Email Marketing: The Lessons I've Learned
This post was written by Kate Jacoutot, Director of Marketing for AgencySparks.
Marketers like me are lucky enough to exist on both sides of the advertising equation. I can view email marketing through the lens of a marketer in addition to the lens of a consumer. As a professional who appreciates good marketing, the promotions tab of my email inbox is carefully curated:
My Favorite B2C eCommerce Email Marketing?
Ulta has a great email marketing strategy. They offer random perks each day so I’m always opening to see if today's perk happens to be something I need to restock. Plus, they use a loyalty points system!
My Favorite Email Content Marketing?
Apartment Therapy sends me blogs with content and affiliate advertising related to interior design - they include design tips, curated lists, and more.
My Favorite B2B Email Marketing?
Creative Market is my favorite B2B email marketing because every Monday, they send me six creative goods for free... and that's in addition to helpful content marketing!
What do all of these emails have in common (other than being girly)? They provide value to me - the subscriber. I try to approach email campaigns and email newsletters the same way I approach content marketing.
Like content marketing, email marketing should provide value to a targeted audience and have a goal of strengthening your brand’s positioning. The purpose of email marketing, like content marketing, can be to educate, to entertain, or to provide a resource. Like content marketing, email marketing should aim to build trust, loyalty, and connection between the brand and its customers.
It’s easy to get caught up in what email marketing can do for you, your business, and your business’ goals. As marketers, we’ve all fallen into this trap - and I’m certainly no exception. Standing out next to the hundreds of other emails in a consumer’s inbox is tough. In order to become the email people subscribe to and anticipate, you need a solid understanding of who your subscribers are and what they want.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my experience with various email service providers (ESPs), it’s this: Any email platform can get the job done (at least at a basic level).... At the end of the day, your choice of email platform won’t have that much of an impact on your return-on-investment (ROI) unless you approach your email marketing strategy with the right mindset.
Don’t just do email for the sake of doing email.
Just like those brands that get on social media for the sake of being present, I’ve had marketers say, “I want to do email.” For what reason? What are you looking to get out of your email marketing? What would a successful email strategy look like to you? Email for the sake of email is bound to disappoint.
Start at the end.
Rather than getting caught up in the tactical approach of marketer’s email marketing strategy, clearly define the end goal first and work your way backwards. It's a much more effective and efficient framework.
Slow and steady is almost always better than fast and spammy.
It’s tempting to buy a list “just to get started.” A slow and steady approach will yield better results with more accurate and actionable data derived from more qualified potential customers. When I receive an email from some company that I’ve never heard of/opted into, I cannot hit the spam button fast enough.
Build up a picture of your subscriber over time.
Research has shown time and time again that limiting the number of fields in an online form can greatly impact the conversion rate. In other words, the likelihood that the user actually fills out the form depends on the simplicity of the form. While having fewer fields means less information to segment on, subscriber activity often offers a more comprehensive picture than any form could provide.
Get creative with segmentation.
Instead of trying to grab all of the information you want for segmentation upfront, consider creative ways to gather that information over time. Experiment with your prospect engagement by tweaking the subject line and/or content within each segment. Read this article for some ideas.
Leverage automations to segmented lists to maximize engagement.
On average, targeted email automations are twice as effective at boosting conversion rates than a generic, non-targeted campaign. With the right trigger emails, email automation software can turn a once “transactional, email-only” relationship into a lead nurturing tool - meeting each subscriber where they are at every stage of the buyer journey. If your ESP offers an automation tool that you’re struggling to leverage, check out these articles for some intelligent automation inspiration:
- 6 Awesome MailChimp Automation Hacks
- 6 Clever Triggered Emails to Inspire Your Marketing Automation
- 13 Email Workflows You Should Be Using in Your Marketing Automation
Take care of your email list.
Regular list maintenance is essential to your email strategy. Not only does a bad list skew the data that’s critical to planning the future of your email strategy, but disengaged contacts/out-of-date contacts/messy lists/disorganized tagging can affect your efficiency, your campaign data (which is crucial in mapping the future of your email strategy), and even your deliverability. Setting up automations that trigger when a subscriber hasn’t opened an email in a pre-defined time range is crucial.
At the end of the day, email marketing is about providing value to your subscribers. You can’t expect to get opens unless your subscribers take a look at the preview pane and want to look inside. You can’t expect to get clicks unless whatever is inside piques their interest. Most importantly, you can’t expect to keep your subscribers if your email marketing is all about you.