Digital marketing is constantly changing. Every year new approaches, strategies, and promotion channels appear. What was relevant three years ago is unlikely to work today. However, one channel always stays effective. Yes, we’re talking about email marketing.
According to our study, 59% of consumers confirmed that email newsletters from trusted brands influence their purchasing decisions. Based on that, it’s safe to say that if done right, the influx of new customers won’t be long in coming. All in all, email marketing today is not only an affordable and efficient way to attract potential customers but also a great channel to interact with them.
Many consider email marketing to be a universal technique, which is accessible both on mobile devices and PCs. It combines several areas of marketing such as mobile marketing, content marketing, and even video marketing. A lot of marketers consider email marketing to be a form of art that includes intricate stories, catchy headlines, and engaging insights. Since it’s easy to track and measure, this type of marketing is a great springboard for testing new products, marketing messages, creatives, promotions, and more. Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to attract leads. 31% of marketers reported that email newsletters are the most effective tactic in this area.
Although B2B and B2C marketers have different goals, email marketing is still one of the most reliable methods to qualitatively improve content marketing. On that basis, 87% of experts use email as the primary distribution channel for information consumers should have.
High ROI makes email marketing one of the most profitable channels on the market. Though, today, it’s drastically different than it was a few years ago – old strategies and spam campaigns have long sunk into oblivion.
So how are you supposed to succeed then? What email marketing strategies should you use in 2021? Let’s figure it out.
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Table of Contents
Basic email marketing strategy
Let’s look at the basic steps in creating an email marketing strategy:
- Define your goal. Newsletters promote effective interaction with your subscribers, increase trust and loyalty, and improve sales. Choose any of the possible goals or several at once;
- Choose tools to automate and speed up your workflow. With the help of ESPs (Email Service Providers), CRMs (Customer Relationship Management), and other special online services, you will be able to effectively plan, create, and send emails, as well as track analytics. Many ESPs allow you to work not only with emails but also with messengers and push notifications. MailerLite, SendPulse, UniSender are among the most popular ESPs that you might want to consider. As for well-known and trusted CRMs, you can try Zoho CRM, Insightly, Nutshell, Agile CRM, ActiveCampaign, and Omnisend;
- Identify and analyze your target audience (TA). One of the most important stages is defining a circle of people potentially interested in your products/services;
- Choose a tactic to create a database of contacts. We recommend using a subscription form on the site – this can be your blog or in any other site section that gets a lot of traffic. Preferably, the subscription form should be multi-channel;
- Segment your customer database. Segment them by gender, age, social, geographic, and other characteristics to make your newsletters as relevant as possible;
- Choose the right types of emails. There are quite a few different styles of emails. Choose a few of them, depending on your campaign goals;
- Schedule your emails. Choose a weekday, time, and stick to your schedule regularly. This way, you’ll increase email open rates and engagement;
- Work on your newsletter design. Your newsletters should be attractive, so you need to work together with your designer on a unified style, fonts, and other visual email aspects;
- Mobile-optimize your emails. It’s important that emails are as easy to read on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices as they are on PCs;
- Track analytics. Capture all data: deliverability, open rates, clickability, unsubscribes, spam complaints, etc. Guided by this information, you will be able to adjust your strategy to get the best results.
- Add a call to action. Every good email has a call to action that you want your customers to take. Email marketing isnt just about information, rather its about converting customers to fans, and prospective customers into paying customers. Add a call to action like a booking app, landing page URL or phone number to give them every opportunity to contact you if they are interested in your product.
Simply sending letters to your users and hoping to get high conversion rates is not going to work well in the long run. It makes much more sense to experiment and use every opportunity available. It’s not just about content but also headers, design, interactive elements, and even the sender’s name. It’s not so obvious to most users, but everything matters in a high-quality conversion newsletter. This means that you need to use analytics to collect data on the effectiveness of your various message options and landing pages to determine the most profitable combination.
A/B testing provides data we can use to make actionable decisions that will improve marketing performance. And email marketing is no exception.
Here’s one interesting example of how A/B testing can change the outcome of your marketing campaign. Email marketing played a huge role in the success of Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign. For example, in order to raise donations. several variations of emails were sent among small samples. Only the headlines of the emails were different. Based on the results, experts were able to calculate the number of donations they could get. Thus, it was found that the least effective headline would bring donations of $403,603, and the most effective – over $2.5 million. The last option was used in the mass mailing and surpassed expectations, bringing in a total of $2,673,278.
