The marketing world has evolved exceptionally over the last decade. Nowadays, what could be earlier done over the phone or in-person is majorly done online. Clients who could find your agency through referrals and word of mouth are also turning to the internet for creative solutions.
Hence, in this evolved marketing world, email can be the secret advantage. 😉 A clear and calculated email marketing strategy can help you generate leads, qualify them, and turn them into clients. For an agency to thrive, email marketing isn't just important; it's necessary.
Email Marketing has been around for a long time now and its use will only hike in the future. It has become one of the most highly used marketing channels, and for a good reason too! It’s the most direct and effective way to connect with your leads, provide value to them, turn them into clients.
Although email might not be as glamorous as other social platforms; it has proven to be one of the best platforms to build an owned audience. However, not everyone leverages email marketing the right way or they don’t get the result they wanted. Therefore, you need to finetune your email marketing strategy.
To help you out, we have come up with this ultimate email marketing guide to get you started on your path to email marketing success.
In this in-depth guide, I’ll discuss how you can succeed in email marketing and a few components that will help you build an effective email marketing strategy.
But frankly, I recommend you read the entire article. (I’m not biased at all 😛)
Seriously, read until the end and you’ll not only know why you should use email marketing and why it is still an effective marketing strategy but also learn how you can succeed in it.
Let's dive in!
Email marketing is a digital marketing practice of communicating with leads and clients via email. It helps you boost conversions and revenue by providing subscribers with valuable information. Email marketing, when done correctly, can convert potential leads into clients, and turn one-time buyers into loyal customers.
You can reach N number of people via email because, unlike social media, whose algorithm decides the reach, there’s no such limitation with emails. You have the entire control of who you reach, who consumes your content and what action they take.
Moreover, emails still remain a highly personalized form of communication that’s less passive in consumption.
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Email marketing is not about you or your agency; it is about the customer. It should be used to build an existing relationship with your subscribers and leads by providing relevant, valuable information to help them take action on their goals. [Which can also serve as what action you want them to take]
Some of the most common ways you can use email marketing are to:
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- Gets More Reach. There are approx. 3.8 billion email users worldwide, so it's a great place to find potential customers and reach them.
- You Have The Control. Email marketing is the most direct form of marketing that gives you the control to segment your list and send your marketing communications to the relevant audience.
- High Chance Of Conversion. The people you send emails to are those who have already signed up for your emails; they’re already interested in your brand. These people are easier to convert because of their interest.
- People Don't mind Marketing Messages In Their Email. Do you also get annoyed when you’re going through something and ad pop-ups on your social platforms? Same! However, when you get marketing emails, it is not as annoying as on socials because when you submit your email on any site, you expect them to pop up in your inbox once in a while.
Now you know what is email marketing when to use it to get the best out of your efforts, and why you should consider it as a key part of your marketing strategy.
Let’s discuss some ways to succeed and get the desired results out of your email marketing.
It can be enticing just to get started with your email marketing and start sending emails to your audience.
However, before you jump in, it is worth taking a few minutes to think about your end goals and what you really want to achieve with email marketing. That will determine what kind of audience you want to target, what type of campaign you run, and the content you include.
Email is an important component of any marketing plan because of its effectiveness in getting conversions and building brand loyalty. The key to establishing your email marketing goals is to align them with your agency’s marketing goals and KPIs.
Your email marketing goals should be S.M.A.R.T. i.e., Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
Each goal you create should be specific to your campaign, measurable so that you have a way to track your results, ambitious i.e., achievable but not so high that you cannot reach. Your goal should also relevant to the audience and the campaign and time-bound meaning you should be able to achieve your goal with a set time limit.
Here are a few examples of goals to set for your email marketing campaign:
- New Sign-Ups For Product: If you have a product that you’re selling, one of the major goals should be to drive sign-ups for it. However, it doesn’t mean you should just send sales emails.
- Increase Your ROI: While email marketing can be cost-effective, increasing ROI should be one of your email marketing goals. With email marketing, ROI can be as high as 4200% i.e., for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you see an average $42 return. That is why you could set goals that will help increase your average ROI.
- Generate New Leads: Whether you’re selling a product or a service, email marketing can be a great medium to reach more people and generate leads for your business. You can set a series of goals that help you generate new leads.
- Improve Open Rates: Your email marketing will go in vain if your subscribers are not opening them. An unopened email is as effective as an unsent one. That is why improving your open rates can be a solid goal to set for an email marketing campaign.
