Establishing a marketing strategy can be an incredibly daunting task for many first-time business owners. Despite carrying out extensive market research, a lot of entrepreneurs seem to struggle finding their feet and establishing a groove across various promotional platforms – particularly online. But one digital marketing method you should never shy away from is email marketing.
Why? Because email is a very low-risk and high-reward way in which to consolidate your reach and get your message out there to consumers. Better yet, thanks to a wide range of dynamic and low-cost in-browser tools, it’s now easier than ever to organise and execute a professional email marketing strategy for your business.
To help you get started planning the ways in which your company should be using email marketing, we’ve developed this snapshot guide outlining why email marketing is a great move for your business. More important still, we’ll walk you through the top 9 ways you can (and should) be using email to help build your business.
Why should my company use email marketing?
First of all, is email marketing really as good as everybody says it is? The short answer is yes. But there’s a whole lot more to it than that.
Statistically speaking, email marketing is the easiest way to reach your target audience. Social media giant Facebook might have a staggering two billion monthly active users – but according to researchers at Statista, there are more than 3.7 billion people regularly accessing an email inbox. In the next five years, that figure is anticipated to rise by another 500 million people – increasing to an incredible 4.2 billion people.
That means if you want to maximise your reach, email offers the biggest possible pool of potential sales leads. What’s more, research also suggests those potential leads are hotter than leads coming from other online sources.
Marketing software giant HubSpot reports that 28% of customers say they want to receive emails from their favourite companies at least once a week. Finally, it’s also worth pointing out that customers who click through to your site from an email, spend an estimated 138% more time on your products than organic leads.
That’s why email marketing represents such great value for money compared to other marketing platforms.
According to a survey conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing activity generates an average return on investment (ROI) of some 122%. That means your email marketing returns are likely to be around four times higher than what you should expect to make back on social media marketing, direct mailers or paid search on platforms like Google AdWords.
Bearing all that in mind, you’d be letting your company down by not trying out email marketing. But can you make the most of the fantastic opportunities that come hand-in-hand with email marketing? Well, we’ve got a few ideas.
How should my company be using email marketing?
There are loads of ways you could be using email marketing to bolster your company’s business. But here are 9 top tips that are definitely worth checking out.
1. Keep your customers in the loop
One of the best ways to get started with email marketing is by using it as a medium to inform and educate your customers. This is particularly relevant if your company has got some kind of online store.
When you make a sale online or capture the data of potential leads on your site using a contact form, you should be using the contact details of those enquiries or customers to start building a list of potential email marketing contacts.
It’s crucial to note that the European Union’s new GDPR laws came into effect in May 2018 – and these regulations place stringent limits on how you are allowed to communicate with people online and use their data for marketing purposes. As a result, you should always explicitly ask your customers for consent to send them marketing materials by email.
These rules apply to all companies dealing with EU citizens – and so if you own a UK limited company, you’ll need to comply. For detailed guidance on GDPR and how to collect and record email marketing consent, you should consult the European Commission website.
Assuming you’ve got a GDPR-compliant list of contacts, you should consider this list as one of your company’s most vital communication assets. Whenever something new is happening at your company, you should be using email to communicate that to your list of customers or enquirers.
This could be anything from new opening hours, an event your company will be attending or a new blog on your company website. If you think customers will find it interesting and new, then it warrants an email.
Just remember there is such a thing as emailing your clients too often – and you don’t want to scare them away by clogging up their inbox on a daily basis. That’s why, as a general rule of thumb, you should pool together any company changes into a fortnightly, weekly or biweekly email if you can.
2. Offer your customers pre-sales
A fantastic way to build your list of email marketing subscribers is to offer users some motivation for providing you with their details and email consent – and one of the best motivations are exclusive pre-sale offers.
Instead of simply sending an email to inform your email enquirers about an upcoming product you’re planning on introducing to the market, it’s worth giving your loyal customers an opportunity to get first dibs. Add a strong call to action in your emails, letting subscribers know they are getting an exclusive opportunity to try out your new product or service -before anybody else.
This is fairly easy to do using most e-commerce sites or plugins. If you’ve already got an online store for your business, you should be able to lock down the cart function on a new product page and limit access to a coupon code. That code is what you send out to your subscribers in a marketing email.
This isn’t just a way of rewarding customers. It’s also a way of motivating people to become subscribers. That’s why, if you plan on offering exclusive pre-sale events for your email subscribers, you need to promote your newsletters externally. Generally speaking, this merits a strong call to action on your website’s homepage, leading to a data collection form that users can fill out to join your email lists.
3. Segment your data
If you’ve got enough foresight to collect meaningful details from your sales leads, you’ll subsequently be able to use that data to segment your email marketing efforts.
Segmentation is essentially just the act of slicing your list of email subscribers into bite-sized chunks based on certain parameters – for example, what city they live in, how old they are or what sort of information their initial enquiry was about. By breaking your list down and approaching certain groups with certain offers or information you know they’re more likely to be interested in, you’ll be able to maximise your conversion rates.
