An effective email marketing strategy has the highest return on investment among all digital marketing tactics and methods (more on this further below). For that to happen though you have to follow specific email marketing tactics and principles that have been proven to work over and over again.
Email marketing alone as a concept cannot be effective if you don’t know how to properly utilize email as a marketing channel. It’s what YOU do that makes it effective or not as a strategy to generate more leads and sales.
Small businesses that have been using the principles I describe in this blog post have seen a significant increase in conversions. I will give you all the details and explain what needs to be done from your end in order to employ effective email marketing tactics.
Finally, I will discuss the importance of email marketing tools and how they can be used in order to apply these principles and tactics.
Some facts and figures:
Before we delve deeper into the subject, I would like to give you a few numbers to keep in mind. The first number is 4.3. That’s the number of people (in billions) that will be using email by 2023 and according to Statista. 4.3 billion people. That’s half of the world’s population.
In 2019 the people that were using email were 3.9 billion. You can clearly understand therefore that there is an uptrend in terms of email usage, and that email as a method of communication will remain extremely important.
The second number to keep in mind is 44. That’s the average return on every US dollar spent (or better invested) in email marketing and according to research by the Direct Marketing Association. The ROI (Return On Investment) is impressive as whatever you invest in email marketing will return to you 4400% more!!
Just remember, to achieve a high ROI you need to employ the right tactics and follow the below principles of effective email marketing.
5 principles for effective email marketing
These principles have as an objective converting email subscribers to leads or sales. After all, that is what effective email marketing is all about: Turning email subscribers to leads or sales.
Principle 1: Have a purpose and add value
What’s the reason you want to send out an email to your email list subscribers? Do you have a reason? And does that reason incorporate their own interests?
The days when you simply wanted to inform them about your latest news have long gone. They don’t care about that. That’s why you should not even call it an email newsletter anymore if you want email marketing to be effective.
Think about it for a while. Why would someone care what happened in your company during the last month? (unless is a shareholder), who you have hired or which conferences you have attended. How does that add any value to their business?
It’s not bad to promote ourselves and our company at times but combine it with something that has value to them to make your message more effective.
Here’s how to do it: if you have recently become an official certified expert in a certain area let’s say, promote this important accomplishment but combine it with a service that you can offer to your potential and existing clients that receive your emails. Explain how this new certification can be of added value to them and their business.
The above example is a perfect opportunity to email existing clients in order to get new business easily. That is because with existing clients you have already built trust, and they know you.
Part of the email should say for example, “We are happy to announce that our firm has now reached Level-5 in the Certification program of XYZ and therefore we are now official partners of ABC. It took time and hard work but as we always strive to offer services of the highest caliber to our clients, this was important not just for us but mainly for you as our client. This enables us now to upgrade our services and offer you the highest level of support in the area of FGH”
The Point is: Stop making it about you and make it about them. Can you add any value to them and their busy daily life which also includes reading emails by so many others including most probably competitors of yours?
It all starts by you sitting down and thinking what is that you have that could be valuable to your audience.
Is it knowledge? It is a skill? Is it an update on a service or product that could be useful for them to know about? Is it about instructions (How-to’s) that if they know would make their life easier? Have you got a tip or advice that would save them time? Money? Improve their health? It depends on the industry you are in.
Tip: By analyzing each of your services or product and listing their features it will help you come up with content that can be helpful to your email subscribers. Ask yourself these questions: How this feature can be helpful? Do they know about it and how it has helped others? Can I teach them something in relation to this feature? What are the frequently asked questions related to this product or service?
Remember that asking your audience if they want to receive your weekly or monthly emails and telling what exactly they will be receiving from you it will help you create an email list of potential buyers with a true interest in what you have to offer.
That’s why if your business offers multiple services or many different products, is better to have an email marketing strategy that has multiple goals based on different profiles of potential clients.
How that can be done you can read below.
Principle 2: Use segmentation and personalization
This is probably one of the most important principles and tactics in email marketing today. This is the one that could generate leads or sales from your email marketing campaigns and will help you send effective email marketing campaigns.
According to the Direct Marketing Association segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.
Here are some more reasons why personalized email marketing is more effective
- As per Instapage, personalized email marketing is said to generate a median ROI of 122% – click for 68 valuable personalization statistics
- Personalized email subject lines generate an average of 50% higher open rates,
- 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized. Especially if it is based on previous interactions the consumer has had with the brand,
- In 2020, 51% of consumers expected that companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they make contact.
Please pay attention to the following: If you are thinking to use personalization and provide offers to your email subscribers without first getting their consent, then personalization could turn back as a boomerang to you. People will probably feel that you are intruding their privacy. Make sure therefore that you will have their consent for sending such offerings.
How does personalization work? Of course, you don’t have to email each email subscriber, and you don’t have to know exactly their preferred content. You do that through segmentation and automation.