Email marketing for agencies and freelancers is one of the most powerful channels to reach and engage with your audience. It can be used to achieve several objectives so it is worth spending some time thinking about the output you want to achieve before diving in.
Planning what output you want with email marketing before you start sending emails will not only make it much easier for you to identify what to send and who to send it to but also help you create focused and high-performing email campaigns.
Now that you have established your email marketing goals and determined what you want to achieve from the same, it’s time for one of the most important aspects of email marketing i.e., building an email list.
Before you start sending out emails, you need people to send emails to, right? That is why you need to start building your email list that is filled with eager subscribers who are excited to hear from you! But remember, email marketing won’t work if you don’t have the right people on your list.
So, how can you start building your list?
There are many creative ways to build your email list (and, no, purchasing emails isn’t one). Apart from these effective strategies to build an email database, here are a few more tips on how can you grow your email list!
- Create Lead Magnets: One great way to get people to give their emails is to use lead magnets. This essentially means giving people something valuable which they can use right away in exchange for their contact details. This could be anything such as an eBook, email templates, swipe files or a resource guide, but it has to be something relevant to your target audience. Remember, the more valuable resource, the more signups you will receive.
- Add Multiple CTAs: Place call-to-action buttons at strategic locations on your website that makes the visitors curious and hence provide their email information. Also, add an email sign-up form on your “about us” page and all of your most-visited landing pages. But do not overuse CTAs and make the visitors feel annoyed.
- Have A CTA On Blog Posts: Your content will drive a lot of traffic to your website so it only makes sense to have some kind of CTA to get the audiences’ email. One way to go about it is to have an added resource at the end of the blog that is relevant to the topic and gives the readers great value. Another way to add CTA is to offer PDF versions of long-form content that readers may want to refer back to.
- Content Cliff-hanger: One other way to ask for the audience’s email on your blog post is to try the “Content Cliff-hanger" technique. For example, if you write a blog on “20 easy ways to build your email list”, instead of giving all the 20 ways in the article, you mention only 15. For more '5 ways', readers will have to give their emails. However, for this to work, your content needs to be of very high value that actually excites readers to give their email and read the rest.
A few things to keep in mind when doing all these activities to build your email list:
- Write convincing and interesting copy in the forms that ask for emails. Explain what the audience will get in return for their email in the most convincing way. You can use powerful words like “Free”, “Exclusive”, “Kickass”, “Ultimate” and more.
- Along with great copy, the design and the visuals also need to be so great that it makes the viewer willing to give their personal details. Make the form look appealing to the eye and look at how the conversion rate increase gradually.
- Ensure that your email sign-up forms are short and do not have too many fields. Make the process as easy and effortless as possible to get maximum response. Keep the forms limited to important fields and if possible, just limited to one field that asks for the email address.
- Last but not the least, do not waste your audience’s time by spamming them or not giving them what you promised. It is as easy to unsubscribe you as it is to sign up. 😶
The most and obvious problem marketers face is their emails ending up in their audience’s promotions tab or, worse, spam folder. 😱
You could be struggling with a low open rate but what you don’t know is whether your subscribers even received the email much less got to open the mail.
But, why do emails go to spam instead of the inbox?
Globally, email has an inbox placement rate of about 83%, which, when you think about it, is pretty great. It means roughly 1 in 6 emails get sent to the spam or promotions tab in your subscribers’ inbox.
But, think about it, when we talk about emails being sent to spam or promotions, we’re actually talking about losing out on our earning potential.
The answer’s pretty simple; if you could make $100,000 a year with email marketing and only bring in 83% i.e., $83,000, would you be alright losing the rest, $17,000? No, right?
That is why you need to pay attention to why emails go to spam in the first place.
One of the major reasons your emails go to spam is because of the spam filters; they have become more meticulous over the last few years! However, the filtering process of email service providers is obviously not 100% perfect which means that sometimes, important and legitimate emails go to spam too. 🙄
Here are a few more reasons why your email is not landing in the primary inbox:
- You may not be targeting the right audience which in turn may make receivers mark you as spam. You need to get the right kind of audience who will want to receive emails from you and who will engage with them!
- You don’t have the permission to send them emails i.e., maybe you added email addresses from business cards you collected at a conference or you got the database from a collaboration. To resolve this, the first email you send to them should be, 1- personalized and not a template and 2- It should ask the receiver whether they want to keep receiving emails from you.
