Even with all the newer technologies, platforms, and marketing channels, email marketing remains one of the most powerful and cost-effective marketing channels with one of the highest ROIs.
However, that doesn’t mean that we can simply start an email marketing campaign and automatically get a lot of leads. We still need to do it right, and having a clear email marketing strategy is really important to ensure success.
One of the most important keys to successful email marketing is personalization: sending the right email to the right people at the right time. However, executing it can be easier said than done.
With that being said, in this guide, we will discuss how we can plan an effective email marketing strategy for your 2021 email campaign. Yet, just so that we are on the same page, let us begin by discussing the basics of email marketing.
How Does Email Marketing Work?
It’s important to note that email marketing isn’t as simple as sending promotions about your product/service via email.
Instead, a proper email marketing campaign should focus on moving the target audience to the next step of the marketing funnel by providing valuable information.
- A random website visitor is now interested in your brand after she stumbled upon a piece of content, and signed up for your email newsletter. You send her a welcome email and suggest another piece of content.
- After she consumes another content of yours, she learns about your product and visited your product listing page. Your website’s cookies detect this action and send an informative email about how your product can help her problem (signified by the type of content she consumes). This email grew her interest in the product, and she made the purchase.
Above is just one example of the implementation of email marketing to boost conversions, but you should get the idea.
So, it’s important to understand that the main idea of email marketing is how we can provide valuable information via our emails to help our target audience in achieving their goals.
You can use email marketing in a lot more ways than simply promoting your product and service, including but not limited to:
- Building brand awareness: keep your brand and your product/service top-of-mind until the target audience is ready for the purchase
- Building and nurturing relationships: via personalized emails, you can establish trustworthiness and they will perceive that your brand does care about their needs
- Content promotion: using your email newsletter to promote valuable and relevant content to your target audience
- Lead generation: convincing visitors to give their contact information by offering something valuable for free (a lead magnet)
Step-By-Step Guide To Developing an Email Marketing Strategy
Why do you need an email marketing strategy in the first place?
According to Harvard Business Review, in 2019 the average employee receives more than 120 emails per day, including promotional emails. Obviously, we all know that most of us don’t read all of these emails daily. If your email doesn’t stand out, people simply won’t read it, or worse, it may be sent to the spam folder.
This is why having a clear email marketing strategy to improve open-rate and overall conversion rate is very important, and you can do it with just five core steps:
Step 1: Defining your target audience
As mentioned, we have to send the right email to the right people for it to be effective.
You should start with building a buyer persona: a fictional model of your target audience detailing various relevant aspects like demographics data, behaviors, needs, pain points, and more.
The more detailed your buyer persona is, and especially the better you understand their behavior and needs, the better you can tailor your email marketing strategy.
Remember that the objective of your email marketing is to provide value for this target audience, and you simply won’t be able to deliver value if you don’t know what’s valuable to them.
This step is very crucial in ensuring a successful email marketing strategy, so make sure to pay extra attention to this.
Step 2: Define your objectives
What is the objective of your email marketing campaign in the first place?
You might want to research the average email marketing performance in your industry so you can get a better picture in creating a realistic objective.
Make sure your objective is specific (i.e. getting 1000 more prospects in 6 months), measurable (you should be able to assign KPIs and metrics), and realistic. You might want to break down bigger goals into smaller attainable ones to maintain your (and your team’s) morale.
Step 3: Building your list
You can’t start an email marketing campaign if you don’t have anyone to send these emails, and a core aspect of your email marketing strategy is to find ways to get more email addresses.
We’d recommend against purchasing an email database from third-party vendors. If you are lucky, they might work but most of the time they won’t be a good fit for your business. Remember that you are a unique business with a unique target audience, so your email campaign would perform better if you build your own list.
The basic idea of building your list is to offer something valuable for free, in exchange for their email address. These free offers are called ‘lead magnets’, and they can be:
- Downloadable content (ebook, white paper, in-depth guides, etc.)
- Webinar or free course
- Tools (i.e. body mass index calculator, maps, etc.)
- Free-trial of your product
Again, the better you understand what’s valuable for your target audience, the better you’ll be able to attract them.
Step 4: Choosing your email marketing platform
While you can technically send every email manually, obviously this is inefficient and it will only grow harder once you get more email addresses.
You’ll need to decide on the right email marketing software according to your available budget and your needs. Fortunately, nowadays you have plenty of options available on the market with various price ranges, some of them are very affordable and there are even free versions that are pretty decent for basic email marketing campaigns.
Step 5: Planning your schedule and content
Remember that sending the email at the right time is also important.
If your email marketing software allows drip marketing (automated email marketing campaign) where you can send emails based on user actions/triggers, then you should also consider these actions when making your email marketing schedule.
Use project management software for marketing agencies like Function Point to decide on how often you plan to contact your email list and communicate this clearly to your audience so they’ll know what to expect (which is very important in avoiding unsubscription).
In planning your content, personalization is key, and you should:
- Include a first name field in your subject line and greeting
- Always send content that is relevant to the target audience’s current stage on the buyer’s journey (i.e. if they aren’t yet interested in your product, then you shouldn’t heavily promote your product via email)
- When possible, include time and region-specific information (i.e. special holidays)
- Address the last engagement this audience has had with your brand
- End your emails with a signature from a real human, not only your company
A successful marketing email should include the following elements:
- Copy: pretty self-explanatory, the content of the email. Should be clear and to-the-point, and generally, you should stick to one topic to maintain engagement
- Subject line: use personalized and engaging language that is not misleading (i.e. not related at all to the body of the email)
- Images: you can use optimized images, gifs, and even videos to attract your audience, but make sure they are well-optimized so they are fast to load
- CTA: Don’t forget to include at least one relevant CTAs in all your emails to encourage the recipient to take the desired action. Don’t send an email without a purpose.
- Timing: this will depend on your target audience. Choose the time when they are most likely to open a promotional email
- Mobile-friendly: most of us open our emails exclusively on mobile nowadays, so make sure to optimize your emails to be mobile-responsive
Step 6: Monitor your progress
Last but not least, is to develop a system to measure everything related to the email marketing campaign based on the objectives you’ve defined above.
Remember that email marketing is a long-term game rather than a short-term one, so continuously evaluating your progress is very important.
A/B test your marketing emails regularly and aim to always improve your future emails to deliver better value for your audience.
You should monitor at least three core metrics:
- Open rate: if your open rate is too low, then there are several possible reasons:
- Your target audience (email list) isn’t actually relevant
- Your subject line isn’t attractive
- You are sending your email not at the most optimal time
- Click-through rate: your CTR will mainly be determined by whether you offer any tangible value in the email’s content, but you might also need to optimize your CTAs and your subject line (ensuring the subject line is relevant with the copy).
- Unsubscribe rate: people may unsubscribe from you for various reasons, but mainly they aren’t getting the value they desired. Another possible factor is that you may be sending too many emails at any given time.
While email marketing is still highly effective SaaS inbound marketing strategy in 2021, it’s still very important to plan the right strategy, and you can use the steps above to start planning your high-performance email marketing strategy to generate more leads, encourage more conversions, and grow your business.