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How to set up your email marketing strategy

A detailed guide into how to create an effective email marketing strategy that generates engagement and revenue for your business.

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Over 4 billion people use emails as of 2020. That number is expected to grow to 4.6 billion by 2025. Emails have become an integral part of our day to day communications and having an email address has almost become a requirement, much similar to having a phone number. Interestingly, emails did not start as popular as they are now.

 

Ray Tomlinson, the creator of emails, sent his first email in 1969 on ARPANET. The rest was history. ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was a network in the United States Department of Defense that allowed computers in the department to communicate.

 

Since then, emails have evolved into a necessity of everyday personal and business communication. Businesses especially have adopted emails for marketing purposes as they present an opportunity to reach out to a mass audience in an easy and faster way than before. Previously, businesses had to mail physical resources to their clients manually. You can imagine how tedious that would be for any company that had customers in the hundreds, not to even think of thousands. It was expensive, bulky and quite frankly frustrating.

 

The first email blast was sent in 1978, almost a decade after emails came along. Gary Thuerk, marketing manager for Digital Equipment Corporation sent about 400 emails to users on ARPANET resulting in $13 million in sales of the DEC machines he was advertising.

Why Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a highly effective marketing medium that is direct and permission-based. This means that recipients must permit the sender before receiving emails. You can use email marketing to start and maintain lasting relationships with your audience. It is great for creating brand awareness, driving sales, and informing your subscribers about your latest updates.

 

Email marketing comes with a host of advantages for brands. It can produce potent results if you approach it strategically. Some of the advantages available to you through email marketing are:

Product promotion: Email marketing can be used to promote your products and services to subscribers directly in their inboxes.

 

Enhance Brand Awareness: It provides an opportunity to keep your brand fresh in the minds of your audience.

 

Brand Promotion: Email marketing provides an avenue to promote your brand’s content and resources such as e-books, white papers and blog posts.

 

Lead Generation: You can get your audience to share private information in exchange for valuable resources they would have otherwise paid for.

 

Nurture Leads: After acquiring new leads, you can nurture them through email marketing to move along your customer journey. You can do this by continually sharing relevant resources and encouraging them to take specific actions.

 

Create Long Term Relationships: Long term relationships can be built with your subscribers through personalization strategies. Personalizing email content creates a more customized experience for users based on their preferences and previous interactions with your brand.

Why Is It Important For Your Marketing Campaigns?

Email marketing has changed the way brands communicate with their audiences. I remember years ago, my dad used to get his construction equipment catalogue from the manufacturer through the mailbox. The manufacturer was based in the United Kingdom so that meant it took weeks to get the latest catalogue. By the time he did, it was often a month late and a new one would have been released. Today, email marketing solves this challenge quickly and easily. Just by the click of a button, he can get his catalogue almost instantly on his mobile device.

Benefits of Email Marketing

 

Using emails as part of your marketing ensures that you own the channel. Changes to external platforms do not affect the efficacy of your emails as a form of marketing.

 

Email content formats like newsletters make up a whopping 69% of the channels used by B2B marketers to distribute content.

 

Also, because email marketing is permission-based, it means that anyone who is on your email list wants to be there. They are more likely to convert into paying customers.

 

Email marketing is a cost-effective way of sending information to a sizeable audience. Compare it to the era of printing and distributing hard copy information.

59% of marketers say email is responsible for their biggest return on investment (ROI). Furthermore, 87% of marketers say email consists of their top free organic distribution channels.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, email newsletters comprise of 69% of the channels used by B2B marketers to distribute content.

How To Set Up Your Email Marketing Strategy?

Find Your Target Audience

 

The first thing to look out for in setting up your email strategy is your target audience. To create an email that resonates with recipients, we first need to know who they are. When you find out who they are, you can craft an appropriate email with messaging that resonates with them. For instance, if your audience is academicians, it makes sense to speak to them in a formal tone. Sending emails that carry an informal tone and shorthand texts may not resonate with them. To find your target audience, ask your current customers questions that allow you to get to know them and why they come to you. What are their pain points and what other information can they volunteer that will help you? 

 

Look out for information like age, work type, family type, earning power, status and challenges, among others. Gradually, you will begin to have a clear picture of who your potential customers are, where to find them and the messaging that resonates with them. From that information, you can create buyer personas that give you a visual representation of your target audience.

Define Your Campaign Goals

Defining campaign goals for your email marketing is crucial to understanding if you are succeeding or failing. You will have to determine what metrics you want to track in your campaigns. Then go ahead and set brand-specific goals or KPIs to track. It is also a good idea to understand what the benchmarks are for your industry. This way, you will be able to set realistic goals for your email marketing campaign. The most popular benchmarks tracked in emails are open rates, click-through rates, click-to-open rates and unsubscribe rates. 

 

Once you have defined your goals and started your campaign, you can tweak your emails based on the feedback you get from the numbers. After a while, you will know what email content meets the goals you have set.

Build Your Email List

It can be daunting if you have no subscribers to start your email list with. You will need to put in place systems to let your potential audience opt-in to get your emails. That will allow new subscribers to join your email list organically. Your website and social media channels are great places to start since they are customer-facing. On your website, provide valuable resources via your blog in exchange for emails. Whitepapers, ebooks, templates and courses are examples of resources you can share. Subscribers will be more than happy to surrender their email addresses instead of money. On your social media platforms, you can include links to these resources in your posts and encourage followers to visit.

 

Creating landing pages on your website specifically for new subscribers works well too. Forms are an integral part of landing pages so be sure to include them. The forms can ask for their names and email addresses as well as some preference data for personalization, if necessary.

