With all the ways to interact with your customers, whether through social media, face-to-face, or other channels, it is easy to overlook email marketing. If your business is not actively building a database of customer emails, you may be setting your business up for digital failure. But what exactly is email marketing?
Email marketing is more than a regurgitation of your latest blog post(s). That is not email marketing. Proper email marketing delivers the right message at the right time to the right audience.
What is Email Marketing?
Before we get into why email marketing is important for your business, let’s understand exactly what is email marketing. Email marketing is a way to reach your customers or prospective customers through email who have given your business explicit permission to contact them.
As Spiderman’s uncle said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
This definitely applies to email marketing. So many businesses (likely your competitors) do not use email marketing responsibly. Just because you have permission to email someone does not mean you should constantly blast them with your latest blog posts or sales pitches.
Instead, you need to use email marketing responsibly since it is such a powerful channel. Let’s take a look at why it is so important for your business.
Targeted Marketing Opportunities
Unlike many other marketing opportunities, when properly implemented, email marketing can provide your business with various ways to target specific customers. To do this, make sure that your email marketing software allows for lead scoring. This will allow you to define various milestones or actions that a user exhibits through interactions within emails or your website. Once a user has met the criteria you have defined, you can then follow up with them with targeted messaging to further drive them down the funnel.
For example, let’s say that you send out an email that contains information on a sale you are having this month. You have also setup lead scoring to know who has bought something as a result of this email and someone who has not. What you could do is find out if a user clicked a link in your email, viewed the product, but did not complete the checkout process. Your email marketing software could then follow up automatically with these users with an email (possibly a discount code) in order to entice them to purchase.
For those that did purchase, they could be placed into an email campaign that could provide tips and tricks on how to use the product they just purchased. Perhaps, if the product they purchased has a steep learning curve, you could offer a series of emails that are essentially an on boarding process.
More Personal and Targeted than Social Media
While there are many benefits of using social media for your business, there are many of your customers who might not use social media. However, these people more than likely have an email address.
There are numerous ways to capture a customer’s email address. A few ways are having a form on your website, asking them during the account creation or checkout process, or even asking them during a phone call. Pair their email address up with a first and last name and you have the foundation set for sending personalized emails, meaning you could dynamically insert their information within emails or subject lines.
Once you have the basic contact information from a customer, you can implement progressive profiling to gather more information. For example, let’s say that you are a realtor and want to send an email out about an ebook called “7 Tricks Your Realtor Doesn’t Know”. However, to get this ebook, you need some additional information from the user. Perhaps, you are interested in knowing if the user is interested in buying or selling in the next “X” months. Or maybe, you want to know what price range they are interested in buying or selling for? No matter what you ask, keep it short in length and questions (probably no more than 3 or so). The user submits the form, they get the ebook they wanted, you get the info you needed.
Just think of the ways you can use this additional info to provide targeted and personalized messaging to your customer database. Once you have gained additional information, you could put certain users into new nurturing campaigns to continue the email marketing relationship. For example, you know who the buyers are instead of the sellers and you could message each accordingly. Pretty cool, huh?
While you can segment users manually in some social networking sites like Google+, it is much more laborious than with email marketing. On top of that email marketing is very scalable in this respect.
Data Driven & Measurable
Knowing what works and what doesn’t is key to the success and improvement of a marketing campaign. With email marketing, you get insights into your initiatives.
Insight into a metric like open rates which is what percent of users who were sent an email actually opened the email you sent. One key factor in improving open rates is having an intriguing subject line. Whether it is having personalization in the subject line, or text that makes it impossible for them not to open, having an eye catching subject line helps to create higher open rates.
Another metric your business can track is click through rate (CTR), which is essentially what percent people clicked on a link within the email. If you are really doing email marketing right, you should split test different calls to actions (CTA) within your email copy (and even subject lines). Knowing if one particular phrasing works better than others in generating click throughs, can provide exponential results to your campaign.
Having access to these and other metrics help your business keep tabs on what is or is not working in your email marketing initiatives.
Permission to Contact Prospects & Clients
Let’s face it, it is much easier to see results by contacting those who want to hear from you. This is done very easily in email marketing by having users confirm their email address after they submit it to your business. This is called a “double opt-in”, meaning that not only did the user submit their email address, but they are confirming they did so by logging into their email and clicking on a verification link you send them.
By clicking this verification email, they are granting you permission to contact them via email.
Now that you have their permission, you must be conscious of how often you email them as you don’t want to flood their inbox with your messages. Users will start to ignore your emails, or worse unsubscribe completely from your email list.
With the permission to email, your business can do a number of things with email marketing. You can create nurturing campaigns, send them monthly newsletters, or use it for progressive profiling.
Stay Top of Mind
Email marketing allows your business to email the consumer whenever you want. While not every email needs to be a sales pitch, your contact with the customer should provide something of value to them. Whether this is a link to your latest blog post, an email asking them questions relating to your industry, or even an update on new products coming out in the near future; using email to stay connected to your customers keeps your brand in the forefront of their minds.
With the personalization of email, you can tailor your message to be warm and friendly and not cold, stale, and corporate. The personal touch will help them connect with your company on a personal level and not think you are just interested in having them buy something. This ultimately builds relationships, loyalty, and trust among your subscribers.
At the end of the day, your business is about making sales. You have probably heard the phrase, “the money is in the list.” The list they are referring to is your email list.
Email marketing can be a channel to help you increase sales when implemented properly. I am not talking about blasting your list with sales pitch after sales pitch. That won’t work out too well. Your business needs to use email marketing the right way. The smart way. To do this, I suggest pairing up your email marketing with a marketing automation platform, allowing you to put your email marketing initiatives on overdrive.
Through lead scoring, progressive profiling, and well defined email campaigns, your business can know when a customer is primed for a purchase. Knowing where your customer is in the funnel through lead scoring will give you insights on when to be more aggressive with sales based messaging.
Being able to lead the customer further down the funnel on their own terms is a powerful tool. By allowing them exhibit certain actions before hitting them up for a sale will not only make your customer happy, but your bottom line as well.
Cost Effective & Affordable
You might be thinking that email marketing sounds great and all, but with all these features, it is surely an expensive strategy? Sure there will be some initial up front setup and implementation costs, but once once the foundation is set, the ongoing maintenance cost is minimal compared to the return.
Still Have Questions About Email Marketing?
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photo credit: gajman