The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to grow your business. More people are shopping than at any other time of the year, and the barriers to getting a sale are low. But if you want growth that will last, you need the marketing infrastructure to make it happen. Email marketing is a great place to start.
Why use email marketing in the first place?
“But I get way too much email already. Doesn’t everyone?”
Yes, it is true that people get a lot of emails. In the year 2019, almost 300 billion emails were sent per day. It’s natural to think that promotional emails from your business would simply be lost in the shuffle.
But email marketing is a juggernaut, and there is a reason it’s been around for over 30 years. Here are just a few reasons why email marketing is still going strong.
1. There are more email accounts than social media accounts.
As of 2020, there were more than 4 billion email users worldwide. That’s more than half of the globe! Social media, on the other hand, has 3.6 billion users, and that’s split over a wide variety of platforms ranging from Facebook and Instagram to overseas giants like Douyin and Kuaishou.
Email is the one form of communication that the vast majority of internet users use on a regular basis.
2. Email has a legendary ROI.
The precise figure barely matters, though. Even if the ROI were 10, that would still be a fantastic return. The reason is simple – it doesn’t take long to make emails and it doesn’t cost much to send them. In the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing, email can be a goldmine.
3. Email is a time-tested technology.
Facebook was started in 2004. YouTube was started in 2005. Instagram started in 2010.
Email was invented in 1971. It’s not going anywhere and there have been decades of time to create best practices for using it.
4. Your business completely owns its email list.
Any social media followers you earn are “owned” more or less by the network you’re using. If you leave Facebook, for example, you lose every single person who liked your page.
Email addresses are different. You can store them in a CSV and back them up anywhere. If Mailchimp disappears, you can move to another provider like Sendinblue or ActiveCampaign. The email addresses are yours!
5. Email scales easily.
The difference in sending automated emails to 100 people vs. 100,000 is virtually nothing in terms of time. In terms of spending, the additional costs of using an email service provider for a larger audience size are marginal.
6. It is easy to measure success with email marketing.
Email has tons of useful metrics that you can use to track success. Open rates tell you if your emails are being viewed, if only briefly. Click rates tell you how often your emails are being clicked on, and you can find out where those clicks are going too. You can figure out where people are opening your emails and what products they buy after reading them. It’s really easy to get the information you need.
7 Tips to Grow Your Email List
Email lists with 100 users are great. Email lists with 100,000 users are even better. Here are some practical tips that you can use to grow your email list so you can better use it for marketing.
1. Find a good email service provider.
The first trick to growing an email list is to have the right tools to do so. Finding a good email service provider will allow you to better maintain your list and set up opt-in forms as well as automation. Plus they take care of some of the trickier parts of email marketing like compliance with spam rules.
2. Use lead magnets.
If you want to grow your email list, you need to give people a reason to sign up. Enter lead magnets – a compelling reason for people to take the time to sign up for your mailers.
Lead magnets could be anything from free trials to coupons to eBooks or downloadable checklists. Whatever it is, though, it needs to be easy to consume and full of relevant content for your intended audience.
3. Set up simple landing pages.
If you want to get people to sign up for your mailing list, a lead magnet helps, but you still need to communicate the value of your mailing list clearly. Landing pages usually consist of a headline, description, a form asking for first name and email address, and a subscribe button. That’s it – simplicity is key!
Setting up opt-in forms doesn’t take long. However, doing it well requires just a few “tricks” that are easy enough to remember:
- Write a headline that makes the benefit of your lead magnet clear.
- Write a helpful description that is quick and simple and gives more detail on what is included in the lead magnet. Bullet points are always good.
- Don’t ask for too much info. It’s best to ask for just first name and email address – no more. More fields mean fewer signups!
4. Optimize your landing pages with Google Optimize.
As simple as it is to set up landing pages, for full effect, you need to make them work at peak efficiency. One tool we really like is Google Optimize. It’s free and allows you to A/B test different headlines, descriptions, images, and more. That way, you can see what wording is best for convincing people to sign up.
5. Set up exit-intent pop-up lightboxes.
One clever trick that marketers like to use are pop-up lightbox forms. If you’ve ever opened up a web page, went to close it out, and then a window popped up asking for you to sign up for a mailing list, then you’re familiar with the concept.
Don’t be afraid to use pop-up lightboxes, especially if the user is about to leave. Odds are good that you are going to lose the reader anyway, so trying to capture an email on exit can’t hurt and often helps.
6. Run advertisements.
Nothing can grow a mailing list quite like advertisements. Once you have a good landing page and lead magnet in place, some money well spent on Google and Facebook can go a long way toward generating email leads.
7. Run giveaway contests.
Some brands run giveaway contests as a way to generate leads too. Inexpensive software such as RaffleCopter makes it easy to do this, and it is an effective way to collect email addresses.
When running giveaways, bear in mind three best practices:
- Make it really easy to enter.
- Give away something that is likely to attract your target customers.
- Have an automated email go to new signups reminding them of how they got on your mailing list. (This gives people who are just in it for the prize a chance to unsubscribe before it runs up your bill with your email service provider).
Done well, giveaway contests can be a very effective lead magnet.
7 Tips to Improve Open Rates
Building a massive mailing list is one thing. Getting people to read your emails is another entirely. Here are some simple best practices that you can implement to improve your open rates.
