What is Email Marketing?
You’ve heard about it and know it can make your business some money, but what is email marketing? And how in the world can it work in your specific industry? Besides, isn’t email dead? Does anyone actually check their email anymore, much less for salesy stuff?
These are a lot of the questions people have about email marketing. I’m going to answer these questions and a lot more throughout the article, so buckle up and get ready to learn how email marketing will help make your business the big bucks!
The Cambridge dictionary defines email marketing as the process of using email to advertise and sell products and services. Pretty simple, right? We just send constant emails selling our stuff to our subscribers and we’ll get money. Right? Wrong!
Email marketing is so much more than just advertising and selling products. The core concept of email marketing is nurturing your list of subscribers to feel more comfortable with you as an authority and with your brand. It’s what it says it is – email marketing. It’s not email sales, it’s about marketing yourself to a list of people who are already interested in you, at least a little bit.
This is a key to good email marketing. We have to stop thinking of it as trying to get people to buy from you and instead turn our thinking. We have to think of email marketing as a way to get people to want to buy and hear from you on even a daily basis. When we get our list to want to buy stuff from us, and to want to receive daily emails from us, then we can sell them and convert at a high rate.
Who Uses Email Marketing?
Want to know who uses email marketing? You just have to look in your inbox! Everyone from big box store retailers like Wal-Mart and Kohl’s to small mom and pop service businesses are taking advantage of the benefits of email marketing.
Email marketing technology is used by 82% of B2B and B2C companies. So almost everyone is using email marketing, and obviously for good reason – why would they all be using it if it didn’t work?
In fact, 85% of all U.S. retailers consider email marketing their most effective customer acquisition tool! So not only do a lot of major companies use email marketing, they’ve run the tests that show it works for them and that they will continue to put money into it. (Still think email marketing is dead?)
If you’re looking for some killer examples of email marketing campaigns, click here. There are big and companies and some you may not have heard of, all displaying great email marketing campaigns that can give you some inspiration as to how it works.
What is email marketing’s role in my funnel?
First things first – let’s clarify what exactly a sales funnel is. A sales funnel is the process that leads people to buying your product. The funnel is broken up into steps that is your sales process and sales model. I’m not going to go too much in-depth about sales funnels in this article, but if you want to learn more, check out this article.
So the sales funnel is a step-by-step process to sell people your product. So how does email marketing come in? Contrary to popular belief, email marketing isn’t just the end of the funnel, destined just to thank people for their purchase. No, email marketing is a powerful tool that can advance all stages of your funnel.
I think of email marketing as a nice grease to our funnel, helping move customers easily through each stage. Remember when I talked about forming relationships with email marketing and it being more than just selling? Perfect use case here. We use email marketing to build relationships with people in our funnel and use that to bring them to the next step. An email sequence is a very powerful tool in your funnel and should actually be one of your major contributors. If you’re not using email marketing as a legitimate tool, and an asset, in each of your funnel steps, you’re missing out of potential sales.
Think about it like this. You’ve just collected someone’s email from your landing page! A typical email thanks the lead for signing up and that’s it. Maybe it has a website link to your upsell page. If we use our email marketing principles, we can send a 3 part email sequence that thanks them, builds the relationship and then pushes them down to the next stage of our funnel. After a while we send a 5 part email sequence that provides value and culminates in us offering them the big offer of our funnel.
So the difference is we’ve sent 8 emails total that have created a great relationship, lead to them following us on all social media platforms and eventually got the sale through providing value. Don’t you think that’ll convert better than just sending one thank you email and hoping they bite?
I’m Still Unsure about Email Marketing……
No worries! I’ll convince you that email marketing rocks!
According to Statista, 86% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails monthly and 15% would like promotion emails daily. Consumers are thriving for those promotional emails, those coupons, those sales! Imagine what happens if we can get them in our sequence and they’re already wanting our emails…..cha-ching!
