What is Email Marketing? (2023 Guide)
Email marketing is a form of direct digital marketing that uses electronic mail to communicate with a business’s target audience.
With 347.3 billion emails sent daily, an email marketing service makes managing and tracking your email marketing campaigns easy.
In this article, I’ll briefly overview email marketing and how business owners can use it to achieve their marketing goals.
I’ll also touch on how to build an email list, create effective email campaigns, and track your results.
Let’s get right into it.
Email marketing involves sending messages electronically from one user (i.e., the business) to another (i.e., the person that would usually have opted in to receive such mail).
While you can use an email client such as Gmail, Outlook, or Apple Mail to send bulk business emails, these services are not meant for such a purpose.
That is where specific email marketing platforms come in, allowing business owners to send particular types of emails for a fee.
There are also specific email service providers specializing in different types of email, which is excellent news for businesses with more specific needs.
For example, cold email software providers allow businesses to send large emails to people who might not know about the company.
As another example, various platforms focus on providing marketing automation services, allowing for sending time-sensitive, trigger-based emails.
Email marketing can be an extremely effective way to reach your target audience and achieve your marketing goals.
Here are some of the key benefits of email marketing.
Your email marketing efforts can be highly cost-effective compared to other marketing channels.
You can send personalized messages to your subscribers to improve customer loyalty and engagement.
Doing this one by one would take a lot of time.
Still, with an email marketing service, you can easily segment your list and send highly targeted messages that appear to come directly from the business owner.
Email marketing software makes it easy to track your results, so you can see how well your campaigns are performing.
With various dashboards focusing on analytics, you can see how many people are opening and clicking through your emails and other vital metrics (more on this later).
Choosing the right email marketing platform can help you increase your business ROI.
Marketing emails are a great way to reach many people with your message.
With the right marketing strategy, you can reach new customers and prospects who may not yet be familiar with your brand.
This one-to-many relationship is one of the key advantages of email marketing.
With the right subject line and content, your emails can stand out in the inbox and encourage recipients to open and click through.
In addition, using email marketing to send timely and relevant messages can keep your subscribers engaged with your brand.
Compared to other forms of marketing, the engagement one can achieve with email marketing is often higher as people also can reply directly to the sender and provide feedback based on their experience.
Your email campaigns will also be more likely to reach the inbox if you have a good reputation with your ESP.
As long as you avoid the spam folder by following best practices, your emails should have no problem reaching the inbox and being seen by your subscribers.
Your email marketing strategies will depend on your goals, but in general, here are the steps you’ll need to take.
Your goals will also change based on the step in which your email subscribers are in their customer journey.
For example, your goals will differ whether you want to sell a new product or optimize a drip campaign for customer retention.
Various email marketing services offer different features and options for the types of emails you can send.
For example, some platforms let you send transactional emails like order confirmation or shipping notifications.
Other platforms might focus more on email newsletters or promotional offers.
Most platforms allow you to send a mix of emails, so you’ll need to pick one that lets you send the right kind of emails for your business.
An effective email marketing strategy comes down to understanding your target audience and what they want from your brand.
With marketing messages that are relevant and engaging, you’ll be more likely to convert prospects into customers and keep existing ones coming back for more.
Building your email list is one of the essential parts of any email campaign.
You won’t have anyone to email without a list of subscribers.
Depending on your business type, you can grow your list differently.
These include using signup forms on your website, running social media campaigns, and hosting events.
Check out the appropriate section in the article for more information about this.
Sending an email newsletter to new subscribers?
Creating a promotional offer for existing customers?
The content should be compelling and engaging no matter what type of email you’re sending.
Your emails should also include a call-to-action (CTA) that encourages recipients to take the next step, whether visiting your website or purchasing.
One of the most significant benefits of email marketing is the ability to automate your campaigns.
With email automation, you can send the right message, to the right people, at the right time, without lifting a finger.
There are a few different types of email automation workflows you can set up; some of the most common ones that come preloaded with big email marketing platforms include welcome emails, cart abandonment campaigns, and post-purchase follow-ups.
Last but not least, it’s essential to measure the success of your email marketing campaigns so you can see what’s working and what isn’t.
Most email marketing platforms will provide built-in analytics that gives insights into open rates, click-through rates, and list growth percentages.
With these numbers in mind, you can make necessary changes to improve your results over time by understanding what’s working and what isn’t.
While personalization should be included in every email you send, there are also various types of email content you can send as part of your marketing campaigns.
The email marketing tool of choice will often provide templates that allow you to send the right email by making minor modifications to such templates.
