Are you wondering if now is the right time to pour more resources into email marketing? Or maybe you're concerned with improving your current email marketing strategy and learning best practices to get better results. This article walks you through all you need to know, answering:
- What is email marketing?
- Is it right for your business?
- How to improve your email marketing strategy
What is email marketing?
Email marketing is a digital marketing and communication strategy of sending emails to a group of people, usually prospects and customers, to update them on company news or sell a product or service.
Your email marketing strategy and campaigns should include value and sales emails to enable you to establish authentic connections with your customers while marketing your business.
Value emails focus on the customers and provide relevant, helpful information, while sales emails focus on your company's products, updates, and sales. Apply the 80/20 rule for optimal email marketing engagement: 80% value emails and 20% sales emails over each period.
Is an email marketing campaign right for my business?
Email comes top of this list as it's one of the most powerful owned marketing channels for businesses. It is also cost-effective and personal. Over 83% of business-to-business organizations send email campaigns as part of their digital marketing strategy.
If you're wondering whether email marketing campaigns are suitable for your business, here are some steps to take before making a decision.
- Check to see if your audience is email-friendly. For example, a technology company is more likely to have an email-friendly audience (people who spend more time online and on email) than a construction company.
- Ask your customers about their preferences. You can do this via your website, social media, or face-to-face conversations. Getting feedback from the people you serve points you in the right direction when deciding if email marketing campaigns will work for your business.
- Look within your team to see if your organization can create successful marketing campaigns. If you don't have an excellent communicator on your team, you can outsource to a marketing agency or hire a freelance copywriter.
There's no particular set of rules for deciding whether to implement email marketing campaigns as part of your business marketing strategy. The surest way to know if it's right for your business is to try it. To minimize mistakes when you begin, segment your audience and test with small groups — like a pilot phase launch of your email marketing.
Role of AI in email marketing
AI in email marketing is about leveraging machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics to send more personalized, timely, and relevant emails. It's about moving beyond the traditional 'one-size-fits-all' approach to a more tailored strategy, designed to meet each customer's unique needs and preferences.
One of the most significant contributions of AI in email marketing is audience segmentation. Rather than manually segmenting customers based on demographics or basic behavioral data, AI can analyze a vast array of data points to create highly detailed customer profiles. These profiles can include information about past purchasing behavior, browsing history, engagement with previous emails, and more. This level of segmentation allows marketers to send hyper-personalized emails, leading to increased engagement and conversion rates.
AI can also optimize email send times for each recipient. While marketers traditionally send out email blasts at a time that works best on average, AI can predict the optimal send time for each individual. This is based on data such as when the person usually checks their email, when they're most likely to make a purchase, and other behavioral patterns. By sending emails at the optimal time, businesses can significantly increase their open and click-through rates.
Personalization is another area where AI shines in email marketing. AI can analyze individual customer behaviors and preferences to tailor email content to each recipient. This can range from personalized product recommendations to dynamic content that changes based on the recipient’s characteristics. By delivering content that resonates with each recipient, businesses can drive higher engagement and conversions.
AI can also automate the A/B testing process, enabling marketers to test multiple variants of an email simultaneously and adapt in real time. AI algorithms can analyze the performance of each variant and automatically adjust the distribution to favor the higher-performing variant. This not only leads to more successful email campaigns but also saves marketers a significant amount of time and resources.
Lastly, AI can assist in analyzing the performance of email campaigns. AI tools can sift through vast amounts of data to identify trends, patterns, and insights that might be missed by human analysis. This can provide valuable feedback that marketers can use to continually refine and improve their email marketing strategies.
Best practices for email marketing
The advantages of email marketing cannot be overstated. It's important to follow email marketing best practices to get good, long-term results.
Collect emails transparently
Blackhat marketers may gather emails from various channels into their email list — Linkedin followers, event attendees, subscribers from other lists, and sometimes personal contacts. This is a bad email marketing practice that can lead to recipients sending your emails straight into the trash. It can also lead to problems with data privacy rules like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CAN-SPAM act. Your email marketing recipients must agree to receive emails from you before you begin any email marketing campaigns.