Ecoconsultancy says 75% of companies say email marketing has a good or excellent ROI. That’s a lot of companies saying email makes them a lot of money! Think about it, the cost of an email is set. It’s firm – once you’ve gotten the email, you know how much you’ve spent to get it. Chances are, it’s a very low amount too. Say we spend $2 to get one email. We get 1000 emails and we convert 10% of them into paying customers for our exclusive $99 deal. That’s $9,900 of revenue on only $2,000 spent for a whopping profit of $7,900! And that’s just for one deal. Don’t forget we can keep these emails in our sequences and sell them over time. See how email marketing can add up?
So of course there’s a financial incentive, email marketing brings you money. But it also keeps people interested and connected with your brand itself. Think about it – are you more connected to the brand that sends you cool articles that you read everyday or the one you only get emails from every so often? Exactly. You can really keep people interested in your business beyond the numbers and email marketing is a great way to do it.
In fact, here’s a great article I found about how to design your emails in order to stay consistent with your brand!
Intro to Email Marketing
Alright, now you know a bit about email marketing. You know what it is and a little about who uses it. Now it’s time to learn a bit about the gritty details of email marketing.
Email Marketing Expectations
The first step in a good campaign is knowing what to expect. You should have goals of open rates, click through rates and conversions before you begin running your campaign. So what should you be looking for in terms of these numbers? It definitely varies by industry – some industries you’re going to see higher rates for each and some you will see lower. That’s an important point overall – email marketing is going to be a lot different for each type of business, so it’s important to know the fundamentals and basics so that you can apply it to whatever industry you’re in.
In general, I look for a 30% open rate. I’ve seen higher and I’ve seen lower, but that’s my benchmark for a good campaign. I look for click-through rates of roughly 5%, up to even 10%. These are overall goals, but you also have to consider your campaign. If you’re sending a campaign to your entire list, without doing much segmentation, you should expect a slightly lower open rate. If you send out an email without any links, why would you expect a high open rate?
Here’s a great article on expectations per industry. You can use these, the above stats and your specific campaign to determine what kind of statistics you should expect out of your campaign.
A big thing you should expect is losing subscribers. Not everyone is going to like what you’ve got to say, and that’s okay. A lot of people actually believe that if you’re not a little bit controversial in your marketing you’re not doing it right! Just roll with the punches if you lose subscribers, it’s not big deal. You should be getting more subscribers on a daily basis than you are losing and I’ll talk a bit later about gaining subscribers. What’s bad, though, is if people start reporting you as SPAM. If people report you as spam, you’ll start getting blacklisted my email providers and your email marketing software may even kick you off their platform!
If you are getting marked as spam, re-evaluate your list, your content and how you got your emails. Make sure your list is legit and you’re sending relevant content. If you’re losing subscribers, keep pushing on (as long as the rest of your list is engaging)!
Another thing to remember is that your email marketing is a marketing tool, not a sales tool. Email marketing is a part of your sales funnel, not intended to be a sales email after a sales email after a sales email. Are there going to be emails where you try to sell and pick up new customers? Of course. But remember, it’s just a part of the funnel. It’s a process to nurture those leads and lead to the sales email.
Phases of Email Marketing
I keep talking about how email marketing is a process, there are steps to be had, you’ve got to nurture the lead before you sell. But what exactly do I mean by that? What are the steps of email marketing? And most importantly, when do I actually make money?? That’s what I’ll explain in this section!
How to Acquire Emails
So the first step of email marketing is actually getting some emails on your list. There are tons of ways to do so. You can buy email lists that already exist, you can scrape them off the web, you can copy and paste, whatever. You get the general idea there – you find emails on the internet, take ‘em and add them to your list. However, these are what I call “hacky” ways of doing it. They can work, but most of the time you’re just going to waste time. And remember what I said about getting reported for spam? Very high chance that happens here.
Instead let’s focus on legit ways to claim emails. There are tons of ways of doing this, too, but they all center around the same thing – consent! You need to get people to voluntarily sign up for your email list. This can be through a sign-up form on your landing page/website, getting people to write their emails down at a meet-up, people buying stuff from your website and entering an email or even people directly giving you their email in conversation.
