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Email Marketing Explained

October 2021Becky
Email Marketing Explained

Did you know that B2B organisations make approximately £36 for every £1 spent on email marketing? B2C organisations see even greater success, generating £48 per £1 allocated.  Not bad for a so-called dying medium. Despite the persistent rumours, the fact is; email marketing still works.

While certain practices, such as using impersonal subject lines and unresponsive templates, have become obsolete, email marketing is as useful as ever. In this article, we will define email marketing and some related terminology, offer advice on creating a strategy and provide some examples that illustrate how to use email marketing effectively.

What is Email Marketing and How Does it Work?

Email marketing is a way for businesses to address large audiences and attract potential customers through email-based communications. The potential uses of email marketing are varied and depend on your overarching objectives.

It is particularly useful for making announcements, nurturing relationships between your brand and your audience, incentivising customer loyalty, generating engagement, soliciting sales and much more.

The ‘soft’ approach to email marketing can be used to educate potential customers as to the benefits of a product or service, or the ‘hard’ approach can be used to deploy some persuasive copywriting and achieve a response from the prospect.

The most effective way to utilise email marketing, however, is to create what is known as an ‘email sequence’. This is a selection of emails that are delivered to a potential customer in a specific, personalised way based on time triggers or actions taken on a website, for example.

Email sequences create more meaningful connections between brands and their audiences by delivering relevant, personalised and useful messages, instead of irrelevant, standardised and largely useless mail, as is characteristic of spam.

A thoughtful email sequence considers the prospect’s position in the sales funnel or customer journey, then targets them with relevant and personalised messages. For example, when a cart is abandoned on an e-commerce site, such emails are often sent to remind the user to revisit the site and check out.

Data can also be harnessed to dramatically increase the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts and this is usually where expert marketers step in to lend a hand.

Email marketing can be constantly optimised to improve results using data gathered on reply and open rates, terms which we will define in the following section.

Email Marketing Terminology

A large degree of subject-specific terminology is used when discussing email marketing, such as open rate, reply rate and click-through rate, making the field particularly confusing for newcomers.

Here are some frequently used terms and their definitions:

Open Rate: Let’s start with an easy one. Open rate refers to the number of times an email has been opened by recipients and offers insight into engagement levels.

Click-Through Rate: This is an important metric in email marketing and the higher the click-through rate (CTR), the more effective the marketer is at their job. CTR measures the amount of times recipients click a link in an email and can be calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of emails opened.

Conversion Rate: This metric is the primary indicator of success for email marketers. A conversion is when a prospect does something that you set out to encourage them to do, such as download, click on or purchase something.

Bounce Rate: Emails ‘bounce’ when the recipients’ email servers reject the message for whatever reason. A ‘soft bounce’ is when the message is rejected for a temporary reason, such as the recipient’s inbox being full. A ‘hard bounce’, on the other hand, is when the message is rejected for a permanent reason, such as if the email address is fake.

Segmentation: This term describes the process of separating contacts into groups based on their position in the sales funnel so that targeting and personalisation can be enhanced.

Opt-In & Opt-Out: To opt-in is to consent to something – receiving mail, in this context. Opt-out is the reverse of this and involves withdrawing consent. Sending emails to people who haven’t opted-in or who have opted out is bad practice and can damage your brand and your IP.

Here is an extensive glossary of marketing terms that can help broaden your understanding of the field.

Email Marketing Strategy

An email marketing strategy gives business owners and marketing professionals a set of procedures that can be followed to achieve a previously outlined goal through email marketing. It is particularly important to have a strategy in place to structure your email marketing efforts because it can become a large-scale operation with a lot of variables and moving parts.

A solid email marketing strategy would look something like the following (assuming you already have a mailing list in place, if not click here):

  1. Define the Audience: Your target audience must be defined so you know who you are targeting, where to find them and what kind of people they are. Customer profiles can also be useful in understanding your consumer.
  1. Segmentation: Make your emails even more personalised and meaningful by segmenting your larger audience into even smaller groups of people.
  1. Copywriting: This is the make or break factor of any email marketing campaign as without engaging and persuasive writing, the emails will have no effect on people. Create content that is relevant to your brand, offering and goals and utilise effective copywriting to influence people.
  1. Scheduling: Depending on the situation, a greater or lesser frequency of emails will need to be sent. In a B2B context, much more nurturing is needed to convert prospects and, therefore, more emails will be required. Once you have decided on the frequency, you should create a content calendar to ensure consistency.
  1. Design: The design is important to maximising KPIs for various reasons. The most important information should appear at the top, for example, as more people will see it. The entire design should complement the message and not distract from it.
  1. Test: Emails can be tested by peer review, which creates valuable feedback, or by a more scientific approach, such as A/B testing. A/B testing or split testing, involves trialling two versions of an email to see which one performs better.
  1. Measure: Opens and clicks, website traffic and conversions can all be used to measure the performance of an email marketing campaign and highlight areas for improvement. Keep track of your performance to ensure you are moving in the direction of your goals.

A strategy might also involve the use of automation, as applying this to email marketing can have tremendous results. Because automation frees up so much time that would otherwise be spent on laborious, repetitive tasks that are involved in manual emailing, this time can then be spent elsewhere, such as working on content.

It also enables you to deploy more streamlined and consistent communications, whether that’s a welcome email or a thank you email, which improves the customer’s experience with the brand and costs virtually no time or effort.

If you would like some help getting started with email marketing, FIG are experts at designing and implementing email strategies that achieve results. Reach out to us today and see how we can help your business.

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