Small Business Owners: The Email Marketing Guide 2019

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With the increasing popularity of social media, it’s easy to belittle the value of email in online marketing. Understandably, the level of targeting and the ease of launching ads on social networking sites thrill many ecommerce businesses. But, the more experienced marketers stick with email because they know how powerful the medium can be. They’re the ones who know how to use it not just for boosting profit but also for building customer relationships.

Whether email is to be used on its own or as part of an omnichannel strategy, the steps to developing a campaign are the same. It starts with defining your goals to build the strategy that’s right for your business. Then, you’ll gather leads, segment your audience, and develop your content to address each segment. Once your content is ready, you’ll need to know and follow the best time to send an email campaign newsletters for the best results. Lastly, you’ll need to monitor your results to continuously improve your campaign until you’re consistently achieving optimal results.

Overwhelmed? Here’s an email marketing guide that will help you through each of the steps using the latest industry best practices.

Email Marketing

Define Your Goals and Develop Your Strategy

Before you start with email marketing, you need to know precisely what you want to use it for. Without a purpose, it will be difficult for you to develop a strategy. So, think of your business goals and build your campaign to achieve those goals.

Here are some business goals where email marketing has demonstrated the highest value:

Nurturing Leads

Now more than ever before, customers like to know the businesses they support. For businesses, that means a more considerable effort to make their audiences feel nurtured. Through email, building relationships often involves delighting your audiences with content that’s useful for them at every stage.

Promoting Content

If you have valuable content on your blog or website, you can focus your email strategy to promote those assets. Doing so is incredibly useful in driving highly targeted traffic to your site. That traffic, while valuable all on its own in terms of your campaign metrics, could eventually lead to more sales or improved brand awareness.

Boosting Brand Awareness

If your business is in a competitive space, striving for mindshare is always a good idea. You want your brand to be top-of-mind for your target audience. That way, yours is the first business they go to when they require the products and services you’re known for. In this case, it’s best to offer regular, relevant content, so your audiences remember your brand until that critical moment when they’re ready to engage.

Generating Sales

Of course, generating sales is the ultimate goal of any marketing strategy. Even other goals like brand awareness or traffic generation should eventually lead to more sales. But if this is the direct goal of your email marketing campaign, you’ll need to focus your content on the products and services you offer. Each email should take into account how to get your audience to make a purchase, spend more, or buy more frequently.

Gather Leads and Build Your Audience

Once you’ve set your goals and developed a strategy, it’s time to gather leads. Your website is often the best place to do this, but other online assets like an active social media account might work as well. Essentially, all you need is an opt-in form so that interested individuals can subscribe. That’s the easy part because most email marketing software will have that covered. The real problem is how to get them interested in subscribing in the first place.

The answer to generating interest for your email marketing campaign lies in creating a lead magnet that’s appropriate for your business. Here are some things to keep in mind when developing an effective lead magnet:

Create offers for each stage of the customer journey.

Even when gathering leads, you’ll need to segment your audiences and have something relevant to offer based on where they are on the customer journey. For example, offer free shipping codes to people who have previously visited your site.

Customize offers for each part of your site.

Your chances for conversion are greater when your offer is relevant to the content your audience is currently consuming. For example, offer a pre-made list of essentials to pack for visitors who are already looking at travel-related content.

Stick with offers that are easy to consume.

Don’t offer things that are too complicated to deliver and consume. Small digital products work best. These could include access to exclusive videos, an online group, a webpage, or a PDF file. No matter what, your audiences should be able to receive and enjoy it quickly.

Keep your offer in line with future content.

As with anything in marketing, consistency is key. You should always offer something related to the content your audience will eventually receive after subscribing. For example, if your newsletter will be mostly about fashion tips, your offer could be a checklist of wardrobe essentials.

Segment Your Audience and Create Content for Each One

As you start out, your subscriber list will understandably be short. But, that doesn’t mean you can skip through the necessary process of segmentation. In email marketing, segmentation involves breaking down your list into specific categories in order to personalize communications with each subscriber. Through that level of personalization, your email messages will outperform any generic message in terms of driving traffic, building brand awareness, or generating sales.

Segmentation

How to segment your email list really depends on what works best for your email marketing strategy. Most often, segments are created based on subscribers’ geographical location, preferences, unique characteristics, or life-stage. Nowadays, there are tools that will help you segment in further detail, including whether they’ve previously engaged with your brand and how. In some cases, you can also segment your audiences based on where they opted in so that you can send even more targeted content.

Personalization

Decades ago, personalization in email marketing only meant addressing recipients by their first names. That’s no longer the case as audiences expect much more relevant communications. Proper segmentation will definitely be the key to achieving this. But, the way you craft your messages plays a significant role as well. Write emails about personal or other relevant events, and, if possible, sign your emails as a person rather than a company.

