This guide to email marketing strategies will walk you through the basics of getting started on an effective email campaign.
How to select an email service provider
Before doing anything else, you’ll need to choose the email service provider you’ll use to send your emails. An email service provider allows you to measure email ROI and gauge your successes and failures.
That’s something sending messages through your personal email account won’t accomplish.
There are several different marketing automation providers with helpful features like 24-hour support, analytics, auto-response, user segmentation, and tracking history, to name a few.
Make a list of features you absolutely need from a service provider before making a decision. A good service provider simplifies email marketing while fitting within your budget. Laws like the CAN-SPAM Act regulate the types of messages businesses can send and require that you allow subscribers to opt-out of your mailing list.
Your email service provider can suggest how frequently you should email subscribers or how easily they should be able to unsubscribe to emails, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide the best features for your messaging.
How to develop your overall email marketing strategy
You wouldn’t reveal a new product or service without first developing a marketing and advertising plan, right?
The same goes for email marketing strategies.
You’ll need to decide what you want the campaign to accomplish, who you want to target, and how you’ll succeed.
Determine your goals.
First of all, you should have a clear idea of what you want the campaign to accomplish.
Do you intend to advertise new products and discounted items in order to increase sales?
Are you focused on educating your audience and gaining up-sell opportunities?
Alternatively, is this simply a campaign designed to create brand awareness?
The tone and frequency of your messaging depend on your goal, and to ensure that your goals are realistic, you need to make them SMART, actionable goals.
SMART goals are goals that have been defined by the following factors:
- Specific – This step details the who, what, where, and why of your goals.
- Measurable – Can you track the overall progress of your goal? Is it measurable? Ask yourself “how much” or “how many” is involved in reaching this goal.
- Attainable – Is this a reasonable goal? Can you accomplish it? If you can, how?
- Relevant – Will this goal meet your brand’s needs? Is it consistent with your other goals and objectives?
- Timely – What is your time limit for reaching this goal? You need to make it specific in order to establish a true sense of urgency to complete it.
Know your audience.
Being aware of your audience’s needs is another key factor in how you’ll strategize and frame your messaging.
For example, a consumer-based audience likely wants to hear about new products and discounted items, whereas a business audience will be more interested in new services and software updates.
Also, consider how often you should send emails to subscribers.
Keep them informed, but don’t be a nuisance.
Analyze your competitors.
Take a look at how your competition is doing with email marketing campaigns.
What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you improve on their tactics? Are they using software that makes them more efficient or organized?
If you notice that your competitors are more successful with their email marketing campaigns, it may be because they’re sending quality content to their audience.
According to Outbrain, 44 percent of email subscribers purchased an item they first saw in an email, and 35 percent of email subscribers open emails based on the subject line.
How to develop content for your email marketing strategy
Once you’ve developed an overall strategy for your email marketing plan, it’s time to map out the most important detail.
It’s the content feeding your email marketing strategies and sending out to subscribers.
Here are just a few topics you should discuss:
Develop a mixture of messages.
Switching up your messaging keeps readers interested and less likely to hit the “unsubscribe” button.
Try using messaging that includes helpful advice, free or discounted merchandise, service information, updates, etc.
A well-developed marketing plan takes into consideration that the reader isn’t looking solely for promotions. In fact, in 2018, Adobe sent out their Consumer Email Survey, and 39% of respondents stated that they would prefer if their favorite brands made their email messages less about promotion and more about providing the reader with relevant information.
This is why having a mix of messages is so vital to your email marketing strategy. Create varying types of content, including:
- Newsletters with both original and curated content
- User anniversaries
- Holiday messages
- Letters from the team
- Special promotions and more
Sketch does a wonderful job of balancing out information and promotion in their newsletter. Not only do users get updated on new features, but they are also informed of featured plugins that they can take advantage of, while also being given plenty of learning opportunities and event invites!
Source: Really Good Emails
Determine your email cadence.
There’s a fine line between too few emails and too many emails.
How frequently you message consumers determines whether your emails will be helpful or annoying.
Sending one email a day is enough to keep most readers informed and interested, but unless the email serves a purpose for you or the subscriber, the best option is not to send it.
Place content ideas in a calendar.
Keeping a log of ideas you’ve come up with will help you stay organized and ensures you won’t miss an opportunity for sending out successful messages.
Using Basecamp or Google Calendar allows you to share ideas with higher-ups or product developers and gives them a chance to send feedback.
Regularly review your content calendar.
Touch base with key stakeholders regularly so you have an opportunity to hear new ideas or gather updates.
This also allows you to discover what type of messaging has been working and what needs improvement.
How to develop permission messaging
Permission-based messaging is essential for all email marketing strategies.
It’s when a user actively signs up to receive emails from a business, rather than unwittingly giving their email addresses to someone and getting bombarded with spam.