1. Segment your list.
Perhaps the best way to improve email open rates is to make the emails in general more relevant to the recipient. One of the best ways you can do this is by segmenting your audience into smaller groups.
For example, a lot of businesses will segment their audience by interests, location, and communication preferences. You may also choose to segment your audience by the lead magnet that enticed them to sign up. All so you can send more relevant information to the people who signed up.
Additionally, you can segment email addresses by open rates, which would allow you to run reengagement campaigns for people who don’t often open your emails. You can even create a segment that allows you to remind people that they left items in their shopping cart unpurchased!
2. Get out of the spam filter.
If your emails are going to the spam folder, it’s going to tank your open rates. Make sure you’re following all best practices. Verify your domain name, use clean and simple email templates without a bunch of junk code, and make it easy to unsubscribe.
Additionally, you can also customize the To field, which makes it less likely for the email to go into the spam box. Finally, you can ask a question and encourage people to reply, which will have the effect of decreasing how often your emails land in the spam box.
3. Remove inactive subscribers.
If someone hasn’t opened your last 10 emails, it’s probably a good idea to unsubscribe them from your list or at least run a reengagement campaign. People who never open your emails run up your email service provider bill and they drag your open rates down. This can also land you in the spam box or the “promotions box” in Gmail, both of which can lower your open rate.
4. Use A/B testing to perfect your timing.
It’s a simple rule, but a useful one. Try sending your emails at different times of day to see what works best. Tools like Mailchimp even have features that allow you to do this with a minimum of hassle.
5. Write great subject lines.
You have one chance to hook people when your email lands in their inbox. That’s the subject line. Your subject line needs to entice curiosity without seeming spammy. The ideal subject line generally has 9 words or fewer, contains a number, and possibly has an emoji depending on your brand.
But don’t get too obsessed with the ideal. Pay attention to the kind of subject lines you open and the ones you ignore. Try different things with your audience and A/B test your subject lines until you find what works for them.
6. Write like you’re talking to a friend.
One of the most common mistakes a business can make that results in “sounding corporate” is simple. You might be emailing 100,000 people at once, but it shouldn’t sound that way.
Address the reader as a single individual, as a friend, and by their first name. Remember – everyone opens their email individually. You’re not speaking in front of a crowd!
7. Make sure your emails open well on mobile devices.
This might sound obvious, but it bears mentioning because it’s so important. A lot of email service providers have fancy and customizable templates. These are all great, but if you make some mistakes during the setup, it can make your emails nigh-unreadable on phones and tablets. Make sure you open your emails on mobile devices from time to time to make sure this isn’t happening to you. It can really crush your open rate.
3 Tips to Get Leads to Take Action
Collecting emails is great, but you’re not trying to get millions of one-way pen pals. You want your mailing list to generate revenue, and for that, you need some good calls to action. Here are some ones that tend to work by email.
1. Run sales.
Nothing can get people to visit your store quite like a good, time-limited sale. Whenever you run a sale, make sure you mention it to your mailing list. Bonus points if you pair sales with interest-based audience segments.
2. Give out coupons.
Coupons use the same principle as sales, but can be personalized to a greater degree. If your analytics tell you that someone has visited your store’s jewelry section five times in the last week, you can have a coupon code generated and sent by email to convince the reader to take action. The automation is fairly complex to set up, but once you perfect the science, it can make a lot of money with little work.
3. Remind customers of their abandoned shopping carts.
Here are some mind-boggling statistics for you. Half of customers who abandon carts will complete their purchase when asked. Only 19% of the top 1,000 eCommerce companies send shopping cart abandonment emails.
You can get ahead of the curve by implementing abandoned cart emails. Hubspot has a good guide on how to do this.
3 Tips to Automate Processes
Ultimately, you want your email marketing to work for you and not the other way around. One of the best ways you can make sure that happens is to use automation wisely. This is, after all, one of the reasons why email marketing is so widespread and cost-effective.
1. Set up customer journeys to nurture leads into customers.
When you first receive a new lead, you want to ultimately turn them into a paying customer. One way you can do this is by setting up a customer journey that involves a series of email messages being sent at strategic times.
For example, if you run a home improvement store and you want to ultimately sell giant toolsets, you can slowly roll out informational emails on basic home repair. This will gradually turn your lead into the kind of person who would be a paying customer.
2. Set up customer journeys to entice one-time customers into being repeat customers.
Customer journeys need not be limited to turning leads into buyers, though. You can also use email automation to remind one-time customers of your existence and turn them into repeat customers. After all, customer retention is one of the secrets of a successful business, and is generally 5 to 25 times more cost-effective than acquiring new customers.
So how do you do this? You can always send coupons or emails about sales, but you can also use information to your advantage. If someone just purchased your software, for example, they might have trouble using it. Staggering the release of informational content can help them learn the nuances of your software so that they will be more inclined to buy your other software as well!
3. Roll out a loyalty program.
If you have long-time customers, you want to make sure you give them a reason to remain loyal. Consider rolling out a loyalty program to give incentives to your repeat customers. Good loyalty programs are effective at encouraging customers to come back to your store, and email marketing is often the base infrastructure upon which these programs are built.
Email marketing opens up a world of possibilities for your business. Giving people a reason to sign up and read your emails goes a long way toward spreading awareness of your business. Good incentives and automation can make it much easier to turn that awareness into sales.