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What comes to mind when you read those words? If you’re like most business owners I’ve asked (and yes—I’ve asked), you’d probably say something like augmented reality apps or viral social media videos. They’re new, they’re wildly popular, and like most celebrities today, they’re famous for being famous.
Here’s what I say “sexy marketing” is: marketing that makes your business money. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I positively drool over email marketing—it’s one of the best ways to boost your bottom line for the smallest dent in your wallet.
I recently had (a virtual) lunch with our resident email marketing expert, Katie Birkbeck, and she gushed about the wild success one of her email marketing clients had a couple months ago. For their first Annual Energy Week, this HVAC company held a system giveaway, and it generated HUNDREDS of leads. The best part?
“We were able to determine that those who entered the contest will likely need an HVAC system replacement in the next few years—meaning we had a segmented list we could specifically target with emails about the signs of a failing system or offers on replacement services.”
Take THAT, email marketing naysayers.
As we chatted, Blue Corona’s infamous ownership mentality kicked in, and soon we were brainstorming about about how to extend the same results to our other clients. What resulted from that conversation was FAR too good to keep to ourselves, so we decided to share it with you.
- Email marketing is legit and can have a huge ROI
- To get the huge ROI, you need to leverage a consistent strategy, and then deploy the right tactics
- In order to succeed, you need to tailor your content to be interesting and relevant to your end user
This article is a long one. If you don’t have time to read through the whole thing, I recommend you bookmark it and save it for a time you can REALLY work on your email marketing strategy. If you want to skip all the steps and get advice straight from the horse’s mouth, contact me, and we’ll have our own virtual lunch date.
Email Marketing Is Legit
One of the reasons Katie—and Blue Corona as a company—loves email marketing is because it’s cost-effective, which makes it accessible to both large and small businesses.
“These small businesses have marketing budgets that are often more limited. Email marketing gives these companies the best bang for their buck—allowing them to reach their entire customer base with one click. Email marketing helps you generate and close leads with minimal investment!”
Well said, Katie. In fact, email marketing has a 4400% ROI and $44 for every $1 spent.
How You Can Leverage Your Email Marketing Strategy Successfully
One thing instilled in our bones at Blue Corona is to have a clear-cut strategy and a way forward. As Katie tells me, “It isn’t as simple as creating an email marketing template, plopping in some copy, and clicking send. You must create a well-developed strategy for every campaign. Without a goal or plan of action, your emails likely won’t convey your message well, and might end up in the trash folder—which is not where you want to be.”
Here are a few strategies we recommend:
- Scope out your competitors, then outdo them. I guarantee at least one of your competitors has an email newsletter. Sign up for it. Sign up for your manufacturers’ newsletters, and sign up for your kind-of-competitors’ newsletters. Your goal is to gather as much intelligence as you can. You’re looking for what services they’re promoting, the format and layout, and what types of tracking they’re employing. Once you’ve picked out the things you like and don’t like, use the info to drive your own email marketing strategy.
- Make a creative content plan and distribute it consistently. It doesn’t matter if it’s two pages long or 50—you need one. The number one killer of email marketing campaigns is poor planning. What I recommend is to start with your monthly email newsletter, and in the beginning of the year, map out the services you want to promote each month. Then ask yourself, “What is the biggest pain point of my customers this month? What problem can I solve for them?” Combine the service/product with the pain point and boom, you’ve got your topics and a rough schedule.
- Invest in other types of email marketing than monthly newsletters, like drip campaigns and event promotions. Some of the cleverest email blasts I’ve seen are based on things like birthdays and “anniversaries” from when the customer first joined.
Best Email Marketing Tactics to Use In Your Strategy
Now that we’ve nailed down the strategies you can use, let’s dive into Katie’s email marketing tips and tactics that help put some muscles behind those strategies.
- Automate your marketing (but don’t get on its dark side). According to a study by Epsilon Email Institute, automated email messages averaged 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages. I highly recommend subscribing to an automated marketing service; a few of the more trusted ones are MailChimp and Campaigner.
- Create reliable marketing lists, segmented by the type of lead. Just like Katie did for her client, you need to build segmented lists. If you don’t have a customer list or customer email addresses and don’t know where to start, run a few lead-form ads on LinkedIn or Facebook. Once you have your lists, Katie says, make sure you’re staying on top of it. “You don’t need to continue sending emails to email address that are bouncing or have never opened one of your email. Regularly updating and cleaning your mailing list ensures you’re sending your content to the best group of people possible.”
- Personalize your message. And when I say personalize, I don’t mean “Hi, [FIRSTNAME]!” I mean you need to write the email as if you were the person on the receiving end. I mean send out an email to someone on their birthday giving them 10% off. I mean consistently engage, even after the purchase. This isn’t about you and your product or service, this is about THEM and what you have to offer them.
- Invest in good writing and a good creative template. According to Katie, “Your email is just one of many that are showing up in a subscriber’s inbox that day. Take an unbiased look at your email. If it appeared in your inbox amongst 50 other emails, would you open it? Does it make you want to open it? And once it’s opened, is it engaging? Does it make you want to complete the desired action?
