There it is. Another email marketing attempt from some unknown person just appeared in your inbox.
That must be the tenth email today trying to sell you something.
It’s so annoying. They don’t even know me.
Why do these people keep emailing me?
I’m here to tell you that there’s a reason you keep receiving cold emails trying to sell you something.
Because they work.
Despite all of the spam legislation and email filters, email marketing is still one of the most cost-effective ways to market and sell.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
If email marketing is so darn effective, why have so many emails that you’ve sent in the past gone unanswered?
I’ve got one word for you. Relevance.
Before we get too far into email marketing, though, let’s start at the beginning.
What is Email Marketing (Other Than Spam)?
It’s said that the first marketing email was sent in 1978 by Gary Thuerk to about 400 recipients to promote his company’s computers, and all told, resulted in nearly $13 million in sales.
It’s unlikely you’ll achieve the same results in your first campaign.
I began sending email campaigns back in 2010, as a way to stay connected with customers and prospects for my consulting business.
Today I continue to send a weekly email providing examples, ideas, and best practices to my list of customers, clients and prospects. You can check out an example of my “Thursday Thrive” newsletter by clicking here.
Email marketing which can be part of a broader marketing strategy.
That said, it isn’t as exciting as some newer channels like social media, instant messaging, or texting.
Reality is, though, email marketing is still effective, and remains one of the most cost-effective ways to market.
But it’s getting harder.
We’re protecting our inboxes.
Let’s start, then, by talking about when you might want to use email marketing.
When Should You Use Email Marketing?
The reason you may decide to send an email can vary.
You may be looking to build a relationship with the reader, gaining their trust.
Emails sent over a period of time are also a good way to stay in touch and remain top of mind. This is often referred to as a drip campaign. We’ll talk about different campaigns shortly.
If what you’re sharing is helpful to the reader, you can become a trusted resource that they rely on. That was always my goal in my weekly “Thursday Thrive” emails.
Email is also a way of letting cost-conscious customers know of specials or promotions you’re having. You’ve likely received these emails from retailers you’ve frequented.
The ultimate goal in sending an email is to get a response. You’re looking for the reader to reply, click, or call to inquire or buy what it is you’re selling.
This is aptly named the “call to action”.
Once you understand this, how you structure your email becomes very clear.
What the Heck Is a Call to Action?
A call to action, or CTA, is a prompt for the reader to take action. It’s an immediate response or the encouragement of an immediate sale.
Calls to action can come in many forms:
- A word or phrase that tells the reader what to do next (next being the key).
- A button the reader should click that will redirect them somewhere, typically outside the email.
- A link within the text that the reader is prompted to click.
Although there are other calls to action used in email marketing, these are the most common.
In order to create an effective call to action, consider a few things:
Build your email so that it moves readers to take your call to action.
Minimize the number of CTAs you use in your email. Ideally there is only one.
Make your CTA stand out so readers don’t miss it.
Consider including your CTA at the top and bottom of your email (in-case readers don’t make it to the bottom of your email).
Test your call to action before you send the email.
If you’re trying to figure out what your call to action is, start by asking yourself what it is your readers want.
Do they want to meet or speak with you? If so, your CTA might be an appointment-booking tool like Calendly.
You can see an example of my Calendly page below.
Do they want a solution to their problem? If so, your CTA might be a link to a resource on your website.
Do they want to view merchandise and make a purchase? If so, your CTA might be a coupon code.
Test different CTAs based on your customer needs to determine what works the best for your emails.
Finding the right CTA can be tricky, so think of it not as a race, but rather as a marathon. Also, what you find will work today might not work tomorrow, so test, adjust, and test some more.
With your call to action all set, you might be wondering what kind of email you should use in order to move readers towards your CTA.
What Are the Types of Email Marketing That Are Most Effective?
There are various types of emails you can use, typically referred to as “email marketing campaigns”. The term campaign refers to a series of emails that are sent, all meant to lead the customer towards taking action.
To determine which type of campaign makes sense for you, refer back to your goal we discussed earlier.
