Is email marketing still an important and effective strategy for communicating with prospects and customers?
You’ve most likely heard people say email marketing is dead. While some people like to say that this form of marketing is no longer effective, you need to ask yourself whether it’s actually true or not.
The interesting thing is that marketing via email is still the most tried and true method for turning leads into sales.
In this post, we’ll not only show you proof that the above statement is true, but we’ll provide you with email marketing tips to help you build out your own marketing strategy.
Let’s start by talking about statistics proving just how powerful marketing with email can be for your business.
Are People Using Email?
Email is a huge piece of every person’s daily life. Did you know that checking their email inbox is the first thing 58 percent of all adults do each morning? This is a good clue about when to make sure your email shows up in their email account.
On top of that, people check their phones 150 times every single day, with email being a core component of where they are looking. Almost 62 percent of people report that they’re looking at their email on their phones.
Just in case you think that email is only reaching an older demographic, consider that almost 73 percent of people ages 18-24 say that they check their email on their cell phones.
Social Media vs Email
OK, so people are using their email. However, you may think social media is a far better way to market to your audience. Think again…
- 17 percent of people prefer receiving promotional messages on social media. Guess what? 72 percent feel that getting promotional content via email is better.
- Compared to social media and even search, email will give you a higher sales conversion rate.
- Compared to Twitter and Facebook, email is 40 times more effective when it comes to converting people into customers.
- 0.59 percent of your social media visitors will buy from you. On the other hand, 4.24 percent of people emailed will make a purchase.
- You have a six times better chance to get clicks from email than you do when posting on Twitter.
- A message on Facebook is five times less likely to get seen than a message sent through email.
Now, take a look at the overall engagement rate differences between email and social media:
- Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have a 0.58 percent engagement rate combined
- The average open rate for emails across all industries is 22.86 percent
- Emails have an average click-through-rate of 3.71 percent
It’s fairly clear from the above statistics that social media is abysmal across all levels when compared to marketing through email.
Putting Together Your Email Marketing Strategy
Now that you know how important email should be as you look to improve your marketing efforts, let’s discuss the elements you need to put in place to have success.
The first thing you must get clear on is your target market. None of your marketing efforts will produce quality results if you don’t have your avatar honed in so that your messaging hits home.
A mistake novice marketers make is believing they can be all things to all people. The opposite is true. The message on your email opt-in landing pages, for example, will get superior results based on how specific the language is.
For example, compare these two landing page headlines:
- How Any Attorney Can Become More Productive
- 5 Tips to Make Your Mac-Based Practice 3 Times More Productive
When you market those landing pages to Mac-based lawyers, which page do you think will have the higher opt-in conversion rate? It’s obvious that the second version is more interesting and more targeted to that specific audience.
If you aren’t crystal clear on the slice of the market you’re best at solving problems for, then stop everything you’re doing and get that fixed. All the tips we’ll show you below will work better for you once you know who to target you’re messaging to.
Lead Magnet or Content Upgrade
The first entry point into your email marketing funnel is your lead magnet or content upgrade. Here are examples of lead magnets:
- Short video training
- An “ultimate” guide
- Audio recording
- Mini e-book
- Resource guide
- Case study
A lead magnet is any free resource you provide to your audience where the process requires that they give their email address in exchange for that resource. This is why it’s so important to know your target audience well. It’s difficult to create a compelling opt-in offer if you don’t understand the problem your target market needs solving.
Remember that you can’t take your subscriber on a complete transformational journey with one simple lead magnet. That’s what your full product or service delivers.
Keep the topic of any lead magnet you create limited to solving one small problem. Ask yourself what the very first problem your subscriber needs to solve before they’ll be ready to hear about the full transformation your product provides.
For example, give them a lead magnet that serves up five low-carb recipes before you try selling them on your R5,000 three month coaching program to help them safely lose 15 kilos.
Lead magnets are great to use as giveaways:
- When you appear on podcasts
- In your Youtube videos
- In blog posts
- On Facebook or Instagram Lives
- On webinars
- On your homepage
- On your 404 error page
- On your blog navbar
- In an exit-intent pop-up
It might be better to think of your lead magnet as a content upgrade. A content upgrade goes deeper in a psychological sense because it ties itself to the type of content your prospect is consuming.
