At first glance, email marketing might sound a bit old-fashioned and out-of-date. Social media have opened a world of new opportunities for advertising and have been a hot topic for marketing experts over the last few years. So why would one still prefer email over other forms of online marketing?
The first and most important factor is mere quantity. To mention just some of the stats – while Facebook has 1.6 billion users, almost a billion more people use email. Furthermore, 91% of them use this channel daily, and for 58% of them, it’s the first thing they check online, compared to Facebook’s 57% and 11% respectively. Differences are radical when it comes to ROI as well, with email marketing being 4 times more successful than social media. The crucial reason for this is the fact that email is still the media most frequently used for transactions, as well as for doing business. A journey that starts by setting the list up and ends with collecting the money can be divided into three steps: developing the list, maintaining it and, last but definitely not least, converting.
Developing your email list
The first step in creating the list is basically the same as in any other marketing endeavor: identifying your target audience. The majority of emails you obtain usually comes from your website, where people willingly fill in the opt-in form. The best way to convince them to do this is to have quality content on your website that people will want to read. Therefore, adapting your content to your target audience is essential at this point. Once you do that, how do you get people to want to receive more of it?
One of the usual ways is to tease them – let them read just a first part of an article and offer them to send the rest of it via email. Even better, use the power of videos. A video on a landing page can increase the conversion rate by a staggering 80%, and when included in an email, it can increase the click-through rate by 200-300% on average. Therefore, creating and publishing a first episode of an online course related to your niche on your website is a great way to attract people to subscribe in order to receive the rest of it via email.
The key to success is, of course, the quality of the content. It should be relevant, fresh and it should use the language suitable for your target audience. It’s very important not to be too salesy and in-your-face – don’t try to sell people anything directly in the video as it can be seen as obtrusive and irritating. Show the people some tricks, share some knowledge and let them absorb it and ask for more. Send them an email with more of the same together with a simple call-to-action button, and make sure to keep the good content coming.
Apart from content, you should pay attention to a few other things: first of them being the opt-in form. Make it visible and simple. An average number of fields is 2-4 and you should stick to this number, as too many fields can drive your potential subscribers off. Moreover, don’t be ashamed to use pop-ups. Yes, most of us find them annoying, but they do the job. As you would expect, pop-ups will increase your bounce rate a bit, but on the other hand, they can double the number of subscriptions, so this is a risk worth taking. Using contests, quizzes, surveys and other interactive strategies is also a powerful tool for increasing the number of subscribers. Simple awards for those who subscribe can be very effective as well.
Maintaining your email list
The process of building the list further and attracting more people to it never stops. Besides that, you need to make sure that people who are already on the list open your emails regularly, don’t report them as spam, or unsubscribe. On average, complaint rate is as low as 0.03%, while unsubscribe rate is around 0.1%. This may not seem like much, but on a large sample this can turn out to be a substantial number. Of course, if you want to avoid your emails to be reported as spam, the best thing you can do is obviously not to spam. Apart from that, and in addition to maintaining the level of content and copy in your emails, you should consider one very useful trick – segmentation.
Segmentation means making a selection among your emails so that certain emails are being sent only to a segment of your list. Think of it as a sort of a targeting strategy. You can take numerous different criteria into consideration when deciding who should be receiving which content through your emails – from personal traits like age or gender to strictly economic criteria like average value of a purchase or purchase frequency. Segmentation improves all your numbers significantly: open rate goes up by 14%, unsubscribe rate goes down by 9% while click-through rate is improved by a stunning 100%.
Converting from your email list
Conversions will come naturally with good content, good copy and clever segmentation. If you try too hard to convert and push people to buy, it won’t affect your sales well. You might be anxious to start converting because your click-through rate seems too low, but have in mind that an average rate is around 2-3 percent, so don’t expect that half of your list will start buying stuff after a couple of emails.
The point is, don’t make your call-to-action buttons too pushy and aggressive. Of course, they should be clearly visible, simple and predictable – you don’t want to confuse people with loads of links and buttons they can click and that will land them on pages they don’t want to see. Another step you shouldn’t forget is testing. If you want to see which approach actually works when it comes to converting, performing A/B tests can be a good way. Have in mind that this step might be crucial – here you can find a few useful pieces of advice on how to perform proper testing in order to convert your email campaign.
All in all, be patient, methodical and remember that every list is different. You should analyze the numbers and be prepared to regularly modify your tactics with respect to the feedback. The important thing is not how high your numbers are, but that they are constantly on the rise. With a combination of good product, good content and good targeting, the chances you’ll succeed are second to none.