The use of email as a marketing tool is nothing new. In fact, the origins of email marketing stretch back to the 1960s, when businesses first started adopting the tactic as a way to stay in touch with potential customers. As the years have gone on, email marketing has evolved — and so have the technologies that exist to enable marketers to reach their audience where they are, when they’re most likely to be receptive to a message.
Today, email marketing is one of the most effective and popular ways to spread the word about a business and its products. Marketers send out regular emails to subscribers who have given their consent to receive messages, advertising a range of products from shoes to holidays and more. These emails can be tailored with content that is specific to that subscriber’s interests, which in turn increases the chance of them engaging with the message and potentially making a purchase. (For more information, read this blog post from HubSpot.)
However, putting together an email marketing strategy isn’t as easy as it seems. If you’re looking to launch an email marketing campaign, here are some of the top questions you need to ask yourself:
Is email marketing right for my business?
If you’re wondering whether or not to tackle email marketing, here are a few important considerations to keep in mind. First, decide whether you want to use promotional or transactional emails. Promotional emails are those that introduce you, your brand, or your product and tell the reader why they should care. These kinds of messages often come with a strong call-to-action (CTA), such as a link to a product or a discount code. Transactional emails, on the other hand, are those that follow a customer-brand relationship and provide information regarding a purchase — such as delivery dates, order numbers, or FAQs.
The second question you need to ask yourself is whether or not to use a standalone email marketing platform, such as HubSpot, or go with a managed solution, such as MailChimp. Managed solutions provide a variety of features and functionality to make the process of sending emails easier for you and your staff, as well as storing and securing all your data. With a standalone platform, you’re responsible for setting up the emails yourself, which can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for your email marketing needs, go with a managed solution.
How do I want my audience to experience my email marketing?
One of the first things you need to do before you embark on any marketing campaign is to establish basic brand guidelines. Establishing these guidelines will help you decide what content works best for your business, and it will make it easier for you to find the right person or team to help you with your marketing endeavors. Without brand guidelines, it’s easy for a campaign to become scattered and unorganized, which can result in unnecessary confusion and wasted effort. Plus, without a clear idea of what is and is not allowed, it’s easy for the content to be misinterpreted or taken out of context – potentially harming your business in the long run.
Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself to establish brand guidelines:
- What makes my business special?
- Where do I want to be in terms of marketing?
- What should my message be?
- Who am I trying to reach?
- What should my target audience look like?
- What should my website or social media channels look like?
- Who is the ultimate decision-maker?
Do I need to set up different templates for different emails?
No matter what, your brand guidelines will change from email to email. For example, your logo might appear slightly different on different email templates, or you might want to feature a different piece of content within each email. Whatever it may be, you will need to create a template for each email you send out so that each iteration of the email looks consistent.
Even more challenging is if you’re planning on sending out a large number of emails. If you’re using a tool like MailChimp, you’ll need to set up a one-time list of email subscribers to whom you want to send out your promotional emails. MailChimp makes it easy to find the right list of email addresses; you don’t need to spend lots of time searching for them yourself. But, as a business owner, you’re responsible for keeping your list up-to-date and secure. In the event that someone gets access to your list, all the emails that are tied to that list will be compromised. So make sure you take the necessary steps to keep your business’ email lists secure.
How do I want my audience to engage with my email marketing?
After you’ve set up your email marketing strategy, you need to work on engaging with your audience. One of the most effective ways to do this is to use compelling content that is specific to what they want and need. Tailor this content to be as relevant and interesting as possible while also ensuring that it adheres to your content marketing strategy. (For more information, check out this blog post from HubSpot.)
To establish the latter, you should first examine the former. Your content marketing strategy determines what content you’re going to use to engage with your audience — typically, blog posts, email blasts, and so on. One of the first steps in preparing your content is to pick a theme or tone for your messaging. For example, if you want to focus on women’s shoe trends, you might consider using humor in your content and tweaking the language to appeal to a female audience.
Once you’ve picked your theme, you can move on to establishing the content of your email. Bear in mind that your choice of content influences your email’s delivery and engagement. If you choose to use a funny anecdote or a topical reference in your content, you’ll most likely find that your email is more engaging. (See also: How to write an email that gets opened.)
How do I want my audience to react to my email marketing?
After you’ve set up your email marketing strategy and begun to engage with your audience, you need to work on prompting a reaction. While you want to maintain a healthy, long-term relationship with your audience, it’s important to find the right tactics to drive sales — especially as you’ll be using email marketing in a bid to achieve this goal. (For more information, check out this blog post from HubSpot.)
Consider using a hook to grab the reader’s attention. For example, let’s say you’re sending out an email promoting a special offer for a certain product. Within the email, you might ask the reader to stay and tune in for a recap of the latest news on this topic. You could use this hook to prompt them to open your email and act on your offer.
In terms of prompting a sale, one of the best tactics is to offer a discount. If your product is currently sold at a $20 profit margin, for example, you might consider offering a discount for a limited time to get people in the door. From there, you can up-sale to the delight of your customers.
If you find that your product isn’t necessarily for sale but you still want to use email marketing to generate leads, you might consider using a combination of tactics. Say, for example, that you’re an online shop that sells women’s clothing. You might offer an attractive discount to get people in the door, but, once they’re there, you can up-sale their clothing to generate more revenue. With each email you send, you’ll want to consider how you can tweak the offer to be more appealing to your audience.
How do I want my audience to interact with my email marketing?
To further engage with your audience, you can let them know that you’re listening by commenting on relevant blog posts, sharing important news stories, or responding to comments on your social media channels. If you want to create a more personal connection with your audience, you might consider using tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom to create video or chat sessions with your prospective customers.
These sorts of tools make it easy for you to have live chats with your audience or record short videos to showcase your expertise. While there are plenty of benefits to having these sorts of conversations via video chat, make sure you consider the costs. Using tools like these can strain your internet service provider’s (ISP) data cap, and it can also cost you money. If you’re tight on budget, you might want to consider using tools like Mix.com or GoAnime.com to record short videos that you can then use to engage with your audience. (For more information, read this blog post from HubSpot.)