How to Create Your Email Marketing Strategy

Despite the rumors; Email marketing is not dead

Email marketing is an online marketing tactic that’s getting lost in this world of social media marketing. While we certainly love social media here at Devumi, and you can read 3+ years of our blog on that, the email list still represents a big ally when it comes to marketing your brand online.

Statistics say that 44% of people made a purchase in the last year based on an email they received. Numbers like that should convince you that email marketing is worth your time, but the fact that it’s difficult to build and you cannot do it overnight does deter some people.

If you’ve ever read that email marketing is dead, you’re about to learn that this is far from the truth. Even data from Statista shows that email marketing open rates have risen highly since 2010:

Source: Statista

Your company needs to start building its email strategy now. To make this even better, you’re also going to read ways that your email and social media marketing can crossover and build each other!

Why email marketing is still effective

Email marketing is under your control

Unless you are a huge brand, you’re likely using third-party platforms to sell your products. This may come in the form of social media, or it may come in the form of another company, such as Amazon. These are great for reaching your customers and unlocking new audiences.

The problem is that if these platforms ever disappear, or if audiences move on (Goodbye, MySpace) you will never get access to the customers you had there again. And at no point do you ever gain any access to their personal information: The social media companies keep most of that to themselves! This means that you are extremely limited in how you can reach your customers.

This is one of the greatest perks of having an email list – your email list is under your control, and it enables you to always keep track of your loyal customers. No outside company can ever take your email list away from you, and email is always going to be around.

Segmented Marketing Campaigns

Image courtesy of Get Response
Image courtesy of Get Response

You had better know what your audience likes, because segmenting is important in email marketing:

  • A clothing company will send different newsletter content to male subscribers as opposed to female.
  • A gym will want to send different content to those who haven’t been around in months compared to those who are there all the time.
  • A pet store wouldn’t send cat news to dog lovers.
  • What you send to a list of subscribers will differ from what you send to someone via a Twitter ad.

Acknowledging your audience segments, and building organized newsletter lists gives you the chance to personalize your marketing campaigns.

This can be very important because this is how you go from a casual browser, to a first-time customer, to loyal customers and brand ambassadors. It all starts with having their email, and getting some information on what they’re interested in. We’ll look at this more below.

Email marketing is pretty cheap

Marketing on a national level is expensive. Disagree with that? Here are the average costs for national marketing rates for a number of different media:

  • Television: $63,000 – $8 million
  • Magazine: $250,000
  • Newspaper: $113,00
  • PPC: $4,000 – $10,000

Compared to these national marketing tactics, it’s incredibly cheap to market to an email list. In fact, inbound marketing, like email and social media marketing, can cost 61% less per lead than the outbound marketing examples above.

Source: HubSpot
Source: HubSpot

Data like this is why I highly encourage you to start moving more of your marketing budget towards the social media marketing we specialize in here at Devumi, and the email marketing it can tie in with.

You talk directly to your customers

There’s something to be said for having the chance to speak to someone directly and privately. With the advent of the online eCommerce revolution, it’s no longer possible to simply talk to your customers when they go shopping – they’re not right there in your store for you to speak with!

Both your email list and private messages on social media allow you to talk directly to individual users and have conversations with them. This is how you get customers engaged with your brand. This is how you find out what customers really want from you. Coupling this with engagement strategies on social media can help you learn about the people who are buying your products online. Start asking questions and talking!

The possibilities are endless

You can do some really cool things when you decide to invest in an email list. Yes, you can make sure that existing customers become repeat buyers, but you can also use them to help your business grow. Here are some great ideas for your email list:

  • Offer exclusive gifts and discounts: Reward them for all they’ve put into your business, and for opening your email marketing message.
  • Send out surveys: Get personalized and direct feedback about your company and what you can do going forward.
  • Create a beta review team: Allow a small group of your customers to test your products and services before they go live.

As you can see, there are so many possibilities with an email list. It doesn’t matter whether your list is big or small because you can always make use of the people on that list.

Start building an email marketing list today

With all this in mind, it’s time to start building a list. This is not something you can force. It’s something that must happen organically over time. While you do so, try to maintain a high-quality list. If there are names that have never opened one of your emails, delete them. They are not useful to your goals. They’re taking up space on a list which you should be pruning and editing to make best use of your customer’s interests.

Rookie Email Marketing Strategy Mistakes to Avoid

This section is going to help you identify the most common email marketing strategy mistakes made by rookie email marketers early on. Your email list is already going to take long enough to build: Don’t shoot yourself in the foot and limp along. Avoid these common mistakes and stride forward confidently!