A headline alone was able to increase donations by 6.5 times! But that’s not all that should be tested before launching your marketing campaign – we also recommend testing the following points:
- Sender’s name/address. The name that appears in the “From” field greatly influences whether a user will open your email. Check how your audience responds to emails on behalf of your company, person+company, CEO, etc.;
- Newsletter design. Solid text without any graphic design elements is unlikely to produce the expected results. If you want high conversion rates, try integrating graphic elements, interactive details (buttons), videos, etc. Experiment with personalization and remember to strike a balance- do not overdo the design;
- Email length. You can create short and informative newsletters or long and detailed ones. Your emails can contain useful information about something or redirect your subscribers to the landing page. Which option works best, you ask? The only way to find out is to test it.
Customer experience (CX)
Customer experience is a key part of all marketing strategies that refers to how a business engages with its customers at every point of the buying journey.
It should not be confused with user experience (UX). While UX defines the quality of a user’s interaction with a product (website, software, app, and non-digital products/services), CX is responsible for the overall experience of your brand. In other words, CX is all brand touchpoints and the entire customer-brand interaction process at every stage of the purchase. The way customers see your company affects factors related to your bottom line.
A seamless customer experience should be similar to the one a customer expects to get in person. Like website visitors, email users expect to be treated as valuable contact. According to Salesforce, 68% of consumers agreed that COVID-19 raised their expectations for brands’ digital capabilities. What does this mean in email marketing terms? CX in an email should match the “voice” of the brand, give space to communicate, and offer help when needed.
Email is often the beginning of the consumer journey. But it also helps guide the user along that journey, providing valuable hints and reminders. If you put customers and their needs first, they will reward you with loyalty. Based on this, the content in your newsletters should be:
We hear all the time that without personalization, email marketing doesn’t exist today. Consumers want a more personal connection with brands. Finding ways to make that connection is key for marketers to succeed.
Taking a sincere interest in your customers will pay off well in the long run. However, simply putting the recipient’s name at the beginning of your email is only a small part of personalization. Today, when talking about the latter, we also mean dynamic content, behavior-based segmentation, optimization of sending time according to individual preferences, etc.
Welcome emails may be commonplace, but automated, personalized emails should be comprehensively integrated throughout the buying journey. That’s how you show your customers that you consider their needs. Create a series of emails that reflect your brand values. This will drive engagement and ultimately increase conversions.
Send emails that your customers really want to receive. For this, you should analyze their needs and consumer behavior. Various digital tools that can segment your audience, as well as dynamic content, can help you do this.
Personalized messages increase ROI by up to 122%. Putting customers first and thinking about their needs is a strategy that will never let you down. For example, personalized (and yet automated) campaigns are at the heart of every abandoned cart newsletter. It’s a time-tested way to get customers back and push them to close the deal. Little details like a direct link to checkout, items left in the cart, cross-selling, and being addressed by name make a real difference. You use them to communicate directly with your customers, offering them exactly what they need.
Building blocks of successful personalization:
- Proper customer segmentation;
- Optimizing the time required to send a message;
- Dynamic content;
- Aligning the frequency of emails with the level of engagement;
- Establishing a personal brand connection.
A headline is the first thing a user pays attention to before opening your email. That’s why it should stand out among the pile of other messages. When people look through their inbox, they have neither the time nor the desire to read long headlines. So, the subject line should be short (up to 50 characters).
People hate feeling left out. So phrases like “limited offer” or “today only” will help generate curiosity. Avoid phrases like “make (buy) it in time” or similar ones – nobody wants to give up money in a competition – after all, this is no sport activity.
Email marketing, like any brand promotion activity, takes a lot of time. Text writing, layout design, choosing your TA – it all takes considerable effort. Especially if you expect to make a good profit.
Automation comes to the rescue to maximize the effectiveness of all your efforts by sending personalized emails to thousands of subscribers and planning your newsletter weeks in advance. Email marketing automation tools also allow you to initiate actions based on user behavior.
Automated newsletters increase email marketing revenue by 119% on average. Today, welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, tips, and greeting emails are all sent automatically. However, that’s not always enough.
Marketing Automation must be integrated throughout the buying journey, and that’s where trigger-based emails offer great opportunities. These are emails that are sent automatically based on user behavior. The most common forms of trigger emails are welcome/thank you emails and transactional emails (order, payment, or delivery confirmation, etc.).
