Email marketing for small business is one of the original digital marketing channels, and it’s still one of the most effective ways to reach, nurture, and convert leads into customers.
Many other digital marketing strategies have come and gone. But you can’t beat landing in someone’s inbox and talking to them directly on a 1-to-1 basis. To back this up, according to Hubspot, email generates $38 for every $1 spent. It’s also incredibly easy once you know what you’re doing.
Here’s everything you need to know about why email marketing is so important, and how you could be using it to grow your business.
What Is Email Marketing?
In a nutshell, email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that involves sending emails to customers and prospects to make sales or increase your brand awareness.
Individuals and businesses use email marketing to nurture their subscribers, build trust, and ultimately convert prospects into paying customers and fans of their products.
Effective email marketing campaigns are one of the most lucrative digital marketing channels. It’s relatively inexpensive to do, you have direct contact with targeted customers, and it’s scalable.
Why Is Email Marketing Important?
Email marketing is an essential part of any digital marketing campaign. For some companies, it plays a crucial role that they couldn’t operate without. Whatever your marketing goals are, below are some of the reasons why email marketing is critical.
You Own Your List
A lot of internet marketers cultivate their communities online using social media platforms such as Facebook groups, forums, blogs, etc. The benefit of doing this is that you have the infrastructure to place to nurture an audience, the costs are minimal, and people are familiar with the platforms.
The downside, however, and it’s a considerable downside, is that your audience could disappear overnight.
The platform or administrators own your audience if you’re using their platform – not you. This is why it’s important to turn those people into email subscribers.
Once they’re on your list, you own them. You can talk to them directly when you want, as often as you want, and you don’t need the foundation of a third-party platform to host your conversations.
It’s the Most Direct Form of Communication
Generally speaking, people are busy. It’s also hard to reach someone directly, especially people who spend a lot of time connected to the online world.
Landing in their inbox is the most direct way to reach someone. A study published on the Harvard Business Review showed that, on average, professionals check their email 15 times per day.
This may be less than the number of times someone checks their social media. But there is a lot less clutter to sort through in an inbox, and people are more engaged with email.
Email Converts Well
As an internet marketer, you should always be looking for ways to improve the ROI on your time and money spent marketing to your audience. So, you’ll be interested to hear that email is one of the highest converting marketing channels.
The key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions vary from industry to industry. It’s hard to put a number on what kind of success you can expect. However, as an industry-wide benchmark, the average open rate for emails is 21.80%, with a click-through rate of 2.78% (source).
You can’t get those kinds of numbers through social media and organic reach. Not without spending a good amount on either building your online presence or using paid ads.
Ways You Can Use Email Marketing
There are loads of ways to use email marketing and various types of emails you can send. For the most part, you’ll need to find a strategy that suits your audience.
Some methods are industry-specific, some suit the senders better than others, and some have become a staple for email marketing best practices. With that said, here are a few of the most common ways companies utilize email marketing to grow their business:
Welcome or Onboarding Series
When someone signs up for a mailing list they made a deliberate action to hand over their email address. Welcome emails have a much higher open rate than other mails, at around 57%. This is one of the best opportunities you’ll have to introduce yourself and your business and let your readers know what’s in store down the line.
Off the back of this mail, you should have an auto-responder series already written up and scheduled to send out automated emails over the coming days and weeks.
Where you take the visitor is up to you. For most responder series, the goal is to build trust across a few emails by offering free content and providing social proof and ultimately leading to a paid offer.
Promoting New Products
Email marketing is the best way to promote new products. You can give your list the feeling of exclusivity and being part of something that hasn’t been released to the public yet.
Typically, people on an email list are warm prospects. This means they’ve shown an interest in you and your products. They are more likely to buy from you than cold prospects on a social media blast, for example.
Building Trust for Brand Awareness
You don’t have to sell to your email list. Some businesses use their emails to build trust by offering free content, doing giveaways, keeping in constant contact, and so on. This builds brand awareness and trust, which in turn produces a larger audience and will lead to more sales organically.
Generating Blog Traffic
At its most basic level, online marketers use their mailing list to notify their audience when they’ve published a new blog post. Sending direct traffic to a website is much quicker than waiting for organic search, plus it has a positive SEO benefit.
