Be honest with me, what’s the first thing you do in the morning? You roll over, grab your phone, and check your email, don’t you? That’s okay; 17% of people check their email first thing, and 55% within an hour of waking up. These numbers are even higher with younger generations, as 63% of millennials check their email before getting to work. Email is a big part of our lives, and one of the most important things you can do as a startup is develop an effective email marketing strategy.
An email marketing strategy is a procedure you use to create, send, and analyze your marketing emails. Your email marketing strategy builds brand awareness, creates purchasing incentives, and builds long-term relationships with your customers. An effective email marketing strategy will include drip campaigns, transaction emails (don’t worry, we’ll get into all these), newsletters, news, and sometimes offers.
Developing an effective email strategy is difficult for any business, let alone a startup with limited resources and time. However, email marketing can be one of the most effective marketing tools, with an ROI of $36 for every dollar spent. These 20 tips will help you find the best strategies for you and create email campaigns that convert customers.
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Quality content is a crucial aspect of an effective email marketing strategy. Content is what gets your customers to open your email, click your CTA, and be excited to receive your emails in the future.
Before anything else, your email content needs to focus on the customer and what’s important to them. If you send emails on topics they genuinely care about, they’ll be excited to open and read your emails, leading to conversions, sales, and long-term, loyal customers.
When setting up an effective email marketing strategy, it’s best to focus on the long game. Focus on building long-term, sustainable relationships with your customers rather than pushing for them to buy your products.
Knowing your customer is essential for making relevant content that builds long-term relationships. To convince them to open and read your emails, you must understand everything about your customers. You need to know who they are, their values, and their pain points.
Instead of building content are your business, products, and what you offer, build it around what your target audience is looking for. Once you understand them, you can create content that entertains, educates, and engages your customers.
If you develop software to help restaurants consolidate vendor bills into one place rather than have them all in separate channels, you know your customers’ value organization and simplification. Creating email content that gives tips for finding the best vendors or shows top vendors in their city shows you are trying to help them. You’ll establish trust, and they will be excited to get more valuable content from you, leading to lifelong customers.
No one really sits and reads emails. Not thoroughly anyway. If your customers see a long, wordy email, they will be less inclined to see what it’s about and close the email. Keeping your emails concise is key to holding the reader’s attention. They are also more likely to read your content and convert if you write in the active voice and break your content down into manageable sections.
Brevity is key to an effective email marketing strategy. Email length will vary by type of email, but most emails should be about 200 words.
Whether you need to send a long, thorough newsletter or a short holiday wishes email, the key is to find the quickest way to get your point across. Paragraphs stuffed with superfluous phrases will weigh you down and bore your reader, who just wants you to make your point. Don’t waste their time; find the most efficient way to send your message.
One way to make sure you are keeping your content concise is to write in an active voice. Active voice gives your email content life. They will feel lethargic reading your email in the passive voice; meanwhile, you’ll keep them excited in the active voice.
If readers see a large chunk of content without any breaks or organization, their eyes will glaze over. Breaking it down in a way that’s easier to digest will help hold their attention tremendously. Key strategies include:
Anything you can do to make your content more concise will make your customers more engaged.
Your audience will be more interested in opening your emails if they contain interesting, engaging content. One of the best ways to catch your customer’s attention is to include video content in your email marketing strategy.
When people go online, they prefer video content. This year, video streaming and downloading is expected to make up 82% of all internet traffic. Think about it, there are almost always videos at the top of search engine results pages. That’s because people engage with video longer than other forms of content.
Branded videos are a massive part of the buyer’s journey. 55% of customers look for videos to decide whether they should buy a product or not, and 84% of customers say they’ve been convinced to buy a product because of a branded video.
Just by including the word “video” in your subject line, you can increase your open rate by 19% and your click-through rate by as much as 65%. Once your customer opens your email, your click-through rate can increase by 200-300%.
Do you really want to catch your customer’s attention and win them over in the long run? Then add some personal touches to your email.
Adding a personal touch to customer email, even just using their name in the subject line or addressing them at the top of the email, can help engage your customers. Over 90% of U.S. consumers say they find personalized content more appealing.
