When deciding to send out an email campaign be sure you figure out what is the reason you are choosing this channel. It’s best to start with a business goal in mind, determine your target audience and then build an email marketing strategy.
What are the Benefits of Email Marketing for your Small Business?
Brand building & staying top of mind
The ability to promote new products or offer discounts on older ones
Be able to calculate return on investment
Increase customer retention
Be able to ask questions through surveys
What are the Types of Emails?
There are a variety of emails you can send based on the strategy you want to implement. See below for the most common types:
Newsletter: Newsletters are a great way to stay top of mind with your clients. Newsletters are ideal to share new product launches, recent blog posts, or highlight upcoming changes. Be sure you have content to promote on a regular basis before kicking off a newsletter. I recommend having at least 12 months of planned ideas so you don't run out of steam in the early stages.
Promotional: These are incentives you share with select audiences where you’re looking to change their buying behavior. Promotional discounts can be BOGO offers, % off, free shipping, and more.
Notification/ Informational: These emails can let clients know about a change in business, change in their account, shipping details, etc. There is no marketing required, but these types of emails may be written by a marketer to ensure they match the overall tone of all the other communications you send out.
Marketing Automation Emails:
Setting up automated emails based on set criteria will allow you to create an efficient scalable process to increase conversion rates over time. Start simple, you can get more complex as you grow.
Win-Back: These emails are critical to send to clients you feel you may be at risk of losing. For whatever reason, they have not purchased from you in a while. Sending a win-back email is a great way to remind them who you are and what you’re about. Adding a discount may boost response rates, but test different ways that will work for your company.
Thank You: I love this type of email. It is sent the day after someone orders it’s meant to say thanks and that’s it. Some people may argue with me but I really like to keep it as a genuine thank you, with no ask in return.
Upsell or Cross-Sell: By leveraging your analytics you can create effective cross-sell or Upsell emails are to suggest new products or promote the benefits of moving up to the next service.
Decide on Your KPIs
Knowing what you will track is critical. You should know how each metric supports your business goals as well. In addition, it's key to understand what metrics your email is accountable for and what metrics are tied to the website or sales goals. An email can only take things so far, weak sales pitches or a confusing website journey could make it seem like your email is failing, even though it’s not.
See below for some common metrics to track for emails:
Delivery Rate: Confirms how many emails were sent.
Open Rate: This is the % of people that opened your email. Average open rates for the industry are here:
Bounce Rate: If this is high, your email list is not clean or it’s old. Consider finding ways to revise before sending it out again.
Unsubscribe: This tells you how many people unsubscribed to your email. Anything higher than 0.5% should have you checking how you segmented your list or the frequency of your emails.
Spam: having your email flagged as spam is not ideal. It is a mark against your email and could get future emails sent to spam. Be sure you are monitoring this. A great way to avoid being sent to spam is to have a double opt-in sign-up and only send emails to those who have subscribed to receive marketing from you.
Click-through Rate (CTR): This is critical to know how many people are clicking through to your page. Average click-through rates are 2% but vary greatly by industry. MailChimp has created an email benchmark list to get you started.
Conversion Rate: While this is not a metric of your email, this will tell you how many people you converted once they got to your website. If you see a high click-through rate but the conversion rate drops off substantially, there could be an issue with your customer journey or the page you sent them to.
Segment Your Audience
Of course, to send an email, you'll need a list of email addresses. There are a number of ways to get email lists, but I highly encourage you to build your own. Building your own list takes time, but this way you’ll be sure the people you send to will be more engaged.
How to segment your list: Always ensure you are only emailing people who have subscribed to receive marketing from you. Be sure you understand the rules for your country. Thankfully, since CASL requirements have been in place a while in Canada, most platforms have unsubscribe buttons built-in to the footer of the emails.
Once you have segmented by subscribers, you could select people based on a number of factors. Content can be filtered by:
Purchase Behavior - number of purchases, spend amount, etc.
Interests or Tags you have set
It will all depend on who you want to reach and why.
