Email marketing has a history spanning over 20 years. Since that time lots of other marketing channels have emerged but have they successfully replaced email as an effective communications tool or does it still have a place? Let’s examine the evidence to find out.
Email Trends and Behaviour
Thankfully because emails were introduced some time ago, there is a wealth of information that can help to provide context and inform this discussion. Here are some facts around the subject:
- The number of email users has increased from 3,718 billion in 2017 to 3,930 billion in 2019. By 2024, this is expected to reach 4,481 billion users (Statistica, 2021).
- In our age of technology, it’s no surprise that most emails tend to be opened on a mobile device. The iPhone is the most popular and almost 90% of opens occurred on either an Apple iPad, iPod or iPod Touch (Campaign Monitor, 2019).
- While email is clearly important as a communications tool and for nurturing prospects where it really comes into its own is in relation to ROI (return on investment). This is estimated to be as much as $44 for every $1 spend (Campaign Monitor, 2019)
- In 2020, there were around 306.4 billion emails sent and received on a daily basis and this trend is anticipated to continue with an estimated 361.6 billion emails by 2024 (Statistica, 2021).
- In terms of service providers, Google and Apple are the leaders within this field.
The summary above indicates that while emails are traditional, they still have an important purpose to perform and can offer many contemporary benefits. The key to harnessing this potential and yield positive business results is to make sure that you are using it in the correct way to improve the relationships you have with your customers.
Types of Email Content
There are many different ways to reach out to your prospects. Again, what you say and how you say it will be based on where they are in terms of the buyer’s journey.
Here are some examples:
- Welcome email.
- An email promoting products or services.
- Guides and blogs.
- Loyalty and rewards.
- Testimonials and reviews.
- Surveys and net promoter feedback.
- Behavioural orientated emails i.e. one that is triggered following an abandoned cart.
- Email newsletters and announcements.
It is unsurprising that the welcome email has the best open and engagement rate. In fact, new email subscribers are almost waiting on this introduction to hit their inbox. The tone of this will focus on whether they are a new subscriber or become one after making a purchase.
A welcome email doesn’t have to stop at one either. You can schedule a series of these to entice and delight your subscribers using marketing automation. Make it awesome!
The pitch of a promotional email is crucial to get right. Consumers are more savvy than they have ever been and can spot an excessively sales focused email from a serious distance nowadays.
The idea of coercing them into (another) sale is long gone and will do nothing incidentally for building loyalty. It is perfectly fine to sell your wares but integrate this into some mixed content. The consumer can choose to learn more or to instigate a purchase. Also, define your CTAs to highlight the link to the landing page where customers can make a purchase but also include one where they can find out more.
A great way to connect with your audience is through your blog. It also has the added advantage of improving your overall visibility online and through your social media channels. Search engines love new material that is refreshed, added to and updated regularly.
All you need is a summary of what’s in your blog, a little snippet, as well as a clear call to action and the viewer can decide if they want to delve deeper.
Loyalty and Rewards
Who doesn’t like to receive a bit of recognition? Follow up emails that include incentives such as a discount off a further purchase or free shipping is a great way to stimulate repeat sales.
With 93% of customers reading online reviews prior to a purchase, while 91% of 18-34 year olds consider online review to be just as convincing as personal ones (Qualtrics, 2020).
Consumers want to hear about what some else’s experience is like. Doing so, provides trust and credibility. Take some time to put together your client stories and share these to show your prospective clients what they are missing out on.
A survey type email has lots of benefits. The purpose of it may be to collate research on a new product or service before launching. You can create a shortlist for mailing this. By explaining this to your recipients you are communicating that you value their opinion. Surveys, not only, continue to develop the relationships that you have or would like but can be used to gather insight for future campaigns.
Behavioural, triggered, transactional and automated emails are used to describe the same thing. It is an email that is sent by your marketing platform and prompted when a particular action is carried out on your site. For example, if someone abandons their cart before they have made a purchase, an email can be sent reminding them and possibly include an incentive to encourage them to continue with their purchase.
Newsletters are one of the most popular forms of email content. This allows your audience to really keep in touch with what your brand is about. Make them interesting and appealing to ensure your customers remain engaged.
What Kind of Email Content is The Most Effective?
So, we now know that there are lots of reasons to confirm that email marketing can indeed be very effective. The question at this stage is how do you create them to have the most impact? The answer to this question lies in the content that you produce and that is influenced by who you want to reach and what your objectives are.
Therefore, before embarking on any email marketing campaign, you need to define your target audience and goals.
Examples of goals include:
- Traffic to your website.
- Generating brand awareness.
- Nurturing leads.
- Stimulating revenue for your company.
In order to achieve your end destination what you say in your respective emails will inevitably require a different tone, call to action and relevant material that will drive, inspire, motivate and resonate with your potential prospects.
For example, emails with an overtly sales oriented pitch wouldn’t be appropriate for first timers who are new to your company and have only just started an enquiry. In fact it could have the opposite effect of turning people off by being too full on too soon. On the other hand, engaged subscribers who open content and browse product pages are likely to be more likely to respond better to an incentive towards a purchase.
Creating carefully curated content is a finely tuned process that involves a combination of the right timing along with providing the information that customers obviously want to see. By analysing your customer’s behaviour you can vastly improve your likelihood of nurturing that all important relationship and being ready when they want to purchase.
How To Optimise Your Email For Opens & Delivery
It’s safe to say that email marketing has rightfully earned its position in your marketing strategy. We have also demonstrated the importance of timing and content to your user. Positive open rates and click through rates are also determined by a number of other factors as well, which are highlighted below.
- Ensure you have an engaging and attractive subject line.
- Use a professional email address to reduce the risk of your email being diverted to the spam folder.
- It may seem obvious but make sure that the content you write about is intended specifically for the reader.
- Address the email personally to the recipient.
- When it comes to data collection i.e. the use of online forms for gathering insight and communicating effectively to your audience, it is very important to ensure that you don’t ostracise them, particularly the LGBTQ community. Having just male/female options for subscribers shows a lack of understanding and representation. It’s good practice to be inclusive and neutral in order to avoid this (Alex Gentile, Website Planet, 2021).
- Be clear about who it is that you are talking to and why.
- Integrate an email builder.
NB As discussed in the beginning, the majority of emails are opened on a mobile device. It is no longer a choice therefore to have a responsive layout design for your emails, it’s an absolute must!
What Service Provider Should You Use To Manage Your Email?
There are lots of software companies that offer user-friendly systems for storing information and communicating with prospective customers. Some of the most popular examples of these would be Hubspot, Campaign Monitor and MailChimp. All three offer free plans however there are inevitably limits to this.
MailChimp, for example, will allow you to send 12,000 emails although your subscription list cannot exceed 2,000 addresses. It also isn’t possible to segment your audience and perform more in-depth analysis unless you have a paid plan.
In a review of ‘the best email marketing services’ the following companies were selected based on what they have to offer (wpbeginner, 2021):
- Constant Contact – small business, not-for-profit, new blogger.
- Drip – online store, ecommerce site.
- ConvertKit – professional blogger, content creator.
- SendinBlue – business owner.
As we can see, there is so much evidence to demonstrate that email marketing is still an effective tool for marketers and companies. It has proved that it is a versatile, flexible form of communication that has been able to evolve, establishing itself as a legitimate link in your strategic armour. It continues to offer plenty of opportunities to get in front of your audience. As a journey of learning, It can really help you to get to know your customers on a personal level and vice versa.
As with any marketing tool, it is always good practice to be constantly segmenting and critically reviewing what is working and what isn’t. We know that resources are precious and this is the best way to optimise these fully.