- One other thing that could make your emails end up in promotions or spam is low engagement rates. You need to figure out a way to increase your engagement rate so to avoid being flagged as spam.
Now that you know why your emails are not reaching the audience, here are some of the best practices to land your emails in the primary inbox:
- First and most importantly, at the time of signup, ask your subscribers for their permission to send them emails and tell them to add you in their address books. Make sure all your recipients have actually opted-in to receiving your emails.
- Avoid excessive use of trigger words such as “buy”, “clearance”, “discount”, “free”, “no-cost”, or “cash” and more.
- Keep the email body simple and plain text rather than adding fancy fonts or images and designs.
- Target the right kind of audience from the start and don’t mislead receivers by using deceptive subject lines.
- Last but one of the most important things to remember is to include an easy way for subscribers to unsubscribe and choose not to receive emails from you.
If you’ve ever done email marketing you would’ve measured your email open rate, right? And if you’re just a beginner in using email marketing in your marketing strategy, you should ask yourself this question:
- What’s the point of sending emails if receivers are not opening them?
You won’t benefit from all your hard work of building an email list if the emails you send are not getting opened.
That is why increasing your open rate is super important to benefit from your email list and why a large part of your email marketing strategy should concern the email open rate!
There are several factors that play a role in whether or not your emails get opened.
Let’s explore some of them.
Write A Killer Subject Line
We’ve probably heard or been told to not “judge” a book by its cover. But, it’s totally the opposite in the case of emails. Because when it comes to emails and open rates, your cover i.e., subject line, is everything!
The subject line is what the recipients will look at first and your job is to make it stand out because that will make or break the deal for you – whether your email gets opened or not.
Here are some tips for crafting killer subject lines:
- Make your subscribers curious. Write subject lines that make them curious enough to click and open the email.
- Include a number or a statistic that adds credibility and entices subscribers too.
- Avoid using sales words like “free” or “deal” or anything else that may trigger the spam filter and send your email in the promotional tab.
- Talk like a friend. Speak in the language and style that your subscribers use and keep it conversational.
- Split test different subject lines and use the one that had maximum open rates.
- Optimize the preview text, a snippet of text that appears right after the subject line. Treat it as a second subject line; one that adds context to the actual subject line.
- Make use of emoticons and special characters to grab a subscriber’s attention.
Personalize Your Emails
When you draft your email subject line and the content, it’s natural you’re going to think about all 1000 of your subscribers. However, it’ll be more effective if you write as if you’re speaking to an individual, and add a personal touch.
Your subscribers are most likely to open your emails that are relevant to their interests. This is why you need to personalize your content which can increase your open rate.
Here are a few ways you can personalize your emails:
- Add the subscriber’s first name field in the subject line or initial greetings.
- Segment your email list so that you can send relevant content to relevant subscribers only. No need to send each and every email to every one of your subscribers. You can segment your list according to the geographic location, the industry they’re in, the demographics or the stage they’re on in their customer journey.
- Include specific information regarding the region your subscribers reside in.
- Write content like you’re writing to a friend. Put aside your corporate language because writing like a friend may appeal to your subscribers and get them to open them.
- Send emails that’ll add value to subscribers’ lives. Obviously!
- Write amazing content every time! If the subscribers are happy with your content, they are likely to open your future emails.
- One more thing you can do to personalize your email marketing is to map your customer’s journey. It means determining the stages that a customer will go through in their journey and figure out touchpoints to personalize the emails according to their stage. A simple way to do that is to BE the customer and go through the journey yourself.
Remember: Every individual, including you and me, is looking for a reason to ignore opening emails. 🙊 Most of the time, we aren’t looking for a reason to read them. That is why if you appeal to your subscribers on a personal level, you’ll have a better chance of getting the email opened.
Remove Inactive Subscribers
One of the major reasons that you are facing the issue of low open rates is your email list is not being updated. While it is important to email your subscribers on a regular basis so that your list doesn’t go stale, but, over time, email subscribers still go stale.
The reasons may vary such as, some subscribers may have changed their email accounts or maybe they’re just not interested in your brand.
That is why to keep your open rate from decreasing, you need to keep your email list fresh and remove inactive subscribers regularly.
But who should you remove from your email list?
An inactive subscriber could be anyone who has not engaged with any email in the past 6 months or more.