According to researchers at MailChimp, segmentation increases the typical company’s email open rates by 14.31%. Segmented campaigns also generate a click-through rate that is 100.95% higher than the average click-through rate of a non-segmented campaign.
Meanwhile, the number of people unsubscribing from your emails should drop by 9.37%, if you’re properly segmenting your email marketing messages.
4. Use A/B testing
Are you familiar with A/B testing? If not, don’t worry. It’s essentially just a fancy way of tinkering with your emails to ensure that your users are more likely to click through to your site and perform any corresponding campaign objectives.
Most email marketing clients now include A/B testing functionality, which enables you to create two versions of the same email. What you decide to test is totally up to you-you could try out two different subject lines, two different header images, two different product descriptions or anything in between.
You can then select a small sample size from your subscriber’s list, and your email client will send one version of your email to the first group, and the second version of your email to the other.
Over the course of a predetermined time-period, your email client should subsequently tally up which version of your email has performed best, in terms of opens and clicks – and will then automatically send the highest-performing version out to the rest of your contacts list.
A/B testing is an extremely low-risk, high-reward email marketing tactic because it only takes a few extra minutes of your time when drafting a marketing email. In terms of best practice, it’s worth bearing in mind you should always test versions simultaneously, and you should try to use as big a test sample as possible to get more accurate results.
5. Send out cross-promotional materials
Do you have any friends or partners running businesses that naturally compliment yours? Then it’s worth striking a deal to promote each other’s goods or services.
Cross-promotional plugs are quite common in email marketing – particularly from larger companies that own different types of businesses. That being said, the principal works equally as well for small business owners looking to band together as part of a mutually beneficial email campaign.
For example, if you own a local dog walking business, you could offer to promote your veterinarian as part of your next marketing email in exchange for customer referrals. This is a win-win way to increase business for both you and your partners.
Just remember not to promote any company that will steal business from you in some way, and remember that you must be GDPR compliant in terms of sharing the personal data of customers with any partner organisations. Again, before you agree to offer details about your email subscribers to third parties, you should consult the European Commission website to make sure you’re not breaking the law.
6. Customise your emails
Email personalisation goes way beyond good market segmentation. Most email clients now include inbuilt merge tags that will allow you to tailor the messages that individual subscribers receive, based on the data they’ve provided you.
That means you can personalise an email to include an individual’s name in your subject line, swap out product suggestions based on a person’s previous buying history and alter email imagery or links as required. This level of customisation takes a bit longer to orchestrate, but platforms like MailChimp make it fairly straightforward – and it definitely pays off.
One recent study by Aberdeen found that personalisation improves marketing campaign click-through rates by 14%. As a result, you’re 10% more likely to convert an email subscriber into a customer by personalising the content they see in emails.
7. Promote add-on products
If you’re selling products online using an ecommerce site or plugin, then you absolutely must send your customers emails promoting add-on products.
An add-on product is just another way to describe a product that is specifically designed to complement another. For example, if your company sells mobile phone cases, an add-on product you could think about offering your clients might be a mobile screen protector or phone charger. You should then be emailing your customers every time they purchase a mobile phone case, to let them know you also offer screen protectors and chargers.
The best way to approach the promotion of add-on products is to sit down and create a list of everything you sell, and then create a map outlining how each product works to complement another. This can help to guide you in promoting add-on products to your customers or clients post-purchase.
8. Offer discount codes
Another way to incentivise sign up for your company email list is to offer users a store discount in exchange for giving you their details and marketing consent. Not only will the promise of a discount push more individuals into signing up to your email marketing lists, but use of those discounts will drive up sales and increase your bottom line.
Discount codes are incredibly easy to implement using an ecommerce site or online shop plugin. All you’ve got to do is assign a discount code to a particular item, and then share that code with your new email subscribers when they register their details.
If your company website is hosted on WordPress, there are plenty of easy-to-use plugins available, like WooCommerce, that make it simple to create and promote new and exclusive discount codes.
9. Get customer feedback
Do you ever worry you might be talking at customers rather than talking with them? An easy way to fix that is to ask for their feedback – and email marketing provides you with an ideal opportunity to collect that feedback.
Freemium platforms like SurveyMonkey now allow companies to create short surveys, quizzes and questionnaires they can send to email subscribers. You can then easily collate the results of your surveys in one place and take advantage of dynamic analytics tools to figure out what people like about your business, what they don’t like and how they would like you to switch things up.
If you find feedback results interesting and choose to act upon them, you can even produce another marketing email to go back out to subscribers to let them know that you’re listening to their feedback. It will go a long way in terms of building a closer relationship with your customers.
The bottom line
Email marketing works a little bit differently for everybody. In the same way, no two companies are 100% alike, you might find that certain email marketing methods work better or worse for you than others. That’s why email marketing is often a game of trial and error.
It may take some time to get yourself into a groove – but once you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt, you understand your subscribers and you’re able to put together a loose strategy to make the most of your digital reach, email marketing is a fantastic way to strengthen your company’s online presence.
Are you looking for a few more ideas on how to strengthen your business? Check out The Biz – Quality Company Formation’s startup and business blog. There, you’ll find loads of resources and how-to guides on business transfers, freelancing, passive income and more.