Make it easy to unsubscribe
After getting subscribers to sign up for your email lists, it is your responsibility to allow them to opt-out if your content or business no longer serves their needs. Best practices for email marketing advise keeping an unsubscribe button or link in a conspicuous place to enable recipients to unsubscribe easily. If you hold subscribers hostage and continue sending email campaigns after trying to unsubscribe, your emails will likely end up in the spam folder.
Respect subscribers' privacy
When prospects and customers sign up to receive your newsletters, they trust you with their email addresses and, sometimes, other personal information. It's bad practice to share or sell these emails to third parties without their consent.
Segment your email lists
As you build your email list, ensure that you segment each new customer or subscriber into appropriate groups. You can divide them based on location, interests, or other criteria relevant to your business and customers. If you don't segment your list correctly, you may send irrelevant emails to your subscribers, reducing your email marketing campaign's success rate.
Send a welcome email
When a new subscriber signs up for your email newsletters, engage them right away with a welcome email. Welcome emails help customers get familiar with your business — its colors, tone, messaging, personality, and value. In your welcome email, share what future emails will be about, the expected frequency, an offer to answer any questions, or a relevant and useful resource.
Re-engage or remove inactive subscribers
Over time, some subscribers become inactive. They may have changed email addresses or simply do not need your product or service anymore. To keep your list up to date with engaged recipients, remove inactive subscribers from your email lists periodically. Doing this helps you maintain high open, click-through, and email deliverability rates. However, before purging your list of inactive subscribers, try to re-engage them one last time by sending a targeted email campaign asking if they're still interested in hearing from you.
Optimize for mobile
Most emails are viewed on mobile devices. If you fail to optimize your email marketing campaigns for mobile, you miss out on a huge opportunity. Your email campaigns must keep mobile users top of mind. Ensure your campaigns are mobile-responsive with easy-to-load images. If you add videos to your email campaigns, upload them to a platform like Youtube or Vimeo and share the uploaded video links. Other tips to optimize your marketing campaigns for mobile include:
- Using larger font sizes for improved readability on mobile screens
- Keeping images and other media under 600px wide to fit mobile screens
- Keeping your subject lines short so they don't get cut out of the screen
- Making your call-to-action buttons big enough for subscribers to find and click easily
Preview on all device sizes
Always keep in mind that your customers read your emails using different types of devices and browsers. Test the appearance and functionality of your email marketing campaigns to make sure they display as expected. You can send a test email to yourself and see how it looks on several devices and browsers — if you don't, you may later realize your email campaign includes dead links or large images.
Don't buy email lists
Buying an email list may sound like a good idea to jumpstart your email marketing, but it's not. When it comes to email marketing campaigns, you want to send emails only to people who have shown interest in receiving them. Ensure that you get permission from prospects and customers before you hit send. You can get them to sign up via opt-in forms on your website or through other lead generation tactics.
How to plan out a solid email campaign strategy
Now that you know email marketing best practices, it's time to develop a solid email campaign strategy. To do so, keep these tips in mind.
Perfect your timing
Timing is a critical element in any email campaign strategy and can have a significant effect on whether your subscribers read your emails or not. It is advisable to send out email marketing campaigns based on your recipients' time zones, not your own. Most email service providers allow you the option to do this. When you send out a morning email campaign, for example, you want all your subscribers to receive it in the morning in their respective time zones.
If your subscribers are all in one time zone, experiment with your timing to see what gives you the best results. You can review your website and opt-in form analytics to find out when your subscribers are active and send your campaigns at that time. Test and monitor the results to find out the best time to engage with your subscribers.
In this day and age, most email subscribers know that email newsletters and campaigns are automated. This makes it more important that your email campaigns carry a personal touch. Give your subscribers a feel of your brand personality and voice in every newsletter. Show that you care by putting in the time to personalize your email campaigns. A few ways to do this include:
- Using the subscriber's first name within your email copy
- Having a cheery, personable greeting, e.g., Hello, friend!
- Including the real names of your marketing team members in the sender email address and ‘from’ fields
- Using subscriber groups like demographic, location, or purchase history
The most important note when personalizing is that you do so meaningfully and sparingly. Just like it takes some time to warm up to strangers in real life, it takes time for subscribers to become comfortable and familiar with your emails in their inbox.