Apart from this, remove duplicate email addresses or duplicate names with different email addresses from your list; people who have unsubscribed from your list (Duh!); spam email addresses (You can spot these by looking at emails that have a strange letter or number combination)
Removing inactive users and cleaning your list can increase your open rate and decrease the bounce rate. It also reduces the number of spam complaints and saves you money.
Choose The Right Time
To reach your subscribers at the right time plays a key role in your email open rates. You need to send emails when people are awake and more importantly; when their inbox is not flooded with emails.
Timing your emails to reach the subscribers at the right time can have a huge effect on whether or not they open your emails and on your conversion rate, so you need to think carefully and analyse the best time and day to send your emails out.
Apart from timing, you also need to consider how frequently you should send emails. Considering the frequency of emails will help you avoid waiting too long between sending emails or, worse, flooding their inbox with too much content that they cannot go through them and consume.
To help you out, here are a few tips for scheduling your emails:
- Perform A/B testing and identify which timeframe works best with your audience.
- Do NOT send emails first thing in the morning because that’s when the inboxes are crowded the most.
- Imagine what your audience’s day look like and ask yourself questions like, “What are they doing in the morning, afternoon, evening?”, “Are they night owls or early risers?”, etc… Answering such questions will help you figure out the best time to reach them.
- Simply ask your subscribers the best time to reach them and how often would they like to hear from you.
- Create a poll for your subscribers to pick a time & choose the frequency of emails.
That being said, there will be no “best time” that works for everyone. 😅
The time that works for a B2B company will not be the same for a B2C company and even if the business model is the same; the time to send emails will vary because their target audience will be different.
That is why, and I cannot stress this enough, you should experiment and test a bunch of different times to figure out the best time that works for your subscribers.
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What is the email click-through rate?
Email click-through rate is the number of subscribers that have clicked on at least one link in your email. For example, if you send an email campaign to 100 people and 10 people clicked on any one link within your email, your click-through rate would be 10%.
However, one of the biggest challenges of email marketing is to get your subscribers to take action and click on a link after they’ve opened your email and read the content.
You want to lead your subscribers from your email to a landing page, product purchase, etc. For this to happen, they need to click something in the email to take action.
There’s a lot you can do to boost your click-through rate including:
- Improve the layout: Make your email templates to make the content more pleasing to the eye and readable. The reader should be able to flow towards the call-to-action naturally.
- Experiment with images: Try placing appealing images in your emails. Emails with visual content tend to get a higher click-through rate than the ones without. However, it doesn’t mean you flood the email with images, it might end up in spam.
- Try visual CTAs: CTA buttons have to be interesting and make the reader curious enough to click on them and we discovered just now how visual content increase the click-through rate. So, test different visual CTAs and button styles to boost your conversion and click-through rates.
- Test CTA placement: The placement of a CTA matters a lot. That is why you need to split test your email campaigns and place CTAs in different locations and figure out which works best.
- Segment your list: One way to improve your click-through rate is to segment your email list and target those subscribers who will benefit the most from the content in your email. Doing this can definitely increase your click-through rate as you know the reader will gain value from it and is bound to click.
- Leverage Email Signature: Email Signatures can be a great way to share your website link or latest discounts. Add a link to a free resource or something that’ll provide value to the subscriber in your email signature. Again, experiment with this and see if it improves your click-through rate.
- Analyse Metrics: Last but not the least, keep a close eye on your email campaign metrics and it will help you optimize your emails to improve click-through rates.
If you have been following the guide and have started using email marketing, you might have figured how exhausting it can be to run an email marketing campaign for thousands of subscribers. It takes a ton of time and efforts to manage the whole process.
That is why I suggest you automate as much as you can from the whole email marketing process.
Automation helps you put your segmented list to use. Once you’ve segmented your subscribers into subgroups, you can set an automated sequence of emails that are specifically made for those subscribers. It will not only increase your open and click-through rate but also provide maximum value to your subscribers which may make them loyal to you.
There are a few ways to automate your email marketing:
Set Up Autoresponders
Autoresponder, also known as a drip campaign, is a sequence of emails that is sent out automatically to a segment of people when it is triggered by a certain action, such as joining your email list, downloading your eBook or purchasing a product.
Setting up autoresponder sequences is arguably an online marketer’s one of most powerful tools for converting subscribers. It will help you to engage your audience, build relationships with them, and be actively present in their inbox.