Automation & Workflows

Once you’ve successfully segmented your subscriber list and have crafted personalized messages for each one, you’re ready for email marketing automation tactics. This is where the fun begins as the bulk of your work is done, and you can rely on email marketing tools to take care of things for you.

Through automation, you can set specific triggers to send specific messages to specific segments. That means, your subscribers get the right messages at exactly the right time. For example, you can set up automation tools to reach out to subscribers on their birthdays and send them a voucher code as a gift. Through detailed segmentation, you can include codes for larger discounts to birthday celebrants who have previously purchased on your website.

Automation opens up a host of possibilities. But if you have a powerful enough tool, you can set up complex automation workflows that are essentially programmed to take care of audiences at every situation. For example, you can set up an automation workflow for customers who filled up their shopping cart but ended up abandoning it.

A good automation workflow for cart abandonment would identify those indecisive customers and reach out to them after an hour to remind them of the things they left behind. A day later, if they still failed to check out, they will automatically receive a message containing free shipping codes. All that can be done without manual intervention, which is really where the greatest value of email marketing lies.

Time Your Emails Perfectly

Excellent results from an email marketing campaign stem from the quality of your email list, the value of your offer, and the sharpness of your messages. But, historical data shows that timing your emails also has significant effects on open and click rates.

According to Omnisend data, specific dates of the month, days of the week, and time of the day show better performance than others. Generally, emails sent during the first half of the month perform better than those sent during the latter half. More specifically, the 5th, 7th, and 12th of the month are the top-performing dates based on historical open, click, and order rates.

When it comes to days of the week, Thursday is best, but Tuesday is a close second. The worst performers are Monday and Saturday. For the time of day, the best results stem from emails sent at 8 AM, 1 PM, and 4 PM.

Of course, campaign performance may be different for your audience. So, use this data for guidance as you start out. Then, monitor your performance and tweak your campaigns as you gain more insights.

ultimate guide to email marketing

Measure Your Results and Strive for Constant Improvement

Once you have everything running, you’ll need to pay attention to the results you’re getting. Numbers are the only objective way to determine whether your campaign is working. Among the most important numbers to pay attention to are open, click, and conversion rates.

Open Rate

Evidently, from what it is called, the open rate shows how many subscribers actually opened an email compared to how many received it. Across all industries, this averages at 35%.

Click Rate

Click rate is the number of subscribers who click on a link in an email compared to the number of people who opened it. Generally, this averages at 5.46%.

Conversion Rate

Also known as order rate, the conversion rate is the number of people who perform your desired action after clicking an email link compared to the number of people who clicked that link. On average, this is about 1.41%.

Through these metrics, as well as others you deem essential to your business, you can monitor not just the performance of your overall campaign but also that of each and every email. You can use these to test varieties of your emails and see which variants lead to the best results. When iterating, it’s essential to find the best balance between open, click, and conversion rates. So what if people open your emails when they don’t even bother to click through to your site, much less make a purchase? But if you continue to improve your campaigns until you find a good balance between all three metrics, you’ll have unlocked the secret to the perfect email marketing strategy for your business.

The entire process of email marketing may seem incredibly overwhelming. But, it’s perfectly manageable if you take it one step at a time. Use this 2019 email marketing guide to go through each of the steps without racking your brain. Besides, there are feature-filled and intuitive email marketing software you can use to take care of most of the hard work. Armed with this guide and a powerful tool, you’ll soon enjoy the results of a successful email campaign.

Things to do and Avoid with email Marketing

Email marketing campaigns are tough campaigns to run yet they are still considered one of the most effective marketing techniques out there. However, as a small business owner, you won’t have as much budget as a globally-operating business and mistakes simply cannot afford to be made.

So you can maximise your business’s opportunities and ensure your emails are successful here are some of the best things you need to be practising, as well as some of the worst.

1. Do – Format Your Emails

Learning how to format your emails properly is one of the most important things if you want to be taken seriously. A block of text will usually end up unread and some out dated formatting techniques – like using coloured highlighting and childish fonts – might make you seem unprofessional.

Learn the basics of good formatting – say the most important things in your headings and have at least three to four of them depending on the length of your email, bold the bits or words that you want to draw attention to, have short paragraphs and so on.

People usually don’t have a lot of time to read your email and if you want to leave an impression on them, make your emails easy to scan and let your readers get the most out of it without spending too much time on reading.

2. Avoid – Using Shy Calls to Action

The call to action features of your emails, such as the ones that say ‘ ‘Buy Now’, cannot be hidden away in your emails because people are lazy and won’t actively look for them. Don’t be afraid to make them clear and to ensure they stand out.

After all, people will expect to see them so making them as clear as possible is a great way to make sure your readers act.

A CTA should stand out in bold colour – red, green or blue – and it should be honest about where it’s going to take the person that clicks on it. Make sure that the link is accurate and not broken as well.

