Email marketing has been around for a long time and it still remains the most effective channel for sales conversion, engagement and building relationships with existing clients and followers.
The following stats support that fact.
As you can see, a staggering 94% of consumers online check their email daily and there are about 3.2 billion email accounts worldwide. This means that email has a very wide reach. On average, a new customer has to see your advert seven times before they take your desired action, which is usually buying. Email marketing gives you the chance of engaging your potential customers until they convert at a very low cost since it can be automated.
Email marketing is more than writing news bulletins to clients on periodically. Email marketing is when emails are used to generate sales, educate clients on products or services and generate awareness. For the stats above, email marketing has an average return on investment (ROI) of about 4300% and this creates a need for digital marketers to learn email marketing beyond the basics.
Common Mistakes in email marketing
I see some very basic email marketing mistakes being made by some respectable digital marketers.
1. Paying for ‘email marketing services’.
There are companies, which has harvested thousands of email address from the internet. They then charge people to send advertising emails to these email addresses. This is bad for business for a number of reasons.
Firstly sending unsolicited emails is illegal in other countries although most African countries do not have mature cyber laws.Another drawback is that these mailing lists usually do not give a chance for anyone to unsubscribe and most people end up flagging them for spam. This means that your brand will be associated with spam which is not a favourable situation to be in as it affects your brand’s reputation. You would not want to make your clients feel that you are so desperate to grow your business to the point of being unethical.
Another drawback is that these mailing lists usually do not give a chance for anyone to unsubscribe and most people end up flagging them for spam. This means that your brand will be associated with spam which is not a favourable situation to be in as it affects your brand’s reputation. You would not want to make your clients feel that you are so desperate to grow your business to the point of being unethical.
Thirdly, the email blast providers do not have analytics tools integrated. This means there is no way to tell:
– The number of people who opened the emails (Open Rate)
– The number of people who clicked the links in the email (Click Through Rate CTR)
– What those who clicked the links did on your website
The statistics and analytics are very important for continuous improvement efforts and without them its difficult to measure the ROI on your email marketing campaign.
For these reasons, I would not advise you to use email blast providers. You are encouraged to make people give you their email addresses willingly e.g when they purchase or when you ask them to sign up for a newsletter.
2. Having no strategy or method to get email addresses.
Building an email list usually takes time especially for those doing it for the first time. This tempts some to buy email lists so that they can have a big list right away. The idea of buying email addresses will work for you if you are doing a short-lived business and you want to get people quickly then quickly disappear. If you want to build a sustainable and scalable business you must have the patience to grow your list.
If you know someone with a big email list and you want to benefit from it you can pay for an introduction. You pay the owner of the mailing list to write a recommendation email to their email list. The email then gives the audience a chance to engage with you and subscribe to your list if they want. This will be effective to get many people to join your list quickly especially if you make a high-value offer in the introductory email. However, this can only work when the owner of the email list built the list ethically and the list contains people who may be interested in your business. For example, it may not be effective to use a list with emails for college students when you want to promote your kindergarten.
3. Having no strategy or method to get email addresses.
A good reason why many start-ups fail is that the owners do not have enough contacts and connections in the targeted industry. The future of any startup online or offline is dependent on the size of the audience around the business. For example, someone with 10 million emails will earn more from a selling advertising compared from someone with a thousand email addresses.
Collecting email addresses can save the business of huge amount of advertising costs because emails marketing is much cheaper compared to pay per click (PPC) advertising or boosting posts on social media.
One way is to offer something valuable in exchange for the email addresses (lead magnets). Here are some ways to get people to give their email addresses:
o Promise people to send them updates on your blog if they give you an email. This only works if the people find the updates interesting and valuable.
o Offer discounts and send them to client emails.
o Offer them free resources e.g. guides, checklists and books in exchange for emails.
o Ask for emails when people signup for any of your services.
o Getting an introduction from a business with a big email list.
4. Collecting emails and never using them.
Another common mistake with email marketing is when businesses collect emails through various methods but they then do not contact those people. I personally give away my email to get the business help me remember them or their services but it seems most of them ask for the email address for no reason.
Having someone’s email is a great opportunity. You can speak to them at will. Once you have collected email addresses, be sure to use them to your advantage.
5. Failure to provide useful information in the emails.
A poor tactic is to just send emails to your list asking them to buy something and making offers. You need to provide value to your audience and this means that at times you will send emails that have no direct marketing pitch. Such emails will allow you to create a relationship with your clients and this increases the likelihood of them buying from you in the future.
The emails you send to the audience should primarily give value to the clients and prove that you are good at what you do i.e you are an expert in the field.
6. Not segmenting the email list.
The email list should be categorised into different audiences represented by their intentions and interests. The emails sent to each segment must add value to that category.
Generalisation will work to a point. Providing information that appeals to a particular segment of the mailing list will increase the chances of success with email marketing.
7. Forcing people to stay on a mailing list.
Sometimes marketers want to see a huge list of names and emails in the mailing list. It pains them when a user chooses to leave (unsubscribe). This is very misguided. Did you know that Gmail uses the number of emails opens your mailing list have to determine if you are a spammer?
When people don’t open the emails or mark them as junk, it affects the way all your emails are handled by huge email hosts like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook.com. Allowing people to unsubscribe will help you have only people who are interested in what you are saying. Forcing people to stay also increases your chances of being marked as spam.
