When you want to grow your brand or sell your stuff, email marketing is one of the most popular—and effective—tools around for marketing campaigns. In this article we’ll discuss how email marketing - and the usage of promotional emails - can help you to grow your business, and we’ll give you a few tips to help you get started with a successful email marketing campaign.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing is a powerful marketing channel, a form of direct marketing as well as digital marketing, that uses email to promote your business’s products or services. It can help make your customers aware of your latest items or offers by integrating it into your marketing automation efforts. It can also play a pivotal role in your marketing strategy with lead generation, brand awareness, building relationships or keeping customers engaged between purchases through different types of marketing emails.
A brief history of email
The very first email was sent in 1971 by a computer engineer named Ray Tomlinson. The message he sent was just a string of numbers and letters, but it was the beginning of a new era of communication. Tomlinson was also the person who introduced the usage of the “@” symbol in email addresses.
In 1978, a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp named Gary Thuerk used this new method of direct communication to send out the first commercial email to let people know about a new product.
By the ‘90s, the internet had become commercially available to the masses. The way people communicated with one another began to change dramatically, and marketers discovered that email could be an effective way to advertise. The emergence of marketing emails also ushered in the need for regulatory updates; the U.K.'s Data Protection Act, for example, was adjusted to require an "opt out" option for all marketing emails.
Advantages of email marketing
Email has become such a popular marketing tool for businesses partly because it forces the user to take some kind of action; an email will sit in the inbox until it’s read, deleted, or archived.
Email marketing can help you build a relationship with your audience while also driving traffic to your blog, social media, or anywhere else you’d like folks to visit. You can even segment your emails and target users by demographic so you’re only sending people the messages they want to see most.
Email marketing also allows you to run A/B tests of a subject line or call to action to identify the best performing message by using email marketing software that can also be configured to easily send out emails. Check out Mailchimp's email templates to see more of what you can do with email marketing.
Disadvantages of email marketing
While email marketing seems like the perfect way to reach out to customers, create new prospects, and grow important business relationships, there are some drawbacks. In fact, many businesses are opting to use EZ Texting as another form of communication.
Here are some of the significant downsides to email marketing campaigns.
It seems like our inboxes are filled with worthless information. "Lose 25 pounds in two weeks," "Click here for a big discount." We all get them and nearly instantly hit delete. In addition, we never even see many of these emails because they end up in our junk or spam folders. Unless you are actively avoiding spam filters, these are messages are often just a waste of time for the company that sent them.
If your email is too large, it might take a long time to load—or even not load at all. In that time it takes to download, a potential customer has just lost interest, costing you business.
Disadvantages aside, email marketing is a popular form of marketing, which means that your email isn’t going to be the only one flooding users' inboxes. This means that to stand out from competitors, you might need to invest in strong copywriters or offer additional promotions to capture your audience’s attention.
Frequently, a customer sees an ad and signs up for emails based on that 1 instance or offer. They may or may not use it. In any case, they are now in the clients' database, but that doesn’t mean they will keep opening up your emails and clicking through to your site. You have to continuously find ways to engage your audience, or you might find yourself with high unopened rates or a lot of people unsubscribing.
Today, you can access an email across a range of devices, such as phones, tablets, and computers. This means that unless you’re designing an email for each platform, your customers might see a less than ideal version of your email.
Email marketers don’t know what type of operating system the recipient is using. In many cases, what was once a visually appealing email, can have odd breaks, missing visuals, and logos. These are annoying to the recipient and are quickly deleted—especially if the recipient mistakes it for spam or a scam. These emails are hard to read in most cases and are of very little value.
While many email services purport to be free, many still charge fees for additional actions such as adding images or exceeding a word count. Make sure that you know exactly what the guidelines are for free emails or understand what additional charges you may incur. When you have someone design an email template, help build a database of relevant contacts, and the dissemination of the email may start stressing the budget.
Email marketing types and examples
There are many different types of email marketing. Each one serves a different purpose and takes a different avenue to engage with your audience. We are going to look at some of the many different types, so you can create the best email marketing campaign for your company.
This type of email welcomes customers and encourages them to learn more about your product or service. They often offer a trial or other bonus. It is used to introduce a potential new customer to the business.
Newsletter emails are very popular, and they often highlight new products and services. They may also include articles, blogs, and customer reviews. Usually, there will be a call to action to move the reader to do something, whether that is reading a new blog post or checking out a new product.
