When you think about email, what comes to mind? Most of us think about our crowded inboxes or the unending stream of “spam” we can’t seem to shake. Or maybe you recognize the value of email and think of it as a necessary evil. Without a doubt, there are plenty of cons associated with email marketing. Yet even with its detractions, you may be surprised to learn that email has the highest ROI of any marketing channel! In fact, nearly 60% of B2B marketers surveyed say email is their biggest source of ROI.
The numbers don’t lie: if you want to drive sales and revenue for your business, email marketing may be your golden ticket. But, like most things in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about email marketing. When done the right way, your emails can be both fun and informative for your recipients, while helping you meet your business goals.
It can be a bit intimidating but getting started with email marketing really isn’t that tough, especially with the email marketing tools you’ll find on the ZenSales platform. In the following paragraphs, we’re going to show you how to plan and launch an email marketing campaign designed to help you meet your business goals.
Set Your Goals
How big do you want to grow your business? Email marketing goals will give you a starting point and guideposts to help you achieve success. Setting goals will provide your email marketing efforts with a long-term vision and keep you motivated along the way. Your goals will also help you organize your time and correctly allocate your resources so that you have more time for the things that matter.
The key to establishing the correct goals for your email marketing initiatives is to align them with your business goals, sales goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs). Is your goal to drive new sales for your products? Generate new referrals for your team? Get more attendees for your next party or event? Provide greater customer satisfaction and get more word-of-mouth referrals? Email marketing can help.
To set your goals start by outlining what you want to accomplish with your email marketing. Your goals can then be used to help determine the types of campaigns you send, who you send them to, what your messaging says, and ultimately, they can be used to measure your success. Make sure you set goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Find more info here.
If your business goal is to increase sales and referrals, email marketing goals like growing your list and increasing sales/conversions can provide support. If you’re just starting out, do a little research to determine the “industry standards” — or talk to a knowledgeable colleague – and use this data as your benchmark.
Know the Different Types of Email Marketing
Before you begin planning your email marketing campaigns, you should know and understand the different types of emails and when it’s appropriate to use each one. Opinions vary on the different types of emails and some may refer to them by different terms, but for the purpose of this article and to help with your planning efforts we will divide email into three main categories: promotional, transactional, and engagement.
Promotional emails are the most commonly seen, of all email marketing types. In fact, the majority of the emails cluttering your inbox are most likely promotional emails. Like the name says, promotional emails generally promote a product or service and their goal is to drive sales and revenue for the business. Promotional emails can convince customers to make a purchase, attend an event or start a service. In order to be successful, your promotional emails must:
- Capture and hold your recipient’s attention
- Make her feel positively about your brand
- Motivate her to purchase or engage with products, services, app, or website
Transactional emails are usually automated messages that are sent in response to events, interactions, or recipient preferences. Transactional emails are also frequently called “triggered” emails because they can be set to send automatically in response to certain events. For instance, when you make a purchase online you will likely receive an order confirmation and/or shipping notification. Transactional emails often contain information that a recipient will need at some point, which gives these messages high open rates.
Finally, there are engagement emails which are designed to keep your business top of mind with your prospects and customers. The goal of an engagement email is to “engage” with your constituents to get them thinking about your products and services, even though they may not be ready to buy. Staying “top of mind” with your audience ensures that they think of you first when they are ready to buy. Engagement emails are also a great opportunity to really connect with your customers on a personal level to create brand affinity.
Regardless of the type of email you’re sending, one of the most important keys to success is to send emails that people actually want to read, when they want to read them. Easier said than done, you say? Not so say we, here’s how.
Start with Your List
It will be extremely difficult to run a successful email marketing campaign without a list of email addresses. But hold on, before you begin collecting any and every email address you can get your hands on you should understand that email addresses are not all equal in value. Your best practice is to build a list of email addresses that belong to people who are interested and able to buy your products or services. A weak email list filled with random email addresses will likely result in poorly performing emails. Emailing a cold, un-targeted list may also deliver equally poor-quality data, which can derail your marketing efforts even further. No data is better than bad data. To build a quality list, target people who you have already qualified as potential buyers.
Here are a few of the top-performing methods for list building:
- Signup sheets
- Business card giveaways
- Ask customer/friends to forward an email invite
- Use social media to post an invite to connect
- Offer a coupon or special offer in exchange for email addresses
- Use an online tool to gather leads online, like Sign Up Anywhere
Once you’ve built your list you will need to perform ongoing list maintenance to make sure your list continues to only include viable prospects who are engaged with your messaging. Three negative email performance metrics that consistently appear with a mismanaged list include hard bounces, soft bounces, and unengaged subscribers.