Setting up your Email and Subject Line
Subject Line: Your subject line is the most important thing in your email and is so often overlooked. If someone doesn’t open your email because of a weak subject line, all your effort writing the email has gone to waste.
Personalized Subject Lines: Personalized subject lines have been known to increase open rates in some industries. You can use merge tags in most platforms like Shopify or MailChimp to personalize your subject line.
Be Descriptive: This is not a place for a brand tagline. You are at the intent or acquisition stage so your copy should be clear and to the point, speak to an offer or deadline. Avoid catchy phrases.
Avoid too Much Punctuation: Do not use repeating punctuation and try to avoid too much punctuation. People are scanning your email on their mobile phones and the words you use are far more important than an exclamation point.
Avoid Spam Words: Use this email subject line checker from Omnisend to test your subject line. Avoid words like 'free', 'money', 'help' etc. These words could get you automatically sent to the spam folder in your recipient's inbox.
Preview Text: this is another area that is so often forgotten about. The Preview copy is a way to provide a teaser to what the email is about. Be sure you keep it short since most people are viewing your email on their mobile devices.
Build a Split Test: By testing certain elements of your email you can focus on increasing open and click-through rates over time. For example, you can create 2 emails, each with a different subject line with the goal to increase open rates. See the diagram below.
TIP: When A/B testing, be sure you are only changing 1 thing in the second email. If you change 2+ things or you’ll never know metric what drove the higher response.
Creating your Email Copy and Content
When writing your email check what others are doing in your industry. A fantastic site to check for email examples is Really Good Emails.
Your Logo: Consider including your logo at the top of the email as a best practice. It reminds clients who the email is from and increases brand recall.
Write a strong opening to get their attention. Be sure you keep your client’s mindset in mind. You want to get their attention right away with copy that speaks to their needs.
Get to the point ASAP. No one wants to read a long email. Keep your email short and sweet.
Keep the copy focused on the benefits If you’re ever struggling with this – use the template below. It helps you flip product features into benefits. I call them RTBs (Reasons to Buy).
How to Write Reasons to Buy (RTBs)
Define the top 3 features you might want to highlight. Be sure these are the features that drive customers to purchase your product.
Describe how the features benefit your target client.
Highlight why this benefit is different or better.
Choose 1 or 2 benefits to focus on in your email.
Place the call-to-action (CTA) at the top & bottom. Ensuring people know what to do next is critical. Keep your call to action short and sweet and highly visible. And if your CTA is an image be sure you have an alt tag set up.
If you have a call to action be sure you have things set up on the other end when your email is sent out. If it's a phone number, your staff answering the phone should be aware of how to speak to this offer, or at the very least know the email was sent out. If it's a URL be sure your landing page aligns with the email.
Ensure the offer is easy to understand. Your offer shouldn’t be complicated. Having too many complicated steps will turn people away. As well if you have too many options, people will avoid making a decision.
Some emails only have images; some emails have a mix of images and copy, and some emails are copy only. Do what works best for your brand but remember, over 50% of emails are opened on a mobile phone with the images turned off. So, if your offer and CTA are in the image only with no alt tags, someone might open their email and only see a fairly blank screen versus what you intended. See below for a recent email I received with images turned off and once I downloaded them.
Over 50% of emails are opened on a mobile phone with the images turned off.
If you do include images, consider the size and specs of each image. Check the exact specs for the platform you are using to be sure your email looks it best. Each platform may have different recommendations and max image size requirements. And tools like TinyPNG will help you reduce file size.
Send yourself a test email to a number of accounts to see how your email looks – Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc. Check your spelling, click on the links and be sure they’re pointing to the right pages, see how the email looks on mobile and desktop, and be sure your unsubscribe link is showing and active.
Emojis, To Use or Not To Use
Some brands are using emojis in their subject line and emails. It really depends on your brand. You want to be sure you have a consistent tone and brand image and not jump to add emojis because everyone else is.
Now that you understand how to build an email be sure you take into account email frequency. If you see a jump in unsubscribes you could be sending too often or not segmenting your audience properly. Also, be sure you’re not creating emails in a silo, consider aligning your online advertising to drive response rates since not everyone will open your email.