Do you know what matters most to your online business? Customers. Without them, you do not have a business at all. You have a hobby.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to communicate with your customers and prospects on a personal level. And this type of communication can be extremely powerful. It can build brand loyalty, convert prospects to loyal customers and give you valuable insight into your buyers’ habits.
In this post, we are going to cover the basics of email marketing.
These are the things you must know before you get started.
- What is email marketing?
- Why is email marketing important for online retailers?
- Fascinating stats for email marketing
- What do you need to succeed in email marketing?
- 5 advantages of email marketing
- 3 disadvantages of email marketing
- How to get started with email marketing for your online store
By the time you are done reading this post, you will be ready to setup your first campaign. You may need a little more coaching before you create a detailed strategy and send your first email, but we will get there soon. I promise.
What is email marketing?
As the name suggests, email marketing relies on the use of email to deliver a marketing message to your audience. It can be used to inform, engage or sell, depending on your goals. Some retailers avoid email marketing because they are concerned with customers experiencing the burnout of receiving yet another email. But the world of email marketing has changed a great deal in the past 10 years. Although there are still some companies that will “cold email” groups of people, most reputable companies rely on permission-based email marketing.
With permission-based marketing, customers have opted-in to your list at one point or another. They have raised their hands and said, “I want to hear from you.” This is what you call a captive audience. They are ready for your message. Your only job from here on out is to keep them interested.
Why is email marketing important for online retailers?
The costs involved in email marketing are minimal when compared to other marketing forms. You can write the emails yourself, if you have any sort of writing skill, and can probably even send them with a free distribution program (if your list is small enough). Because the costs are so minimal, it is easy to experience an impressive ROI. Email marketing is important for online retailers because it can create an amazing revenue stream.
Email marketing also helps increase brand awareness. It’s easy to forget about someone you purchased from three years or even three months ago, if you don’t hear from them regularly. Regular emails can keep your brand on your customers’ minds, which is exactly what you want when they need your product or service again.
Fascinating stats for email marketing
Email marketing can rock your overall marketing strategy. If you’re still on the fence, check out the facts.
For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25. (Source: emailexpert)
Customers who receive marketing emails spend 138% more than people who don’t. (Source: Convince and Convert)
There are 897 million mobile email users worldwide. (Source: The Radicati Group)
48% of emails are opened on a mobile device. (Source: Litmus)
What do you need to succeed in email marketing?
As with any other marketing medium, you should never leap before you look. It is important to understand everything you possibly can about this powerful tool before you start sending emails. Because if you alienate your audience, you may be forced to start from square one: building a new email list. No one wants that, so get comfortable and continue learning. There are four more tools you will need at your disposal if you want to succeed at email marketing for ecommerce.
Staff – You can’t do everything yourself. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. You may have some strengths that will help with this process, and it’s okay to rely on them for now, but everyone knows you are more likely to get busy and put your email marketing role on the back burner than someone you hired specifically to get the job done. Consider hiring someone to manage your overall campaign (includes testing, tracking and reporting), a copywriter and a graphic designer. Unless you have an enormous email list with many segments, most of these positions will be part time, so it’s okay to hire freelancers.
Money – Before you can hire anyone, you need money. Makes sense, right? As you are first working to build and cultivate your list, the sales will trickle in. This is fine, but during this time, you must be prepared to invest money in the staff and tools you will need until your email list starts making a profit.
Time – In addition to time, you will also need to have a little patience. With email marketing, we have the benefit of some instant gratification (campaign success or failure is usually obvious within the first day or two of sending an email), but do not let one email sway your commitment. It takes time to cultivate your email list, and you may need to test a few strategies before you find what works for you. Do not give up.
Software – Even with the best list, copywriting and design, your campaigns may fail without the right software. Yes, software is that important. Choose a program that can handle the type of segmentation you would like to do. It should also have a robust reporting module, so you can evaluate results and make changes to your plan as necessary.
5 Advantages of Email marketing
There are many more than five reasons why you should be sending emails to your list, but for now, we will focus on the top five.
1. Reach – Regardless of where you are in building your email list, the potential is huge. Most of your audience uses Facebook and/or Google, but you can bet money that ALL of them have an email address that they check regularly. According to data from the Radicati Group, there will be 4.9 billion email accounts by the end of 2017. In 2013, consumers made up 76 percent of all email accounts.
2. Targeting – If you are doing email marketing right, everyone on your list has opted-in, so they want to receive communications from you. But not everyone on that list is the same. They may have come to you for any number of reasons, and your product or service may address different needs for them. With a little strategy and a dash of list segmenting, you can send personalized emails to like-minded groups within your list. You can even break it down by gender or geographic location if those things are helpful to your bottom line.
3. Engagement – Earlier, we learned that customers who receive emails from a company are likely to spend 138% more than those who don’t. This is because of their likelihood to engage with your emails. Open, click and buy.
4. ROI – The biggest expense involved in email marketing for ecommerce is usually tied to acquiring new customers. These days, people can be guarded about giving away their personal information, and for good reason. But once you have that address, it is your golden ticket. Just don’t abuse the privilege and your ROI from email marketing is likely to be higher than anywhere else.
5. Permission – Email marketing is one of the only forms of marketing that people sign up to see. This makes it unique, and it makes it extremely valuable for the marketer. You don’t opt-in to see banner ads or television commercials, but you do ask for a company to send you emails. That type of attention is invaluable.