Of course, getting people to hand over their email address isn’t easy, so here are a few suggestions:
- Offer something free at sign-up
- Say you won’t send spam or sell their email address (and mean it)
- Create a survey they can fill out to make your emails more relevant to their interests
- Allow them to sign up for specific mailing lists for service updates, new products, discounts, etc.
When you ask permission to send users emails, make it clear as to what you’ll be sending them and what you’ll do (or not do) with their personal information.
Subscribers want to know how many messages you’ll send and what types of emails (promotional, updates, discounts, special offers, etc.) they’ll receive.
A great way to ensure that you are sending email messages to those who genuinely want them is to send a double opt-in verification email. A double opt-in is an email that is sent to a new subscriber after they’ve gone ahead and signed up on your websites or through other means. This ensures that this wasn’t a mistaken action and that they do want to be apart of your list.
Republic does a wonderful job of this by asking subscribers to verify their email address to finalize their account setup.
Source: Really Good Emails
Once they’ve verified their email, they can then start using Republic’s services.
While a service provider strives to ensure your emails aren’t blocked, some of your messages may still end up in the junk folder once you’ve sent to certain addresses.
To prevent this from happening, you should immediately request to be whitelisted – or added to a list of approved IP addresses (or senders) – when someone first subscribes.
Prompting subscribers to update their email preferences and add you to their address book or list of contacts should prevent future emails from being marked as spam.
How to develop an email strategy for your growing list
When email marketing strategies hit a plateau or you want to prevent yourself from reaching that point, you’ll need to make a plan for growing your mailing list.
One way to get started is by offering your audience an incentive, such as a free or discounted product or service, or piece of content in exchange for becoming a subscriber.
People are more willing to join a mailing list if they know they’ll receive a gift.
Another method for growing your list of subscribers is to offer your subscribers rewards for referrals.
If a current subscriber refers a friend to sign up for your mailing list, reward them with a special promotion to make them more likely to refer someone in the future.
Also, consider following up with subscribers who receive your emails but haven’t responded to your offers or CTAs for a while.
Re-engaging inactive subscribers may be as simple as switching them to a mailing group that’s more relevant to their interests.
Utilize social media, word of mouth, and other channels to promote your mailing list as well.
How to schedule email campaigns
How often you should email someone depends on why they signed up in the first place and what they expect from your messages.
Email timing can mean everything to the success of any email marketing strategies.
Don’t send emails simply because you can – each message you send should have a purpose that informs or otherwise benefits the reader.
If you can’t answer why you’re sending an email to your subscribers, it’s best not to send it at all.
One useful tool for ensuring that messages are sent at appropriate times is an auto-responder feature.
If your email service provider offers this feature, you can create messages that automatically go out when someone first subscribes to your mailing list.
Some also allow you to send automated messages based on a subscriber’s unique opens and downloads, or interest in specific white paper topics.
How to write great emails
Writing a great email requires you to break down your email into different pieces so you get the most out of each section.
The first place you want to work on is crafting your subject line. What makes a great subject line?
Your email subject line is arguably the most critical aspect of your message.
It’s the first thing subscribers read, and it’ll determine whether they even bother to open the email.
There are quite a few ways to make your subject line stand out, like:
- Make headlines short – Around 6 to 10 words; you should be able to read the entire line without opening the email.
- Be clear and concise – The email message should quickly get to the point and should have a beginning, middle, and end. Avoid rambling. The subscriber may quickly lose interest.
- Utilize emojis – These little symbols can increase open rates and add a little personality to your emails.
- Write comprehensive email campaigns – If a subscriber has downloaded a whitepaper before, anticipate the topics they will be interested in as a follow-up. Your email service provider can give you tips on how to develop subsequent emails that will be of interest to your audience.
- Provide value – Whether providing useful resources or a discount, make sure that the email delivers some type of value to the recipients.
- Personalize – If possible, insert the person’s name in the subject line. If that’s not an option, you can still use “you” and “your” to make the message more personal.
What makes great copy?
Similar rules apply to writing engaging email copy as the subject line.
Keep it personal, keep it short and sweet, and inform subscribers of updates or discounts that are useful to them.
Following is a summary of do’s and don’ts when writing email content:
DO: optimize for mobile.
According to Litmus, 53 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices, compared to just 22 percent on desktop programs.
Needless to say, how emails look on mobile devices should be a big factor in your content layout.
Simple things like making the font larger or narrowing the email down to one column will make it easier for mobile users to read.
DO: use proper grammar and spelling.
Ensuring that your content is free of errors not only makes your messaging more intelligent, but it also shows you put a lot of effort into making your emails as flawless as possible.
Some subscribers might not bat an eye at the occasional misspelled word, but an errant misplaced apostrophe may be enough to make someone unsubscribe.
DON’T: forget the CTA.
An email call-to-action gives readers a clear idea of what they should do after they read your email, whether it’s downloading a new e-book or checking out a description of your latest product.
