What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know about Email Marketing

When you think about the latest trends to hit digital marketing, email isn’t likely top of mind. But email marketing can be a huge game changer for your brand and ROI if you leverage an email list strategically.

Whether you’re a small business or a multibillion dollar corporation, email marketing needs to be a part of your strategy for reaching customers. Here’s a beginner’s guide on why.

The History of Email Marketing

Once upon a time, email was shiny and new, just like every other technological innovation once was. The true testament to a technology’s success isn’t how viral it spreads at its peak, but how long it remains relevant. Vine peaked as a social media platform, but ultimately died due to their inability to compensate big name creators. TikTok has risen as its predecessor and actively tries to avoid Vine’s pitfalls to keep its creators compensated and happy. It’s currently outshining Facebook and Instagram in popularity. But whether or not it can maintain its time in the spotlight remains to be seen.

So while email may not be the trendiest technology, it’s proven its utility as both a communication and marketing tool.

In 1978, Gary Thuerk sent the very first marketing email.

It made the company he worked for $13 million in sales. All he did was send an email to 400 people promoting the company’s machines through Arpanet. As the marketing manager of Digital Equipment Corp, in one click he made the company millions. And also opened Pandora’s box of spam email.

The Beginning of Spam

Companies quickly caught on to his success and started spamming addresses left and right to send out their corporate messaging. It just made sense. The mode of communication was fast and cheap. And gave marketers an opportunity to view their message’s success in real time. Even into the 90s, telephone and post marketing were seen as the primary forms of mass marketing communications. Both were costly and had no way to give marketers feedback.

Email marketing paved the way for “spray and pray” marketing. If you shout your message as loudly and to as many people as possible, it’s bound to stick somewhere, right?

As the method of marketing became more popular, inboxes became filled to the brim with unwanted spam. As a result, the Data Protection Act began to include the provision that all marketing emails included an obligatory opt-out for consumers. In 2003, the Can Spam Law was introduced in the United States to further regulate emails from commercial organizations. That same year, Europe put out the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The next year, the Sender Policy Framework added the concept of an email validation system. It verified the sender’s IP address to further prevent spam in inboxes.

What Makes Email Marketing Powerful

Isn’t marketing all about staying on top of trends and revolutionizing the technologies we have at our disposal to reach customers?

Yes and no.

While it’s essential to stay adrift of the latest waves of culture, some marketing methods are tried and true stand-bys.

Email marketing remains by far one of the most cost effective ways to reach customers. In 2020, an email marketing campaign made on average $36 to every dollar spent. That’s an incredible return on investment (ROI), which makes it possible for business tycoons and small town entrepreneurs alike to use this approach.

Over 4 billion people across the world use email. Chances are most people in your customer base have at least one email address. The best chance you have for customers to engage with a form is if they received it via email. According to Litmus, 79% of marketers say that they put email marketing in their top 3 of their most effective marketing channels.

The Power of Email

But what’s the bottom line for the power of email?

Beyond the federal compliance regulations we listed above, there are no rules that dictate when and how you can reach your subscribers. You aren’t beholden to a fluctuating algorithm of social media. And you aren’t at risk of arbitrarily losing your account.

Social media platforms have the power to terminate your account as they see fit. You can lose the entire customer base you’ve worked years earning and cultivating in a second. While people can choose to unsubscribe, you cannot lose your email list in one fell swoop. It gives you the greatest control and stability as a method of reaching potential clients.

Email Marketing Strategy

So now we see the power of what email marketing can do for you. If you haven’t started already, it’s time to start building your email list yesterday.

But once you secure those subscribers, what can you do with that sacred email list? Here are some different ways you can leverage emails to interact with your subscribers:

  1. Share your content: If you have blog posts, sending out email newsletters can get more eyes on your articles. By getting these clients to spend more time on your site, you can share information and end with a call to action (CTA) to get them to engage even more.
  2. Market what you offer: Customers need to see your products over and over again before they make a decision to purchase. When combined with seeing your services or products in person, in their social media feed, on billboards, and more, email marketing can add another forum to see and interact with what you have to offer.
  3. Interact with customers: When adding a CTA, you give them an opportunity to do something active to interact with your brand. Whether they’re checking out your latest sale or filling out a form, they’re creating a connection with the brand by actively participating.
  4. Offer value to customers: A common way to get website visitors to sign up for an email list is offering them something of value in return. They get something as a reward for interacting with your brand, which gives you access to their email and forges trust and brand recognition with you. It’s common for a pop-up to say “Sign up today and get:
    1. 15% off your first purchase
    2. A downloadable guide
    3. The top ten tricks to succeed in X”

So now that you know that email marketing allows you to build your relationship with clients, here are some ways to make your email marketing efforts successful.

1. Don’t Overwhelm Them With Underwhelming Content

Your inbox is a sacred place. If you think an email doesn’t bring value to your inbox, you’re deleting it or unsubscribing.

Your customers act the same way. Every email counts, because it reminds them that they subscribe to you. While every email gives them an opportunity to visit your website, read a blog, or make a purchase, it also gives them an opportunity to unsubscribe.

You have to make sure that no email you send warrants that response. Choose quality over quantity. While email marketing popularized the spray and pray approach to advertising, you want to be strategic about when to send out emails and what to include in them. Don’t bother your customers with half-baked marketing efforts. Make sure every email is thoughtfully and strategically crafted in a way that won’t inspire customers to hit unsubscribe.

