Email marketing is often looked over in favour of more flashy new channels, but it’s a really powerful tool to connect with customers past, present and future.
In fact, email generates $42 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 4,200% ROI, making it one of the most effective options available.
In this article, we’ll break down how to set up an email marketing strategy that works with your other marketing strategies to achieve awesome growth.
You’ll need to be strategic at every step of the process, so here’s what to do, and what not to do…
Do: A/B test your emails
A/B testing is an old-school growth hack at this point, and that’s for a good reason. According to Litmus, Brands that always include an A/B test in their emails generate an ROI of 48:1 on email marketing.
Most CRM tools will have built-in A/B testing functionality, but anyone can A/B test. To run an A/B test, you need to create two different versions of one email, with changes to a single variable. That variable can be your subject line, a piece of dynamic content within the email or the position of your CTA. It’s also important to define a goal. Are you trying to discover which version gets more opens? More conversions? More clicks?
When you’ve got your two email versions and your test goal nailed down, you’ll send 50% of your audience to one, and 50% to the other. Then you’ll analyse whether version A or B generates more of whatever you were testing.
You can take this a step further by splitting your target group into three, running an A/B split test on 1/3 of your audience, and sending the ‘winner’ to the rest of the group, optimising as you go. However, you’ll need a pretty big audience to get statistically significant results in a test like this, so do bear that in mind.
Do: Optimize for mobile
More than half of global web traffic comes from mobile phones (statista) and nearly 1 in 5 email campaigns is not optimized for mobile devices. (SuperOffice, 2020)
This makes mobile optimisation a great ‘low-hanging-fruit’ if you want to stand out against the competition. Here are some quick ways to make sure you’re optimised for mobile:
- Always use a responsive template to make sure your email will scale to fit the screen of different devices.
- Go easy on graphics. Don't overdesign with too many images or embed large image files, because they’ll take forever to load and drain your recipient’s data.
- Make every word count. When it comes to your subject line and preview, you’ve got even less space to make an impact than you do on desktop. Be clever and make sure the value of your email is clear from the jump.
- Be smart with your copywriting. Use small paragraphs to avoid scrolling through walls of text, and keep your message concise.
Do: Remember who you’re talking to
Nobody likes getting bombarded with irrelevant information. The great thing is that with all the data at your fingertips these days, it’s never been easier to segment your database and send impactful, relevant communication to the people who want to receive it.
Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue.
Segment your database by personas, jobs to be done, product interest, location, or anything else that will help you divide up your audience.
For example, if you’re running an offer on a certain product line, target emails only to those people who’ve previously expressed their interest in that area, or you could use a marketing persona to reach out to contacts in upper management, rather than your entire database.
Do: Lead with value
Customer value is key.
Make sure whatever you’re sharing provides immediate value to the recipient. People don’t subscribe to your emails just to hear you brag about how well your company is doing, or to receive a weekly sales pitch in their inbox.
Whether you’re emailing to share an offer, new content, or perhaps make an announcement, you need to make sure the reader knows why they should care as soon as they read the subject line. 40% of consumers say they have at least 50 unread emails in their inbox, so your subject line is the best chance you have to grab their attention.
Once they’ve opened your email, use clear calls to action which emphasise exactly what the reader can expect, and make sure nobody has to read between the lines to understand what’s in it for them.
This ‘Do’ is one of the most important, growth wise. Make sure you’re leveraging the most convenient tools and platforms to do the heavy lifting for you.
Automate things like brochure send-outs, content downloads and nurture flows so that you have free time to strategise and innovate. Platforms like Campaign Monitor, HubSpot and Omnisend help you plan out automated flows and target segments of your audience.
One thing to remember though, when it comes to automated email send-outs, it’s not a case of ‘set it and forget it’. You need to make sure you’re monitoring data surrounding those sends so you can analyse what works, and what doesn’t, and improve your automated email flows accordingly.
Automation works best when you integrate email with your wider CRM, this gives you the most data to work with and gives you the best overview of your customer journey.
Don’t: Forget to follow up
Whilst there’s value in the occasional one-off email, you should really be contextualising every email you send with your wider marketing strategy. Make sure you’re not leaving your audience hanging. Here are some follow-up ideas:
- Make your email part of a flow which will send a reminder to those who haven’t acted on the CTA a week later
- Automatically alert your sales team when a key prospect engages with your email content
- Retarget recipients with relevant ads on social media to double down on your messaging
There’s loads more you can do, so keep your strategic goals in mind and make sure your customer journey makes sense.
This should go without saying, but firing out frequent, irrelevant, unhelpful emails is spammy. It’s not just annoying for the people you’re emailing, either.
Having your messages marked as spam by the people you’ve annoyed affects the overall health of your database.
Your emails are more likely to automatically end up in the spam folder, and if you’re getting a suspiciously high number of unsubscribes, major CRM platforms will often intervene and block you from emailing for a while.
Make sure your content is relevant, value-driven and not too frequent. Pay attention to the unsubscribe rate of your emails too… A rate above 0.5% means you have some work to do.
Don’t: Get sloppy
Once you’ve sent an email, it’s gone. Spelling and grammar mistakes happen (it’s only human!) but they shouldn’t make it to the final product.
It’s also important to make sure your copy is clear and to the point. Use tools like Grammarly to automatically catch common slip-ups, Hemingway to test how easy your email is to read, and always follow the four-eyes rule and have someone else in your team check your work.
Don’t: Break the law
Again, this should go without saying, but when it comes to email marketing, a lot of companies are still acting like we’re in the Wild West.
You know your personal data is precious, so make sure you’re treating your customers’ data with the same respect. Specific rules change depending on where you are in the world, but if you’re in Europe, like us, informed consent is key. Make sure you’re only emailing people who have consented to being emailed by you, and make sure they knew what they were consenting to at the time.
Platforms like HubSpot have built in GDPR compliance tools you can use, but best practice is to familiarise yourself with data protection laws in your area, and make sure your email marketing strategy lives up to them. Check out GDPR.eu for more information.
In any case, only emailing people who want to hear from you increases the efficacy of your email marketing, so don’t be afraid of informed consent!
Don’t: View email as a standalone channel
It’s so important to integrate your email strategy with the rest of your marketing and sales efforts.
Ideally, the people you’re emailing will also be served ads about your business, perhaps attend online events you’re hosting, maybe they also follow you on social media, or are already in conversation with your sales team.
Because of this, it’s important you know where email fits in your wider customer journey.
Make sure you zoom out every once in while, especially when you’re planning a new outreach or campaign and take stock of all the emails you’re sending as well as what communication is coming from other departments and channels in your company. Using tools like Notion, Asana or Monday across teams is a perfect way to keep an overview of what’s going on in terms of outreach.
If you create email strategies in a vacuum, you’ll miss key opportunities for impact and maybe even ruin the customer experience.
That’s it for our round-up of the do’s and don’ts of email marketing. The main thing to keep in mind is value, value, value! Use all the data and tools at your fingertips for a growth-driven approach, and make sure your customer’s needs are always central to your strategy.