Every day, more than 306 billion emails are sent whizzing through the ether, and that number is only growing. For bloggers and business owners, this statistic bears both encouraging and challenging news.
The good news is, you have a captive audience of email-loving consumers; the challenging news is, you have a whole lot of competition for their attention.
This guide has been designed to help you overcome the challenges and take advantage of the rewarding possibilities of email marketing. Let’s get started by establishing what an email marketing campaign is.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing involves more than just contacting prospective customers via email. A successful campaign will have an enticing call to action that encourages recipients to engage with your business in a way that helps you earn more sales and fresh leads.
Of course, you can’t just send emails out indiscriminately (if you do, you run the risk of violating the Federal Trade Commission’s anti-spam rules). There are five essential preparatory steps you must take before designing your email marketing campaign.
1. Build your email list
The most effective way to build your email list is to encourage your website visitors to become subscribers. However, you’ve got to keep in mind that people don’t like having inboxes stuffed full of mail, so they don’t sign up for every website they visit.
To encourage them to take that step with you, there has to be a clear call to action and a solid incentive. The most attention-grabbing ways to offer an email sign-up are:
- Welcome gates – These appear the moment a user reaches your site and must be interacted with to access content.
- Lightbox popups – These appear later in the browsing experience, offering an opt-in that the user can either accept or decline to continue reading content.
- Exit-intent popups – These show up when the user’s activity indicates they’re about to leave your site. Once again, an opt-in is offered.
You’ve probably experienced all three of these, and no doubt have found some of them downright annoying. When handled badly, these pop-ups interrupt the user experience in an invasive, pestering way. However, when handled well, they have a fantastically high conversion rate. The trick is to offer something of value in exchange for the visitor taking a moment to sign up.
Known as a lead magnet, this offer of value could be anything from a discount code to a free ebook, access to an online course, or anything else you can dream up. Make it a fair exchange, and people will be happy to get onboard.
2. Set clear goals for your campaign
Your email list will take some time to build, but you can use this time effectively by establishing clear goals for your first email marketing campaign.
These goals are what you will use to drive your strategy and measure your results, so it’s vital that you know precisely what you want to achieve.
Some examples of basic goals that you can then build more detail into include:
- Converting casual visitors into fans of your brand.
- Boosting engagement (page views, read rates, social shares, and the like).
- Promoting your products or services and boosting sales.
- Understanding your audience so you can create more tailored content.
Go into as much detail as possible with what you’re hoping to achieve from your email marketing campaign as these ideas will inform the next step in the process.
3. Use your goals to determine the type of email campaign you launch
There are three main email categories you will find yourself using as a website owner. These are:
- Transactional emails – Triggered by actions users take on your site, such as placing orders or updating their contact information.
- Promotional emails – Making subscribers an offer they can’t refuse.
- Relationship-building emails – Delivering on promises (things like informative newsletters, email courses, free downloads, and discount codes).
Though transactional emails are essential to include in your emailing system (more on email automation coming up soon), your campaigns will fall into the promotional and relationship-building categories.
4. Understand your target market
Once you have goals in mind and know what kind of email marketing campaign you’re going to be launching, it’s time to clarify how you’ll fill out all the details. This is best done by gaining a deeper understanding of your audience.
Here, you can use tools like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics to gain valuable data on the fans of your niche, including demographic information and the types of things they’re interested in. Use this data to understand what’s going to drive engagement and then offer that in your email campaign.
5. Get technology on your side
Trying to handle every aspect of email marketing yourself is an inefficient use of resources. Instead, take advantage of the automation options offered by platforms like Mailchimp.
These email marketing platforms allow you to create templates and automate all your transactional emails, while also providing you with the tools you’ll need to set up and automate your email marketing campaigns.
A good email marketing platform will even help you stick to healthy levels of contact (i.e. responding promptly to subscribers but never overloading them with emails).
Now for the fun part: creating your email marketing campaign
With the groundwork laid, you’re ready to create your campaign, and everything you need to do can be covered in four straightforward steps.
1. Create a bangin’ subject line
This is your first opportunity to capture the reader’s attention, so make it count. In crafting your subject line, keep in mind that around 40-50 characters is the average length. Many people flick through emails on their phones, meaning a limited portion of each subject line will be visible. So, keeping yours short and to the point will boost the chances of people bothering to see what’s inside.
Some quick and dirty tricks for crafting brilliant subject lines:
- Brand personality is great and all, but brevity and clarity are more important in an email subject line. Focus on letting the reader know what the email contains in as few characters as possible.
- If the subject line and then content don’t match, you run the risk of annoying the reader and making your email look spammy.
- Avoid spam trigger words like “act now,” “please read,” “once in a lifetime,” “free,” and “urgent.” If they’re not picked up by the email server’s spam filters, these types of emails are often auto-deleted by recipients.
2. Write concise but engaging copy
Here’s where you can let your creativity and brand personality shine – within reason. Though you have more room to play in the body of the email than you do with your subject line, you still want to keep the copy short and to-the-point.
Here’s how to structure it:
- Address your subscribers by name – People are instantly more engaged when they see their own name. To achieve this, have people include their first name with their email in the signup box.
- Lead in with a hook – This should be a single line that sparks the reader’s curiosity and makes them want to keep reading.
- Deliver immediate value – This can come in the form of a short but entertaining story, a valuable tidbit of advice, or an image, GIF, or video.
- Add a call to action – This will vary depending on the goals of your marketing campaign. If it’s a relationship-building campaign, you may want to include a short, fun survey or an invitation to check out new content on your site. If it’s a promotional campaign, you may want to fill them in on a special offer and invite them to click through and take advantage of it.
3. Ensure the design of your email is appealing
You could have the best copy in the world, packed with clever jokes and an enticing call to action, but if it’s screaming at the recipient in angry red letters from a fluorescent blue background, they are not going to stick around to read it.
Of course, you’d never do something so ridiculous, but even a well-formatted email can leave readers with a dull impression of your brand if the design is bland and lackluster.
Your emails don’t need to be flashy, but the design should be on-brand. You want to give your subscribers a consistent experience across your website, social media presence, and email communications. So, be sure to carry through everything from your logo and font families to your visuals and primary and secondary colors.
4. Track your email marketing campaign’s success
Watching the data roll in is arguably the most rewarding part of any email marketing campaign. Why? Because this is the raw material you will use to build your success.
By keeping track of every open, forward, reply, subscription, and un-subscription, you’re able to piece together a picture of what works and what doesn’t with your audience.
Be sure to also track what happens with your page views, read rates, and social media engagement in the wake of your email marketing campaigns. If you’ve launched a promotional campaign, you will also need to track the uptake of whatever it was you offered in your email.
By tracking and analysing your data, you create an environment in which there are no failed campaigns. Even if you don’t meet your goals, you’ve learned valuable information that you can use to inform your ongoing marketing strategy.
Where to next?
If you’re looking for inspiration for a promotional email campaign, check out our article on monetizing your blog as these ideas can all be put to use in your email marketing endeavors.
As always, if you have any questions or tips of your own to share, please feel free to comment below.