Again, emails should be short and sweet, as subscribers (especially the ones who primarily use mobile devices) don’t want to scroll through a dozen lines of text to get to the point of your message.
Focus on why you’re sending the email, what you want the person to do, and how your message will benefit your audience.
How to test, test, and retest
Measuring the success of email marketing strategies can be done multiple ways depending on what you want your campaign to accomplish.
For instance, if you simply want to find out how many subscribers are even opening your emails or clicking on the URLs, you’ll want to measure the open rate and click-through rate.
If you want to know how many emails fail to reach subscribers, measure the bounce rate.
The A/B test
One way to find out if one message will be more successful than another is to try A/B testing.
A/B testing for email marketing is when you send two small test groups the same message, but written differently, to see which one is most effective.
An example of this is writing two subject lines that basically say the same thing, but have different tones, like:
- “How to Measure Your Email Marketing Campaign’s Success”
- “Is your email marketing campaign failing? Find out today”
As you can see, both have the same message, but one will likely resonate with your subscription base more than the other.
When you’ve measured which one garners the most responses, send that message out to the rest of your audience.
Measuring your email successes and failures should give you an idea of how you can improve your messaging.
If you see an increase in the number of people opening your emails or visiting your site, you know that the type of messaging is relevant to your audience.
On the other hand, if you have a portion of your audience unsubscribing, it could be because your messaging is no longer relevant to that group of people.
Always give unsubscribers a short survey asking why they no longer wish to receive your emails.
This can help you prevent further opt-outs for the same reason.
How to segment an email marketing list
List segmentation is when you divide your mailing list into groups based on the type of audience you want to target for a particular message, promotion, etc.
This can be extremely helpful for sending the right message at the right time to the right group of people.
Why is segmentation effective?
Segmenting allows you to automate emails with targeted messages so that they are more relevant to a select group of users.
An example of this would be to send a calendar of scheduled webinars only to those who have signed up for webinars in the past or requested more information about them.
A subscription list of business clients would most likely read your emails from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, whereas a list of consumers is more likely to read emails at nights and weekends. So, segmenting your lists by business clients and consumers would be beneficial, especially if you are working on nailing down the perfect email send times for your readers.
Depending on your audience, you can segment your list in several different ways, including:
- Job title
- Viewing history
- Purchasing history
- Event interests and more
The ultimate email marketing strategy glossary of terms
Account: Your database where contacts, content, mailing data, and reports are stored.
Account overview: A commonly used report that gives you a snapshot of your account with standard mailing statistics, which you can customize by time range.
Blacklist: A list of spammer IP addresses whose emails are blocked.
Bounce: When an email fails to reach the recipient. This can be due to issues like an incorrect mailing address, disconnected email, or full inbox.
Campaign: A report tool that allows grouping of mailings sent so all grouped mailings can be viewed in one report.
Category: A static subset of the contacts database. Categories do not use queries.
Click-through rate: The percentage of unique recipients that click on a URL in your email message.
Contacts: Database of email addresses and demographic fields.
Content: The HTML message sent to contacts
Custom fields: Available database fields that can store contact information such as Name, Address, Phone, Dates, etc.
Draft mailing: A saved mailing that has not yet been sent to contacts or a subset of contacts.
Engagement: Open, click and forward reporting, rolled into one calculation. There are two types of engagement such as contact and mailing.
Google Analytics: Additional tracking function that allows sent mailing activity to be reported back to Google Analytics used on your website.
HTML email: A type of email that can include various fonts, colors, and designs.
Media library: A place to store image files (gif, jpg, png), PDF documents, Word documents, and other HTML files.
Open rate: The definition of this phrase can vary, depending upon the ESP you’re working with. In general terms, an open rate includes images downloaded by a recipient and the number of clicks on a link. On the other hand, a unique open rate calculated by dividing the number of unique subscribers that do either of those things by the unique number of recipients in the entire campaign.
Opt-in: When a user subscribes to or gives a business permission to send emails.
Opt-out: When a subscriber cancels an email subscription from a business.
Plain text email: An email that doesn’t use HTML; often making it easier to read, but less creative.
Scheduled mailing: The ability to schedule your mailings at future dates and times.
Spam: An email that’s sent to someone who hasn’t subscribed or opted-in.
SMS: A separate interface that allows communication to subscribers via text messages to cell phones.
Split test mailing: This mailing feature allows two or more pieces of content to be sent to a segment or category where results can be compared to determine which mailing performed most favorably.
Subscribe form: An HTML form hosted on your website that feeds back to your Delivra contacts database.
Template: Stored content that allows to create text and HTML email designs and store them for future use.
Text to subscribe: A feature that allows new subscribers to simply text a keyword to a short code to join your contacts database.
Unsubscribe: An email address that has unsubscribed from email communications.