For many businesses, email marketing has been a staple of their digital outreach for years. Unlike social media tools — which can change from year to year, and require different approaches as trends gain popularity and then fade out — email is remarkably consistent. Also, it’s used by almost everyone. That’s why so many businesses choose to build email lists which they can later contact with marketing and offers from their company.
If you’ve never tried email marketing before, it’s easy to start. There are two steps to the process: First, you get people to sign up for your email list. Then you send them content straight to their inboxes on a consistent basis. There are many opportunities for outreach through email. You can send special offers to get your customers to buy from you more often, send out updates about new products, or get feedback on something you’d like to know. Pretty much any information that you need to put out can be done through email.
Many studies have shown that this method works. For example, a Harris Interactive poll showed that 81 percent of people who shop online in the U.S. are more likely to buy something if they receive emails crafted around their personal shopping preferences. Even better, the Direct Marketing Association reported in 2013, 66 percent of consumers had purchased something online because of a piece of email marketing.
Email is also seen as less invasive than many social media outlets and as more professional. Almost three-fourths of consumers prefer using email to communicate with businesses they’re buying from. As a direct result, marketing executives in the U.S. say email drives the same amount of revenue as social media, website marketing, and display advertisements combined. And with 6.32 billion email accounts online in 2017 — a figure that’s expected to grow to 7.71 billion by 2021 — you know that your marketing has the potential to reach a massive audience.
What’s most essential is the content that you send out. But what exactly goes into the first part of the email marketing strategy — building an active email list? Whether you’re new to digital marketing or have been running an email campaign for years, it’s important to know what kinds of strategies to use and how to grow your online audience. The following guide will introduce you to the steps you should take to make your email marketing as efficient as possible.
The first step in getting started with your email list is choosing a good marketing software. This is critical because there is no way to keep track of your email list manually when you start reaching thousands of subscribers. Also, it’s valuable because the software can do a lot more for you than just collecting emails — it can create and format the emails that you send.
One example of email marketing software you can use is MailChimp. This program is free for businesses that have fewer than 2,000 contacts and send less than 12,000 emails a month. If you don’t fit these criteria, you can pay $10 a month for an updated plan. The price is worth it if you consider that the service offers more than 100 design templates, as well as tools to build sign-up forms and social media ads.
Some other options include GetResponse, with 500 design templates; SendinBlue, with detailed analytics; and Remarkety, with automated website integration. All of these software choices can significantly help you push out your emails. They are also great just for putting together an email list that sifts and organizes the signups for you automatically.
Once you’ve picked an email system, it’s time to try to convince people to sign up for your email list. This can be remarkably effective if you use a few simple strategies — from offering exclusive coupons to advertising a unique rewards system for email members. The fundamental concept behind all of these approaches, however, is the giveaway — the thing that you’ll offer people who sign up for your email list. This is crucial because customers won’t give you their email address just because they’ve bought from you before and like your business.
They need to be prompted to do so, and the most effective way to do this is by giving them something as a reward for signing up.
The most obvious way to do this is by offering exclusive deals, discounts, and promotions for email subscribers. This can come in the form of weekly coupons that are sent out to your email list, which customers can then redeem in-store or online. Or, you can use email to give notice of special sales that are coming out. Present email subscribers with discount codes to use in your e-commerce store and advertise contests you’ll be holding later in the week or month.
You can also engage in information giveaways, like using your email list to send out articles, tips, and suggestions. This can be similar to a blog, but one that goes straight into your followers’ inboxes. For example, you could send out a monthly email demonstrating innovative ways to use your products. Or you can round up valuable expertise that only you can offer because of your unique position in the industry.
You can incorporate multimedia into this process by offering free videos, ebooks, and other pieces of content. And always, you should remember to target the content you produce to your email audience. You should know what they’re looking for from your business and cater to that desire.
However, you should avoid saying that signing up for your email list will give them “free updates.” People don’t tend to see these as necessary, so instead, you should say exactly what you’re offering, be it advice or insider knowledge.
Over the long term, you should have content creation strategies that keep the updates you produce fresh, relevant, and likely to turn your email subscribers’ clicks into conversions. As you go about growing your email list, develop this strategy and know what content you’re going to send out when. If possible, you should tailor your emails to the time of the year as well as any other relevant events going on at the same time. This will focus your marketing, as well as help people, feel like they shouldn’t wait to buy from your business.
The number one way to grow your email audience is to use the communication platforms that you already have to let them know to sign up for your email list. The primary option should be your website. Not only should you have a particular page with a form where customers can put in their email address and information, but you should link to this form on as many other pages as possible.
Start out by having a button to direct people to the email list sign-up. This should be located either in your menu bar or a prominent position in the center of the page (as your primary “call to action”). This will depend on the design of your site, but when you’re laying everything out, make the email sign-up prompt a priority. You should also have prompts to subscribe to your email list on other pages on your site, either at the bottom or as a sidebar.
This means that if a customer reads a specific piece of content and realizes that they want to know more, they will see the email link next to it. At that point, the conversion will be easier to make.
You should also encourage email sign-ups from other platforms which you use to communicate with people, whether it be social media or physical mailers. If you are already on social media — such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or any other platform — include links to sign up for your email list in your posts.
Always make sure to connect the sign-up to the content that’s in the post itself. For example, showing a great picture of a customer using your product. Then, link to the email list with a caption about how customers can find out about deals that can help them afford that very item.
If you send out physical mailers or put out advertisements, you should include a shortened link to sign up for emails. Try using a link compressor like tiny.cc, in which you can even make a custom URL to make it easier for customers to remember the address. The same applies to advertisements, which viewers typically don’t look at for more than a few seconds. You want to make it easy for the link to stick in their minds.
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