What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is the process of sending out a commercial message to a group of people through email. This is done with the broad aim of boosting a company/organization’s brand and the specific, end goal of producing sales for the company’s products or services. Emails are typically sent to huge lists of individual email addresses. This list of email addresses can be acquired over time through website or direct contact. They can also be purchased in bulk from existing lists.
After a company has a list of email addresses, they will send out periodic emails as part of their email marketing strategy. The content of these emails can take many different forms but they all aim to sell a product or a service. For example, a restaurant might send out an email highlighting happy hour deals, or a landscaping company might send out an offer for 20% off their services.
There are several advantages of email marketing from a business’ perspective.
- First, it is very low cost. Once an email address list is compiled and the infrastructure is in place, it costs practically nothing to actually distribute emails. This compares favorably with traditional marketing that is typically priced per impression (for example, a commercial that is shown a thousand times will cost more money than one that’s shown five hundred times).
- Another advantage is that start-up is very easy. All that is needed is a bank of emails and one or two employees to manage it. Perhaps the most desirable feature for businesses is the ease with which email marketing can be measured and followed up. We’ll get to that later.
- Finally, email marketing can have an immediate impact on brand awareness and, especially, sales. All it takes to make a sale is for a recipient to click a product link in an email.
Key Successful Email Marketing Strategies for Small Business
1. How to write a great email newsletter
Many small businesses send out newsletters. These will typically contain information about the company, photos and news of recent events, and perhaps a brief, short article on a topic of interest. Newsletters have become an integral part of email marketing strategy.
Newsletters should ideally be brief, aesthetically pleasing, and contain some information that will prove useful and interesting to potential customers. No one wants to read a poorly formatted email newsletter containing five thousand words of pure text. A good newsletter will be formatted well and contain one or two pictures that will pique the reader’s interest. These are basic tenets of email marketing design.
2. A/B test to increased open/click/conversion rates
Another basic tenet of email marketing strategy is the A/B test. This is where different versions of the same email are sent out and the response is studied. This yields information on how best to utilize email marketing design and should dictate the structure and content of emails going forward. For example, subjects can be varied between emails, different photos can be used, and any one of many more variations. Response is typically judged using a coupon code, and the email that generates more use of its coupon code is the more effective email and is the one used in the future.
3. Make sure your newsletter is mobile friendly
Email newsletters should always be mobile friendly, as most people today will be reading them on mobile devices. There are not many things more frustrating than reading an email or piece of content that has clearly not been formatted for a mobile device. This will convey to readers that your company does not think through what they do and must be avoided at all costs.
4. Effects of segmentation
Another element of a good email marketing campaign is segmentation. The basic principle of segmentation is that different kinds of people react differently to information. For example, a 60 year-old woman will react differently to a picture of Ariana Grande than a teenage girl. Consequently, companies will segment their email lists by location, age, gender, and various other demographics to tailor emails to an individual’s interests and personality. This aspect of an email marketing campaign is often based off conclusions gleaned from an A/B test.
5. Email analytics
A central part in every step of an email marketing campaign is analytics. To put it simply, analytics is information on how things happen. For example, a small business might have data showing that teenagers are twice as likely to click on a certain subject line than seniors. There are infinite permutations on what data around email campaigns might show, and companies are constantly tweaking their campaign through the use of A/B tests and segmentation to maximize their response rate and, ultimately, purchases generated.
6. Use giveaways to attract more attention
A/B tests are also often paired with concepts like free products. Giveaways like this can take the form of free, downloadable eBooks. Basically, the email that produces the most free downloads is the more effective email.
7. Send out newsletters during the perfect time
Small business owners often wonder the following: when is the best time to send an email? This is a complicated answer that, again, probably depends on the recipient. Generally speaking, of course, an email sent Tuesday morning at 10:00am is more likely to be engaged with than an email sent Saturday night at 10:00pm.
Most experts will say that the best time to send an email is the mid-morning of a weekday (example: Wednesday at 8:00am) so that the email will be at the top of the recipient’s inbox when he/she wakes up. There are obviously exceptions to this rule. For example, a bar of nightclub will want to send out their emails later in the day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Obviously, this varies depending on the nature of the business.
8. Engage with inactive people
Finally, email marketing design typically stipulates repeated contact of inactive users. This is because sending out emails does not cost anything and you have nothing to lose by contacting people who never respond to the emails. If even one person is re-engaged, it’s worth it.
Email marketing is a budding subset of the internet economy. Odds are that any successful small business will have a well thought out and well executed email marketing strategy. Email marketing is cheap when compared with traditional marketing and tends to be just as, if not more, effective. Having said that, small businesses should be wary of oversaturating their customers with endless emails. Email marketing should be considered an extension of the company’s product and brand and should merit the same quality and planning.