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Email marketing 101 for small business

Maybe you’ve heard of email marketing but you’ve been focused on other marketing channels.

Maybe you think email marketing is just spam your audience won’t want.

Well, there’s a reason why content is 5x more likely to be seen through email than social media.

Email marketing 101: What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a digital marketing activity that connects you to your customer via their inbox. The customer could be prospective (also known as a lead) or a loyal advocate of your brand.

Either way, email marketing is a crucial component in almost every marketing strategy. And here’s why.

Email marketing 101: What are the benefits of email marketing?

Just like a good-old fashioned letter, an email is personal and direct. According to Optimonster, “email remains the most effective way to nurture leads and boost customer loyalty”.

Research shows that people check their email up to 20 times a day, and compared to other platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter), the click-through rate is far higher. That means your content is far more likely to influence customer behaviour— and that’s valuable.

But it’s not all about getting the customer to take action. Email marketing is also a great tool for building rapport with a customer and leading them down the sales funnel gently (aka lead nurturing).

Building a relationship can take some time but the benefits are worth it. A loyal customer is one of the most valuable assets any business can  have.

Email Marketing 101: What are the different types of email marketing?

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of email marketing, it’s important to also understand the different types of email marketing campaigns that you can send to your subscribers.

Email newsletters

Email newsletters are typically sent at a recurring interval (i.e. monthly) and usually consist of a roundup of business news (like announcements or offers) or educational content.

Email newsletters are a great way of keeping your customers up-to-date with the latest and for sharing informative, high value content.

Hubspot recommends pairing a visual with each blog post/article headline in your newsletter, along with a CTA (call to action). This tactic makes sure interested customers click-through and saves your newsletter from getting too wordy and turning readers off.

Lead nurture emails

Lead nurturing refers to a series of  communications that drive a lead down a sales funnel and toward a purchase.

The nature and quantity of these emails is up to you but they’re usually designed to show a prospective customer the value of your product or service, dispel their pain points and make them want to buy.

Promotional emails

As you can imagine, promotional emails do exactly what they say on the tin. They promote your product or service — whether it be through a sale, a promo code or a simple reminder.

According to Campaign Monitor, you should always seek to add more value than the standard ‘15% off’ and go a step further by highlighting a service or product and adding some valuable content.

Ask yourself questions like “why does the customer need it” And “what could be stopping a customer from buying this?” Not everything sells itself!

Milestone emails

Have you ever signed up to a mailing list and received a promo code on your birthday? Or maybe it was for a brand’s birthday. Well, that’s a milestone email. These email campaigns can make customers feel special. They  also remind customers to treat themselves, as we all like to do on occasion (we know we do, anyway!).

Survey emails

It’s important to understand what your customers like, what they think you’re doing well and what you might need to improve on.

Survey emails are the best way to gather feedback, giving you valuable information for your business. You could ask for product feedback, request a review or ask whether they would recommend you to friends and family.

Here’s how to get started with email marketing 101

Step 1: Opting-in

Create a place on your website for customers to opt-in to your mailing list. Some businesses take the subtle approach and offer an opt-in option in their website banner. Others have a pop up, asking for an email address as soon as someone enters their website. Whatever option you decide to take, make sure it’s quick and easy to do.

Step 2: Give them an incentive

Make sure you offer something of value in exchange for their email address. This could be 10% off their first order, a free eBook, or even the promise of valuable information (i.e. interesting blog posts). Precious few opt-in with the promise of nothing in return so give them an incentive to join.

Step 3: Welcome!

Setup a welcome email. This is an automatic email that’s triggered when someone signs up to your mailing list. Your welcome email should do just that, make them feel welcome! This is where you can set their expectations, give them a taste of what’s to come and assure them that they can unsubscribe anytime.

Step 4: Automating & planning

So your mailing list is starting to shape up. Congrats! Now it’s time to plan your email marketing content and automate your emails.

This means your campaigns will remain consistent, as your email marketing software can automatically send out emails when you want them to be sent – without needing to be there to push go at the exact time.

Email marketing automation can offer everything from personalised abandoned cart emails to scheduling your newsletters to send at the time when you know your audience is most engaged.

Step 5: Segmentation

Once you have a growing email marketing list, you can start getting fancy! Segmenting your audience makes sure you’re targeting the right people on your list with the right content for them.

For instance, new leads should receive a different string of emails compared to your tried and true customers. You can also segment your mailing list depending on region, age and gender. It all depends on who you want to target and what you know about your customers!

Email Marketing 101: How do I measure my email marketing efforts?

There are plenty of different metrics you can use to measure your email marketing success. But what do each of them mean? And which ones should you be paying attention to? Here are the basic email marketing metrics you should be keeping an eye on.

Open rate (OR)

Open rate shows you how many of the people who received your email actually opened it. While this is an important metric to keep track of, Hubspot recommends focusing less of your energy on perfecting attention-grabbing subject lines and more energy on your click-through rate.

Click-through rate (CTR)

The click-through rate shows how many people clicked on the links in your emails, whether they’re interested in the content and what they’re interested in.

Hubspot has determined CTR to be a “very important metric for all email marketers to be tracking, as it gives you direct insight into how many people on your list are engaging with your content and interested in learning more about your brand or your offer”.

Bounce rate

Your bounce rate is how many of your subscribers did not receive your email. This could be because of a ‘soft’ problem or a ‘hard’ one.

A soft bounce means there is a temporary issue with the recipient’s address. This could be a server issue or a full inbox. A hard bounce means the address is either invalid, closed, or non-existent.

In order to avoid fake email addresses and a less than enthusiastic mailing list, Campaign Monitor says a double-opt in process is a “a great option to help ensure higher quality email lists and lower bounce rates”.

You can achieve a double-opt in by sending a confirmation email that verifies the address, and confirms that the person would like to receive emails from your brand.

ROI (Return on Investment)

Keeping track of your ROI lets you know whether your campaign is helping or hindering your business. Are your email campaigns generating repeat sales for your business or converting more leads into customers?

And it’s generally good news! Compared to other marketing channels, email marketing is the most cost effective and has the highest ROI.

In Campaign Monitor’s annual report, they found that the ROI for email marketing can be as high as 4400%. That’s $44 back for every dollar spent on email marketing.

Unsubscribe rate

This metric lets you know how many of your subscribers have decided to hit the unsubscribe button. This could be a random, scattered occurrence. Or, as MailChimp mentions, “peaks in unsubscribe rates could indicate issues which need to be addressed”.

These issues could range from too high a frequency of email sends to content that isn’t engaging, so it’s worth keeping a close eye on.

Growth rate

Keeping track of the growth rate of your list lets you know how fast your email list has grown over time. ActiveCampaign suggests offering a freebie or offer if you’re eager to grow your list further (as mentioned in Step 2).

They also note that keeping track of your unengaged subscribers is worthwhile (the subscribers who never open or click on your emails), as they can harm your email reputation.

Feel like you might need an extra hand? You can suss out our email marketing services over here.

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