Rookie Mistake 1: Not getting the right permission

It goes without saying that you should always have to ask for permission in some way to add someone to your list. Failing to do so is the simplest way to ruin your list before you get started. Many countries have laws against sending marketing emails without permission. Companies can find themselves in serious legal trouble if they breach these laws.

Here are some tactics you may have thought of that you absolutely should not implement:

  • Collecting business cards and adding emails from them.
  • Starting your list with your contacts in Gmail.
  • Opting for single opt-in. Thankfully, most reputable platforms only offer double opt-in.

These seem like good ideas, but they can actually land you in either legal trouble, or get you banned from the email marketing software you’re using.

Rookie Mistake 2: Failing to promote your list

You have infinite opportunities to provide people with the chance to subscribe to your list. They should have the chance to do it absolutely anywhere at any time they’re online. Don’t hide your list or only show it to people who have made a purchase. Place it in as many locations as possible:

  • Buying YouTube subscribers from us to promote your YouTube? Put a link to subscribe to your email list in your description, and use a call to action in the video with a YouTube Annotation.
  • Using our Twitter followers service? Send out tweets pushing for people to add themselves to your email list as more real fast Twitter users follow you. A retweet package on that tweet could make it look even more popular, pushing for more email sign ups.
  • Did you buy SoundCloud plays for your music or podcast? The description of your song is ripe for a CTA and a link to your subscription page, and your podcast should add a call to action to subscribe. While you’re at it, tell people listening to your podcast a little bit about what they’ll get in these emails.

Most subscribers see the offer multiple times before they actually decide to take it up. Finding new places to advertise will allow you to pitch it to your followers in a few ways, and ultimately lead them to subscribe.

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Rookie Mistake 3: Not using correct segmentation

Image courtesy of Get Response
Image via Get Response

Once you have an email list, the chances are that your subscribers joined for various reasons. They don’t all want the same content because not all of it is relevant to them. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not using the segmentation options on offer.

Here are some of the ways in which you can properly implement segmentation:

  • Product Interests: If you sell multiple product types, you absolutely should be using this. Someone who is interested in one aspect of your business may not be interested in another: Wal-Mart should focus on the over 60 crowd for their incontinence products, not the young adults! As you can see now, this is even more important the wider your overall demographic is.
  • Locations: You may have a special offer specifically for people from a certain part of the world. For example, if you are providing a Labor Day offer in the US, your UK customers may not have any interest because it’s not relevant to them. The goal is to keep things laser targeted for every user segment.
  • Buying Behaviors: The emails you send out to new customers will be different to hardened buyers who have been buying from you for months. Make sure that you are adjusting your tone accordingly. For example, you may be far friendlier and more casual with your older subscribers as you have a solid relationship.

A little bit of segmentation can go a long way towards keeping subscribers around for longer. They feel more often that they’re getting something useful from your emails, rather than something useful for you as you blast everyone with the same message.

Perhaps one of the most successful email marketers out there right now is Groupon. They know all about having a personal email marketing strategy for their audience. Their biggest thing is segmentation by geographic location, with topic or product type being second. Here are four emails from them which show their segmentation:

An example of targeted email marketing
An example of targeted email marketing

One to click if you’re in the mood for travel, a general rewards email, one for local restaurants, and one for local goods. This isn’t spam because you have to sign up and authorize them for each one. Their subscribers can choose to receive and open each one as they see fit. This is much better than having everything in one email!

Rookie Mistake 4: Failing to engage often enough

You can easily go over the top with this, but if you are allowing months and years to go by without any contact, your subscribers are going to forget about you. Finding an ideal frequency to send a message can be difficult, and can change from industry to industry. Our advice would be to start with the data from Get Response below, and see what happens with your unsubscribes by slowly increasing the frequency from there.

Image via Get Response
Image via Get Response

Engagement also means responding to your customers: Never forget that there’s a ‘Reply’ button on every email you send out! In this area, there’s no middle ground. Make sure that you respond within 24 hours. This is simply about good manners. Don’t make people feel like they’re being ignored.

Rookie Mistake 5: Buying a list

If you are thinking about buying a list, stop what you are doing and think again. It sounds like an attractive proposition because it’s all the names without any effort, but it doesn’t work.