The best part about autoresponders is that once you’ve created a sequence, your work is done! You can focus on the important aspects of your business and only make small tweaks from time to time as per the analytics.
Use Email Templates
Email templates are another powerful resource that helps you with your email marketing.
Once you have the subscribers and have set autoresponders; the next step is to actually design and send emails to your subscribers that will not only keep them engaged but also provide value.
This is probably one of the key parts of your entire email marketing process because the more engaging your emails are, the higher the ROI that you will get. However, writing emails from scratch every time is not exactly the smartest way to get things done. 🙄
It not only wastes your resources and efforts but also takes more time & money to do that. The best thing you can do to resolve this is to either create your own email templates or get them from third-party websites.
You can create email templates for repetitive emails such as Newsletters, Marketing offer, Sales follow-up, Event invitation and a lot more.
You can find a lot of sites that provide free email templates that you can optimize to use with your audience. You can find templates for various kinds of emails that you would need to send to your subscribers as an agency.
Explore Email Marketing Tools
Needless to say, online marketing comes with a lot of tasks and just like any other marketing aspect, you will need help with certain tools or software that help you in your email marketing.
However, there are tons of email marketing tools available online and obviously, there’s no one “best” software or tool that will work for everyone. The tool you choose will depend on various aspects such as your email marketing goals or your budget.
the type of services you provide, the features you want, the size of your agency, your email marketing goals, etc.
That is why you need to explore and research various email marketing tools and figure out the best option that suits your requirements.
Here’s what you should consider while choosing an email marketing tool:
- Price: Duh! No one would choose a tool without looking at its pricing page. And, even if you have a big budget, you should consider the price of the tool and whether it is worth spending that amount. Start with a basic plan that fits your requirements and upgrade as you grow.
- Features: Good email marketing tools will have plenty of features but DO NOT rush and sign up for the tool providing many features for a small price. First and foremost, you need to identify what features you need right now and choose a tool and plan accordingly. That said, there are a few common features that you will definitely need such as; automation, analytics, list segmentation, drag and drop editor, etc.
- Analytics: There’s no point in doing a marketing activity if you cannot analyse it and optimise to get the most out of your efforts. Similarly, if you want to get the desired ROI from your email marketing, you will need a tool that provides you with detailed analytics of your campaigns. The email marketing tool should make it easier for you to calculate important metrics like click-through rate, conversion rate, bounce rate and, of course, ROI. So, make sure you choose a tool that provides analytics that is easy to understand.
- Ease Of Use: Last but not the least, email marketing tool you choose should not create complications that you waste your time trying to figure out how it works. Especially, if you’ve just started out with email marketing, you should steer clear of tools that has too many unnecessary features or a crowded dashboard. So, pick an email marketing tool depending on your understanding and which you’re comfortable using.
If you’ve read the entire guide till now, you have come a long way. 🥵
Congratulations on making it to the final section of the ultimate guide and thank you for taking the time to read this, my efforts are paid off. 🤗
So, now that you understand the basics behind email marketing and have started implementing it in your business, let’s see how to take things to the next level.
Once you’ve started building your email list and sending them emails; you can start measuring the result of your campaigns and see whether it was successful or not.
By measuring analytics for email marketing, you can optimize your strategies and make better decisions that will have a positive impact on your business, resonate better with your subscribers and more.
Four key metrics that you should measure and pay attention to when evaluating the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign:
- Deliverability. It measures the number of emails that successfully made it to your target audiences’ inbox.
- Open rate. It means the percentage of people that actually open your email once it reaches their inbox.
- Clickthrough rate (CTR). It shows the percentage of people that click on your CTAs or any link in your email.
- Unsubscribes. The unsubscribe rate tells you how many of your subscribers opted out or clicked on the unsubscribe button at the end of your email.
Well, this is it! I hope you enjoyed reading this and got to learn a little too. 😉 I tried my best to cover as many aspects of email marketing as I could with insightful tips.
Email marketing may be a traditional marketing technique but it is still relevant today and is one of the most cost-effective techniques that can help you get more conversions. The most important rule to email marketing is to treat your subscribers like a human.
I genuinely hope you can use this guide as a reference to understand the basics of email marketing and how to get started with it. If you have been excluding email marketing from your marketing strategies, start investing in it right now!
P.S.: If you found the guide helpful, do share it on any one of your preferred social media. 😊