What is email marketing?
Email marketing is basically the sending of emails to help with marketing. It’s a digital marketing strategy that has existed for a long time and still works today.
Benefits of email marketing
With email marketing, the top benefit is that you own the data – i.e. the mailing list. You are fully in control of your mailing list. This is great advantage compared to social media platforms, where you are at the mercy of those platforms. If those platforms go down (as happened to Facebook and Instagram last week), you are unable to do anything. Social Media platforms could decide to start charging for access or block your account.
Another benefit of email marketing is that you can reach a broad range of people and also target those people (see segmentation below). Almost every internet user has an email address and uses it, whereas not everybody has accounts or uses social media platforms regularly.
How to do email marketing
In order to do email marketing, there are 3 main steps required.
1. Build your mailing list
There are a number of ways to build your mailing list. If you have a website, one way is to have specific forms that people can submit to join. Or perhaps on your contact form you have a tick box, that they can tick to join your mailing list. (With WordPress websites we develop, there is even an integration so subscribers automatically get added to your email marketing tool).
You can also manually add people to your mailing list, such as when you have met them at a trade show. However do be aware of email marketing regulations and GDPR.
2. Create your email content
Before you can send any emails, you need to carefully craft your email content. The content within the email needs to be of interest to your readers. It’s also important to use engaging subject lines, to make it stand out in their inbox. These also help to overcome spam filters.
3. Test and send your email
The final step is to firstly test your email, then to send it. You need to use a suitable tool and carefully consider how often you send emails. Your emails may be sent on a regular basis (e.g. a monthly newsletter) or they may be in response to certain actions or requests.
To actually send your email you need to use an email marketing tool / platform. Unfortunately just sending via an email client such as Microsoft Outlook is a bad idea – as your email may well get blocked , there are no analytics, no way to automatically handle unsubscribes and more. The email marketing platforms ensure emails are successfully delivered, include analytics, subscription management and much more.
Two of the most popular tools we recommend are:
- Great easy to use platform
- Has a simple editor for creating emails
- Includes free plan (for up to 2000 contacts / 10,000 send per month)
- Learn more about Mailchimp
Email marketing regulations and GDPR
With an ever increasing amount of spam emails, stricter email marketing regulations have been required. The most significant of which is GDPR. This has affected many aspects of websites and also email marketing. For email marketing the most important aspect is that in most cases you can only send emails if active consent has been given – I.e. the person has signed up to a form to join a mailing list or ticked a box on a general form. In addition, you must offer a simple way to ‘opt out’ – i.e. unsubscribe – most email marketing platforms handle the unsubscribing process automatically.
Email marketing effectiveness and analytics
When you do email marketing, it’s important to measure its effectiveness. Fortunately most email marketing tools and platforms help with this. You can view analytics such as how many people opened the email, how many people clicked on certain links etc. With these you can then tailor future emails to optimise the content.
Email marketing segmentation and automation
Segmentation is a great technique for further improving your email marketing effectiveness. Email marketing segmentation means that you are segmenting your mailing list, perhaps by interest. The advantage of this is you can then send more tailored emails to each segment. This should result in improved engagement and interaction.
Another advanced technique is email marketing automation. With this, automated workflows can run. These may be based on certain ‘trigger’ actions – e.g. if somebody clicks on a link about a certain subject, you may mark that person as interested in that subject. Then in the future you may decide to target those people specifically. Automations can also be utilised to send a series of emails over time – e.g. daily tips for a 5 day period.