For example, you might be presenting the seven tips for how to stop your dog from peeing on the carpet on a webinar. In this case, offering a lead magnet about the best types of dog food might get a few opt-ins simply because anyone with a dog that has trouble going to the bathroom properly also wants to feed that dog well.
However, a lead magnet that is a video showing dog owners the commands that end up training the dog correctly is more effective. Your webinar is showing slides and talking them through the solution. The lead magnet is a bonus that expands on the actual webinar content.
In this case, it’s a content upgrade because the video is transforming your prospect’s knowledge about the exact same topic. Think of a content upgrade as a method for continuing the conversation.
Take your blog post about four healthy recipes, for example. Continue the conversation by offering them a content upgrade they opt-in for that is a video teaching how you cook those recipes in your kitchen.
That method is going to substantially increase your subscriber opt-in conversion rate than offering them a lead magnet on that blog post about exercising, for example.
Create Effective Landing Pages
Don’t ever give away your lead magnets or content upgrades without first requesting an email address in return. It’s not uncommon to see a novice Internet marketer linking blog visitors or YouTube video viewers straight to the actual free bonus they are giving away.
You must position an effective opt-in landing page between your content and your free resource.
The basic elements you need on your landing pages are:
- Supporting bullet point benefits
- Opt-in form
As you advance with your marketing skills, you might add other elements such as videos, social proof (testimonials or images of the resource in use), etc.
At first, get good at your headline, sub-headline, bullet points and form. You’ll often find that less is more when it comes to achieving conversions on your landing pages. You don’t need to make these pages long. Keeping it short and sweet helps your potential subscriber make the quick decision to opt-in for your lead magnet or content upgrade.
Your landing page needs to keep the visitor’s focus on one single purpose. It’s not effective to give away more than one free resource. If you’re promoting a webinar, for example, then the only thing your headline, bullet points and form talk about is registering for that webinar.
The only purpose for the landing page is lead generation. Don’t try to add anything else to the page’s messaging other than encouraging the visitor to enter their email address into the form.
The language on the landing page must closely match the language presented when the visitor clicked through to the landing page.
Let’s assume you’ve written a blog post about the seven ways dentists can improve their marketing via Facebook ads. In that post, you’ve promised a content upgrade video that teaches them how to write their first Facebook ad. Make sure the messaging matches from the blog post over to the landing page.
For example, your blog post might say: Click here to grab my free video training where I show you how to write your very first winning Facebook ad.
When they click from the post over to your landing page, you don’t want the landing page headline to say: How to Use Instagram for Your Dental Practice.
This will absolutely confuse your reader because there is a messaging mismatch there. You’ll get better results with a landing page headline that says: Grab my video where I teach you step-by-step how to write your first Facebook ad.
Improve Your Basic Copywriting Skills
There’s no need for you to become a master copywriter. However, it’s vital that you pay attention to basic copywriting strategies so you can create effective landing pages, email subject lines and calls-to-action.
Let’s look at the basic elements of your landing pages, as explained above. These tips will get you started so that you become better at creating effective landing pages. If you can’t get the opt-in, then it doesn’t matter how much you know about writing subject lines or email content.
Headline: Your headline is everything. If potential subscribers end up on your landing page and don’t understand instantly the overall benefit you are about to provide them, it’s game over in relation to building your list.
If you get the headline right, then your next visitor will become engaged, keep reading and ultimately become your newest subscriber.
A headline must be specific, to-the-point and offer a real solution to a problem your visitor is dying to get fixed. It also needs to fulfil the promise you made them wherever they have just clicked from, whether that was on a webinar, in a blog post, in a video or on a podcast episode.
Excellent headlines on your landing pages might:
- Offer a solution to a specific problem
- Ask an important question
- Give the reader a testimonial or other social proof
- Promise easy results
- Offer an irresistible guide
Your headline can’t accomplish all these things at the same time, of course. An effective headline will just use one of these elements to get a reader excited to provide their email address in exchange for the value promised.
For example, your headline might say: Is your baby keeping you up?
Sub-headline: Using a sub-headline provides the opportunity to bring improved context to what you’ve said in your headline. Usually, you’ll keep your headlines on the shorter side. There isn’t a lot of room to get inside the minds of your readers.