To start with, many newsletter platforms forbid it. If they find out what you’ve done, they are going to ban your account. But even if the emails are genuine (highly unlikely), these people are going to have no idea who you are. They have never come into contact with you, so why would they suddenly become interested in your brand? You have sent them an unsolicited email offering them something they may or may not want: You are spam.

Advanced Email List Building Mistakes

Once you get over the rookie mistakes from above, there are still more errors you could be making. Don’t make the rookie mistakes above when you start, and don’t make these mistakes as you move forward with your growing email list.

Failing to Offer Some Sort of Incentive

It’s true that by offering an incentive you are going to get a lot of people who will sign up, take the freebie, and then unsubscribe from the list. This is fine because the incentive you’re offering shouldn’t involve you spending any money beyond its conception.

Your company can offer plenty of free content:

  • eBook
  • Webinar
  • Video
  • Personal message
  • Shout out on social media

If someone does claim it and then vanish, then that’s fine because you haven’t really lost anything. Your loyal customers, however, will get something from it. This is how you’ll create brand ambassadors who will sing your praises in real life, and on social media.

High Unsubscribe Rates? Take a Look at What You’re Sending

The reason why some lists take a long time to build is because people are unsubscribing as quickly as they are subscribing. If this sounds like you, it’s time to look at what you’re sending to your customers.

Organizations that have yet to master email marketing do nothing but send out ads whenever they have a new product or service ready to purchase. You’re sticking to pure sales tactics, and that’s not what people want from an email list.

They want something more from you. They want to have a closer relationship with you. If you are not giving them anything different than what they could see in an ad, why would they stay subscribed to your list? You need to have the same type of value added content in your email marketing as in your social media marketing:

  • Use photos
  • Embed videos
  • Take screenshots
  • Embed tweets
  • Give shout outs to fans

Create an email that people want to read because it’s fun and interesting. Look at your viral content, and create anything but a sales brochure!

Opting for Quantity Over Quality

Email list building implies that building a list with as many emails as possible is your top priority. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is having lots of people on your list pointless, it’s going to cost you more. Most email newsletter platforms charge based on the number of subscribers, so having lots of people not opening your emails is essentially wasting money.

This can get significant when you reach the higher tiers, where thousands of subscribers are involved. It’s not like on Twitter. You can buy all the Twitter followers you want from us, but Twitter is never going to charge you extra for having lots of followers!

A lot of companies like to have large email lists because of ego. They like to boast that they have a few thousand people on their list. But this means nothing if those thousands of people are not responding to your updates and making it worth your time.

The more I think about it, the more silly it is we have >300K email subscribers but no SaaS project on the back end to sell 🙂

Concentrate on removing people from your list that are frequently not opening what you’re sending out. Most email platforms make it easy to see who’s engaged and who isn’t. Make sure you keep the engaged subscribers only.

Not providing a clear unsubscribe link

It may seem counterproductive to make it clear that someone can unsubscribe from your list at any time. Doing this could mean the difference between preserving your list and losing everything you’ve worked for. Why? Two reasons:

  1. If someone no longer wants to subscribe to your list, they will either look for that link or report your mail as spam in order to get rid of it. When someone reports your emails as spam, this is a mark against you. Reach a high enough threshold, which is as low as 0.1% with someone like MailChimp, and it could see your account being banned by your newsletter platform.
  2. It’s illegal in some countries to not provide a clear unsubscribe button. Ever since the USA’s CAN-SPAM act was signed into law in 2003, commercial email has come under tighter controls.

Companies providing email marketing services take spam extremely seriously. If they don’t,  Google is going to come down hard on them, and they may get a visit from their local police. The clearer the link to get off your list the better off you are. Don’t worry, the customers who actually want to hear from you are not going to accidentally click this button.

Stop making email marketing mistakes

It’s easy to make mistakes, from your rookie moments to further along, when building your email list. By far the biggest misconception is that size matters in email marketing. This is something you should be looking to get away from. Focus on quality, and focus on giving your subscribers the best possible experience.

Do this and you will be able to turn your email marketing strategy into a major asset quicker, and make real money for your company.

What Should Your Marketing Team Send Your Email Subscribers?

Once you have someone on your list, the process is only beginning. You have to keep them engaged and keep them interested in your brand. This section is going to show you some of the things you should and shouldn’t be sending to your email subscribers.

Don’t sell, sell, sell

It’s okay to mention when a new product or service has hit the market, but if this is the only time you get in touch with your subscribers you are making a huge mistake. At this point, they are not getting anything from your list that they couldn’t get from your usual advertising spiel.