The landing pages should be designed to eliminate distractions that may take users away from filling out your forms. Keeping the form simply designed with content that clearly articulates the offer will let customers know what they are getting. Stay away from clickbait headings and subtle deceptions that can break trust eventually.

 

Consider double confirmation for your new subscribers although it may not be the most ideal approach. It can help you avoid spam and be extra sure that subscribers want to be there.

Finally, test your landing page and forms to make sure they are working as they should. Make sure to walk through the whole process like a customer would and then change anything that needs correction.

Decide Email Campaign Type

Now that you found your target audience, defined your goals and built your email list, it is time to decide the type of campaign you want to send. Email marketing requires a more substantial amount of effort and deliberateness than normal emails. Here is where your creativity comes to play.

There are multiple types of marketing emails such as newsletters, announcements, product releases and more. Which one you decide to send is solely based on you. If you are not sure, you can simply ask your audience what they want to hear. You can also combine them and offer brief but valuable takes periodically. There is no secret formula to how this works. You will find that it is a lot of experimentation till you find the right fit.

 

 

In order not to overwhelm your audience, you can create different lists and encourage them to subscribe to their choice. An example is, that a brand can have a marketing and a product launch list. Subscribers get the latest updates from marketing or the product teams depending on their preference.

Determine How Often You Want To Send

With the type of campaign out of the way, it is now time to determine how often you want to send your email campaigns. Again there is no hard and fast rule to this. It is a good idea to let customers know how frequently they will hear from you when they subscribe. When done like this, they know what to expect and how often. Keeping to the schedule is as important as choosing it. Once your customers get used to the flow of your emails, you have to keep it consistent. This way, your brand stays fresh and trust is built long-term.

Design Your Emails

Designing emails can be a breeze if you have an idea of what you want your email to look like, and the skills to pull it off. Don’t worry if you don’t. TinyEmail has a powerful yet easy to use email editor packed with tools to create the best looking emails. Still not sure if you want to design from scratch? There are beautiful email templates that have interactive features like AMP forms, countdown timers and product cards. If you are looking to take more control over your email design, custom code allows you to do just that. You can code your email from scratch or build on a template of your choice.

Aim to make your emails visually appealing with colours and fonts from your brand identity. The TinyEmail brand kit offers you the ability to set your brand identity from which new emails are branded.

 

Create sections in your email that allow you to break the content and position them based on priority. High priority content should be at the top followed by the low priority ones. Double-check the layout to make certain that the content is laid out as it should. Once everything is set, test your emails by sending a copy to yourself on a mobile device and a computer. Look out for any rendering issues and if there are any, fix them.

Know Your Metrics and Measure Results

Email campaigns go hand in hand with analytics. The numbers you get from analytics tell you how healthy your email marketing campaign is. They also tell you if you are meeting the goals and KPIs you set for yourself. For instance, your goal is to reach a click-through rate of 2% for a particular email. The moment you hit 3% in click-through rates, you know you have met that goal. The KPIs often tracked in emails are open rates, click-through rates, click-to-open rates and unsubscribe rates.

To be able to measure results, you will need to experiment with your emails. Use the A/B testing technique for different versions of the same email. 

 

The goal of doing this is to determine which version your audience responds to the most. To begin, decide on a variable to test. It could be a call-to-action, subject line, image or even the copy. Now create two versions of the email with one having the variable and the other without. For this to work, both emails must be sent to your audience at the same time. The next step will be to compare the results and keep the version that performed well. You can rinse and repeat the process now till you are completely satisfied.

 

Experimenting should not end at A/B testing. To drive more engagement with your emails, play around with the other equally important parts of your email. I will start with deliverability. Avoid hard bounces in your email list by trimming them off. You should avoid words and phrases that trigger spam filters as well. For an extensive list of words that trigger spam filters, check out our Spam resource. Keep your subject line concise and spam-free. With that, we move on to open rates.

Open rates are mainly affected by three main things. 

 

Your subject line, your “sender identity” and the time your email is sent. Subject lines must communicate value and be straight to the point. Do not make it too long as there is a character limit you must adhere to. Ideally, you should keep it between 80 to 100 characters. Your “sender identity” should be relatable and welcoming. A best practice is to use a human name as the “sender identity”. You can also use a department name like sales or support to indicate where the email is coming from.

Clickthrough rates are monitored when you want to see which of your audience took an action you wanted them to take. It is usually prompted by a call-to-action (CTA). CTAs must be clear enough for subscribers to know what you require of them. Use segmentation to ensure that the value you propose is beneficial to specific audiences.

 

One final area you need to pay attention to is your unsubscribes. Understand that not everyone will be interested in your brand offerings. Sometimes, people change their minds and no longer want to hear from you. That is fine. Unsubscribes are fine if the numbers are at the barest minimum. However, if you realize that people are unsubscribing frequently, it is time to check if your content is providing the value you promised. Are you remaining on-brand with your messaging? Maintaining trust is core to building long term relationships with your audience so make sure you are delivering exactly as advertised (and more).

Final Thoughts

For a beginner, this may seem like a lot of information to grasp all at once. Don’t fret. Pick the suggestions point by point and implement them till you have a potent email marketing strategy.

Remember, email marketing is effective because your audience like you enough to invite you over into their inboxes. Respect that invitation by only providing relevant content. Avoid spam and spam trigger filters.

 

When ready, the first place to start is to choose an email service provider (ESP) that has all the features you need. TinyEmail is the best email provider compared to others with interactive AMP features, third-party integrations and a powerful email editor built for your needs. There is also an inbuilt analytics tool that gives you a visual presentation of how your emails are doing.

 

Make sure you are always communicating value in your emails. In no time, you will become an authority to your audience and then comes trust. When trust is built, you will be guaranteed a long term paying relationship with customers.

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