Here are the most common types of emails used by business owners.
Building brand awareness often starts with getting new subscribers on your email list.
Prospecting emails are a great way to reach potential customers and introduce them to your brand.
These emails are usually sent as part of a lead generation campaign to get more people interested in your products or services.
As part of list segmentation, you can send targeted emails to different groups of subscribers based on their engagement level.
Engagement emails are a great way to keep subscribers engaged with your brand and encourage them to take action.
For example, someone who hasn’t opened one of your emails in a while might benefit from getting an email with a subject line like, “We Miss You!”
Since they’re already engaged, sending such emails to someone who just subscribed to your list and opened the welcome email doesn’t make sense.
Announcement emails are a great way to keep your subscribers up-to-date on what’s going on with your brand.
If you’re running a special offer or promotion, you can load announcement emails in various autoresponders to go out at the right time and drive sales.
Another use of announcement emails is to let subscribers know about changes to your products or services, upcoming events, etc.
The follow-up is one of the essential types of email content you can send.
Whether it’s following up on a purchase, an inquiry, or simply mailing a prospect that hasn’t taken a specific action, follow-up emails are a great way to nurture leads and encourage conversions.
Transactional emails are automated messages based on specific customer actions, from emails triggered by an abandoned cart action to shipping confirmation messages.
Transactional emails can be highly personalized and often result in better open and click rates than other types of email content.
Building a list comes down to providing value to your audience from your first interaction with them, and offering something they find helpful in exchange for their email address is the best way to do this.
While a lot of marketing material focuses on the importance of the call to action (CTA) on landing pages, this is not the only key to success.
The quality of the lead magnet itself will primarily determine whether or not people sign up for one’s email list.
Said differently, offering the right lead magnet can be the difference between getting a new subscriber and having someone bounce off your page.
Here are some examples of lead magnets that you can use in your email marketing campaigns:
- Cheat sheet: Giving people the short version of something they need to know is a great way to get them to sign up for your email list. Make your cheat sheet visual and easy to scan so people can quickly find the information they want.
- Checklist: Various email templates will allow you to build a checklist to send to those who sign up for your email list. With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, a checklist is a great way to help someone get started with a task without feeling overwhelmed.
- Resource list: For new customers who sign up for your email list, you can send them a resource list that includes all of the best resources they need to get started solving a problem they face. Doing so is a great segway to introduce someone to your products and services while engaging them with your brand.
- Toolkit: If you have a series of tools that people can use, bundling them together into a free toolkit is a great way to get people to sign up for your email list. Your toolkit should be tailored to your audience and include some essential tools.
- PDF guides: PDFs are one of the most common types of lead magnets, as it’s easy to create and can be very comprehensive. This doesn’t have to be that long as it’s helpful and solves a problem for the reader.
- Quiz or assessment: Offering a quiz or assessment is a great way to get people to sign up for your email list. People love to test their knowledge and see how they compare to others. Make your quiz or assessment relevant to your audience, so they find it valuable. If you can provide solutions (in the form of paid products) based on the results people get after they finish your quiz, that’s even better.
Now that I’ve gone over some of the best lead magnets you can use to get people to sign up for your email list let’s look at some of the best ways to get those lead magnets in front of people:
- Leverage social media: If you use a social CRM to capture leads from your various social media channels, you can quickly transfer those leads into your email list.
- Use pop-ups and forms on your website: Having signup forms visible on mobile devices or desktop computers will increase the likelihood of people signing up for your email list after they visit your site. Try using different forms and pop-ups to see which works best for your audience and website.
- Run a contest or promotion: Building email subscribers through contests and promotions are great ways to grow your list quickly. The benefit here is that you can promote your contest or promotion through various social media channels and websites in your industry. Just be sure to have a clear call-to-action, so people can sign up.
- Integrate with your other marketing channels: Placing links to various signup forms on your other marketing channels, such as print ads or direct mail, will increase the likelihood of people signing up for your email list. You can also put QR forms that lead to signup forms on your receipts or invoices, allowing you to capture the contact details of customers already doing business with you.
- Host a webinar or virtual event: The return on investment for webinars and virtual events is high, as they are a great way to generate leads and build your email list. From the first email to the follow-up emails, you can easily promote your event and capture leads that you can add to your email list. Also, with various integrations with webinar software, you can easily capture the contact information of people that have already come across your business and add them to your email list without any additional work on your / their part.
Measuring the results obtained through email marketing campaigns allows you to improve your results over time.