There are email-marketing tools that automatically clean the mailing lists based on:
o The number of emails opened. For example, if a user has not opened the emails in the last 10 emails, the tool will unsubscribe that user.
o Bounces. If your email fails to deliver in five emails, the email will be removed from the list.
Why is email marketing important?
Every digital marketer needs to take email marketing seriously because it is extremely important in business.
Anyone doing business online who has no plan to grow his or her email audience is wasting a huge opportunity for cheaper advertising in the future. They also miss the chance to increase the number of interactions needed for potential customers to take action.
The following are some of the reasons why email marketing is important:
1. Email marketing can be automated to serve a huge audience with a minimal effort.
It is possible to keep in touch with 100 000 people using email marketing. You can write one email and personalise it by means of a tool and send to the whole audience at once. You can even schedule a number of emails to be sent following a predetermined sequence. Marketing automation is a huge topic and I would advise that you learn about it in detail. Here I just want to mention that marketing automation is the sending of the right message at the right time to a client based on their interactions with your digital channels. 90% of the messages sent to clients in marketing automation is sent using an email.
2. Email marketing gives the marketer a chance to relate to the customer.
Once the marketer creates a conversation via email, they have a chance to build relationships and learn more about them.
3. Email marketing can work as a reminder for pending proposals.
I have observed that when I send value adding emails, customers usually respond with an update concerning a pending proposal. Sending out weekly emails has helped me to stay in the minds of most of the people in my audience. This makes referrals and word of mouth work better.
4. Email marketing can be used to gauge the level of customer interest.
Customers can unsubscribe at any time they want and you can tell the level of interest in what you do by the growth or lack thereof, of your mailing list. This is different from other types advertising that is not optional in a way. For example, once a TV commercial starts you have to look the other side otherwise you will watch it for the 15th time.
5. Email marketing is one of the best ways to raise awareness and distribute produced content.
After spending hours creating content, people need to see it. You want as many people to talk about it and share it with others and sending emails to your list can help you do that.
I have observed over the years that people who have interacted with the author are more likely to comment than those reading your content for the first time. Therefore, to get the content shared and read the content creator should email the audience with their content.
6. Email marketing campaigns are measurable and client attitude can be evaluated.
A prospective client who does not open all your emails is likely to be looking for a third quote (in my country some business are required to have three quotations before they can choose a service provider). There are prospects who have a goal of getting a quote for the sake of their policies. You can also track the number of opened emails and the behaviour of people who come to your site after opening the email. This allows you to calculate the ROI.
7. Email marketing can be an effective source of feedback.
Observing the open rates of emails can teach you how to write good subject lines and introductions. Observing email click-through rates can be important to the marketer as they learn about which products/services or writing style the clients like. This feedback may be difficult to get through other channels like surveys which usually have few people participating.
Focus areas in Email Marketing
To get started on the journey of becoming good at email marketing, you should learn the following:
1. Growing a mailing list.
Overcome the temptation to buy emails from other people and get creative in growing your email list. As you learn how to do email marketing like a pro, make sure that you develop strategies to grow email lists. If email marketing is important, then growing the mailing is crucial.
If your mailing list is small, it is very likely that email marketing will not work. Learning how to grow email lists is probably the first skill you need to master. It is mostly strategic than technical, so anyone can develop the art
2. Audience segmentation.
Who is on your mailing list? What do they want to hear from you? The different identified groups in the mailing list should be the segments. When you produce content, it must target at least one of these groups. The emails should be sent to people who will welcome and resonate with the content.
3. The frequency of sending out emails.
Depending on what your audience expects, you need to determine the frequency of sending emails. Too frequent emails are annoying, and infrequent emails are not effective either. You need to find the sweet spot between these two extremes.
Here are some pointers on how to choose email frequency.
- Consider your ability to generate content to send out in emails. For most businesses, the frequency of sending emails depends on the capacity to produce new content. If you podcast or blog weekly, then the emails may follow the same pattern.
- The unsubscribe rates. You may have to watch the rate at which people are leaving your mailing list to get an idea how often to email them.
4. The right tools to use.
There are thousands of tools to use for email marketing. Some tools are fantastic; they have all the admirable features. A professional digital marketer should be able to choose the tool that achieves the goals without breaking the bank.
This means it is necessary to test as many tools as you can to widen your choice. It is very important to have this background as a digital marketer because one tool will definitely not be good for all situations. The following is a list of email service providers you can start with.
5. Copywriting for email marketing.
I used to underestimate copywriting (usually programmers and engineers are like that), but I learnt the hard way that copywriting is probably more critical than the technology behind it. The language used for each digital channel has to be adjusted for better success.
The right words and tone make emails effective, compelling and irresistible. That is something a professional digital marketer needs to appreciate and learn. If your emails are going to achieve the goals they are sent for, then attention to the copy is very important.
Email marketing goes beyond knowledge of the right tools to use, into the thinking and strategies that you need to learn and master. Digital marketers should be able to use emails to build businesses.
We have a comprehensive email marketing course in the Digital Marketing Diploma. You can learn email marketing practising professionals in that course. Download the Digital Marketing Course Outline to learn more.
Are you using email marketing for your business? If yes, how has it been for you? If no, would you like to try it?
What do you feel should have been covered in this article? Share your thoughts and insights; we would love to hear them.