Make your list different. Most of your content should be about you giving back to them, just like your Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media marketing. As we’ve seen on YouTube countless times, it’s ok to have a little fun with your inbound marketing strategy.

Exclusive updates about your company

One of the benefits of being part of an email list is you get to have access to content that nobody else has. One of the easiest ways to do this is by providing exclusive updates about your company. This can come in many forms, including:

  • Updates on upcoming products and services weeks before you make an official announcement. This can do a lot to build word of mouth hype as exclusive information is seen as valuable and shared between friends.
  • A look behind the scenes. You may offer a tour of your headquarters, show how you make products, or let them meet your kooky accountant up on the third floor.
  • Collaborations and insights into partner organizations. This may be your suppliers, those you donate to, shipping companies, or any other business your work with.

By offering exclusive updates about your company you are immediately elevating your email list above the normal user experience. This is going to keep people interested, especially if they are loyal and want to be more involved with your processes.

Even better, if you have exclusive content for your email subscribers, make mention of it elsewhere:

We have some exciting news to share with our email subscribers soon, keep your eyes peeled 👀

Every push helps.

Ask for their opinions

You are missing out on a golden opportunity if you haven’t yet asked your email subscribers what they like and dislike about your products. Essentially, you have a testing team just waiting to be exploited. Ask for their opinions.

You may decide to create a formal survey through something like Survey Monkey, or it may be on a more casual basis. Here’s a more informal example from Get Smarter:


Image via Get Smarter
Image via Get Smarter

All customers love to know that their feedback matters, asking for it will let them know that you’re interested. In addition, try not to offer coupons or incentives as part of this feedback gathering. You only want feedback from people who are genuinely interested in giving you actionable feedback, not those who will say anything to get free stuff.

Show your subscribers that they matter

You are bound to receive feedback from customers, whether you ask for it or not. There’s nothing worse than a company that doesn’t update its customers on how they have reacted to feedback. There’s no easier way to make customers feel like they don’t matter than by not responding to their email.

If you have recently sent out a survey, provide an update on what has happened to that feedback. You don’t have to name any names, but go out of your way to show that you have taken your customers and their opinions onboard. A pie graph can help! So can pie…

Source: MailChimp
Source: MailChimp

Build a beta team from your email subscriber list

Now it’s time to go one step further and get your customers deeply involved with your product development process. Creating a beta team is a great way of working out any problems early on. That way you can get feedback before you unleash your latest creation to a wider audience.

All you have to do is provide a free trial run of a product or service in exchange for feedback. All the big companies do it, so there’s no reason why you can’t do it as well, regardless of how large you are.

A beta team is how you bring customers into your processes with the intention of embedding them into your culture. The bonus is that you are essentially hiring people …in all but name and salary.

A permanent dialogue should be opened

Out of all the stuff you’re sending, what you should be getting ready for in return is an open dialogue with your customers. There’s no formula for what you should be sending to your customers to get responses. It’s something you have to learn how to do as you grow as a business leader. The numbers say that 22.2% more opens are acquired through something as simple as personalized subject lines. Imagine you are speaking to each and every person on a one-to-one basis.

This permanent dialogue is what turns customers into fans, and what makes fans into brand ambassadors. It’s a time-consuming process, but it’s definitely a worthwhile one as most eCommerce businesses no longer have that over-the-counter conversation anymore!

Check out this article on Twitter engagement strategies. Since email marketing and Twitter marketing are both inbound marketing strategies, you can learn from one to improve the other. Have open dialogues in your email like @Starbucks has ever day with their followers:

Starbucks is a great example of a "social" brand
Starbucks is a great example of a “social” brand

Don’t overlook your email marketing strategy, or how it works with social media!

We at Devumi spend most of our time looking at all forms of social media marketing. It’s what we do, and what we’re best at. There is, however, no denying that email marketing is still effective, and can still integrate with good social media practices. Unfortunately, only 33% (see below) of respondents amongst all industries are integrating their social media and email marketing.

Image via Get Response
Image via Get Response

The opportunity for you to use our services and incorporate them into your email marketing is there. Any time you use one of our services, or read one of our blogs, think about the information you’ve read here today. Can you add email marketing to this for another avenue of success? Can you build another aspect of your entire online marketing campaign for greater returns on what you invest in our services?

There’s always opportunities to grow online. Putting email marketing together with social media, and Devumi services, can help you grow so fast you’ll need to hire new people to manage it all!

SoundCloud Crowd by Devumi