Keep in mind that you can use more than one type of email marketing in your business. You might have a welcome email series for new prospects, send a weekly newsletter, and run seasonal campaigns.
Before we get too far, however, let’s look at the different kinds of email marketing campaigns that exist, and when you might want to use them.
The newsletter (where I started):
Provides a way to keep in touch with potential, existing, and past customers. A means to provide valuable ideas, tips, and resources to build rapport and trust.
The welcome series:
A strategically written series of emails that help acquaint the reader, presumably a potential sales lead, with you, your business, and how you can help.
The promotional campaign:
A series of emails written with the intention to build excitement and interest around a specific product or service. Often used to launch a new product or service and to share benefits that entice the reader to want to buy or at least investigate further.
Post-purchase drip campaign:
Similar to the promotional campaign, the post-purchase drip campaign are best used with products or services that are complex, and that require ongoing explanation of benefits. Think about the emails you receive after buying a new car that share ongoing insights into little known features.
Cart abandonment campaign:
This is a series of emails that are often triggered by a C.R.M. (Customer Resource Management) system when someone doesn’t complete their purchase. Maybe they got distracted, forgot their credit card information, etc. The goal is to remind them that they didn’t complete their purchase and try to move them towards completing it.
This is a series or sequence of emails that is triggered when someone does something. For example maybe they stop by your website or they purchased a product from you. There is often software needed to set the trigger but configuration isn’t difficult.
Seasonal or holiday campaigns:
Exactly as it sounds, this is a series of emails that are sent with the goal of educating potential customers or clients about a product or service that they may want during a holiday season. You’ve experienced these when you get emails about Black Friday sales, or Christmas promotions.
What Are the Best Email Marketing Services?
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of email marketing software and services for you to choose from. Making the choice as to which is right for you really depends on your needs and your budget.
There are services that allow you to send email marketing campaigns, track your contacts, accept payments, and do all sorts of other neat things. Alternatively, you can get very simple software that simply allows you to send emails for free.
To make this easy for you, I’ve compiled a list of several of the more popular email marketing software apps below. If it’s not listed, it means I haven’t had any exposure to the software, so use this as a guide but feel free to explore on your own.
As a reminder, though, don’t get sold on paying for features you don’t need.
Be clear on how you will start and what features you need, and then take a look at the various options below.
- Constant Contact
Crafting Your First Email Marketing Campaign (for results!!)
So you have decided to move forward with your first email marketing campaign. Congratulations! Now the fun begins.
I’m presuming by this point you’ve identified the software and campaign you want to use. To be sure, let’s start at the beginning and walk through a step-by-step approach to putting your campaign together.
Use the best software for the job
You’ve signed up and have a basic understanding of how your software works. Alternatively, if you don’t have the time to do this, you can always use a resource like upwork.com or www.fiverr.com. Just search for someone with expertise in using your software, and make sure to verify the quality of their work.
Find your best sources of traffic
Take the work you did around your ideal customer (view here) and then flush out exactly where to find your ideal customers. Maybe they are on Facebook and investing in ads makes sense. Maybe you can connect on LinkedIn or join a forum they are involved in. Wherever your ideal customers are, you need to get in front of them.
Provide an incentivizing offer
Put your offer in front of your ideal customers. Everything you do should direct them to grabbing your offer, which in turn allows you to capture their email address and begin your email marketing campaign with them.
Write your email sequences
Set up some simple email templates that you can use when you first connect with an ideal customer. This can be as simple as a Word document that you cut and paste from, or you can set up pre-scheduled messages that will be sent from your email marketing service.
Which ones you choose will depend on how many leads you expect to get, and how much time you have. For an example, grab my free Leads report here, and you’ll receive some automated messages from me welcoming you.
The last point to mention here is to keep your emails personal. Be genuine, show some personality, and make sure you speak to the reader. I often have my wife read my emails before I schedule them to make sure that they make sense to the person reading them.
Add an appropriate call to action
Add in your call to action and give readers a reason to click on your email. If you haven’t become clear yet on what your call to action should be, revisit the section above.