Best Examples of Email Marketing Done Right
- THE REMINDER EMAIL
I have horrid vision and almost as bad a memory, so I always need new contacts and I never remember to order them in time. Enter 1800-Contacts. I use them religiously now, specifically because of this email they send me every few months:
How to Leverage this Email Marketing Strategy: If there is any part of your service or product that needs renewals, or updates, or replacements, the reminder email is your best friend. The one caveat is you HAVE to personalize it, down to the last detail. I mean you need to send an email three months to the exact day of your customer’s last order, or three years, or however long your renewal/new product/maintenance cycle is.
2. THE HELPFUL UPDATES EMAIL
Come April, TurboTax is my BFF. But it also helps me manage my money in the times I don’t need it with helpful articles and tips. The reason I love it? TurboTax already handles my taxes, and they do a good job. I’m genuinely interested in seeing what other tips they have for me to save money in other areas of my life.
How to Leverage this Email Marketing Strategy: If your service or product is seasonal, use the off-season to build brand awareness and keep customers engaged with your company. One secret here is personalization. The only way TurboTax would know that I’m engaged was if it was tracking my online movements, which it obviously has been. This data-driven personalization seems tricky, but it’s actually just remarketing in its best form.
3. THE BIRTHDAY/ANNIVERSARY/CELEBRATION EMAIL
Just look at this email. LOOK AT IT. There are three things that jump out right away:
- Happy birthday
- Free cake
- I’m hungry for cake.
This is email marketing in its simplest—and one of its finest—forms. It combines three things everyone loves being recognized for: their birthday, cake, and free crap. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but the principle works on really anybody, especially if the food is free.
How to Leverage this Email Marketing Strategy: Combine birthdays or celebrations with food. If you’re B2B, find out when your clients’ and prospects’ companies were founded, and send them a similar email on that day. Or the anniversary of their first purchase, or even the anniversary of the first day they visited your website. When you reward people for seemingly no reason—“What? Omaha Steaks sent me free food just because it’s my birthday? WOW.”—they tend to build up loyalty to you.
4. THE NO-NONSENSE EMAIL
If your target audience just plain doesn’t have TIME to read through lengthy email campaigns (looking at you, B2B), a simplified, Neil-Patel-esque email marketing strategy is for you. (Shameless Neil Patel fangirl plug in 3….2…1…) If you don’t subscribe to Neil Patel’s email newsletters, you need to. His to-the-point emails are easy to read, easy to understand, and action-oriented. It’s fabulously simple and fabulously effective.
The problem is that there are over 269 billion emails sent each day. That’s a lot of competition for attention.” — Neil Patel
How to Leverage this Email Marketing Strategy: Pick your best writer, and condense the content you’re promoting into the following:
- Who – You? Them? Their customers?
- What – What’s the situation?
- When – Is it time sensitive? When should people read it? Is it helpful for tomorrow or next year?
- Why – Why people should read whatever article or special you’re pushing?
- How – How can they take action next?
5. THE SPECIALS AND DEALS EMAIL
This is a favorite of retailers and consumers everywhere, with good reason—seven in ten people used a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the past week. To sweeten the pot, 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. Within six hours of receiving this email, I had already booked a round-trip flight to Kansas (I’m a born and bred Kansas girl).
How to Leverage this Email Marketing Strategy: Timing is everything. Sending out one email the day before a sale isn’t going to cut it—you need to nurture your campaign. Southwest sent this same email three days in a row, which was long enough for me to forward it to my sister, my BFF, my mom, and the random stranger who keeps emailing me cat photos. Be careful not to spam, however, because then people will start becoming blind to your “sales.”
Measure Your Results With Email Campaign Tracking and Analytics
You can send out a zillion emails, but if you aren’t tracking the success of your email marketing campaign you may as well print off your emails and throw them out the window. Here are the main things you’re going to want to measure:
- Delivery rate. How many of your emails were actually delivered? Are people giving you false email addresses? If they are, you need to rethink your strategy.
- Open rate. This will give you a good sense on how your subject lines and topics are resonating with your audience. If you got a terrible open rate, rethink your email subject line. If you test out different subject lines and the results are all the same, it’s your content.
- Click through rate. How many people actually clicked a link to your landing page? You can verify and track landing page bounce rate and landing page conversion rate. This will let you know if you ran a successful email marketing campaign, and whether or not you should tweak it and test out a different strategy.
- Unsubscribe rate. If you have a high unsubscribe rate, stop what you’re doing and re-evaluate your audience and your topics. Get creative with the topics you choose, and make sure you’re offering insight on things that matter to THEM, not YOU.
- Conversion rate. Are you getting conversions from your email newsletter? If not, then you should rethink your content. It’s been proven that email marketing is a tried and true source of leads, so if you aren’t getting any, you’re not doing it right.
Ready to Begin Your Own Email Marketing Campaign?
Great, you should know where to start: your plan. Right after Katie and I finished our lunch, that’s where I went—to evaluate our own current email marketing plan. (We’d love for you to be a part of our email community, BTW). If you don’t know wheer to start on your own email marketing strategy, or don’t have the resources to create your own email marketing plan, we’d be happy to assist you! You can contact us here, or you can learn more about our email marketing services on our website.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media team lead and a content marketing specialist with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing social media marketing campaigns or writing badass blog posts she’s practicing Muay Thai, hiking with her dog or teaching kids how not to fall off a horse.
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod