How To Create A Successful Email Marketing Strategy For 2021
Creating an email marketing strategy this year should be at the top of your list. It’s not just one of those things you should do as an afterthought, either. It will pay you back much more than you put into it, and just how much may astonish you. According to Hubspot Marketing, a whopping $38 is returned for every $1 spent. That’s an incredible return (3800% ROI) on an already relatively small cost. Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective ways to boost sales and those enduring customer relationships.
Excited yet? Keep reading for the email marketing tips you need to create a winning strategy, and we’ll show you how to find software that makes it easier for you to create marketing campaigns in-house and save even more.
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The Benefits Of A Strong Email Marketing Strategy
Understandably, small business owners often place much of their marketing focus chasing after new customers with things like pay-per-click and social paid advertising. If that sounds familiar, you may be missing some opportunities right under your nose. Despite the thrill of the chase, focusing on your current customers with an email campaign can be more advantageous, and I’ll show you why.
The Gartner Group came out with a study that has changed the way marketers and small business owners think about their customers. They found that 80% of future profits come from 20% of existing customers (Source: Forbes). Let that sink in. The bulk of your future profits come from existing customers! So not only should you focus on growing that loyal base by bringing new customers in, if you are to endure, you’ll want to always put care and focus on people who have already bought from you.
So how can you do that? One of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways is email marketing. Let’s take a look at how to get your mind in the game when it comes to smart email marketing strategies so you can win even more loyal customers.
7 Best Email Marketing Strategies & Ideas
Keep these seven email marketing concepts in mind when you are creating your email campaign, and you’ll not only keep your customers more engaged with your brand, you’ll learn more about them while you’re at it.
1. Providing Value In An Email = Building Trust
Your emails should always give your customers something they want or need. It’s how you build a good relationship, and how your emails will get opened again in the future. Whether you bring value through a newsletter that offers great, usable information or an interesting and thought-provoking video you’ve linked, at least some of your emails need to provide value outside of the buying “ask”. We call this approach content marketing, and it’s an art form. Sending value-rich content to the people on your email list garners trust while shaping how your customers view you and your niche.
Below is an example of a Merchant Maverick newsletter. The top story links to the latest video sharing specific tips that help merchants avoid some common price-gauging in the payments industry. Everything in the newsletter links to completely free resources our marketing team has curated for our readers who have subscribed.
Worried about giving up too much information if you share some of your expertise freely? Don’t be. Even if you give your customers a play-by-play, they’ll still come to you when it’s time to purchase if they perceive that you provide expertise, help them save time, or add enjoyment to their life in some way.
2. Send Self-Promoting Emails Wisely
When you’re crafting your email copy, always remember that while you’re sharing about yourself or your company, you need to frame it in a way that’s less about you and more about the reader. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you get there:
- What are some of the challenges your customers may face?
- What is it they want or need from you?
- How do you serve them better than the competition?
- What may be their objection to the sale or what may stop them from purchasing?
The point is that even if you’re sending a completely self-promoting email, you’re going to want to focus on how it benefits your customer. And to do that, you’ll need to consider their perspective, their “pain points”, and how you can solve them. Newer contacts can be incentivized with a sample or trial, whereas a more personalized or up-selling focus is best for someone familiar with you already.
3. Time Your Emails For Biggest Impact
Timing is important when it comes to emails. Email automation can help you tremendously when it comes to sending an email after a “trigger” such as a new sale or newsletter sign up. In the case of sales and sign-ups, I suggest erring on the side of over-nurturing these folks with not only an immediate “thank-you” confirmation email, but a follow-up email to touch base again and keep lines of communication open. When customers feel they are being taken care of, it makes your business stand out. And the investment of time on your part is worthwhile; the more your customers trust you, the more likely they are, not only to re-purchase something, but to use your business for related products or services as well. Remember, though: keep messaging focused on the value you can offer, not on yourself.