Your headline is there to grab their attention and keep them reading. The sub-headline is your chance to provide a bit more information so their eyes flow into your bullet point benefit section.
Above, we used this as our headline: Is your baby keeping you up?
Your sub-headline might then say: Are you tired of waking up exhausted after listening to your baby cry all night yet again?
This is what your sub-headlines might do:
- Restate benefits promised in the headline
- Give an answer following a question asked in the headline
- Tease the reader into the call-to-action
Think of your sub-headline as a way to further engage and get folks interested in continuing to scan their eyes down the page.
Bullet points: This is pretty simple. Offer three to five bullet points that help further tease out the benefits provided in your lead magnet.
Opt-in form: This is the area where you provide the boxes your visitor will enter their email address and/or first name into. In some cases, you might ask for more information. Normally, however, less is more. It’s common today to simply ask for the email address only.
Using Your Email Service Provider
Novice email marketers are sometimes tempted to avoid paying for an email service provider (ESP). Don’t even consider this as an option. It’s impossible to stay compliant with email law, let alone gather subscribers and get your messages into their inboxes without using an ESP.
Sending marketing messages from an email client such as Gmail looks unprofessional at best and will get you blacklisted as a spammer at worst. Sending email to thousands of people at the same time isn’t an expected activity from a personal Gmail or yahoo account.
Sending out your email marketing campaigns from ESP software is the right way to reach your subscribers. Sending emails in bulk is exactly what an ESP is designed to accomplish and you can do so safely with the correct software.
The CAN-SPAM Act is the email legislation all email marketers must follow to stay out of legal trouble. The law includes regulations for how to legally obtain emails from customers, add unsubscribe options, identify yourself as the sender, etc. Using an email service provider helps keep you compliant almost by default.
Managing all your subscribers and lists is made simple via your email service provider. When one of your subscribers doesn’t want to continue receiving email communication from you, you need to provide them with an easy way to unsubscribe. Your email service provider makes this easy.
Your ESP also provides you with the HTML code you need to embed opt-in forms on your website. Many email service providers even provide a simple method for building your landing pages.
Tracking your email statistics, such as open rates, is made simply by your email service provider. Without basic email analytics, you are flying blind in terms of knowing whether your marketing is effective or not. You must be able to see what percentage of subscribers are opening your emails and clicking on links inside your messages.
We suggest you have a look at Nimbl Mail as your preferred email service provider.
Build a Quality Content Plan
Once you’ve started gathering subscribers, you need to have an excellent content plan in place to engage your subscribers with. This needs to be a good mixture of educational content and sales content.
Put together a welcome series. This will normally encompass four to six emails that get delivered to your new subscribers immediately upon joining your list. A welcome sequence intends to educate your new leads about you, your brand and what they can expect as your subscriber.
The first email in the sequence might deliver the lead magnet you promised them. Then, it will foreshadow what’s coming over the next few days in terms of content and education. The second email might provide more personal details about you so your new subscribers start to feel closer to you and what you’re all about.
Subsequent emails in your welcome series might provide an unadvertised bonus resource or some extra educational content that teaches them how to solve another important problem related to your business.
Another element of your content plan is general newsletter-type emails that you might send once per week, once every two weeks or once per month. These should typically be chock-full of extra tips, training and education. The purpose of these emails is to teach and build a relationship with your subscribers so they see you as a trusted advisor.
The third type of email inside your overall content plan will be your sales funnel messaging. You can’t run a business without eventually asking for the sale. Make sure you have education about your online course, coaching, membership site or services included in your email follow-up sequences that lead into clicking through to buy from you.
One very effective type of email sales funnel is called an evergreen series of emails. Your evergreen sales funnel is good to position after your welcome series has ended.
Your welcome series might go on for four to six days if you send each email daily. Or, if you send your welcome series every other day, then it might last about 10 or 12 days.
Once that welcome series is done, start up your evergreen series. Typically, an evergreen series will start off with several education-based emails where you continue to add value.
This education sequence might be another three to six emails or so, depending on how much content you need to teach to effectively set things up to move into the sales sequence.