Simply addressing your customer by their name can help improve the email’s open rate and increase conversion rate and sales. But it can really help you in the long run too. Personalization in your email marketing strategy also improves long-term customer retention and brand loyalty. A simple tweak can make a world of difference.
Luckily, you don’t have to go through and type every individual customer’s name into their emails. That would make email marketing a lot less fruitful. Many email campaign managers, such as MailChimp and HubSpot, create ways to auto-fill customer names into fields.
When building an email, you have various tags that act as placeholders for customer-specific information, including their first and last name. You can add the name tag wherever you want, and when it sends, the customer’s name will be filled in where you place the tag. Then, when your customer, Adam, gets the email, he’ll see his name in the subject line and be more enticed to open it. Personalized emails with very little work on your end.
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The importance of a subject line can’t be understated. Engaging, relevant, and compelling subject lines ultimately determine whether your email gets opened or gathers dust in the recipient’s inbox. Ask any email marketer, and they’ll tell you they spend as much time working on subject lines as they do the content of the email itself. That’s how important it is.
I’m not sure how many times I can say yes, so let’s see. Yes, yes yes yes, yes yes, yes YES yes yes, definitely yes. Email subject lines are crucial for having an effective email marketing strategy.
It’s the first part of your email customers see. 64% of people open emails based solely on the subject line. Open rates may not be the most important metric for a successful email campaign, but they do have to open the email for the campaign to succeed. That’s why you need to take the time to make your subject line compelling for your email marketing strategy.
As a startup, it’s even more important to craft compelling subject lines. To convince them to open your emails, you can appeal to them emotionally, generate curiosity, or make a benefit clear to them, whether it’s a deal or valuable information.
Numbers are a great attention-grabber to entice customers to open your emails. Using lists like “Top five flowers that replenish your soil” makes the customer wonder what those flowers are. You can also use a statistic, such as “why 11% of people don’t like cilantro,” to spark the customer’s curiosity.
Offering tangible value and revealing telling statistics are great tools, but sometimes there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned emotional appeal. Using words that evoke emotion and focusing on topics your customers have strong feelings about entices them to click your emails.
A great way to generate interest in your email is to ask a question. If you know your audience, you can ask questions that they find interesting, and they’ll want to see the answer.
Your subject line has to create a compelling case and be concise. The most effective subject lines are about 40 characters long. Once you get longer than that, you risk the subject line getting cut off on mobile devices.
Yes, your subject line needs to be interesting, but it also needs to get your message across efficiently. Ultimately your goal should be brevity. Shorter, to-the-point subject lines perform better.
Sure, emojis are cute, fun ways to communicate with friends and family, but they can also help boost your email marketing strategy. The fun, colorful characters catch your customer’s attention, conveying subtle messaging that words can’t or can’t do without using many more valuable characters.
Emojis can convey nuance and create an intimate, personal tone in your email. They help establish trust and openness with your customers. People associate emojis with a conversation with close friends or relatives. You don’t usually send emojis to associates you just met.
How about some numbers?
Including an emoji helps catch the user’s attention, especially when checking emails on their phone. And with so few emails including emojis right now, you have a chance to stand out in their inbox.
Preview text may seem like an afterthought for emails, but don’t let it slip your mind. Your preview text is more important than you think for an effective email marketing strategy.
Preview text may be the last thing you write for an email, and let’s be honest, it may have been just slapped together, but it’s the second thing your customer reads. Compelling preview text could give them that extra push toward opening your email.
If you don’t create preview text, the first few lines of your email will automatically become your preview text. That could be fine, but it may not be the most compelling text you could have there.
Consider preview text as an extension of your subject line. A customer will see your subject line, and if it’s interesting, they’ll read the preview text. You can use a juicy statistic to preview what the body of the email will be about, or you can include some of that personalization we discussed to convince them to stick around. If there’s something you wanted to include in your subject line but didn’t have enough characters, this is an excellent spot for it.
Now, you don’t have all the space in the world here. You’ll have anywhere from 40-60-ish characters that will show up on the smartphone notification or in their browser. It’s not much, but it can more than double the length of your subject line.
