I’m fan of email marketing, (a) because it is cheap and (b) because it has a great ROI.
I have worked with all kinds of companies (big, small, startups) to build email marketing strategies. So I will tell you a few things that I have learned after hitting my head against the wall with all sort of tactics:
First of all, forget about a “magic” software that automatically builds a responsive list by clicking a button and letting it run.
Email Marketing takes WORK.
So, if you find one of these “software that builds a huge list for you”, ignore it. You will save yourself a lot of time and money.
I divided this article in 5 steps to create an email marketing campaign:
>> STEP (1) Before Your Campaign
First, you need to know the purpose of your e-mail campaign. Is it to build your subscriber network? Get people to visit your website? Convert subscribers to customers?
Different stories resonate with different audiences or “customer avatars”…
Be very clear on who your audience is, some basics questions include:
- What problem do you solve?
- What age group, sex, socio-economic background, etc is this for?
- From what country are they from?
- What language do they speak?
- What terms do they search for?
The more targeted the better.
In other words, the more people you leave out (the more you narrow), the better you email marketing campaign will convert.
Email marketing takes a lot of time and effort, if you think you are going to start doing 5 different marketing tactics AND email marketing at the same time…
…start looking for some help or start prioritizing, coz it ain’t gonna happen.
>> STEP (2) Capturing Emails
What most people do is offer something for free:
- Downloadable guide
- Premium blog posts
- Free trial software
- Freemium membership
This is a good start, but we can’t base or whole email marketing strategy on mere hope. And sometimes giving free stuff away can backfire with a list of cheap subscribers who never buy anything.
People will join your list because they value the information you give or like what you have to say.
Yes, there is technology involved, but the most important part is the conversation you have with your target audience.
No piece of software can (yet) have a meaningful conversation with a targeted audience.
Not even AI yet can talk with you about your deepest fears & desires, and offer you a tailored solution based on real-life experience.
That’s human creativity (for maybe 10 more years)
I recommend you to create some type of content (freebie, video, etc) that supports your story and helps the potential customer move on their journey. That’s what hooks people.
They should feel like they have received great value from you, and become emotionally involved.
Now, what I just described is the STRATEGY, now let’s dig a bit into the actual TACTICS.
So, #1 Have an Opt-in box
This sounds pretty basic, but it has a million ramifications.
Where do you put the opt-in box?
- On the sidebar?
- As a pop-up?
- As an exit pop-up?
- At the bottom of an article?
- Inside a Landing Page (or squeeze page)?
- Inside a tab on Facebook?
- Push notifications on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Android?
The answer is Yes, yes, yes and YES!
Don’t be annoying, just be a little bit annoying.
You have to remind your visitor that you have an email list.
Heck, you have to remind your friends, your customers, the friends of your friends…
Also, encourage your current email subscribers to share and forward your emails.
#2 Use Paid Advertising
This is the math of PPC for email marketing:
If you spend $X dollars for 100 visitors…
And maybe only 10 of those visitors might subscribe to your email campaign.
Maybe only 5 will unsubscribe in the first 2 emails.
But if only 1 of those 100 buys your product, or an affiliate product, and that income was above the $X originally invested… then it was worth it!
This could be Facebook Pay-Per-Click (FB PPC) ad, Adwords from Google, Bing Ads, Linkedin Ads, etc.
Other ideas include:
- Promote an online contest
- Use Pinterest to promote offers that require email sign-up.
- Leverage your company’s YouTube channel.
- Embed an opt-in form in your Facebook page tabs.
- Collect email addresses at offline events
- Promote the email program on all your printed materials.
- Visitors to your website should quickly and clearly see the email opt-in.
>> STEP (3) Creating Emails
Now, before you even write a word, you need to decide on your email structure.
If you are using an email marketing software they probably have several HTML templates that are mobile friendly.
Now, I want to emphasize one thing:
The emails don’t have to be fancy, but they have to be responsive.
If you don’t have a software with pre-made template you will need to create one in HTML.
Also, follow some standard practises such as adding “unsubscribe link” at the top or bottom.
Obviously, test your email in different browsers, especially mobile device views, to make sure it renders properly on all the major email clients.
Second, determine what sort of content to include in your campaign and the communication tone of that content.
You wouldn’t write to a 65-year-old in the same way you would write an 18-year-old, would you?
One very important TIP for content:
Don’t try to sell on emails.
The goal of the email is not to make a sale on each email you send them.
The goal is to engage them, provide valuable information. So they open the next email or they click a link when you insert one.
Write content that has a purpose and try to avoid using a lot of fluff and filler.
Example of valuable content:
- “A beginner’s guide to [Insert subject your target audience is interest in]”
- “Increase Sales with [Insert Tool]: 7 Essential Tips”
- “Case study (ideally related to their industry) showing what they can do with your service or product (not too promotional)”
>> STEP (4) Sending Emails
An autoresponder is an automated messaging system, sending out a series of messages to each email address.
Create a story line of emails: TIMING
- Welcome email
- Week 1
- Week 2
- Week 3
- Week 8
- One year later…
This is my recommendation on email frequency:
Don’t send more than once a week, occasionally twice a week, but not more than that.
Prompt a Call To Action: Download, demo, or free trial.
Keep things simple.
Make it worth opting in: It all begins with a nice email subject. Which is by far the most important piece of content.
A/B test your campaign.
I usually split test subject lines to see which one affects more my open rates.
The way I do it is to use “sample audiences” within a list, by sending 50% of a small number of subscribers one subject line and 50% to another small number.
Then I use the one with the best open rate for the entire list.
Also, before you send anything…
Check your Spam Score!!
Check the probability of your mail landing in someone’s spam box. There are plenty of tools for this, some of them built in the email marketing software.
If your software doesn’t have it, just type in google email spam tester.
Problems that may arise:
- Spam word on content
- Lack of unsubscribe link
- Your email is blacklisted
- Too little text or too much text
- Maybe you have Dkim or SPF problems (very important to fix)
>> Step (5) Follow up & Analytics
Get deep insights into your campaigns, see how your campaigns are performing and how is your audience engaging with your content.
- What is your open rate?
- What is your unsubscribe rate?
- What is your bounce rate?
- What is your CTR?
List Segmentation is the most important skill that differentiates pro email marketers from newbies.
For example, you send an email to the entire list:
> if subscriber only opens email add him to list “Interested”,
> if subscriber clicks a link add him to list “very interested”
> if subscriber doesn’t open email add him to list “Playing hard to get”
If you do this automatically with every email you send, eventually you will narrow down the most interested and the least interested subscribers.
Then you can send custom email campaigns based on their actions, which will triple your conversion rates.
Make sure your list clean. In fact, use your stats to clean it.
For example, If someone unsubscribes, or marks you as spam or the mail bounces, those emails should be automatically removed from your list.
Do not, and I repeat, do not put your domain score at risk under any circumstance.
- There are many things you should do to create an email marketing campaign: Before, During and After.
- Before the campaign, you should think deep and long about your target audience, the problems that they’re facing and the value you bring to them with your emails.
- During your campaign you should think about how to increase your optin rate, how to craft better emails that have great content but also are technically responsive. Implement a plan for your automatic follow ups and split testing.
- Finally, after you send these emails you should take a look at your analytics and try to improve for the next campaigns.