What is email marketing, and where did it begin?
The first email, sent by Ray Tomlinson in 1971 or 1978 depending on your source, marked the beginning of the modern communication era. The message was nothing special, a series of numbers and letters that looked more like a password than a message, but its significance was profound.
The email was sent from one computer to another, traveling through a network of machines not unlike the internet we know today. Tomlinson also introduced the "@" symbol in email addresses to the world.
Gary Thuerk, a Marketing Manager at Digital Equipment Corp, sent the first commercial email years later, where the message reached a list of email addresses. And voila, email marketing was born. There were only a few hundred people on the list, but that was enough for Thuerk to claim the mantle, "Father of Spam."
Today, we're inundated with email marketing campaigns, and yes, some of it still feels spammy, but there's no denying the impact a well-crafted message can have on your customers—not to mention CRM and lead nurturing.
Email marketing helps you connect with your audience to promote your brand and increase sales. You can do a lot of things with emails, like sell products, share some news, improve your cart abandonment rate or tell a story.
Does email marketing work?
When you want to communicate something about your brand or sell your stuff, email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to do so.
In fact, a 2015 study by the DMA found that for every $1 spent, email has an average $38 return on investment (ROI). When shoppers are ready to buy something, they often look for emails from their favorite stores.
How do I get an email list?
You’ll see the highest ROI when you build and maintain an engaged subscriber list, made up of people who want to receive your messages (and who opted in on purpose), or your customers, prospects, or people that you have actually interacted with. Although building a clean list can take more work at the outset of your email marketing strategy, it is by far the most effective way.
There are lots of ways to find people who’ll look forward to getting your emails, but we’ve rounded up a few that work best.
To build an email list:
Create a signup form on your website. When people come to your website for the first time and like what they see, they’ll want a way to stay in-the-know about your brand. Create a form for newsletter signups and install a pop-up to collect customer data from your visitors.
Use a good old-fashioned signup sheet. Whether it’s at your brick and mortar store, or an event that you’re hosting or attending, when you’re surrounded by people who are into what you do, provide a place for them to sign up and learn more.
Drive signups through social media. If you don’t have a substantial email list (or you’d just like to see it grow), but you’ve got an engaged social media following, tap into that resource. Share your signup form on your social channels.
To add more subscribers to an existing list:
Host a contest or offer a discount. We’re big fans of giving people an incentive to sign up for your email list—and we know that contests work. Try offering a prize for some lucky new subscriber or a discount code for a first purchase.
Make your emails easy to share. When you create beautiful, compelling emails, with a lot of valuable information people will want to share them. Many email marketing platforms offer features (like share buttons and social media post builders) that let the word about your emails spread quickly.
Build a landing page. Landing pages offer one more way to grow your email list. Using your best imagery and content, landing pages give people a clear call to action and drive email signups way, way up.
Can I buy an email list?
No. You should not buy an email list. Purchased lists are ineffective, and many email marketing platforms will not allow you to use them. If you send emails to a list of people whose contact info you bought, many of the emails will get identified as spam and you'll also get high unsubscribe rates. Some email spam filters will flag an email campaign if anyone with the same IP has sent spam in the past. That is one flag you don't want. Here are some more tips;
Don’t use third-party lists. This includes purchased or rented mailing lists, and lists scraped from third-party sources, including public websites.
Get permission. Everyone on your list should be favorable of receiving emails from you.
Include an unsubscribe link. Federal anti-spam laws require you to give people a way to unsubscribe from your list in every campaign you send.
Email marketing tips to get you started
1. Create an email marketing plan.
To make the planning part easier, we’ve highlighted some best practices you’ll want to consider when devising a strategy for your email marketing.
Define your audience
No matter what you sell, you need to have a clear idea of who your audience is in order to effectively communicate with them. Dig a little deeper to segment users within your audience so you can send them personalized and targeted emails that help increase engagement, build trustful relationships and generate greater ROI.
Some of the most valuable data your signup form has to offer is how and where subscribers sign up for your list. If you’re an e-commerce business with an online store, knowing where your customers joined your list can give you a better idea of how to communicate with them and where you might want to focus your marketing efforts going forward.
Segments and groups
Once you’ve identified smaller collections of people within your larger audience, you’ll be able to create groups and segments to send more relevant and personalized emails to your recipients—and the more relevant the campaign, the better the results. There are times when you’ll want to send to your entire list, but by segmenting users you can significantly increase the click-through rates and e-commerce orders your campaigns generate.
Decide what to write
Now that you know who you’re writing to, it’s time to think about your content. What do you want to say to your audience? What is your content marketing strategy? You’ll want to send emails with purpose, that really speak to your subscribers, so always keep in mind what they signed up for.
Establish your sending frequency and goals
There’s nothing set in stone about how often you should email your customers, but if you send too often, your subscribers are likely to tune out what you have to say or unsubscribe altogether. Some users that run a blog or news website might choose to send daily updates to their subscribers, while other users only send twice a month so subscribers stay excited about their emails. Choose to send your email campaign at your own pace, and check the unsubscribe rates and the click through rates to adjust the frequency if needed.
Make a schedule
One way to make sure you’re staying on track is to create a content calendar to schedule your campaigns, blog posts, social media posts, and more.
Your email marketing schedule will depend on your industry, the types of content you send (content marketing strategy), and your sending frequency.
2. Design your emails
When designing email campaigns, focus on your message and keep your design straightforward. We suggest laying out all the elements for your campaign in a hierarchy, putting your most important information or the main takeaway toward the top so people can quickly scan your email if they’re short on time.
3. Test your emails
Test in different email clients and ISPs
All email clients are created differently, which means that the campaign you designed might look slightly different in your subscribers’ inboxes. Be sure to check the emails on mobile devices as well as they can look different in responsive designs.
Send test emails to friends and coworkers
If you have any friends or coworkers who can check your email for typos and give you some feedback on the layout, you can send them a test email so they can preview the campaign directly in their inbox.
4. What you can do with marketing automation
Unlike regular campaigns, an automation is a targeted email or series of emails that you can set and forget. From a welcome email series to follow up emails after a purchase to rewarding your customers with a special incentive, automation helps you streamline your communications with customers so you have more time to focus on creating content and increasing return on investment (ROI).
5. Measure your performance
Most email marketing platforms offer several ways to track the effectiveness of your email campaigns, like:
Opens and clicks
These are the most obvious statistics for measuring campaign engagement, as they indicate how well your subject lines and campaign content resonates with a particular list.
If you’ve connected your website store to your email marketing platform, you can view purchase data for your subscribers.
The campaigns you send can help you direct more traffic to your website or online store. You can then generate reports and track any trends in website traffic or e-commerce activity after you send a campaign.
Need some help with email marketing for your business?
Creative Instinct can help! Contact Gwen Canfield to arrange a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org. Below are a few email campaigns we have designed for clients.
Article edited by Creative Instinct. Original article by MailChimp. Link to original article »