I know it sounds counterproductive to remove people from your email list when you’re trying to build it up, but hear me out. Those unengaged subscribers harm your email marketing campaigns and actually prevent you from thriving.
Email scrubbing removes subscribers from your email list who don’t open, read, or interact with your emails. They may have signed up for emails accidentally, not realized they signed up, or lost interest in your brand and products.
It’s painful at first to remove emails from your list, but in the long run, the pain will subside, and you’ll reap the benefits. Unengaged subscribers hurt your data and keep helpful emails from reaching engaged and interested subscribers.
Unengaged subscribers skew your email metrics, preventing you from seeing what parts of your campaign are working and what needs to be tweaked. They’ll weigh down your open and click rates so that campaigns, which may perform well among your engaged subscribers, perform poorly.
Worse yet, unengaged subscribers could cause unsubscribes and spam complaints to climb, which could cause email servers to flag you as an unreliable sender. Your emails will start going directly into the spam folders of your recipients. Users who want to read your content will have to pull it out of the spam folder themselves, assuming they notice it there.
The first and easiest way to look for emails to remove is to see which ones are bouncing hard. Hard bouncing means that the email address is inactive, full, or just doesn’t exist. In any of those cases, the email address should be removed immediately.
Segmenting your emails into smaller, more detailed lists can help you find which groups of people aren’t engaging with your content. Once you identify them, you can give them options. You can send re-engagement campaigns to see if they are interested in what you offer. You can ask them to click a button showing they are interested in receiving your content and a second one that allows them to unsubscribe. Allowing them to opt-out helps reduce your chances of being marked as spam. If they don’t respond after several attempts, you can remove them or stop sending them content.
The average person receives 121 emails a day. If you ask them, they’ll tell you they ignore far more of those emails than they open and read, let alone honestly care about. To stand out in such crowded inboxes, you have to make the emails you send timely, relevant, and valuable. A great place to start is by segmenting your email list.
Segmenting your email list takes your whole list of people who’ve given you their email address and breaks it into smaller groups. When you break your email list into smaller groups, you can send more targeted, relevant messages to customers who are more likely to engage with the message.
If someone has been a loyal customer for many years, they are more likely to engage with messages about industry news or product updates rather than an email about top reasons to buy from you. An effective email marketing strategy will break your email list into segments, so everyone receives messages that apply to them, their interests, and where they are in the buying process.
The best way to start segmenting your audience is into three categories: leads, customers, and investors. Those segments are interested in vastly different content than the others. Leads want content about how your products or services will help them. Customers want to see programs, new products, and other changes or sales events. Investors want to see news about how the company is doing to ensure their investment is going well.
This is the bare minimum you should do for email segmentation. You need to have very narrow, focused segments for a truly effective email marketing strategy. Traits like location, job title, new vs. old customers, types of products they like, purchasing behavior, and someone who hasn’t made a purchase in a while are all ways you could divide and categorize your email list. You can also create audience segments based on your different buyer personas. The smaller and more targeted you can make your segments, the more effective your emails to them can be.
It’s hard to let subscribers go, but it’s better to make it easy for them if they aren’t interested. Making unsubscribing from your emails easy helps improve your email marketing efficiency.
If a customer doesn’t want to be on your email list, either because they signed up by accident or lost interest, it’s best to give them an easy way out. Making it difficult for them to unsubscribe will only make them feel trapped and can hurt your reputation with customers and email providers.
If someone subscribes to your email and decides they no longer want to receive your content, they’ll unsubscribe to clear some space in their inbox. Your customers get enough emails as it is. If they can’t find an easy way to do it through your email or site, or you make them go through many steps and hoops to get out of it, they’ll think you are trying to trap them, hurting how they see and talk about you. They’ll tell their friends to avoid your company.
If they can’t unsubscribe through your website, which will harmlessly remove them from your mail list, they will turn to the unsubscribe feature through their email provider. Unsubscribing this way removes them from your email list and flags you to the provider, hurting your reputation. Email servers could send your emails straight to spam folders or even block them from arriving in inboxes at all.