2. Create Subject Lines Customers Can’t Ignore

A marketing email is useless if it remains unopened in your client’s inbox. So many other emails fill their queue of emails to open. Your subject line is your opportunity to show in only a few characters that your email is worth opening.

Show that your email will offer them value if they choose to read it. Make it exciting without giving all the information away. And always check to make sure the amount of characters shown in the preview makes sense.

For example, if you send out an email that has the subject line “If you’ve been thinking about renewing your subscription, don’t hesitate! Sign up today!” you won’t see the subject line in full before opening the email. If all your customer sees in their inbox is “If you’ve been thinking about renewing your subscription, don’t”, you can’t expect them to click on it. Check to make sure the subject line makes sense on both desktop and mobile devices.

3. Craft Personalized Emails

Using personalized information in both the subject lines and within the body of the email can improve the engagement rate. For example, you can use the name your customer put in the name field of your subscription pop up to personalize the subject line. Which title feels more compelling: “You won’t believe what we have in store for you” or “Sarah, you have to see what we have in store for you”? Using someone’s name makes the brand seem more friendly and personalized, rather than cold and generic.

In the body of the email, you can use information from their account to give them personalized updates. Giving them stats and reminders about their account specifically will prove more useful than only ever writing impersonal email blasts. If you’re offering a service through your site, emails updating users about their account will remind them of the value your site offers to them personally.

4. Monitor the Success of Your Emails

If you don’t check metrics like click through rates and open rates, you have no idea what’s working and what’s not with your emails. Do different types of subject lines initiate a higher opening rate? Do you find that your blog posts get more traction than your product reveals? See what works and what doesn’t. Capitalize on the success of what your subscribers respond positively to and let go of what they don’t interact with as often. Opens and clicks will dictate how you move forward in your email marketing strategy.

Email Marketing Platforms

If you decide to use email marketing as a way to grow your business, you’re going to need to create an email management account with an email service provider. But which option do you go with? What can each of the options do for you?

Depending on which platform you use, they might offer email templates to help you format your email to different plugins to work with your website. It all depends on your budget and what you value most in an email marketing automation platform.

Here are some of the most popular options on the market when it comes to email service providers.

Sendinblue

One of the most popular email marketing services out there, Sendinblue offers a lot to users. They have everything from a live chat feature you can add to your site to collect a browser’s email address to over 40 customizable templates for you to use.

You test it out to see if it’s right for you. You can send up to 300 emails a day for free. Paid plans will expand your capabilities.

HubSpot

HubSpot has made a name for itself as a powerful tool for email marketing automation. You can easily set up different triggers based on different actions customers take on your site. They have a mapping tool that allows you to visualize where those email addresses go and what type of content they receive based on the way they interacted with the site originally. They integrate with other tools like their Marketing Hub and CRM to further expand its capabilities. The drag and drop builder allows you to customize your email templates to fit your branding and CTA. They have great A/B testing and rich analytics, giving you the opportunity to really see what content resonates with your subscribers.

Moosend

Are you an ecommerce platform? Moosend could offer you the best options when it comes to email marketing. It works well regardless of your experience in the field.

They also have a drag and drop builder like HubSpot which makes it easy to create beautiful emails that work for your brand. They also have a simple segmentation tool along with accurate, real-time analytics. Using their rich ecommerce AI will allow you to accurately target individual consumers to get the products they’re most likely to buy in front of them. You can monitor common customer shopping habits and see when and what they buy. It’s one of the best options if you’re looking for an email marketing platform that really caters to ecommerce companies.

Mailchimp

While many other email service platforms offer more nuanced, advanced features, Mailchimp is well-known as a great platform to start with. Their forever free email marketing service plan allows those just starting out to dip their toes into email marketing without shelling out top dollar for a platform. If you’re just getting started, all the bells and whistles of sophisticated platforms might just overwhelm you. Why pay for them if you aren’t ready to use those features yet?

It’s one of the most popular platforms for beginners, and its autoresponders, segmentation, and simple tracking give people the basics they need to start to understand email marketing data. Mailchimp easily integrates into WordPress, Magento, and Shopify along with many other web builders.

Although it’s likely not the email service provider you’ll stick with forever, it gives you the basics you need to get started for free.

Constant Contact

One of the fastest growing email marketing services out there, Constant Contact offers another alternative for beginners to use. It’s beginner friendly like Mailchimp but offers more options for richer analytics.

It’s easy for users to manage email lists, templates, contacts, and marketing calendars. Every account offers users unlimited emails, tracking and reporting that’s easy to understand, integrated social media sharing tools, list segmentation, integration with Facebook ads, an ecommerce integration for Shopify users, and even a free image library.

An account that’s a step up called Email Plus gives you even more features like email automation, surveys and polls, coupons, drip campaigns, subject line A/B testing, and online donations. If you’re still having trouble, they offer excellent customer service with their live chat, phone calls, community support, and a large library of resources to help you out.

Email Marketing Allows Your Brand to Express Itself

Email marketing done right allows you to create brand awareness and drive traffic to your site. Using email marketing can grow your blog, show off your products, and relay important information to your customers. It allows you to operate outside the constraints of algorithms and character limits on social media. As the platform with the highest return rate, you’d do your business a disservice not to contact your customers through their email addresses.

Make email marketing work for you, whether you own a small business of a billion dollar company. 

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Author, Artist, Photographer.

Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.

She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.

She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.

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  1. Great content and advice in here! It can be a struggle to find the right mix of content sometimes, especially when editorial and marketing don’t always jive on timelines for deliverables.