For online businesses, typically you will have a landing page. On that landing page, you will present some kind of offer, you’ve seen them before – “Sign up now for a free book!”. The specifics doesn’t matter, but there is some kind of offer that is relevant to your target market. All you have to do is enter your email. Boom. Email collection. Offer some kind of incentive – a coupon, a free something, a trial, and ask for people to enter their email. If your landing page is good, and your offer is good, and you’ve got a relevant user on the page, you’ll get their email. For more info on landing pages, check this out.
Nurturing Your Leads
What does it mean to “nurture a lead”? That sounds ridiculous. They’re a future customer, you’re trying to get them to buy your stuff, not become part of your family. So why do we have to nurture them, what does that even mean?
Nurturing a lead is the technical term for “butterin’ them up”. We’re trying to build a relationship, trying to foster a connection between the customer and our brand. This is the most essential part of email marketing. Nurturing the lead is what takes us from selling to cold leads to selling to interested prospects who like our brand.
So how do we actually do this? How do we get someone from thinking we’re spamming their inbox to wanting desperately to buy from us? That’s simple – we just provide value! By giving something valuable to our subscribers, stuff like articles, case studies, tips, etc. that they will enjoy reading and get something from, they’ll become more connected to our brand and more likely to buy. Are you more likely to buy from someone who’s sent you a couple cool articles and a great tip you’re using in your business or someone you forgot exists? Exactly.
If you’re interested in seeing some examples of these lead-nurturing emails, check out this article from Hubspot. It’s easy to get the idea of sending value but it’s always great to see examples of stuff that’s worked in the past.
Once you send these value-rich emails, throughout your sequence, you’ve primed the lead. You’ve got your subscribers connected to your brand, they actually remember who you are (for free, thanks email marketing!). Now that we’ve got them connected, it’s time to start selling them.
In between your value-rich emails, we should be slowly building up our own product or service. Throw out two value emails, maybe one article you’ve found and one tip you know. After those two, include an email about how you just finished working with a client or hit a good sales goal and include your link. Repeat this process throughout your sequence. At the end, hammer them with the sales pitch!
Remember when you drop that sales pitch that you’ve got a sequence for a reason. Use the value that you’ve dropped and the sequence you’ve created to lead into the sale. For example, let’s say you’re a social media marketer. You’ve been dropping tips on how to automate social media and make it a faster process. In your sales email, hit that again! You could easily say something like:
“If the tips I’ve been sharing doesn’t work exactly for you, and you’re still too busy working hard on your business in other ways, I offer social media services that will allow you to take your business to the next level and finally get some sleep at night ;)”
There’s a lot that goes into a sales email but if you build off your sequence, instead of trying to be different, you’ll be off to a great start.
What are the Email Marketing Campaign Types
We’ve covered a lot about email marketing so far, but now you’re probably wondering – when do I do email marketing? What types of email marketing sequences exist? The truth is that you could run an email marketing sequence for so many different things, almost every business scenario you could think of, you could run some kind of sequence for. I’ll cover the most popular ones here. (Keep this section as a cheat sheet for the future!)
New Subscriber Sequence – Congratulations, you just got a new subscriber on your website/blog! But now what do you do, just wait for the next time you put out content or an update? Nope! You send them a new subscriber sequence. This sequence should be designed to teach them a bit more about your brand, make them jump in with two feet and become passionate fans of your brand. They’ve just entered their email so they’re interested in what you’ve got so it’s time to strike while the iron’s hot! Send some value, let them know what your brand is about and what they should expect in your upcoming emails. This is also a great time to get this new subscriber to like/follow you on all of your social media platforms.
