A Simplified 6-Step Guide to Start Email Marketing
September 11, 2017
Let’s look at the stats. About 86% of consumers say they would like to receive promotional emails from companies they engage with on a monthly basis, and by 2020, it’s projected that there will be 3 billion email users worldwide (HubSpot, 2017). More importantly, according to the 2015 National Client Email Report by The DMA, the average ROI for email marketing is £38 for every £1 spent. But we don’t need to convince you of the value of email marketing, that’s why you’re here in the first place. So let’s get started!
- Establish your goals and objectives
Whether you have an established list of business goals and objectives or you make them up as you go, you should ask yourself a few questions before you make any email marketing decisions. Why do you want to use email marketing? What do you expect to achieve? How do you want to measure your KPIs? Make sure your email marketing goals align with your company’s wider marketing goals and objectives to ensure you achieve the results that are most beneficial to your company as a whole.
For example, if you’re an ecommerce business, maybe your primary goal is to boost sales, then you can use promotional emails to increase revenue or inform customers of new product releases to drive traffic to your site. Determine your goals first and the rest of the steps should fall into place a little easier.
- Choose an email marketing service
Based on your goals, you can determine which email marketing software is right for you. Services such as MailChimp, GetResponse and AWeber can be ideal for beginners as they come with some sort of free version to trial, along with existing templates and drag-and-drop builders for an easy to use software for beginners.
For a more detailed comparison of some of the most popular email marketing services, take a look at PC Mag’s chart here to narrow your options down to two or three providers. When narrowing down your choices, it’s worth considering whether each software includes features you’d like to use in 6 or 12 months time. Whilst you can use a free or low-cost version to get started, it’s never a bad idea to think ahead.
- Build your email list
You can import existing contacts if you already collect emails from your customers or you can build a new list from scratch. Depending on your type of business, you can gather opt-in email subscribers in a variety of creative ways, such as an incentivised quid-pro-quo transaction where customers exchange their email addresses for vouchers, discounts, freebies or exclusive content. If you get brainstorming, you can come up with a myriad of successful ways to gain subscribers. But, if you need a bit of inspiration, have a look at some examples here.
Remember, before adding any contacts to your email list, ensure you have the right permissions to send them email marketing messages, and always provide the option to unsubscribe in every email. You can review the UK laws on email marketing permissions here.
- Select email campaign type
I can’t say it enough, ensure your email marketing decisions align with your company’s wider marketing goals and KPIs – this goes for selecting the types of email campaigns you will send too. There are several types of email campaigns you can choose from, but we’ll detail some of the basics to get you started in the right direction.
For a bit of inspiration, you can start by viewing some of your own email subscriptions and file your favourites into a folder. Some of these campaigns may be newsletters, promotional offers, announcements or even surveys.
Newsletter: A great way to keep in contact with a regular list of subscribers that you already know. Typically, these types of campaigns focus on one main story that is sent to subscribers on a regular basis. For example, if you’re a start-up loan scheme partner, you might email your customers once a month with start-up business advice.
Promotional: The perfect campaign for a direct call-to-action. Whether it’s a BOGOF offer or a flash sale, promotional emails encourage subscribers to click-through with ‘buy now’ or ‘visit site’ buttons that primarily boost sales. For example, if a food and drinks retailer runs a site wide discount, they can send this promotion in an email with a link directly to the site.
Announcement: Keeping your existing customers up-to-date with announcement emails is perfect for new products, features, services or site changes. Not only will you be able to share relevant information about current releases, you can also use this as another opportunity to direct subscribers to your site. For example, if you’re an ecommerce yoga retailer and you introduce new products to your site, you can let your subscribers know.
Survey: Ideal for getting a quick consensus on feelings about a new product or a more in-depth insight into who your customers are and what makes them tick, survey emails can inform your wider marketing strategy with data to build customer personas or segment your audience. You can either invite subscribers to follow a link to your survey, or input a short survey directly into the email itself.
- Create your first email campaign
Depending on the features of your email marketing service, you can use an existing template, build a drag-and-drop email or if you’re more experienced, try your hand at coding a custom HTML campaign. If possible, use a responsive design that works on mobile as well as desktop as this will optimise your conversion rate. Even more importantly, align your style and tone with your company’s brand to establish trust with your subscribers through continuity.
When planning the content for your campaign you want to grab your subscriber’s attention with enticing visuals and relevant information. To do this, avoid heavy text, use professional-quality imagery, and consider what sort of information is most valuable to your customers.
In the beginning, you may draft general campaigns that appeal to your entire email list, but it might be worth considering segmentation for future emails to send relevant content to your subscribers based on gender, location or age.
Once you’ve created your campaign, it’s time to choose a strategic send time. You can use your own data or generic data to inform this decision. There are plenty of general studies on best send times, but these results can vary widely based on the type of email (ecommerce / b2b), the demographics of subscribers, and a variety of other factors.
If you need a bit of help choosing your campaign’s send day and time, you can find some useful information from MailChimp or CoSchedule. Or, if you want more accurate data, you can try A/B testing to find the right sweet spot for your subscribers.
An entire blog series could be written about the intricacies of creating a successful email campaign, so it’s worth mentioning that this is just the tip of the iceberg. However, if you’re determined to get started, this information is a great starting place where you don’t have to be too worried about your campaign being perfect.
- Measure your results and evaluate
It’s imperative that you review the performance of your email campaigns for the future success of your email marketing activities. Most email marketing software includes some sort of built-in performance reports, but you can always complement this data with your Google Analytics reports for a better analysis of how your customers are interacting with your campaigns.
These results can be daunting to decipher at first, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the basic measurements you should know and what they mean:
Unique opens: number of unique individual subscribers who opened your email
Unopened emails: number of subscribers who did not open your email
Open rate: percentage of subscribers who opened your email
Click-through rate: percentage of subscribers who opened your email and clicked on a link in the campaign
Bounce rate: percentage of email addresses that your campaign could not be successfully delivered to
Unsubscribe rate: percentage of subscribers who opt-out of your email communications
Spam complaints: number of people who marked your email as spam
For continuous improvement, you’ll need to consistently evaluate your campaign’s results and tweak your strategy along the way, but for now, let’s just focus on starting your first email marketing campaign. Good luck and happy sending!
Want help with your email campaigns? Contact us today to find out how we can help you improve your email marketing strategy.