click through to your website via email than you are from Twitter.

What’s more, email is highly measurable. Constant Contact customers have real-time access to metrics like open rates, clicks, bounces, forwards, social shares and more.

Eight things you need to know before getting started with email marketing:

1. Choose an email marketing service provider

If you’re serious about email marketing, you need to work with an email marketing service provider. Working with a provider is the only way your business can leverage email marketing to effectively deliver messages to large groups of contacts or subscribers. You’ll also benefit from professional email templates, automation tools to help you grow, easy ways to or manage your email list, and tracking features that show you how customers are responding to your emails.

2. Gather contacts for your email marketing list

Most businesses have some existing contacts when they start a mailing list. Think of the customers and people with whom you already have a business relationship. Maybe they’re contacts you email on a regular basis, or you could simply start with a few supportive friends and family members.

Even if you’re building an email list completely from scratch, don’t get discouraged. Start by putting a paper sign-up sheet near your register, adding an online sign-up form to your website, and encouraging your social media followers and loyal customers to sign up.

Whatever you do, don’t purchase an email list. Email marketing is all about building and nurturing relationships; connecting with a smaller list of quality contacts is more impactful than blasting out messages to contacts that don’t even know your business.

3. Set up your welcome email

The first email a new subscriber should receive is the welcome email. These are extremely important, for they set the tone of your entire email campaign.

If your welcome emails don’t resonate with your audience, there’s a good chance that they’ll click the unsubscribe button. Therefore, you must get this right if you want to retain your subscribers and turn them into paying customers.

Once set up, your welcome email sends to all new contacts, automatically.

Learn more: 4 Things Your Welcome Email Must Do 

4. Write persuasive messages

This tends to be one of the scariest steps for business owners. You don’t want to sound too salesy or push too hard to get potential customers to buy your products, but at the same time, you want to convert them into paying customers.

When thinking of email marketing ideas, it helps to follow a repeatable process and break your message down into three important sections:

  1. Headline: What are you offering?
  2. Message Body: How will it help the reader?
  3. Call-to-action: What should they do next?

This simple three-step formula helps you stay focused so that you can write more effective messages.

5. Use personalization in subject lines

The subject line of your email is one of the first impressions someone gets from your brand, especially when you’re sending them an email for the first time. Using what you already know about the customer in your favor should be your first priority while sending email marketing campaigns.

Your subject line should be short and snappy — around 40 characters.

You can draw attention by asking a compelling question, including a deadline for urgency, or just teasing your message.

6. Focus on customers, not your products

Ever received a marketing email from your favorite brand that talks about multiple products available on their website, except none of them interest you? Yeah, that can get a little annoying.

An email that’s cluttered with products that hold no relevance to the customer will cause them to lose interest in your email and maybe unsubscribe if it happens multiple times.

When you’re dividing your readers into segments, make sure to remember at what stage of their customer lifecycle/purchasing cycle they’re at, as in whether they’re a new customer or someone who’s left something behind in their cart. A little extra effort when segmenting can go a long way.

7. Preview and test before you send

You’ve spent hours creating the perfect copy and creative for the big anniversary sale for your business. As you hit send, you realize the promo code on the main banner is wrong. Uh oh!

Not only have you lost potential customers, but also you’ll likely infuriate existing customers too. Similarly, if a link you’ve included in the email leads your readers to the wrong landing page on your website, or if it’s broken, customers may not want to do business with you.

Make sure you check all the links and promo codes by sending a test email. Include multiple people from your team so they can check them as well.

8. Track your results

Email marketing doesn’t end with a send. You will want to track your open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rates, etc. and work to improve over time.

You need to know which metrics will help you create a perfect email marketing strategy. These aren’t the only indicators of optimal email performance, but they’re a good start. Remember to A/B test different emails with different segments to see what works and what doesn’t.

Learning from these metrics can further help you define your goals and answer some important questions – “Are customers opening my emails, are they clicking, and do they care at all?” Knowing what works and what doesn’t help you save time, effort, and money.

How does email marketing benefit my business?

Email marketing allows you to keep in touch with your customers on a consistent basis. Be it a simple, “Thank you for subscribing,” a cheery, “Welcome on board,” or a sincere “Happy Birthday,” email is the easiest and most effective way to let your customers know you value them. Customers love it when a business treats them as an individual, not just like everyone else.

That value should show in the emails you send, and the more value you provide to your customers, the more they’ll look forward to hearing from you. When that happens, it’s easier to get them to engage with your call-to-action.

Key benefits of building a solid email marketing strategy:

1. Boost engagement & loyalty

Emails triggered based on user actions have a better chance of getting a response than standard email campaigns. Whether your user is extending their subscription or buying a new product, you can leverage email drip campaigns to engage customers during the renewal or new purchase process. Whenever a user leaves an unpurchased product in their cart, use email automation to follow up and let them know that the product is still available for purchase.

Your drip emails have a pretty good chance of closing the sale. Abandoned cart emails average a 46.1% open rate, a 13.3% click-through rate, and $5.64 per email in extra revenue.

2. Promote relevant content

When you’re aware of where a customer fits into your email cycle, it’s easy to send them content that’ll interest them and keep them engaged. Email campaigns become especially handy when you’re running a small business and cannot give as much time and effort to every customer and lead. Try targeting user segments with drip marketing based on which aspects of your service they use most, or what kinds of content they find interesting.

3. Help in increasing brand awareness

Email marketing is a great way to develop your brand identity because it gives you a direct line to the email inboxes of your customers or potential customers. Once you begin creating valuable content for the customer, you’ll have an edge over your competitors.

You can even use your emails to get useful feedback. Are customers happy with the content you’re providing? Would they like to learn something different?

Use a survey or start a discussion on social media. Once you get them involved in the process, you’ll know exactly how to provide valuable content in your emails.

4. Boost sales

Email marketing offers a great opportunity for impulse buying. You can entice a customer to make another purchase in a few ways:

  1. Feature items that are often purchased alongside the products the customer bought.
  2. List similar items to the customer’s past purchases.
  3. Create a special offer or discount for future purchases.

Customers often act on impulse when they get an email letting them know about a relevant product which is related to their previous purchase. This is especially true if there is a relevant promotion.

Start sending your emails with confidence!

Like most things, email marketing can seem slightly daunting at first. Building an email marketing strategy that fits within your budget and doesn’t utilize too much time or too many resources can be a mountain that seems too high to scale with ease.

Email marketing is by far the best channel to attract new customers and turn existing customers into loyal ones. By using email marketing effectively, you can engage and connect with your customers to drive repeat sales and a steady revenue stream for your business.

Want to try email marketing for your business? Sign up for your free 60-day Constant Contact trial here. 

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