If you make unsubscribing easy, it could entice customers to subscribe or stay subscribed longer because they know it’s easy and convenient if they ever want to opt-out. Making unsubscribing easy helps your customers relax and enjoy your content instead of feeling trapped. If they are having a good time, they are more likely to make a purchase.
The simplest way to make unsubscribing easy is to have an easy-to-find CTA at the bottom of your email that removes customers from your mailing list. The simpler and more user-friendly, the better.
Have the button take them to a link that states that you are sorry to see them go and that they are welcome back anytime. In case it was an accident, include a link on that page to re-subscribe.
You can also include an unsubscribe feature through their account on your website. Allow your customers to change their email preferences to unsubscribe from all emails and pick and choose what content they want to receive. They may want to opt-out of product emails but want to keep receiving your newsletter. However, you implement unsubscribing features; it just needs to be easy to find and use for the customer.
This is the hill I’m going to die on. I will keep beating this drum as long as I need to and then probably a little longer. To have an effective email marketing strategy, you need to optimize your emails for mobile devices.
The world is going mobile. Mobile devices are efficient and convenient, so your customers would rather check their email on their phones than on their desktops. All they have to do is glance at their phone rather than sit at their desktop, wait for it to turn on, connect to the internet, and load their emails.
Desktops and laptops aren’t going away, but customers often check their email on their phones. They look at it first thing in the morning, while running errands, waiting in line for coffee, and just about anywhere. 42% of all email opens are on mobile devices, and that rate is only continuing to climb.
Checking emails on a smartphone is so convenient that customers expect it to be smooth. 70% of mobile email users will delete an email within three seconds if it isn’t formatted for mobile. It makes looking at the email more difficult, and your company looks unprofessional. Because checking email on mobile devices is so common, customers expect that it’s a part of your email marketing strategy.
Optimizing your emails for mobile devices is crucial for making an effective email marketing strategy. Many email platforms, such as MailChimp, will help you format your emails to appear correctly on mobile devices. These are a few tips to make your emails more mobile-friendly.
Optimizing for mobile isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. The longer you wait, the further you’ll fall behind.
Every message you send your customers needs a clear, actionable purpose. Something that you can measure and see whether it succeeded or not. Even if you are just trying to build brand awareness and trust, you need to be able to measure the email’s success, and the best way to do that is by giving them an action to take through a CTA button.
A CTA can be pretty open to interpretation. They can be sales-driven or encourage customers to sign up for an event. CTAs could take the customer to:
In any of these cases, there is an action you want the customer to take after reading your email. They click on the link, and you can measure how many customers clicked the CTA, therefore seeing how effective the email and CTA were.
In an email, the most common types of CTAs are in-line links and buttons.
The in-line link is a link within the body of an email. These links are subtle and aren’t generally best for the action you want a customer to take. They are better for supporting content, such as showing where you got a statistic.
Button CTAs are usually stronger options for the action you want your customer to take. They feature bold but on-brand colors to call attention to themselves. A good CTA button will stand out, be on-brand, deliver a clear message, and encourage them to click. Within the button, you’ll have a brief, on-brand message to take action. If it’s to register for an event, it could read “Sign Up Today!” or if you want them to buy something with a special offer code, you could say “Get Your Deal Today!”
You want your customers to stay on your content for as long as possible, but the cold hard truth is that they want to get what they are looking for as quickly as possible. If you make it challenging to find or too drawn out, they’ll get annoyed and close the email. For an email marketing strategy to be effective, you need to make the point quickly and convince the customer they want to stay on your content. Infographics can help with that.
Infographics are highly engaging pieces of content that get the point across quickly. Most people remember pictures far better than text. If they see something in an image, they’ll remember it 65% better than text, so it makes sense to present important information as an image, right?
Infographics help you get the same information across faster, and your customers are more engaged while digesting it. Infographics help your customers recall the information you’re telling them better, but it allows you to pack lots of information into a small space while still being digestible. The information on its own could make for a fairly long email, and your customer would quickly lose focus.
If you need to communicate a lot of information effectively, infographics will hold your customer’s attention and boost your open rate.