Your ESP (email service provider) should have various functions that can help you measure the success of your Email Marketing campaign, including the following.
Email clients and spam filters are constantly changing, so keeping an eye on your email deliverability rate is essential.
This metric will tell you how many emails reach your subscribers’ inboxes.
Your email copy won’t count for anything if no one opens your email.
Measuring your open rate will show how effective your subject line and preview text are in getting people to open and read your email.
Your email design, copy, and call-to-action are all critical factors in getting people to click on any links in your emails and through to your website.
Measuring your CTR will give you an idea of which elements of your email are working and which ones need to be improved.
You must always have an unsubscribe link in your emails as part of the CAN-SPAM act.
Keeping an eye on your unsubscribe rate can help gauge how well your email resonates with your subscribers.
If you see a sudden spike in those that unsubscribe, it may be time to reevaluate your email strategy and the content you send.
One specific action email marketers can take to improve their deliverability rate is to decrease their spam complaint rate.
This metric measures how many people mark your email as spam.
If you see a high spam complaint rate, it’s a good idea to look at your email content and ensure you’re not inadvertently including spammy keywords.
In addition, focusing on providing more value (rather than simply trying to sell all the time) will also help to decrease your spam complaint rate.
Your email conversion rate is a crucial metric to track, as it will tell you how successful your email marketing campaign is in achieving your overall business goals.
For example, if you’re sending a promotional email, your goal might be to get people to click through to your website or landing page.
If you’re sending a transactional email, your goal might be to get people to complete a purchase after they abandoned their shopping cart.
Types of Email Marketing Strategies
While many think of email marketing as simply a way to send promotional emails, there are several different types of strategies that you can use. Some of the most popular include:
- Newsletters: Newsletters are typically used to stay in touch with customers and keep them updated on company news, product releases, and other important information. They aim to provide readers with helpful content such as tips, articles, and stories about your industry or services.
- Automation Emails: These are triggered by customer behavior, like clicking on a link or purchasing online. Automated emails help nurture leads by providing personalized content specific to their interests and needs, streamlining customer service inquiries, or even onboarding new customers.
- Event Promotions: This type of email is used to promote upcoming events or special deals. You can include ticket purchasing links, event details, and more in these emails to help get the word out about your business.
- Transactional Emails: These are sent when a customer takes a specific action, like making a purchase online. It may include receipts, order confirmations, shipping notifications, and other important information related to the transaction.
- Lead Nurturing: This type of email focuses on providing ongoing value-driven content that helps customers at various stages in their journey with your company. The goal is to nurture relationships and turn leads into paying customers by sending them relevant offers and product recommendations over time.
Knowing what you aim to achieve with email marketing and which type of emails to send will help you create an effective campaign.
The typical pricing plans for the top email marketing platforms vary depending on each platform’s features and services.
However, most platforms offer a basic plan with essential features like email delivery, automation, and tracking.
Typically, these basic plans range from $10 to $20 per month.
They then have more advanced plans that offer more features and services.
Finally, some platforms also offer enterprise plans for larger businesses, which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month.
Some popular platforms include Constant Contact, Hubspot, Mailchimp, and AWeber.
Each platform offers different features, so choosing one that best suits your needs is essential.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as your email marketing campaign’s best call-to-action (CTA) will depend on your specific goals and target audience.
However, some common tips for creating effective CTAs include keeping the CTA short and sweet, using persuasive language, and offering an incentive for taking action.
For example, a promotional email CTA might be “Click here to save 20% on your next purchase!”
From a small business sending personalized emails vs. no personalization at all to having different email subject lines that focus on various angles of the same product to using content marketing as part of a series of emails sent in a separate order, there are any number of things that can be A/B tested in email marketing.
A/B testing refers to testing two (or more) different versions of one’s email messages to see which one performs better.
Email marketing is a strategic way to stay in touch with your customers and prospects.
Regularly sending them valuable content creates a relationship of trust that can lead to higher conversions.
That said, from the first moment someone subscribes to your list, you can build a bond that will eventually pay off.
Solving your audience’s problems and providing value at every step will help create a successful email marketing campaign.
Do you use email marketing in your business?
What are the features you look for in an email marketing service?
Let me know in the comments below.
Further reading on AdamEnfroy.com: Here are some comparison reviews of the top email service providers for you to consider:
These can help you decide which tool is best for your business and which features are most important to you.
Our reviews are made by a team of experts before being written and come from real-world experience. Read our editorial process here.
Last Updated on August 29, 2023 by Adam Enfroy