What are segmented emails: As per AWeber, one of the leading email marketing tools: Segmented emails are messages you send to specific subscribers in your list. They can be based on where they are in the customer journey, demographics and more. Doing so gives you the chance to send specific content that is relevant to that unique group, encouraging them to take a certain action.
Therefore, by using an email marketing tool that includes segmentation features you can collect email addresses from specific pages on your website, specific campaigns or based on specific criteria. The whole system is automated and everything is done for you.
Have in mind also that using video in combination with a personalized message you could improve the click-through rate by 8x (times) as per research and reports by firms using video in the email marketing message.
Principle 3: Create content that triggers an action
Effective email marketing requires that your message triggers an action by the user. That is why the message and the content in general has to be strategically written in a way that will lead the user in taking that action that you want.
The action of course can only be taken if there is a link or a button in your message. Email campaigns that at the end or at some point have a link or a button that drive the user to a specific page on your website, a blog post, a product page or a landing page acts as your best sales person.
The more the clicks the higher the click-through rate. A high click-through rate will determine the success or not of your email campaign. It works pretty much like this: High click-through rate=Higher sales (or leads).
Tip: For generating sales or leads the most effective emails are the ones that are part of a funnel (you will read more about funnels in the next principle)
For all this to work you have to ask yourself what is it that you want your email subscribers to do, what kind of action to take once they land to the destination web page.
Do you want them to read a blog post, purchase a product, fill out a form, download a PDF?
Whatever that actions is, you will need to prepare you email subscribers to take the desired action through your content.
Tip: Email marketing campaigns and messages that focus on one desired action by your email subscribers could be much more effective than typical email newsletters that provide a number of clickable actions for email subscribers.
Principle 4: Your email should be part of a funnel
A funnel is in essence a sales process. It includes the different steps required until a potential client converts to a client or to any other desired goal.
For example, in the case of email marketing a funnel would have the following process:
- An email subscriber receives your email
- The email subscriber clicks on a link or button
- The user lands on a landing page with a promotion to buy a product or request information on a service. The page includes a form to purchase the product or to fill out with personal information to get more information on the service.
- The email subscriber fills out the form or purchases the product
This is really when email marketing becomes effective. The effectiveness is in the final action, the desired outcome.
That’s the reason why when you plan your email marketing strategy you need to think of your funnels and whether you are ready to convert email subscribers to clients or leads.
Please note though that you must not only email your subscribers only when you have an offering. As per principle 1 above the point is to add value first and build trust.
There will be cases or depending on your own case as a company, that you might not want to convert email subscribers to clients but take a different action.
You might want them to read an important document for example, read a blog post, download a PDF, watch a video or take any other action that will still be of value to them. This type of end goal and outcome is also considered a conversion since such an action helps you build trust and credibility with them. It is a matter of priorities and goals.
Tip: Your email list probably includes existing clients too! Using email marketing practices that continue to add value in your relationship with them is a great way to keep your client retention rates high or to increase repeat sales.
Actually, it would be better if your existing clients are in a different group (email list) so that you follow a different strategy with them (use segmentation).
Principle 5: Follow subject line best practices
When your email arrives in your recipient’s inbox the first thing they will see is the subject of the email. From that only they will decide whether to open or not your email.
The subject line determines therefore the open rates of your email and eventually how effective your email marketing is.
The following subject line best practices can help you increase your email open rate:
- Be very clear about what your email delivers
The subject must be concise so that your email subscribers know what your email is all about before they click on it. Don’t try to make them open an email by using a general subject line finding out once they click that this is just a waste of their time.
- Ask a question (but be careful with this)
Leading with a question is a very powerful technique. It grabs the attention of your email subscribers as you might have the solution to a problem they face. Example: Are you struggling generating leads from your website?
Although some times creating curiosity or asking a question is a very effective email subject line tactic, you have to be careful how you use this because if what you deliver in your email or in the destination web page will not really answer the question, this will eventually harm your brand, and it will damage your credibility.
- Don’t mislead or overpromise
There is absolutely no reason to try to mislead or overpromise so that you email subscribers open your email to read it. You might get them to click, but you will not convert them. Even if you do and the deliverables are not as expected and according to your subject line, then forget about converting them again. You’ve lost their trust.
- Test your subject lines
Did you know that there is a test called A/B Split test which automatically can test which of two titles is the one that has the highest open rate? There are tools that can test even among 4 titles or other tools that will automatically send the email with the best title after testing the open rate from a number of email list subscribers and before sending out the email to the rest in your list.
- Consider the number of characters
As you may well know a lot of people are using their smartphones today to check their email. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep your title to up to 9 words and 60 characters.
Tip: I’m sure you know from your own experience that people today receive a lot of emails on a daily basis. They don’t receive only from you but also from your competitors and also by a number of other brands for different products and services.
Once they click on your subject line and open your email, don’t let them wait until you get to the point. Send them an email that will not take too long to read and that will help you quickly decide whether to click on the link or not. Give them a reason why they should click on the link.