Lead nurturing emails
This type of email targets a specific audience through a series of emails in the hope of eventually converting them. Typically, lead nurturing emails focus on a group that is interested in a specific product or service and then build their interest through more emails that offer additional information or relevant promotions. The goal is to push users from the consideration stage to the purchasing stage.
Those that have recently signed up for emails or newsletters, or have purchased an item online for the first time may get a confirmation email. This ensures the prospect that the information has been received and they are on the list to receive additional information. These are also a way to let users know that their purchase has been received or that their sign-up was successful and can include more actions for them to take.
If you want to reach out to only a portion of your email list, this is called a dedicated email. Its list may be based on recent purchases, inactive clients, new members, and other specific types of criteria.
These types of emails often announce upcoming events, new product launches, and seminars. Most companies use these types of emails when there is something special going on to gain attention and increase awareness about special events.
These types of marketing emails are very common and tend to be generic and go out to a large audience. They are usually used to maintain awareness and may tease new products and services.
Feedback from customers is one of the best tools for a business. Sending out these emails communicates to your customers that you value their opinion and want to create an experience, product, or whatever you’re offering that they’ll enjoy. Businesses can also take the feedback from these surveys and apply them to their offerings, creating what is hopefully a better product.
Seasonal marketing emails
Many companies take advantage of the holiday season or special occasions to reach out to their customers and prospects with information on upcoming sales and promotions. They are often tied to holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s, and Father’s Day.
Tips for building your email marketing list
But how do you build an audience of people to send email to as part of your internet marketing efforts in the first place? There are a few ways, and all of them have to do with treating your customers right, taking into consideration marketing best practices.
Don’t buy email lists. Many email marketing companies (including Mailchimp) have a strict, permission-based policy when it comes to email addresses, which means that sending to purchased lists is prohibited. Instead, concentrate on encouraging folks to opt into receiving messages from you by using lead magnets. You could offer a discount on your customers' first orders when they sign up for your email list via a custom signup form. Or maybe you can offer new subscribers free shipping on their next order—or give them a chance to win a prize when they join your list. Here are some more tips to help you build an email list.
Be aware of national (and international) email regulations. Make sure you adhere to any legal requirements and applicable laws in your area when sending automated emails, like the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL), or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union for the treatment of personal information. The regulations are based on both your location and the location of your subscribers, and it’s your responsibility to know which laws apply to you.
Use email to have a conversation with your customers. Email is a great marketing tool, but it can help your business in other ways, too. Consider taking the occasional break from your regular marketing content to send out surveys, tell you customers how much you appreciate them after buying from you, following up after an abandoned cart, or just say hello. Not only does it give your audience a chance to provide you with valuable feedback, but it also allows them to get more insight into the person behind the business.
Only send when you really need to. Once someone has trusted you with their email address, don’t abuse that trust. Flooding your audience’s inbox with superfluous emails will cause them to lose interest or unsubscribe entirely. Focus on sending them relevant, engaging messages about the stuff they like, and they'll be loyal for a long time to come.
See how Mailchimp's free email marketing tools compare to the competition.
Email marketing FAQs
How can I set my emails apart from spam?
After spending so much time crafting your emails, the last thing you want is your email to end up in the spam or junk mail folder. The best way to avoid this is to have the recipient add the company website to the safe contact list.
Can I combine email marketing with other types of marketing?
Absolutely, as indicated in an earlier section, email marketing can be used for specific promotions, special events, announcements, and a variety of other purposes where information can be disseminated via email.
How important is the email subject line?
The subject line is crucial! A poor subject line can cause your email to end up in the spam folder. If it isn’t captivating, it may not grab the readers' attention and be deleted before it is even opened.
The subject line should make the reader want to open and read the email. Here is an example of some good subject lines:
- We’re waiting for your order. Save 50% today.
- Check out this new product geared to make cleaning your home easier.
Connecting with your audience
The best way to connect with your audience is to create email campaigns that have value. Cost savings, new products, new services, and product benefits show the reader that the email has value to them, and they should keep on reading.
Marketing by email is a great way to keep your business top-of-mind with customers and prospects so they don’t think of your competitors. When done correctly, your email marketing campaign can show great success and lead customers to act, which is what all businesses want when developing their campaigns.