3. Do – Organise Your Mailing Lists

Using automated email services, you’ll have the ability to organise and separate your email contacts into certain groups. This is so important as it helps you to use targeted emails much more effectively.

For instance, you could divide your list based on their interests, education, location, gender etc. This will help you create custom emails that are much more effective. If using tools like Flash Issue or Constant Contact, you’ll be able to manage your lists effortlessly.

This will help you with sending a more targeted content and in avoiding common mistake like sending wrong email to the wrong person. The more you segment your list, the better your chances of conversion will be.

4. Avoid – Poor Subject Lines

After you’ve sent an email and it arrives in your reader’s inbox, the only thing that is going to make them want to open the email is the subject line so make sure that it’s clear and has impact.

Get creative, think outside of the box and think of something unique and eye-catching that matches your brand and will make your emails far more likely to be opened.

Don’t try to trick your audience into opening your emails with deceptive subject lines – focus on making them relevant and meaningful. It’s best that they address a problem of your recipient and offer a solution.

5. Do  – Target Your Content

If you really want to grab the attention of your audience, sending targeted messages is the best way to do that. As a start, you’ll have to segment your audience, as previously mentioned.

This will help you deliver more personalised content which people find infinitely more useful and meaningful than bulk emails that everyone on your list receives. So, for instance, if you are selling shoes and creating content about shoes, women on your list don’t really need content about male shoes. However, they do want content on female shoes. By targeting, you’ll address that want directly and increase your open, click-through and possibly conversion rate. While this example is a bit basic, it’s essentially what you’ll do.

6. Avoid – Cram In Too Much Content

While great targeted content is always desirable, cramming in too much content in just one email is excessive and confusing to your audience.

Emails with too much content in them create two problems: they are usually very long and people don’t like reading long emails and they usually address several subjects which is confusing.

The best email is neither too long or too short and it is focused on a single topic, single opinion or a single product. This way, you are not confusing your readers but rather adding value to what they already know. You are also not scaring them away with an email that never ends.

7. Do – Test Your Emails

Just like anything in life, you’re probably not going to be able to create the perfect emails first time, but you won’t be able to tell before you start sending them out. Or can you?

If you’re sending out an important email, be sure to create two versions and then A/B test them to make sure they work before you send them out and potentially lose leads. If your emails aren’t working, and there’s no time to waste, using copywriting tools like Eliteassignmenthelp to create them for your business.

8. Avoid – Overlooking Your Main Goal

It’s always best to find a happy middle in everything. In this case, while you should definitely be creative and design wonderful emails, you also shouldn’t forget about your main goal – conversion. It should be central to every email you make and this is something that you should never forget.

So, when designing and writing, don’t forget to include a CTA or a line that will present the benefits of your products or services and lead to a conversion. A call to action should be clear, inviting and say exactly what is it that you want from your users.

call to action email

9. Do – Get To The Point

Once upon a time, lengthy introductions and beating around the bush excessively was a good practice. Nowadays, people prefer knowing what the text is about before they dedicate their time to reading it. Write your emails in a reverse pyramid system. Put the most important bit at the top where they can see it and elaborate that point in the remainder of the email.

Don’t make them wait too long before they find out what it’s about – the truth is, if you don’t get to the point fast, they won’t.

10. Avoid – Forgetting To Optimise

As you probably know, people read emails on multiple devices. Sometimes it’s good old desktop and your email looks beautiful there. However, what happens when your readers decide that a tablet or a smartphone is more comfortable for them?

This is why optimisation is so important. Your emails should transition seamlessly between devices and look beautiful on each one. Especially if the majority of your audience has a preference for mobile devices, it would be a terrible idea not to optimise them.

11. Do – Be Creative

There is more to your emails than just content. If you think that the content on its own should be just fine, you could be making a big mistake. Content is important but what also matters are the visuals. A block of text would seem unattractive to read while a beautifully structured content piece packaged with a great email design and a few animations or videos is definitely something your readers will look at.

All of this can serve to show your brand’s personality and better deliver the message.

12. Avoid – Forgetting to Analyse Your Performance

Analysing your performance throughout the year is one of the most important things when it comes to your email marketing campaigns. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to know how successful a certain aspect was or what needs to be changed. This is the only way to know if your business is growing or not.

“Start by measuring the content marketing ROI to see how your blog or website converts visitors into leads. Then you can see how well are those leads responding to your emails – open rates, click-through rates and so on”, – explains Jean Chavez, an Email Marketer at Bestbritishessays and Academized.

Analyse your performance to make the best decisions you can regarding your business.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, email marketing can become your best friend if you are a small business owner. It’s a unique and versatile approach to your customers on a more personal level. Follow these tips on what to do – and especially on what not to do – and you’ll be on your way to quality business improvements.

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