Promo Campaign – Are you running a great deal, special, etc.? Get the word out! Let everyone know what you’re offering with a promo campaign sequence. Remember, though, to follow the email marketing rules and expectations we detailed above. Don’t just spam their inbox with your promo offer, lead them into it! Introduce your deal, drop some value (relating to your deal), add another fact or some testimonials, drop some value, etc. Just relate everything to that promo and run a good sequence, you’ll get people to bite!
Post-Purchase Campaign – Awesome, you just got someone to buy your product! It’s done now, right? Take the money and be happy? Nope! It’s time to get that customer to produce more money. After someone buys from your website, you should send them a strong email sequence. This email sequence should encourage them to post their purchase on social media (use special hashtags, tag you for rewards, etc.), share with their friends, buy a similar product, etc. You want that customer’s lifetime value to increase, so make it! Send a sequence that allows the customer to make you more money by creating some social proof. They’ve bought from you, they were sold, now let them sell others.
Lost Cart Sequence – This is the money maker right here! When people are shopping online, often times they’ll add something to their cart and, for some reason, leave the item there and never buy it. By sending an email sequence to people who have left their cart full, you can recover tons of lost revenue. You can convert 40% of those customers with this sequence! This one’s a bit different because we’re not dealing with a normal subscriber, we’re dealing with someone who almost bought. Therefor we need to have a short, punchy sequence that offers incentive for them to come back. Offer a discount, offer free shipping, whatever you can that’s reasonable. It’s important to create urgency here too – put pressure on them to buy quickly or they lose their items and their discount. This is super important, so make sure you check out this article from Shopify on lost cart sequences. It’ll help you create sequences and the emails in them!
Newsletters – Ah, the good ol’ newsletter. This is probably what you thought of when you think of email marketing, so I choose to do this one last ;). A newsletter is a regularly scheduled email sequence that informs subscribers of updates, new content, promotions, etc. This is a great way to keep people interested in your brand over time. If you know every Monday you’re gonna get a great piece of content from X brand, you’re going to start looking forward to it and whenever time comes for you to acquire that service, you’re going to go to that brand. That’s the goal of a newsletter. This is a long-term goal but it definitely produces big results. Remember, just don’t spam sales emails through your newsletter! You need to mix it up and be different. These are great examples of how you can be different, interesting and catch the attention of your subscribers.
Understanding Email Marketing
Now we know about email marketing! We know about sequences and nurturing leads and all this other great stuff. Now it’s time to get one step deeper and start understanding some finer details of email marketing so you understand what’s going on when you start your own campaign.
Email Marketing Statistics
In this section I’m going to run through some email marketing stats, so keep this section as a cheat sheet, too!
Open Rate – How many people open your email. This is calculated through some code in your email (provided by your email service provider), so this number is accurate enough but not perfect! This is one of the most important metrics for your emails and is really important for determining how good your subject lines are and how targeted your email subscribers are (and who the dead subscribers are).
Click Rate – This is the % of how many people click through your email. This could be a click through on a button, on social media links, whatever. This is a pretty good indicator of how good your content is on your email so it’s important to keep an eye on this stat. If you’ve got a low click through rate, you’re going to see low profitability because no one’s following through on your email.
Conversion Rate – This is how many people end up buying/following through once they get to your website. This is a two part rate – it shows how good you sold them in the email and then it shows what your website is doing. A low conversion rate could mean a bad email or a bad website (and vice-versa) so it’s important to use this statistic in combination with your click through rate and other metrics. This is a really good metric for determining how interested your subscribers are – if you’ve got a bunch of opens and a bunch of clicks, and your website converts other viewers well, maybe your email list just isn’t that into you.
Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is how many people show up on your website and leave after viewing one page. Use this in combination with your conversion rate to determine why there are leakages in your funnel. If people are clicking through but you have a high bounce rate, your emails may be misleading or your landing page isn’t very good.
Growth Rate – Growth rate, in this context, is how much your email subscriber list has grown over a set period of time. It’s important to keep a high growth rate and fresh subscribers on your list. If your list isn’t growing, your email marketing is going to grow stale, fall on deaf ears and start to become less profitable than it could be. Always stay active in pursuing a high growth rate!
