Why email marketing is still a critically important channel
Email is a relatively older marketing channel, when compared to newer additions like social media, SMS, or content marketing. (Did you know the first email blast went out in 1978?)
But this doesn’t mean that email has become irrelevant, despite whatever rumblings you may have heard.
Actually, email marketing is still one of the most effective strategies for engaging customers, whether you’re an enterprise or small business. Today, roughly 4.3 billion people use email across the globe, and that number is only expected to rise in the next few years. Email also generates a huge return on investment. According to one HubSpot study, businesses received $42 for $1 spent on email marketing, which translates to a 4,200% ROI.
How email marketing works
So how does email marketing actually work? We’ve outlined the overarching framework below.
Curate your email list
First, businesses need to curate their email list. This is the business’s rolodex, so to speak, which has the email addresses for their current customers or interested prospects. It is crucial that businesses only email customers who have directly shared their information, rather than buying an email list from a third party. Buying an email list erodes customer trust, can portray your brand as spammy, and can also land you in hot water legally for sending an unsolicited message (which the GDPR and CAN-Spam both protect against).
Having customers sign up for a free account, download a gated piece of content (e.g. an ebook or white paper), or opt in for a newsletter are all examples of how to curate an email list.
Define your goals for email marketing
Second, define the goals for your email marketing strategy, as this will determine the type of email campaign that would be best used (and the cadence for sending them out).
For example, if you’re trying to build brand awareness or interest around new pieces of content or product announcements, perhaps a newsletter is the best format. Or, if you’re trying to re-engage customers and encourage a conversion, you could try reminder emails for cart abandoners.
Choose an Email Service Provider (ESP)
Next, businesses should choose an Email Service Provider (ESP) to help build and send out email campaigns. (To choose the right ESP for your business, it’s important to consider the size of your contact list, its ease of use, and how well it integrates with the other tools and apps in your tech stack.)
Refine email campaigns with personalization and experimentation
From there, you can start fine-tuning your email strategy by segmenting your customers into different cohorts based on their preferences, demographic data (e.g. job title), shown interests, and/or behavioral history. This will help you gain a better grasp on which content is the most relevant to each user.
Also, you can use experimentation to iterate on email campaigns and gain more insights. (A great place to start is with A/B testing email subject lines to measure any impact on open rates.)