Don’t be scared to change up your call to action for different emails, but avoid providing more than one call to action in any individual email. You should keep your CTA very clear and easy for the reader to understand.
Make sure your emails are optimized
In this day and age, more people are reading emails on their phone or tablet than ever before. For this reason, you need to ensure your emails are optimized for reading on several different platforms. Most, if not all, of the software I outlined above will do this automatically for you, however, it’s still good to confirm this.
Test your emails
To ensure my emails are optimized and look good to the reader, I send myself a test message. It’s easy to do once you create your first email. Just look for an option that says something like “send a test message”, and then send it to yourself. This allows you to ensure the email looks good and has good grammar, and that any links are working before you send it to anyone.
Email Marketing Tips and Tools (that are easy and work!)
Although we’ve talked about various tips and resources so far, this section is meant to provide you with some additional insights.
Once you’ve set up your first campaign, you can use this section to verify you have everything in place. Additionally, this section is meant to provide you with some advanced strategies that will help you progress from a simple campaign to an email marketing machine!
Vary your call to action
What works initially to get readers to click a link or button may not always work. I’ve had some resources work very well, like my “30 Days to Increased Sales Action Planner”. Others have only worked for a few days. Monitor what’s working and change things up when you find readers aren’t clicking on your CTA.
Emails should take readers to your next step
When you think through how your ideal customers typically interact with you, what are the steps that you take? Do you start with a call? If so, what typically happens after the call? Map out the steps that you typically walk your prospects through and design your emails to walk them through these same steps.
Test, test, and test some more
There is nothing worse (okay, there may be a few things) than putting all the effort and investment into an email marketing campaign, only to have your CTA link malfunction. Make sure all links are working and take the readers to the next step you’ve identified.
Know the value of your time
Putting together an effective email marketing campaign takes time and skill. If you have time to invest, great. But if you are too strapped for time, then find an expert to help you.
Stay out of the spam folder
It’s a good practice to ask first-time readers of your email to whitelist your emails. If you don’t, there’s a chance you could end up in their spam folder.
Simplicity is the name of the game
When you start to include automation in your emails, an entire email marketing campaign can become quite complex. To get started, however, keep things simple. If you create a welcome series, work to perfect it, ensuring new readers are clicking your CTA, and then automate it. By working step by step, you can create multiple campaigns that are effective and will work for you even while you’re asleep.
Keeping Your Email List in Pristine Condition!
As you start to get more customers reading your emails, you’ll want to maintain your list. There are some best practices to be aware of when it comes to managing your CRM or “list” as it’s often referred to. If you don’t, you can end up actually getting moved to spam filters that will mean fewer people will read your emails.
For more information on list management, check out this HubSpot post that provides some good insights on exactly what to do.
Be Aware of Email Regulations:
There are numerous legislations around email marketing, all meant to protect the interests of readers.
Which legislation applies can really depend on where you are located, and to what countries and regions you are sending the emails to.
Some basic legislations you should look into include the following:
- Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Spam Act of 2003
For a good overview of the various regulations that apply to email marketing, check out this post by Sugar Market.
Email Marketing: Your Main Goal.
So the real question is, does email marketing still work?
The short answer is yes!
How effective email marketing is can really depend on how well you apply the steps listed above.
That said, if you have a business of any kind, you really need to have a way to stay in touch with customers and prospects, and email remains one of the lowest cost and easiest ways to do so.
Sure, there’s a lot to consider, but don’t let that overwhelm you.
Start with identifying your goals, then select software and put together your first campaign.
Then test, adjust, and test again until it’s achieving exactly what you expect.
From this point, you can build more campaigns, until eventually, you have your emails landing in the inboxes of your ideal customers on autopilot, without lifting a finger.
Imagine the impact on your business if you have emails circulating to your ideal customers all the time. You’ll be the first person they think of when they need your product or service.
Better yet, they may even click your call to action and book a call or buy a product from you.
The options are endless and the time to get started is now!
© Shawn Casemore 2020. All Rights Reserved.