You will then send three to five emails announcing your product or service for sale. A good formula to use is the Problem/Agitate/Solve sequence. This is a series of emails where you bring up the big problem solved by your product or service.
Then, use one or two emails to agitate that problem so your subscribers can’t wait to get it solved. The last couple of emails in the evergreen sales sequence will point subscribers to where they can buy your product or service.
Make Sure Your Emails Get Opened by Subscribers
It doesn’t matter how well your email copy is written if you don’t get enough subscribers to open those emails in the first place.
We discussed landing page copy above that helps you add new subscribers every month. Now, you need to study email subject line copy so that you become better at getting your emails opened.
Here are some overall best practices for writing engaging subject lines:
Create curiosity: You don’t need to explain the entire email in the subject line. First, you don’t have room in the subject line to accomplish that. Second, that’s what the email copy is for.
What you can do effectively in a subject line is create curiosity. A little bit of mystery is a good thing. Making a person curious about what they will discover in the email copy gets the desired effect as your subscriber clicks to open that email.
Of course, make sure that you answer the mystery in the email. Don’t trick them into clicking because you will make subscribers unhappy and experience higher-than-normal unsubscribe rates.
Create urgency: Test ways to make people feel an urgent need to click through and read your email. Don’t use this method all the time, however. Using it too often will result in fatigue on the part of your subscribers. Over time, they will see that nothing is actually very urgent and your attempts in this area will start appearing desperate.
Personalization: Today’s email service providers give you many ways to personalize messages to certain segments of your subscriber base. For example, you can place a tag on every subscriber who opts in for “Lead Magnet A”. You can tag subscribers with a different tag when they opt-in for “Lead Magnet B”.
This allows you to send messages that only “Lead Magnet B” subscribers receive. This type of personalization is far more effective than sending out blasts to all subscribers because the messaging is unique to why they opted in to “Lead Magnet B” and the problem is solved.
In terms of your subject lines, you can craft subject line copy that hits home on that specific problem/solution messaging.
Maybe you teach people in various network marketing companies how to use the Internet to market themselves. If you tagged them with which MLM company they are in, using that company name in the subject line is sure to get a high open-rate.
Here are some additional subject line tips:
- Try short subject lines (even one or two words only)
- Use open-ended questions
- Tease them
- Use commands (for example, “Join us for…”)
- Use How-to subject lines
- Use announcements (“and the winner is…”)
- Say something unexpected
Pay Attention to Your Metrics
Here are some of the more important metrics to keep your eyes on:
Open rate: This is probably the most important metric to look at. As mentioned above, if your emails aren’t getting opened, then nothing else really matters. Unopened emails don’t get click-throughs and they don’t end up generating revenue for your business.
This is a great way to understand what type of subject lines your audience responds to best. If you get open rates around 25 percent and up, then you are doing well. Always strive to improve those rates, however.
Click-through rate (CTR): Your click-through rate tells you how many people clicked on the links that you’ve included in the body of your email. Maybe you’ve added a link over to a blog post in an email. The CTR tells you the percentage of subscribers who clicked on that link and visited your blog.
Your CTR can be improved by:
- Include more than one opportunity to click the link throughout the body of the email
- Add an eye-catching button instead of offering text-based links only
Unsubscribes: Keep track of how many people unsubscribe when sending out your emails. Your email service provider makes this super simple. Each email you send will show the open rate, click-through rate and the number of unsubscribes.
Know that you will always experience unsubscribes. It’s a normal thing whenever you send out an email to your subscribers. Pay attention to make sure you don’t see an abnormal rate of unsubscribers. Don’t let this metric get you down, however. There isn’t an email marketer on the planet who can eliminate unsubscribes.
Bounce rate: This measures how many subscribers didn’t actually receive your email. There are two types of bounce rates.
Soft bounces will track any temporary issues with an email address. For example, there might have been a temporary issue with your subscriber’s email provider that prevented the email from getting through.
Hard bounces track email addresses that have a permanent sending issue. If you have a lot of hard bounces, it means that you might have many old email addresses on your list or you might have had people giving you fake emails just to get your lead magnet.