Example how to apply the principles
Let’s say I wanted to send an email out about this blog post of mine. Check how I apply below all the basic principles:
Be very clear: Effective email marketing strategies to grow your business
Ask a Question: Do you know how to generate leads through email marketing?
Get to the point fast (Content):
Did you know that the ROI of companies that invest in the right email marketing practices is up to 4400%? Yes that’s right, for every $1 invested they get back $44. This is not a number that I came up with but is according to a credible research by the Direct Marketing Association.
That’s why on my latest blog post I explain how to turn email marketing into an effective marketing channel and use it to generates leads, make more sales or strengthen your brand.
If you are super happy with your numbers and don’t have time for more business, you can skip this.
If you want more business though, make sure you read it and take action immediately before you send your next email marketing campaign.
I include practical steps to follow, email marketing best practices and how to apply each, examples, tips, mistakes to avoid and what email marketing tools to use.
Click here to learn how to grow your business using email marketing“
What email marketing tools to use
Tools and platforms play a significant role in today’s marketing. In fact, only with the help of an email marketing tool you will be able to automate all process and create an effective email marketing strategy.
Remember that an effective email marketing strategy includes successful and effective email marketing campaigns. That’s why you need tools that will help you increase email open rates, utilize segmentation and personalization, automate all processes and find out easily what works and what not.
The following 3 tools which I recommend have some of the best and “smartest” features when it comes to creating effective email marketing campaigns:
ActiveCampaign is used by over 120,000 companies in over 160 countries. It is in essence a marketing automation platform which includes all the necessary email marketing features you need for effective email marketing campaigns.
Here’s some of the most important email marketing features of ActiveCampaign:
|It has pre-built automation recipes to help you setup automations fast and easy.||Based on user behavior (i.e. open or not an email) you can initiate the next action.|
|You can trigger automatic emails based on site visits or based on engagement.||It’s reporting system helps you find your top performing automations and best email funnels.|
|You can setup goals and track them so that you can find out what is working and what not.||Use the lead scoring system to find your most engaged contacts and offer them exactly what they want.|
|Test the subject lines of your email campaign with A/B Split Testing and find out which is the best.||Group your contacts by location, age, and almost any behavior with advanced segmentation tools.|
|Create custom forms to collect emails, get more customers, and start your automations.||Send any automation email to contacts based on their own habitual open times.|
ActiveCampaign starts at $15 per month ($9 if you choose annual billing) and you can first try it with a Free Trial.
In case you decide to purchase any of the ActiveCampaign plans their team will help you with free migration and free training.
Automizy is an email marketing software that was developed with the aim to specifically help companies increase their email open rates. It has won an award for “Best Functionality and Features”.
Here’s some of the most important features of Automizy:
|Use pre-built email templates and proven automation blueprints to save time and to create fast email marketing campaigns.||Automatically resend campaigns to non-openers and increase your open rates with built-in best practices.|
|Test among 4 different subject lines. Automizy will optimize and send the email with the one that has the highest open rate.||Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that predicts email open rates on data from over 1 million campaigns.|
|Fully integrated automation builder that requires no coding knowledge to use to create high-performing email automations.||Create targeted, timely and personalized campaigns and automations based on the behavior of your website visitors.|
|Real-time email automation and campaign analytics that evaluate the performance of each of your automations and email campaigns.||See how many people signed up on your form, how many website visitors saw your form, how many people subscribed.|
Automizy starts at $9 per month. Their team will help you with the onboarding, how to use features, tips & tricks, and provide you with ongoing support. There is a 14-day Free Trial to test it out.
Sendinblue is the preferred email marketing automation platform of over 175,00 companies around the world. The platform offers email marketing features, CRM, marketing automation tools, chat and SMS marketing as well as ads retargeting and a Facebooks ads system.
Some very big names such as Fujitsu, Haribo, Louis Vuitton, Michelin, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Proscelanosa all use Sendinblue for email marketing automation and to create their email marketing campaigns.
Here’s some of the best Sendinblue email marketing features:
|Email click maps that give you a color-coded visualization of your email engagement by highlighting clicked elements.||Machine learning-powered send time optimization that finds the best message and ideal time for the email to be sent.|
|Advanced contact list segmentation to create groups based on previous engagement, declared interests, geo-location and more.||Use professionally-designed templates along with dynamic content or parameters that you receive from your website.|
|Monitor engagement and deliverability through real-time statistics to evaluate performance and make decisions fast.||Build professional signup forms using a drag & drop form builder! Add fields to collect information from your new contacts.|
|Use Marketing Automation features to run email campaigns on autopilot, update contact info in real-time and manage lists based on contact behavior.||Send re-engagement campaigns and Build workflows that guide customers through to sale. Know when a customer is prime to convert with lead scoring.|
Sendinblue starts at $25 per month and offers also a Free Account for up to 300 emails per day and unlimited contacts.