Email Marketing Strategy: a Step by Step Guide
Nowadays, there are so many forms of digital marketing that many may think that email marketing is not worth paying attention to it. True, email marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing, with the first marketing email sent in 1978, but it hasn’t lost its effectiveness and remains the best place to establish relationships with customers. It has the highest ROI of all digital channels, returning, on average, 38$ for each 1$ spent. Besides, 99% of users check their email at least once a day, so brands have more chances to be seen by customers.
Though to reach this effectiveness you need to work hard. You can’t expect to reach high results without a good email marketing strategy. Users are receiving hundreds of promotional emails every day, but how many people would open them? Brands are fighting for users’ attention, so your emails should be catching and stand out from first sight.
So, let’s find out how to create an excellent email marketing strategy and get loyal customers. This is a step-by-step guide for everyone who wants to achieve great results in email marketing.
What is Email Marketing?
Email Marketing is a form of digital marketing that uses informational, promotional emails to send to targeted customers or subscribers. Email is very convenient for use. It enables brands to create more personalized messages for customers compared to other channels. An effective email marketing strategy can turn prospects into loyal customers, increase sales and brand awareness. Email marketing allows to create deeper relationships with customers, develop loyalty and trust. An email marketing campaign can have different goals, from getting new customers to increasing sales, but in order to create a campaign, you should have a solid email marketing strategy.
Benefits of Email Marketing
Before exploring the essential steps, let’s see what benefits email marketing has and how it can help your business.
Establishing close relationships with customers. As email marketing allows to create highly customizable email campaigns, it helps to establish close and long-term relationships with customers. By segmenting customers, you can target a campaign for a specific group of subscribers and get high conversions.
Boosting brand awareness. By sending regular emails, your brand will remain in the mind of customers. People will know your brand better and email campaigns will create a unique image of your brand. Besides, you can gain new customers by sending follow-up emails to the new customers who have made a purchase on your website.
Reaching a large audience. Though many people may refuse to use social media, they will still use email. Nearly everyone has an email address, which means that you have more chances to reach your target audience compared to social media channels.
Promoting your content. Email is a great way to share news, updates, product features and many other things with your customers. And you can provide more details and longer descriptions in emails. Email also offers a great opportunity to market your products and show customers what you have to offer.
Being affordable. Email marketing is much more affordable than other digital marketing options like SMM. If you don’t have a big budget for marketing then email marketing is a great option that can effectively work for you.
Creating the Strategy
Now let’s discover how to create a successful email marketing strategy. Whether you’re new in email marketing or you’re already a guru, this guide will help you to create a marketing strategy to grow your business.
Step 1 - Set the Goals
First things first. Identify your goals. Email marketing is just a weapon to achieve your business goals. Analyze your overall business and marketing goals and set email marketing goals according to them. You shouldn’t just start sending emails to everyone. Besides, the goals will help you define the style, design of your message and your brand in general. Be as specific as you can and remember that each campaign should have its purpose.
Step 2 - Collect Email Addresses and Grow Your List
The next step is to build the email list. These should be highly interested and valuable subscribers who want to know more about your brand and your products. Many brands simply put a form on the website and wait till people sign up. This strategy is very wrong as no one will give you their email address for nothing. You have to have a lead magnet. A lead magnet is something that you give for free in exchange for an email address. It can be an eBook, a free webinar, a free trial, samples, a free consultation, etc. It can be anything you want as long as it is valuable for potential subscribers. Brands can also offer online quizzes in order to send the results to email addresses.
Some brands go even further. Before submitting the email address, they ask future subscribers some questions or create quizzes, so as to know them better. So, besides giving a discount or free product, they also learn customers’ preferences. This technique gives an opportunity to create more customized and personalized recommendations for customers.
Make sure your offer is on a clearly visible spot on your website. You can do it right on the homepage, so when a new user is visiting your website, he/she can clearly see your offer.
Step 3 - Analyze Your Subscribers and Segment Them
In order to convert visitors to subscribers and subscribers to loyal customers, you need to know where they are in their buyer’s journey. You should create the most relevant and customized emails to subscribers and to do so you have to segment them. As mentioned above, one of the best ways to segment customers is to collect information about them while they are submitting their email addresses. Be careful not to make too long quizzes as it will drive people off. 2-4 short but important questions are enough.
Later on, if you want to learn more about the subscribers, you can send them a more detailed survey. But don’t do it right away as you get their emails. Wait for some time, until they get to know your brand and start trusting you.
Step 4 - Build an Email Template
The next step is to create an email template. It’s probably needless to say that all your emails should have the same style and design. You can build a template from scratch or choose from existing ones. It all depends on your resources, time and budget, if you can hire a designer to create a template for you then do it, as you’ll get a unique style and voice for your email.
Remember that there is no need to go too creative or make extra complicated designs. It can confuse people. An email should have a design that will help the customers read it easily and don’t get confused.
There are only a couple of important notes. The header and footer are an essential part of emails. The header usually includes the company logo, while the footer includes links to social media channels, the unsubscribe link and the address of the company.
And lastly, don’t make your emails too cluttered, the more whitespaces the better.