4. Personalize Emails To Boost Impact
Everyone likes personalized customer service, but for it to work it has to be genuine. Last week I got a message from one of the largest retailers in the world telling me they were “thinking about me when they saw XYZ product.” Not only were they way off, but I also found it disingenuous. Your small business already has an advantage over these big-box retailers because your value is that you have expertise right in their community. You are really good at what you do, and you know your customers better than anyone else.
So how can you personalize without appearing glib or over-familiar? Assuming you don’t have time to do it person by person, the right email software can help you tag and segment so you can target messaging to specific groups. But you can always go a little deeper into your planning. When you keep in mind the 80/20 rule I mentioned in the beginning, you can think about your most loyal customers and target messaging to develop that relationship even further. You could create a special promotion, more one-on-one communications, or cross-promotions (more on that later). You can “get away” with a little more communication with this group because they already like and trust you, and that’s important to recognize when planning your email campaign.
5. Craft Inviting Subject Lines
The subject line is your chance to get seen in a sea of inbox messages (no pressure at all). While it can be challenging to get the attention of the object of your interest, there are a few tricks of the trade. Think of your subject line like you would a headline of an article. Focus on the “why” or benefit of the email to make it as alluring as possible. The email software company, MailChimp, has found that giving a direct hook is more effective than trying to be cute and creative, so at least a little pressure is off right there. Focusing on the benefits in the subject line is usually the key to getting attention and getting your email opened up.
What about emojis in your subject line? Don’t be shy with an emoji; give it a shot (within reason). MailChimp also found that limiting an emoji to just one gets the best results; using to supplement your message rather than outright replacing a word also works best. Below is an example of a short, to-the-point email subject line with a judicious emoji for effect.
6. Map Your Plans With A Content Calendar
Creating a plan for your emails helps you in a few different ways. A detailed content calendar for your email campaigns can keep you organized but it does even more than that. When you sit down and make a content calendar, you force yourself to also form goals, balance out messaging, and focus on different types of customers (e.g., those that are familiar with you and those who aren’t).
Think about and plot in when would be a great time to start promoting any seasonal products or services. For example, if you’re a nonprofit, plan a sequence that focuses on an end-of-year contribution push for your donors while highlighting everything you’ve accomplished for the year. You’ll also want to consider how you can start cross-promoting products and services to existing customers. Don’t assume they know what you do and don’t assume trust is automatically granted. Your emails can be the perfect place to educate them on what else you do. Your content planner can help you map out all of these goals and create a cohesive plan.
7. Test Your Email Campaign
Testing does not have to be as complicated as it sounds. Many email software programs make it easy to set up A/B testing, but make sure that you are only testing one variable at a time or you’ll skew results. Some common things to A/B test are:
- Time of day you send emails
- Subject line length or tone
- Different offers or promotions
- Email length in relation to conversion rate
- Visual differences in-email in relation to conversion rates
How To Choose The Perfect Email Marketing Strategy For Your Business
Finding the right email strategy is always a process that grows and evolves with your business. Your strategy is based on your goals for the month, quarter, season, and/or year, so putting goals down for each can help you focus your messaging. After sending an email campaign, you’ll learn something — even if it was a flop. There’s not much risk (financial or otherwise) in email marketing, so it’s an excellent place to try out new ideas. Great email marketing software empowers you to make better decisions through tracking and reporting, so use it to your advantage. Through testing and trial and error, you’ll find what your customer likes and will build trust and authority in the process, not to mention all that potential to boost sales in the process.
Getting Started With Email Marketing Software
When you’re narrowing down your email marketing software options, look for key features that meet your needs for cost, template options, usability, and customer support. If things get complicated for you or you have a hiccup in service, support is essential. Our reviews rate each major category to look for in email marketing so you can understand the overall score each company has earned and why. We have a library of resources here to help you find the right email marketing software for your business.
Take a look at our email marketing software reviews for more information.