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The Nicely Built Blog

Why You Need an Email Marketing Strategy + How to Build One

Remember when hearing “You’ve Got Mail” was exciting? Long before the days of tweeting about the feeling of gratification experienced from reaching Inbox Zero (we aren’t the only ones, right?), receiving an electronic post was kind of a delightful thing.

Decades letter, delight is subjective. Now, most of us annoyingly sift through hundreds of newsletter subscriptions that we forgot we signed up for and scoff at the empty promises to transfer 10.7 MIL dollars to Wells Fargo from the Central Bank of Benin Republic. It sounds a little grim, it does, but for shop owners and service providers looking to effectively market an offering online, using email is still the best place to reach their target audience. Here’s why:

Ninety-four percent of internet users use email – that’s basically all of them, y’all. And of that 94 percent who are adults, 75 percent state a preference for receiving marketing information in their inboxes – two snaps! And even though folks may unsubscribe when they forget why they signed up for your list in the first place, don’t get scared. You can reduce the likelihood of an unsubscribe by targeting the right people and providing them with valuable content. All you need is a little bit of strategy.

Select an email marketing service provider

The first step in building an effective email marketing strategy is to select the tool that’s best for your business. Using an email service provider like MailchimpKlaviyoEmmaConstant Contact, etc., allows you to connect with your audience by sending professional emails and tracking the results for future planning.

Action items: Research email marketing tools. Select the best option for your team.

Build your subscriber list

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure the folks on your email list want to be there! Start by creating a target audience made up of people who are experiencing the problem that your product or service solves.

Figure out who to target by asking these questions:

  • What problem are my customers experiencing? Why did they show interest in or purchase my product or service?

  • Who are my current best customers and what characteristics do they have in common?

  • What did I provide for my customers that my competition didn’t?

Complete the sentence: {Your company} creates content to attract {your target customer} so they can {how you solve their problem} better.

Step 2, use the information gathered from the target market exercise to create incentives to sign up for your email list. The easiest way to do this is to provide a ‘carrot,’ something valuable in return for an email address. Try offering a certain percentage off the products in your online store or provide a downloadable workbook or guide that helps solve a problem or answer a question.

Step 3, make sure to add an email signup box to your website, and include a pop-up prompting visitors to subscribe to your list when they first land on your website.

Now, there’s this thing called list segmentation...

Just like identifying your company’s target market helps you develop effective marketing communication strategies, segmentation (the process of grouping customers together by a set of demographic characteristics) is particularly beneficial when it comes to marketing specific content to specific customers on your list.

Let’s say you sell online classes on topics ranging from business development to cookie decorating. You’re launching a new pasta-making course this month and you want to inform your previous customers. Of the business folk and the food enthusiasts on your subscriber list, who do you think would be more inclined to open an email about making pasta?

Instead of telling everyone how great the homemade pasta course is, serve the home chefs on your list what they’ve already shown interest in and send a segmented campaign.

Here are some ways you can segment your email list:

  • Purchase history

  • Age & gender

  • Geographic location

  • Events or interactions (in person and on the web)

  • Hobbies & interests

  • Cart contents

  • Visitor’s device (Mac, iPhone, Android, etc)

  • Subscriber actions (i.e. newly subscribed, emails opened, links clicked, etc)

Pro Tip: Gather info from subscribers when they first sign up for your list by adding options to the signup form to choose from.

Types of emails to send

The Newsletter | Provide general updates and high-level information

Newsletters give subscribers an overview of company news they may have missed on your website, social media channels, or elsewhere. They are generally 90 percent educational content, 10 percent promotional, and arrive in email inboxes at the same time in recurring intervals.

Automated Emails | Messages sent in direct response to a subscriber’s specific actions.

You know those ‘Welcome to the Party’ emails you get when you first sign up for something? That friends, is an automated email. How about when you’re “shopping” online (you know, tossing items in virtual carts with no intentions of pulling the trigger at that moment), wander away, and then receive an email from the retailer letting you know you forgot something? That’s automation!

Dedicated Emails | Timed emails promoting a specific offering

Let’s go back to the pasta-making class being promoted to the foodie segment of your subscriber list. The messaging in that dedicated email would market the pasta course information solely as opposed to say, a newsletter round-up of the four newest course launches (including the pasta course) on your site.

Determine a send frequency

You’ll want to send emails to your list on a consistent, regular basis. Pace the send frequency to how much information you have to share. According to our friends at CoSchedule, the best times to send marketing emails are 10 am, 8 pm (net people checking their email before bed), 2 pm (net people looking for an escape from their workday), and 6 am (net people checking their email before the day begins). The best days to send emails are Tuesday, Thursday and Wednesday (in that order). It’s a good to idea use split testing (comparing two versions of an email to see which performs better) when selecting send times, provided your email marketing service provider allows it. When you’re first starting, A/B test days and times to determine what’s best for your audience.

Pro Tip: Pay attention to open rates, click-throughs, and unsubscribes to better understand when your audience is most receptive.

P.S. Curious about Coschedule? They make managing cross-platform management so easy! Click here to sign up for a free trial.

Set goals for your emails

Each email you send will have a specific purpose. Before sending the first campaign, set specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals to guide your email marketing strategy. Example goals could be to increase email open rates, increase click-through rates, number of subscribers, etc.

Content is king

We discussed offering a carrot, or something valuable, to subscribers who sign up to join your email list. Keep the value flowing by creating content customers want to read:

  • Product announcements

  • Behind the scenes

  • Event invitations

  • Customer/client success stories

  • How to’s

Begin by asking, how can I serve the needs of my audience? What problem does my product or service help them solve?

Recording and reporting

Remember your SMART goals? Record the results of your email campaigns and measure them to see if they are working. Ask yourself, how will I prove email marketing is worth the investment?

Here are some metrics you can track:

  • Email opens: How many emails were opened vs. the number of emails that were sent.

  • Email deliveries: How many emails from your send list were delivered.

  • Unsubscribes: How many people unsubscribed from your email list?

  • New subscribes: How many new subscribers have you gained?

  • Click through rates: How many people clicked on the links in your email?

  • A/B test results: What version of your A/B test won out?

  • ROI: How much revenue has your email generated compared to how much you’ve spent?

  • Time spent with the email open: How long did a subscriber spend looking at your email?

  • Email bounces: How many emails reached an inbox but were bounced back unopened?

Overall tips to slay your email marketing strategy

We couldn’t leave you without some tried and true tactics to slay your overall marketing strategy. Check out our tips below and be sure to add your own in the comments, we’d love to hear!

  • Break up newsletter sections with line dividers or images

  • Bold section titles

  • Use an intriguing subject line

  • Bypass SPAM filters by avoiding these trigger words.

  • Embrace brevity

  • Include a call-to-action

  • Spell check, spell check, spell check!

  • Be authentic, not salesy

  • Use a mixture of images and text

  • Optimize your emails for mobile viewing

    • Keep the email under 600 pixels wide

    • Use a large font size

    • Create short subject lines

    • Use ALT text with images in the case that the image doesn’t load

Now, go forth and market!


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