ROI – ROI stands for Return on Investment. This is a huge key in email marketing (all marketing, really). It’s important to know how much we’re making from the money we’re spending. This is a huge reason email marketing is so popular – it’s very cheap to execute which creates an astronomical ROI. ROI comes into play when you’re running ads and collecting paid traffic to collect emails. Compare how much you sell through email marketing to the expense of collecting paid emails.
Of course, there are tons of metrics and analytics we could look at. These are just the most important ones, especially for newer email marketers. If you’re a data person, and are looking for more statistics and metrics, check out this hubspot article.
What is Email Marketing Segmentation
Segmentation of your email list is one of the most effective tactics you can use to boost your email marketing results. So what is it, and why should we do it?
Segmenting your list is exactly as it sounds – just splitting up your one, big list into smaller more specific groups. As simple as it sounds, this is an incredibly effective technique that so many people forget to do.
You can segment with however many people are in your list and it’s probably worth it to do so. Regardless of if you’ve got 2 or 2000 members in your email list, you probably know something about those subscribers that allow you to separate them. There are tons of ways you can segment your list depending on the data you have. Here’s some examples:
-Responses to your emails
-Open/Click through Rates
You get the idea. Anything you can think of, any data you have, allows you to segment your list. And then think about what we talked about before about sending email marketing sequences. If you can send an email sequence to everyone in your list, or you can send a similar email sequence but break it up for male and female, which do you think you can convert better?
Exactly! That’s why we segment our lists. It allows us to create better email sequences that are more relevant to the people we’re sending them to. It gives us better information, data and statistics about our email marketing – who’s opening, who’s clicking, who’s converting. It also gives us better information about our brand as a whole. What if we thought our target market was X, but when we segment, Y loves what we’re doing and actually buys? Then we target more of Y! It may result in a full brand shift.
Segmentation is powerful in collecting data and generating sales so make sure you think about how you can use it to take advantage of your email list!
Email Marketing Service Providers
Alright, you’re ready to get crackin’ on an email marketing sequence. You’re ready to go and start creating your campaign. But uh……..where do you go for that? There are many options and many different softwares allowing you to do email marketing, here’s a quick rundown of the most popular ones.
Mailchimp – Probably the most popular and well-known email service provider. They have a sliding scale payment feature and charge you based the number of subscribers you’ve got and the number of emails you send a month. They allow you to do automations, have an easy design feature and have tons of analytics available for you to use. If you can afford it, Mailchimp is the most well-known for a reason!
Mailerlite – Mailerlite is a lot like Mailchimp, but just a bit……..lite! It’s got drag-and-drop design and some analytics, a lot like Mailchimp. The difference is, while it doesn’t have as many features as Mailchimp does, it is a lot cheaper than Mailchimp. This is my personal favorite email service provider as it provides a good balance of affordability and features.
Constant Contact – Constant Contact is a bit more expensive but it’s very similar to Mailchimp in terms of the features it offers. Constant Contact does offer a free 60 day trial, so you can figure out if you like it quickly. Constant Contact is known for great customer service and it has a mobile app so it may be a bit easier to use.
If you’re not really interested in any of these three, there are countless options out there! What I suggest is to try some out, see if you like their interfaces and if they work for you!
Well, we did it! We answered the question of “What is Email Marketing” and now you know how to leverage email marketing to generate more revenue for your business.
You should know enough now to run some email marketing campaigns and get some results. You’re not going to kill it on your first time but always test and evaluate. See what works for your business and what doesn’t! It can be a long complicated process but once you nail a sequence you can really pull in the money!
In addition to this guide, I’m giving away a free guide on actually writing great emails. What’s the point of having a great sequence set up if the emails themselves aren’t very good? Just throw your email in the sign-up form below and you’ll receive my great free guide on copywriting for emails that will help make sure your emails are converting and that this knowledge won’t go to waste!