The average CTR (click-through rate) for trigger emails is twice as high as for traditional emails. Marketing campaigns based on trigger emails generate 4x more revenue on average. Here are some examples of such emails:
- Activation. If a user has created an account but doesn’t use your product within the first week, create an activation campaign. As part of this campaign, you can automatically send emails with login information, instructions on how to get started, and demo videos. You can also invite customers to a one-on-one meeting to introduce them to the product or answer any questions;
- Retention. If your existing customer subscription expires, and they haven’t used your product in a while, you can remind them about yourself via a retention campaign. In these emails, you can talk about new features and introduce customers to scheduled updates;
- Surprise. You can encourage your customers with occasional gifts. These emails are easy to automate, and you can use anything as a gift – from a year’s subscription to a gift card or discount.
Replacing the “physical” buying experience with something similar in the digital world is becoming increasingly important these days. Users expect to be treated as valued customers who deserve high-quality service throughout their interactions with the brand. Thus, interactive design, integrated into email newsletters, is gaining popularity.
There are several options that work in this regard:
- Animations and dynamic effects;
- Interactive features;
- AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages technology);
Each option has its own advantages. GIFs, for example, are a time-tested tool for creating an atmosphere, a sense of urgency and drawing attention to purchase incentives. AMP (accelerated mobile pages) for email, on the other hand, allows you to shop directly from your inbox. You can add features such as an image carousel with different shopping options, allowing users to browse products and add them to the cart directly from the email. This significantly shortens the customer journey, making it more convenient and efficient.
As for gamification, this is still the technology of the future. However, with other interactive features, you can still mimic it. The choice of interactive and graphic elements will depend on your campaign goals, marketing strategy, and brand image.
Here are a few things to consider above all else:
- Make sure all elements display flawlessly in all browsers and on all devices;
- Don’t overload your email visually – you don’t want it to be spam flagged;
- Optimize the email for mobile interfaces.
To win the loyalty of your TA, which you can later convert into profits, you need to show that your audience is part of the brand, not just customers. How do you do that?
- First, communicate with your TA in their language.
- Second, use visuals that are close to reality.
The visual component plays a huge role in shaping the first impression and further perception of the entire message. This is something to focus on.
Nowadays, any successful brand wants to look up to date, and the visual design of newsletters is another way to do that. What are the best images for marketing campaigns in 2021?
One-person images. The pandemic has left its mark on our entire lifestyles. Social distancing is a phenomenon that has become the norm. Plus, the range of activities we do alone – meals, work, exercise, leisure time – has expanded. If your product benefits from this new way of life, you’ll benefit too! This trick shows that you’re on the same page as your audience, and it makes them more apt to trust you.
Images of people in masks. People in masks are everywhere, and whether we like it or not, it’s part of our lives. Many people have learned to use masks as a way to express themselves. So if you want your email design to look modern, use pictures of people in masks.
Graphic images of people. Images can help create a special aesthetic by adding warm artistic details.
Moreover, it’s much more cost-effective to use high-quality graphics than to have a photoshoot. In 2021, the effects of the pandemic will reach their peak, forcing companies to drastically cut costs. In this situation, inexpensive solutions can be a real lifesaver to help your brand move forward.
Birthday greetings and thank you emails
According to Campaign Monitor, birthday emails can generate about 342% more revenue than regular promotional emails. These emails give you a great opportunity to create a much-needed emotional connection. They can help you build credibility and increase customer engagement. Thank you emails can also become the cornerstone of your email marketing strategy because there are so many reasons to show appreciation:
- Birthday greetings;
- Anniversary greetings;
- Emails with exclusive holiday offer;
- Thank you letter (for active participation or use of services).
In essence, any excuse for sending a themed newsletter would be appropriate. After all, you can find a holiday almost every day of the year!
Such emails aren’t just necessary to “wrap” your TA in charm and positive vibes. From an email marketing perspective, they are part of retention, a critical step in every customer’s life cycle. A customer priority philosophy will help take your business to the next level, ensure any campaign’s success, and build a proper brand image.
Abandoned cart handling
One of the saddest facts you’ll face as an online business is the huge percentage of customers who have browsed the site, chosen items to buy, put them in the cart, and… left without ever paying for any of the items.
According to Baymard Institute https://baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate, 69.23% of users who add something to their cart, leave the site without completing the order. That is, an online store loses 68 potential customers out of 100 who have already spent the time and put the product in the cart. And these are mostly people genuinely interested in your products! There are many reasons why customers may abandon their purchases and leave at checkout. However, a simple notification that will remind them about their abandoned cart can bring back a significant percentage of users.
A well-thought-out “abandoned cart” return campaign shows a conversion rate of 6% to 11% across segments, which means you can bring back about a tenth of those customers who left. So when working on your marketing strategy, make sure you include a no-order return session trigger system.