One way to avoid too many hard bounces is to use the double-opt-in method. This means that no one can get subscribed to your list until they confirm that they truly want to be on your list. In this case, your email service provider sends them an email immediately upon opt-in and asks them to click a link to confirm that they want to get added to your list.
Create a Monetization Plan
Don’t make the mistake of building a list and sending educational email messages only. Always remember that you are a business that needs to create revenue to stay in business.
Overall, most of the content you send your subscribers should be educational and helpful in nature. It’s similar to what social media experts say when it comes to posting on Facebook or Twitter.
Keep your educational and trust-building content to 80 percent or 90 percent of what you send your subscribers. The other 10 percent to 20 percent will be directing subscribers over to where you earn revenue.
Use the tips we provided above about how to set up your evergreen sales funnel email sequence so that all new subscribers get their welcome emails and then are presented with the opportunity to buy from you.
There’s only so much you can teach someone through free, educational content. The best solution is your paid product or service solution. After all, this is why you built your product or started offering your services, right? This is where you can give your best stuff to your customers and where you can give them the best transformation.
It’s impossible to move subscribers into a paying customer relationship with you if you don’t give them the opportunity to make that decision. Make sure you build a monetization plan into your email follow-up sequencing.
Another way you can build monetization into the plan is to use live launches periodically throughout the year. Your evergreen sequence is going to pick up some customers soon after they join your list.
You’ll never get 100 percent of subscribers to buy during that evergreen sales funnel sequence. Using live launches every once in a while allows you to pick up another group of sales from those who didn’t buy right away.
They probably didn’t trust you enough at the beginning. Now that they’ve been receiving excellent educational content from you for a few months, presenting another chance for them to buy via your live launch sequence will help you increase revenue in larger chunks.
Clean Your List Periodically
You need to remove subscribers from your list every once in a while. This might sound counterintuitive at first but it’s a very important piece of the puzzle. The purpose of this step is to weed out any invalid email addresses or any subscribers who are simply not engaging with your content.
Too many bad email addresses will result in a high number of hard bounces. Your email service provider will look upon this as a negative. If you don’t lower those hard bounces, your deliverability rate will suffer.
A low deliverability rate means that your ESP isn’t sending all your subscribers the emails that you’re trying to get out to them. Subscribers that aren’t opening your emails at all anymore are also hurting your deliverability rate.
This is why it’s smart to remove those unengaged subscribers and invalid or fake email addresses here and there. A good rule of thumb is to clean your list every 90 days to six months.
One way to do it is to send your unengaged subscribers a reactivation campaign. This is a series of emails where you tell those subscribers you’ve noticed that they haven’t been engaging with your emails for the last few months.
Ask them to click on a link that tells your email service provider they want to remain on your list. Then, anyone who doesn’t raise their hand to stay on the list will be removed after the last email in the reactivation sequence is sent.
You will see your deliverability rates, open rates, click-through rates, etc improve as you clean your list in this manner.
Focus on Generating Traffic
You don’t normally hear about the need to generate traffic when people talk about marketing through email. However, it’s a very important part of the discussion.
Think about it for a moment. How can you build your list larger and larger if you’re not generating online traffic of targeted prospects and directing them to your opt-in landing pages? The best landing page in the world is useless if no one is visiting it and opting into it.
Decide on whether your traffic generation plan will use search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) traffic.
PPC will include strategies such as Facebook ads, YouTube ads or Google ads. SEO will include writing blog posts that rank in the search engines and bring you free traffic. SEO might also include creating YouTube videos and benefiting from ranking on that platform.
Most likely, you’ll use a combination of both PPC and SEO strategies.
The advantage of pay-per-click ads is they allow you to get almost instant traffic. Simply pay for the ads and you’ll get immediate exposure to your target market. Of course, the disadvantage is that cost-per-lead costs can be expensive. The other PPC negative is that your traffic stops the minute you stop paying into the campaigns.
Search engine optimization takes time as you wait for your content to rank well. The advantage is that once that content ranks, you can possibly benefit from traffic for years to come.
As you can see, building out an email marketing strategy has many moving parts. The key is to not get overwhelmed. Use the above email marketing tips and take it one step at a time.
Plan it all out and keep working hard until you have targeted traffic sending prospects to your landing pages. Communicate well with the resulting subscribers and professionally sell them your products and services.