Your emails are a crucial place to focus on your branding. Emails are one of the best places to emphasize who you are, what you stand for, and how you want to present yourself without constraint.
In emails, you don’t have limits. There are no character counts and no platform censorship. You can be as coarse or buttoned-up as you like, whatever fits your brand best. You can include videos; the whole email can be an image or infographic, a listicle, or just text. It can be whatever sends the message most effectively to your audience in a way true to your brand.
Your email list comprises people who have signed up to receive messages from you. You don’t need to water things down to appeal to everyone. This is the place to say what you want, how you want to, and create the look for your company. Yes, you can do that on your website, but focusing on your branding in your email marketing strategy is crucial. Customers will see your emails more than they will visit your website. Use emails not just as a tool to generate leads and sales but to reinforce who you are as a brand. Focusing on branding will help you find life-long fans and customers.
There is no limit to how you can build your brand through email. You can use:
Everything, from whether you use the Oxford comma to the particular photos you choose, says something about your brand and messaging. So choose wisely. Once you find styles that work, creating a template for consistency will help make your email marketing strategy more effective.
I really need you to pay attention here. I’m not kidding, exaggerating, or using any form of hyperbole when I say A/B Testing is the most critical practice within your email marketing strategy. Everything else is secondary. EVERYTHING.
A/B Testing is a method to test what works and doesn’t in an email. You start by choosing what you want to test. It could be subject lines, a CTA, format for the body, or anything you want.
You conduct a test by making two versions of the same email but change the one variable you want to test. You randomly divide your email list in half and send one version of the email to each half. Then, you measure the results to see which version performed better. You’ll repeat this process several times, then adopt the version that consistently performs better.
A/B testing is the most effective way to optimize your marketing strategy. By isolating one variable of your email, sending it to random customers, and tracking your findings, you can find what your audience responds better to. Maybe they like seeing a more casual subject line or are more inclined to open an email if there’s a video than an infographic. Or perhaps the CTR is higher when you use a different font. A/B testing allows you to finely tweak your emails to better serve your customers.
The trick is to never stop A/B testing. Ever. There will always be something to test or tweak. Whether you want to change your color scheme or use a different CTA button, you always have to be conducting A/B tests. You never know what you’ll find.
Do you know what sells customers on your products better than anything else? Other customers! You can do all the advertising you want, but nothing will ever convince a customer to make a purchase better than reviews, testimonials, and referrals.
It all boils down to trust. No matter how transparent and honest your brand is about your product’s features, strengths, and weaknesses, you are still getting money from them for buying the product. Because you want to sell your product, customers want to hear about it from someone not benefiting from its sale.
Reading reviews is a vital part of the buyer’s journey. Almost 90% of customers read reviews before making a purchase, and 54.7% read at least four reviews before making a purchase. Customers want to know what a product is like when they own and use it. As much as 79% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Customers want verification that what they are getting will help them, and an effective email marketing strategy can help harness that trust.
Sharing customer success stories is a great way to show the impact of your products. For B2B products, you can show measurable increases in efficiency and revenue, and with B2C products, you can create a story for your customers to relate to.
You can also share reviews or links to reviews. Customers will trust you more for transparency. Encouraging reviews in your email marketing, especially after someone purchases a product, is vital to online success. Customers trust businesses more with many reviews, and it improves your reputation with search engines. Encouraging reviews can be nerve-wracking, but it will help boost your growth.
Referral programs are a simple tool that shouldn’t be overlooked in your email marketing strategy. Incentivizing current customers to bring in leads is an effective way to bring in new customers. It’s common business knowledge that it’s ten times more expensive to win a new customer than keep one you already have, but a referral program makes it much more efficient. Getting a referral from someone they know automatically makes it more trustworthy. They are 37% more likely to try your brand and stay on as lifelong customers just because of where they heard about you.
All these strategies are great, but they won’t do much good if you don’t measure and track your results. You need to track the results of your email campaigns to find improvements and expand what is working.