Cater to your audience's needs
While creating an email marketing campaign, you may get lost in the process and focus more on your company's needs than the audience you serve. This is not a good approach. Remember to create your email campaigns to address your audience's needs. Offer value to them by informing them of insightful content and personalized product recommendations. Don't always email to sell something. Offer resources like free templates, tools, advice, or even discount codes for your product. Ask yourself, what are your subscribers' most significant pain points, and how can you help solve them with each email?
Split-test your emails
Split testing your email campaigns means testing the performance of various versions of your email with slight changes in a specific element. Split-testing helps you make data-driven decisions about your email marketing campaigns instead of relying on instinct and personal preference. Most email service providers have split-testing features to help you test parts of your email, including:
- Subject line
- Email preheader
- Delivery day and time
- Email format, e.g., plain text and HTML
- Images and copy
Track and improve
Planning a solid email marketing campaign is an art, not a science. This means that you have to consistently monitor and improve your email marketing efforts to get the best results. Although email campaigns are mostly automated, this does not mean that you create them and then forget all about them. Assess and identify the areas of your marketing campaigns that need improvement. Some critical metrics to pay attention to include:
- Open rate
- Click-through rate
- Unsubscribe rate
- Subject line performance
- Social sharing
How can I improve my current email marketing strategy?
We have covered a lot in this article to help you develop an email marketing plan using email marketing best practices. However, if you're a marketer who already runs email marketing campaigns and needs to breathe life into your current email marketing strategy, here are some tips.
Create lead magnets
You need to attract prospects and customers with a compelling, relevant offer. You can achieve this with a lead magnet. What is a lead magnet, you may ask? A lead magnet is something of value you give for free to prospects at the top of your funnel in exchange for their email address. Most lead magnets are easily downloadable digital products like PDFs, audio files, or video courses. Some common lead magnet examples are:
- A cheat sheet of tips or resources
- White papers or case studies
- A webinar
- Free trials or samples
- A free quote or consultation
- Quizzes or a self-assessment
- A coupon
Write engaging subject lines
Your subject line is the first contact subscribers have with your email. If your subject line doesn't catch or hold subscribers' attention, they won't open it. Improving your subject line can significantly improve the overall quality of your emails, as well as your open and click-through rates. A great email subject line piques curiosity and is highly relevant to the organization and the recipient. Here are a few tips for writing better subject lines:
- Use a positive and friendly tone
- Entice curiosity, but don't use click-bait headlines
- Speak in clear and easy-to-understand language
- Keep the subject line short
Stick to a schedule
Once you begin sending out emails, you must stick to a consistent schedule. This helps improve your overall campaign success as your subscribers become familiar with your schedule and may even miss receiving your emails. It also improves your email deliverability rate as internet service providers note consistency and are less likely to flag your email as spam.
Automate your campaigns
Automating your email marketing campaigns helps you achieve consistency, making your work as an email marketer or project manager a lot easier. Use automated email campaigns to nurture, onboard, provide value and resources, and communicate with your audience. Most email service providers have automation tools that help you create and send out email campaigns. All you have to do is create the content and set the flow into action.
Email marketing strategy template
Start with Wrike's marketing campaign template to create a stellar email marketing strategy. A template helps you organize your campaign, divide it into actionable tasks, assign delivery dates, and track your progress.
Using an email marketing strategy template lays the foundation for you to draft an outline for your campaign sequence. This should include the subject and purpose of each email and its call-to-action. It will also cover how long the campaign will run, when you’ll send out emails, and how many emails you'll send throughout the campaign.
How to plan your email marketing campaign with Wrike
Planning an email marketing campaign can be stressful, time-consuming, and disorganized, especially when working with cross-functional or outsourced teams. Wrike provides a powerful marketing project management software that offers visibility into every moving part of your campaign, enabling real-time collaboration between teams.
Wrike also supplies marketing performance insights by syncing with your email service provider and other applications, maximizing your chances of success. Are you ready to plan a successful email marketing campaign with less stress? Get started with a two-week free trial of Wrike marketing management software today.