If blog traffic isn’t essential, you can paste the whole blog post into the email. Effectively using your mails as a form of content marketing.
The Importance of List Segmentation
Segmenting an email list is the process of breaking up a list of email addresses into smaller groups based on specific criteria. This allows you to better target subscribers with information that is more relevant to them.
Most people get more than enough emails. So, anything you can do as a sender to make sure they’re getting emails that benefit them, the better it is for both parties.
In fact, according to Optinmonster, segmenting an email list has the following benefits:
- Decreases unsubscribe rates
- Boost click-through rates
- Increases email open rates
That’s a positive effect on the three key metrics you want to track when using email marketing.
Depending on the software you’re using, you’ll be able to “tag” subscribers or use different opt-in lead magnets to understand what they’re interested in.
From there, you can group your contacts into smaller email lists and send each group emails based on their interests, needs, and wants.
3 of the Best Email Platforms
There are a lot of email platforms and email marketing software to choose from on the market. Here is a brief review of three of the best email marketing service providers:
What first struck me about MailChimp was how well designed and user-friendly their interface is.
If you’re using email software for the first time, MailChimp is a great choice. They have detailed video tutorials, their platform is easy to navigate, and best of all, they have a generous free plan.
Here’s a brief look at the pros and cons:
- The free plan allows you to send up to 10,000 emails per month and maintain a list of up to 2,000 subscribers.
- They have some excellent reporting features.
- There is a wide range of email newsletter templates and sign up forms that are easy to tweak for your use.
- Their paid plans are more expensive than some other providers.
AWeber is one of the longest-established email marketing companies. They’ve been in business for around 20 years, so they’ve been doing a lot of things right. This software is on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, but you have all the tools you’ll need to manage your email outreach.
Here’s a brief look at the pros and cons:
- They make it easy to tag and segment your subscribers and have some useful tools for working with your different lists.
- There is an extensive database of helpful tools, FAQs, and tutorials to help you get to grips with their software.
- They only offer a 1-month free trial, followed by steep pricing brackets.
If you intend to take email marketing seriously and want to get off on the right foot, you can’t go wrong with Active Campaign. Used by small business owners to large corporations, Active Campaign is one of, if not the best email marketing providers.
This email marketing tool and software has some powerful tools to help you create and deliver your email outreach.
- They have some powerful marketing automation tools to make managing a large list easier and efficient.
- With thorough reporting tools, you can analyze the success of your campaigns and make changes based on real data.
- Competitive pricing.
- The only real downside is that you may feel overwhelmed or never use a lot of their advanced features.
Sender Score and Trust
Spam is a huge issue, and it’s been an ongoing battle since the inception of emails. Before you start blasting thousands of emails out, you need to be aware that all of the major email providers, Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc., have spam filters in place to block what they perceive as “spam.”
Marketing software also has some procedures in place to limit or stop spammy activity from their side. Anyone sending a large volume of emails will have a “sender score” and “email reputation.”
These are two metrics email providers use to determine if they should let the sender’s emails through to the recipient’s inbox. It’s a complicated metric based on a lot of factors. In short, email providers monitor how many emails you send, your open rate, and whether or not people are complaining that you’re sending them spam.
For this reason, it’s crucial you always act responsibly and don’t spam your email list. You should still work to improve your open rate too.
Tips to Help Improve Your Open Rate
The higher your open rate, the higher your conversions will be. It’s worth putting in the time and effort to try and improve your open rate continually.
Here are some tips to help:
- Segment your audience – I touched on this earlier. The more relevant your emails are to the recipient, the more likely they are to open the email.
- Ask to be “whitelisted” – Spam filters can be overprotective at times. In your welcome email, ask to be whitelisted or added to their address book.
- Think about timing – This is going to be very industry or niche-specific, but you should try and find out the day and time your audience is most likely to open their emails.
- Work on your subject line – The subject line can sink or swim when it comes to open rates. Work on your copy and use subject lines that appeal to your audience.
- Be personable – If you’ve made it into someone’s email box, you’re almost friends. The more personable and friendly you are, the more they’ll trust you and your emails.
- Deliver value – If you are going to increase open rates over time, you need to deliver content your audience appreciates consistently.
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