3 Disadvantages of Email Marketing
When it comes to dieting, there is no such thing as a magic pill. And when it comes to marketing, there is no such thing as a free ride. Everything has its ups and downs, and email marketing is no different. We can say that there are some “disadvantages” to email marketing, but they are only truly disadvantages if you do not have a strategy for overcoming them.
1. SPAM Folders – This is a problem that plagues every email marketer. And her worst nightmare? Sending 10,000 emails and having 8,000 delivered to the recipients’ junk mail folder. If you see results that are this drastic, though, you are doing something wrong. You may find that your domain has been flagged as SPAM, but more likely, your subject line sucks or you are sending emails way too frequently. These are all things that can be corrected.
2. Engagement – In order for email marketing to be effective, your customers have to open the emails. Even if you think your content is better than anything else, the open rates will tell you the whole story. Once you hit the send button, the success of your campaign is out of your hands. Some recipients will delete the email and others will unsubscribe. The power is in the hands of the email account owner.
3. Appearance – When you’re building a website or a brochure, the sky is pretty much the limit. You can do just about anything. But when you are creating emails, there are some limitations. In some cases, you will have to rely on text alone to deliver your message (some email accounts do not accept html messages).
How to Get Started with Email Marketing for your online store
There is one thing you need before you can get started with an email marketing campaign. Not surprisingly, that thing is a list of email addresses. The best way to capture emails is from your customers and website visitors, so be sure to have a plan in place for this. Once you have a list, the real fun begins.
1. Create an email marketing strategy
Before you send an email, you need a strategy. It is important to send one cohesive message to your audience. Your strategy should be based on your goals and objectives, and it should be appealing to your audience. It should definitely include the type of content you will deliver and how often you plan to send emails.
Goals – What do you want to accomplish from your email marketing campaign? Will it be a revenue stream for you or just a way to send product updates and information? Each campaign must have a reason for being or you should not be sending emails.
Objectives – Once you have your goals in mind, think about how you are going to accomplish them. If you want to make a certain amount of money from the campaign, how many purchases do you need? From there, figure out your target clickthrough rate, then compare it with prior campaigns and industry averages to ensure it is reasonable. If it’s not reasonable, you may need to revise your goal and begin again.
Define Reader – Who is the best audience for your message. It may be everyone on your list, and that’s okay. Or it may be a small segment. Do not make the mistake of sending emails to people who are unlikely to respond because this may make your brand seem irrelevant.
Type of Content – How will you accomplish your goals and objectives? The type of content you send is important because this will be what inspires your audience to take action. Your plan should include copywriting tone, strategy and any content pieces that will accompany the emails.
Send Frequency – The worst thing you can do is send emails to your list at the wrong frequency. Sending too many is worse than not sending enough, but if you go to the extreme on either end of the spectrum, it could spell disaster. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Pay close attention to the analytics and always look for signs of fatigue. If you are sending too many emails, you will begin to see your open rates drop off.
Once you have the strategy down, you are ready to schedule the campaign. It’s an exciting time! Now is a good time to double check your email marketing software to ensure that it can handle your campaign with all of its segmenting and will provide the reporting tools needed to measure performance.
2. Choose Email Marketing Software
Look for three things in an email marketing program: Intuitive subscriber management, comprehensive reporting and social media management. You will want subscribers to be able to share the content in your emails with a click of a button. And if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you will be looking for this in an affordable package. Mailchimp, GetResponse and Constant Contact are my favorites. Learn more about choosing the right email marketing software for your online business.
3. Choose Graphic Software
If you are planning to handle the graphic design element yourself, know that there are some great tools out there to make your job easier and the end result more professional. I have a few go-to tools that I use depending on the look I’m going for at the time. Canva is particularly helpful for creating professional-looking layouts. PicMonkey is my favorite tool for adding effects and improving the quality of images. And when I’m feeling particularly creative, I use Pixlr for more advanced editing.
4. Choose software to manage your email department
There are many moving parts to a successful email marketing campaign, and with everything else you have to do, you shouldn’t be expected to remember everything and have to hound your team for updates. This is where management tools come in handy. Tools like Basecamp, Trello, Google Calendar and Evernote all have separate functions, so they can be used together or separately to manage your projects.
5. Watch competitors
It’s never a good idea to obsess over what your competitors are doing, but you should definitely have a good handle on their campaign for a few reasons. First, you don’t want to be hitting customers with the same message at the same time. Second, you can use their creative marketing efforts for inspiration. Be sure to sign up for their newsletter, so you can keep your finger on the pulse of their strategy. Then, feel free to look outside of your niche for even more inspiration. The most successful companies are successful for a reason. They usually know what they’re doing. Follow newsletters from the list of the top 500 retailers. You don’t have to follow them all. Just choose the ones that seem to be most relevant to your brand’s persona.
Email marketing is not something you can jump into without looking, nor is it something you can set and forget. It is somewhat of a labor of love, but most marketers really do fall in love with the ROI. I am confident that you will too.
At this point, you should have a good understanding of what it takes to create an email marketing campaign, but I have a great deal more to share to help you get the most out of your efforts. For example, do you know how many words to make your subject lines for the best open rates? We’ll cover that and more in our upcoming email marketing webinars. Don’t miss it!
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