Most email services such as HubSpot and MailChimp will track the results of your emails. They’ll track your open rates, CTR, total sends, bounce rates, how long your customers stay on the email, and which links get clicked. Google Analytics also allows you to track where people come to a landing page through the link’s unique ID. You can see how many people come to the page through the link in your email, helping you see the impact email has on your whole digital marketing strategy.
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This is the least sexy email marketing strategy, but in some ways, it’s the most important and has open rates as high as 80- 85%. They ensure transparency with customers and show them that processes are going smoothly.
Transactional emails provide updates on a purchase or your customer’s relationship with you. Transactional emails can include:
Transactional emails help customers know where they are in the process with their orders and receive confirmation that payments, subscriptions, and refunds went through. Drip campaigns such as re-engagement campaigns also count as transactional emails.
Transactional emails aren’t creating leads or generating sales, they are usually following up on a purchase, but they are essential for your brand’s perception and relationship with your customers. These aren’t important messages for you, but they are significant for your customers.
These emails are great branding and relationship-building opportunities, arriving in your customers’ inboxes at the height of their excitement. The moments they subscribe and make a purchase are the two times they will be most excited to interact with you. Sending a welcome email right after they subscribe allows them to explore more of your content right when they are eager enough to commit to giving you their email.
Making an online purchase is a significant serotonin booster for customers, and receiving the confirmation email is the final element of celebrating. Once they get that email, they don’t worry about the order processing and start anticipating the arrival of their package. Then, they eagerly wait for confirmation that their order has shipped and constantly check the tracking link.
Transactional emails are important because they give customers vital information and confirmations, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to leave a positive impression. Your customer is already happy, so lean into it and celebrate with them in your brand’s voice. These emails show you care about the customer experience. Creating a moment of joy between you will make your customer excited about this purchase and look forward to the next one.
Drip campaigns are vital factors in creating an effective email marketing campaign. They give your customers necessary information and help increase your efficiency, especially if your startup has a small team.
A drip campaign is a series of automated emails sent to subscribers after taking a specific action. Many transactional emails like welcome emails and order confirmations are drip campaigns. A customer takes an action, such as placing an order, and automated software sends them a series of emails. They will get an order confirmation, followed by an email when their order is being prepared, when it ships, when it’s out for delivery, and when it arrives.
Drip campaigns have many uses, including:
Initially signing up can trigger a drip campaign to help customers get to know your brand, from best-selling items to mission statements to educating customers on your brand. You can also send personalized drip campaigns. Based on their purchase history, you can send them information about similar products or new releases they may be interested in.
Drip campaigns can also be used to see if a customer is still interested in your emails, as discussed above or to get them to purchase an item they placed in their cart and left. Reminding customers to complete a purchase, especially if that item is in limited stock, can push them to make a purchase (maybe they just forgot) and save lost revenue.
Drip campaigns are highly engaging and vital to making your email marketing strategy efficient. They can nudge customers to purchase products they’ve already shown an interest in, help them get to know your brand, and track their orders at specific times without you having to lift a finger.
Once set up, drip campaigns are triggered automatically. You can space out the emails as much as you want, whether they send immediately, a few hours later, or a month later. You can time them to send when the customer is most interested. That’s why it’s best to send welcome and confirmation emails immediately when the customer is thinking about them and excited. Meanwhile, an abandoned cart reminder might spur the customer to complete their purchase a couple of days later.
All this can happen while you sit back and watch, conducting A/B tests to see what is most effective and finding where people drop off in campaigns to improve it.
Your customers receive a lot of emails. From everyone. Everyday. I’m sure you do too. It’s annoying, isn’t it? That’s why you shouldn’t bombard your customers with too many emails.
If your customers receive emails from you every day, try to get them to buy this or sign up for that, they’ll be desensitized to your messages, or worse, completely turned off by them. Generally, the best practice is to send one email a week, but that varies depending on industry and your customers. They might be open to more consistent emails. The simple way to think about it is to make sure you are sending quality emails, not just sending an email for the sake of sending an email and don’t overwhelm your customers.
Email marketing is vital for the success of every business, especially startups. These email marketing strategies will help you take your business to new heights! To see just how high your business can fly, set up a meeting with us to learn more about implementing strategies today.