Remember that about 40% of buyers make a purchase decision in the first 3 hours, so an email should be sent within 30-60 minutes after the visitor has left the site, while he/she is still “hot.”
Cross-selling & upselling email channel
Amazon recommendations are one of the most effective cross-selling systems in the world. However, few people know that the most powerful component of this system is email marketing. Experts believe that conversion to sales from recommendations on a website can be as high as 60%. Even higher, with an added email channel.
Integrate cross-selling and upselling efforts into your newsletters to drive additional purchases now and generate interest for the future.
Email sending time optimization
We all know that there is always the best time and day to send emails depending on your goals. Here are some facts:
- The best email sending time is between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m;
- The best day for open rate is Tuesday;
- The best day for click-through-rate (CTR) is Friday, as users continue to click on links throughout the weekend;
- Sunday is better for sending emails.
Don’t forget about time zones – your newsletter settings should always include geographic patterns. Also, blindly relying on research results is a bad idea – test how your TA reacts to newsletters at different times to find the best schedule for your online store.
Perhaps another way to increase online sales is to simply ask what your TA wants. Maybe you’re doing something wrong or missing some crucial points. What if your buyers have some cool ideas? No need to guess when the answers can be right under your nose!
Don’t overdo surveys, though. It’s not just about how often you ask your customers’ opinions but about how voluminous your surveys are. It has to be balanced here and there, and, as a result, you will be able to analyze your buyers’ needs and decide on what’s worth changing and where to go from there.
Launching a loyalty program is a favorite strategy among many marketers. A club program that entices your clients to become loyal customers is a great way to improve your sales.
By accumulating bonus points, a person can count on a higher discount, exclusive offers, as well as various extra gifts and perks. The more people buy from your online store, the better the conditions for it.
For example, Tommy Hilfiger’s Club gives new subscribers a 20% discount, a birthday surprise, and other perks.
The last strategy relates to good old giveaways, which can return considerably more than you spend on the gift itself. This includes the number of new subscribers, brand exposure on social media, and an increase in organic traffic.
The desire to get something for free or win something is a strong driver. Contests and giveaways have long been used because they not only attract your loyal customers but also give you the opportunity to find and win new ones.
Make sure the terms are all transparent and clear. Don’t make things too complicated with dozens of conditions to get a chance to win – this way, you will only reduce the number of participants. The simpler, the better!
Evaluating newsletter effectiveness
Various email marketing metrics can help you evaluate and analyze your newsletters:
- Subscriber preferences. Knowing your TA, their preferences, wishes, and pains, you are more likely to decide which email will work and which won’t;
- Customer database status. Increase in the number of subscribers, non-existent email address, unsubscribes, etc.;
- Deliverability. The number of delivered/received emails, identified as spam, and blocked emails;
- Technical settings. Domain and IP reputation, SPF, and DKIM presence;
- User behavior on the site. You can track such behavioral factors as time spent reading the email, direct orders from the email, etc.;
- Revenue from the email channel. A number of transactions, amounts, average check.
For analytics, you can use the following tools:
- Email services. In the interface of any service, you can see most of the basic parameters: the number of delivered emails, open emails, website clicks, etc;
- Postmaster tools (e.g., Gmail). Such services are linked to mailing services and are often used for in-depth analysis of newsletters;
- Google Analytics can help you analyze the actions of subscribers who clicked on a link in the email to get on your site.
Now, pay attention to the below list of metrics that are important to track:
- Open rates;
- Click-through rates;
- The ratio of clicks to openings;
- Unsubscribes and spam complaints;
- Website browsing data: conversions, time spent on the site, number of new visitors from the newsletter, etc.
Email marketing is a full-fledged channel for website promotion and working with clients. It allows you to establish communication, support/retain customers, provide quality service, and improve sales. Combined with other marketing tools, it effectively solves many critical problems and benefits both the company and its future/existing customers.
Email marketing is not just another technique to add to your arsenal. It’s one of the most useful marketing tools that can increase your revenue to unprecedented levels. It demonstrates incredible resilience to change, as well as the ability to adapt to the ever-changing needs of today’s users. Not everything in life is as predictable as we’d like it to be. However, when armed with the strategies from our article, you can qualitatively optimize your email marketing campaigns to reach new heights, expand your TA, and improve sales.
While an exemplary mailing strategy is based on attention to detail, its implementation is based on patience and timely response. On the practical side, it’s impossible to fulfill expectations from an email campaign without correction and work on mistakes. So feel free to change your newsletter settings, experiment, and be bold. Your persistence will result in a valuable experience that will help you achieve expected results!