We've spoken with hundreds of entrepreneurs regarding their perceptions of various marketing platforms and one of the most misunderstood and neglected forms of marketing we see in our network is Email Marketing. Many businesses see Email Marketing as pushy, spammy, and ineffective. Many even call marketing emails "email blasts" which clearly shows their view of emails as impersonal and of little value. This isn't only companies who aren't doing email marketing, but so many that DO it also feel like they're shouting into the void and that the tangible and transparent nature of Social Media makes it seem like a better use of time and energy.
If you're currently doing some sort of email marketing for your brand and feeling any of these sentiments... this guide is for you. Email marketing if one of the MOST powerful forms of communicating with your people. It can be the most direct, personal, and actionable messaging your company puts out because you know exactly to whom you're sending it and you have data about their lives and behaviors.
If you're interested in learning more about why you should start doing email marketing, here's a great explanation of stats and benefits.
This guide, however, will give you three slight tweaks you can make immediately to shift your existing strategy away from ineffective "email blasts," to a powerful, helpful, engaging way to directly connect with your people.
One preliminary question to ask yourself... Am I actively inviting people to sign up for my email list? Do you have an opt-in requesting permission to add them to your list at check out? Do you have a place on your site that welcomes them to sign up? Do you ask your social media followers to join the list? This is an important thing to consider before upping your strategy because your email list is the gift that keeps on giving, and the sooner you grow the list, the more powerful it becomes!
Now let's get into it...
The first way you can start to get real power from your "list" is to make it more than just a list. One of the main reasons why your email effectiveness may be waning is that you don't even know who you're sending the email to, why they signed up for your emails, how they got connected to your brand, or where they are in the buyers journey. By identifying the answer to these questions, you can begin creating "segments" that will receive information from your company that is relevant to who they are and what they want.
MailChimp's recent study of the impact of segmented vs. non-segmented campaigns had telling results:
|Opens:||14.31% higher than non-segmented campaigns|
|Unique Opens:||10.64% higher than non-segmented campaigns|
|Clicks:||100.95% higher than non-segmented campaigns|
Whether you manage your contacts in a spreadsheet, Contact Management System (CMS), or Email Service Providers (ESP) (like MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.), the power already lies within your list. Start identifying who you're sending emails to and tailoring the content to them in ways that will create connection and value.
Here are a few segments you can create that will instantly change the game:
One of the easiest data points to observe in your list is how people signed up for it. Did they fill out a form on your website? Did they opt in on a purchase form? Did they write their email down on a clipboard in person? This information tells you something useful about them. If they were on your website (or a specific page on your site) you know how they found you and that they're looking for you. If they have already purchased and opted-in, then you know that they're your people, and you know what they're looking for already! If they wrote their address down on a clipboard, you know they were compelled by their in-person interaction. Putting these groups of people into segments gives you info about their lives that can help you send them more personalized content.
One of the most helpful ways to segment your list is by behaviors. Creating a list of people who purchased certain types of items, signed up for a specific promotion, shopped for a specific holiday, etc. Ask yourself as many questions around the different ways people interact with your email sign ups and you can determine what kind of content will be most engaging with them in the future. One very effective example of a behavioral segment that will drive sales is an abandoned cart followup email.
"Sending three abandoned cart emails results in 69% more orders than a single email (Omnisend, 2018). This type of ecommerce email is one of the most effective for boosting revenue." -Oberlo
Depending on your business type, segmenting your audience based on demographic traits may be helpful. If you have products that relate to a specific age groups, gender, life stage, location, or industry, these segments allow you to send relevant updates, product announcements, sales opportunities, and other info to the people who care about it most. If you're not collecting info that would allow you to create these segments, it might be a good time to consider updating your intake forms to allow you to gather a few more fields that will give you this relevant insight!
- BUYERS JOURNEY
Finally, if you're really looking to take things to the next level, it's important to consider where people are in their buyers journey. The buyers journey consists of three phases:
The Awareness Stage, The Consideration Stage, and The Decision Stage.
Let's say you own an online jewelry story... When emailing people in the Awareness Stage you can send them broad and helpful info that will help them understand the seasons trends or find colors and styles that fit their look. Once they have info about what they're looking for more specifically (entering the Consideration Stage), they might be clicking on items to visit your shop or click on a specific call to action, you can send them information about specific products, start sharing some customer testimonials/reviews, and sharing some of the perks and benefits of purchasing from you. Finally, they like what you have to offer and are now in the Decision Stage. This is where you can send them the free shipping promo code or the abandoned cart emails, or entice them with additional products. This is the part where you close the deal. After they purchase, they enter the long term relationship with you where you know what they like and can keep sharing useful content that will inform their lifestyle and keep them up to date with products that will connect with them.
Learn more about understanding the Buyers Journey with this helpful guide and download a worksheet here.
2. Goal Setting
Setting a clear and measurable goal for every email you send is critical for starting to see growth and success. There should be a singular, objective aim with every communication and all the various parts of that email should support the process of leading people to that goal.
One common downfall of marketing emails is having too many things happening at once. Many businesses live in fear of sending "too many emails" or coming across as "spammy." The real problem here isn't the number of emails you send, but the relevance of the content you're sending. If you're sending one "blast" newsletter with 12 different sections and announcements in it, to your whole list, once a month... you might be missing opportunities to connect and engage with your people. By breaking that up into smaller, more relevant emails, sent to specific segments, and center them around a single goal, you're going to see a higher engagement rate, and ultimate return to your business!
- A few easy goals to consider could be:
- Website Traffic
- Sale of a specific product
- Event RSVP's
- Social Media Follows
Each of these goals are actionable and measurable. Use specific and compelling calls to action to drive people to act! Track what works and what doesn't and continually play around with how to move and inspire the people on your list to interact in new and deeper ways. It's all about relationships that are real, fluid, and growing.
Finally, take a look at the data. All of the most useful insights already exist there. Here are a few things you can look into:
- Which subject lines performed best?
- Which kinds of calls to action got the most clicks/conversions?
- What days/times had the most opens?
Look for patterns. From here you'll see some obvious segments making themselves known, some clear do's and don'ts will arise, and tweaks to your content, wording, images, and send times will always become evident. Setting aside a few minutes to look at both specific emails, and overall list and campaign, big picture info will make a huge difference in your approach to the next email and the results it creates.
It doesn't take an expert or massive program email overhaul to start seeing your emails have results that impact your company, all it takes is a little thoughtfulness and strategy. Think of direct access to someone's intimate inbox a profound privilege. By truly considering how you can give each individual the most personalized and helpful content, you will change the way you build relationships with your people, and you'll grow your company in ways that will impact you for the long haul.