Step 5 - Build the Email Sequence
Then you should start creating email copies. There are types of emails for each phase of the customer journey and it’s very important to send the right email at the right time. Here are the important types of emails you should have:
- Welcome Email
- Digital Magazine or Newsletter
- Announcement Email (new product/service/event update)
- Lead Nurturing Email
- Special Offers
- Birthday Email
- Referral Email
- Re-engagement Cart Email
- Abandoned Cart Email
- Subscription Confirmation Email
- Free Trial Expiration Email
- Premium Subscription Confirmation Email
- Subscription Cancellation Email
- Order Confirmation Email
- Order and Shipping Status Updates
- Survey Email
- Customer Appreciation Email
This list can change depending on what kind of product/service you are offering. This particular list is great for an e-commerce brand. It’s important to send each email campaign at the right time to the right people, as it will have a huge impact on the conversions rate. If you miss the chance to send a discount email you might lose your customer.
If you ask a customer to refer a friend right after they subscribed to your newsletter, and don’t give a reason for it, the subscriber will be disappointed and won’t pay attention to that email. But if you wait till the customer knows you better and then offer a free product or some other valuable thing, the email will more likely reach its goal. That’s why it’s important to understand where each customer is in his/her customer journey, so as to send the right email at the right time.
Don’t send too many emails, subscribers won’t thank you for that. Up to 5 times a week is considered an average amount. And if you send too rarely, your subscribers will forget you. So, set the right time and a good reason to send your emails.
Step 6 - Get Your Emails Opened
Now comes the most difficult part. How to get your emails opened. Users receive hundreds of emails every day, so yours should stand out so that people read them. You have very little time to grab users’ attention and the key here is to write an eye-catching and engaging subject line, preview text, and from name.
The subject line is the first touchpoint with the subscriber, so give it special attention. The subject line is not very long, and you must be able to interest the subscriber with a few words. Use some humor, play on curiosity to raise the interest in your email. Here are some examples to get inspired.
If you wanted to highlight more things in the subject line and didn’t manage, you can write them in the preview text section. If you don’t set the preview text, it will be automatically chosen from a part of your email. Use this opportunity to grab users’ attention.
In the from name don’t use a no-reply. It seems unfriendly and will discourage people from opening the email. One of the best options is to use your brand name, so as users know who has sent this email.
Step 7 - The Art of Copywriting
After deciding to open your email, the recipient will see the content of your email. Usually, it consists of the headline, the body and CTA. This is the most creative part of creating the email campaign and probably the most time-consuming.
The headline is not too long, it briefly highlights the key point of the message. There aren’t any general guides or rules of the style of copywriting, you should try to find the tone and voice of your brand and stick to it. Your email should be as personalized as possible and must bring value to the customers. It shouldn’t be generic but rather conversational, it can contain humor and wordplay. Don’t be too complicated, use simple words and phrases.
Having at least one CTA is essential. If you have managed to drive the curiosity of the reader and incited him/her to read the whole email, you need to add the finishing touch – a great CTA. You can use more generic CTAs such as “Shop Now” or “Click Here”, but you can also go more creative and make your own CTA.
And lastly, use some visuals. You’ve already chosen the template for your emails, so you can include some images or videos in your emails.
P.S. Don’t forget to check and fix grammar errors.
Step 8 - Review, Test and Send Email Campaigns
Finally, we’re approaching the last steps. Don’t rush to send your email campaign right after writing the copy. First, make sure not to get to the spam folder, otherwise, all your previous efforts would be wasted. Make unsubscription easy and don’t bother unsubscribed users with your emails. Remove unengaged subscribers from your list, it won’t do any good if you have a big list of unengaged customers.
Choose a reliable email service provider. You’re going to send an email campaign to thousands of users, and you can’t do it one by one. The most popular email service providers are:
Then review and test your campaign. Check the spelling, links and different browsers to make sure there are no flaws. Before sending the campaign it’s recommended to do split testing. It’s a powerful tool that helps to find all the flaws in copies and to ensure high conversion rates. So, always use this tool before sending your campaign to thousands of users.
Then set the time to send your emails. You can schedule or send the campaign right away. The timing depends on the type of campaign. You can use A/B testing to find the perfect time for your campaign. After you’ve checked and tested everything and you’re satisfied, it’s time to send the campaign.
Step 9 - Measure Results
Wait, wait, wait, it’s not over yet. This is an equally important step as the sending of emails. After each campaign is sent, you should measure its results. There is much data to be analyzed, which includes the unique opens, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates, conversion rates, spam complaints. There are many other metrics to measure too, but you don’t have to analyze them all. Just make sure to monitor the same metrics for each campaign so that to get the full picture of the success of your campaigns.
Compare the results with previous campaigns, analyze them to understand what was wrong or what has changed. This way you will learn from your mistakes and won’t make them again. Make minor improvements with each campaign and you’ll get amazing results. Remember that you’re building a long-term relationship with each customer, so provide them with valuable and engaging information.
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How do you build an email list? How do you start sending out email sequences? How do you build an email marketing strategy? We covered that and more in the guide below.