You should “scrub” your list clean at regularly scheduled intervals by deleting any email addresses that are responsible for hard bounces or multiple soft bounces. If a user hasn’t opened or engaged with your messages for an extended period they are labelled as an unengaged subscriber, you should send a reactivation email and delete any nonresponses who are likely not interested.
Make a Plan
Email marketing without a plan is a plan to fail. The best email marketing is proactive and tailored to the needs of your business. Your final email plan should include a detailed calendar that shows which messages to send, who the recipients will be and when the messages will be sent.
While you’re putting together your email plan, you should always be conscious of “list fatigue”. List fatigue can happen when your list is full of untargeted or inactive subscribers, it can also be caused by old or overly repetitive messaging. Does your messaging no longer appeal to your recipients? If so, your messages will have a low open rate, high unsubscribe rates and low engagement – all potential signs of list fatigue. You can avoid list fatigue by completing ongoing list maintenance, and carefully scheduling relevant and interesting email messaging.
Start your plan by determining which transactional messages you will send. As stated before, transactional emails are usually automatically generated messages that are used to deliver important information during the customer journey. It is optimal to create and schedule automated transactional messaging. If you don’t have the ability to schedule automated messages, you should plan to send these communications manually. Transactional emails increase customer satisfaction and by helping your customers feel safe and empowered with timely and valuable information.
Transactional messages you can include in your plan:
- Order confirmations
- Shipping notifications
- Delivery confirmations
- Registration confirmations
- Legal notices
Next, you can schedule your promotional messages. Despite it’s reputation, you shouldn’t be shy about sending promotional messaging. According to Statista, 49% of customers said they would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite retail brands on a weekly basis. The key word there is favorite. Don’t go overboard but do circle back on your goals and make a list of promotional emails that will help you reach your business targets.
Promotional messages you can include in your plan:
- Sales, promotions and special offers
- Event announcements and invitations
- Service or product upgrades
- Contest announcements
- Holiday offers
Schedule your engagement emails last. When used correctly, engagement emails can onboard new customers, generate referrals, and retain and deepen customer relationships. Look at your customer journey to identify where you can deliver messaging that provides relevant support, impactful information, or fun interactions. If your messages do not meet these criteria, they can end up coming off as spam which may lead to spam reports, unsubscribes and opt-outs.
Engagement messages you can include in your plan:
- Onboarding emails
- Re-engagement messages
- Customer activity report
- Customer milestones
- Company news and announcements
Create Great Content
With a stellar plan in your hand, you’re almost ready to reap the benefits of email marketing. But before you go there is one final and very important topic to cover. What are you going to say and how are you going to say it? We don’t want to intimidate you, but it’s important to remember to send emails that your audience wants to read. If you do not manage to create compelling content, your customers will eventually stop listening.
Creating great email content can be as simple as answering these two questions:
- Why should your readers care?
- What action(s) do you want your readers to take?
“What’s in it for me?” also referred to as “WIIFM” is a timeless marketing question that can help focus your communication efforts. When you’re excited about your business, it’s easy to lose track and wax on poetically about things that probably don’t matter to your readers. Your sales awards, your company’s achievements and similar information may matter to you – but it likely won’t mean much to your list. Focus on what matters to the people you email.
Email readers are notoriously selfish with their time, so focus on conveying the information that they want. Once you’ve “stoked their desires” with an irresistible offer, let them know what steps they need to take to satisfy those wants. Viola – you’ve created a successful marketing email! Write copy that answers these two questions and you’ll be on your way to email marketing success.
Here are 10 essential tips to help you create great emails that get more results:
- Include an intriguing subject line
- Keep your copy short and sweet
- Make sure design and layout is clean
- Avoid attachments
- Write to your audience, tell a story
- Include personalized content
- X-nay on the all caps
- Stick to a single call to action
- Keep your messaging focused
- Follow best practices to avoid spam folders
A Few Parting Notes
And there you have it: all the tools and information you need to tap into email marketing. We would be remiss if we did not stress the importance of providing value to your readers: it is absolutely essential. If your messages do not provide value, you’re simply spamming your readers with unwanted messages.
Email marketing can help you get the right messages directly to your clients and prospects at the right time. As with most things marketing and business-related, there is a learning curve to email marketing. The good news is the email marketing tools from ZenSales have been designed to make email marketing as simple and intuitive as possible. We guarantee that you will learn and improve quickly once you start emailing, but if you run into issues or have any questions along the way the ZenSales team is here to help!