$65,000. In a single email campaign.
It’s about 1:30 pm on Black Friday 2014. The owner of a small contracting business in a suburb of Atlanta decides to send an email campaign offering a Black Friday deal. And although he’d been collecting email addresses for some time, this is his first campaign. He sits down at the computer with his wife, and together they craft an email and hit send. Within a few hours, he secures over $65,000 in sales. True story!
Email marketing done right (or even done mediocre) can be incredibly effective. According to Salesforce, email marketing has an average of 3800% ROI. So every $1 spent on email marketing generates $38 in revenue. Now that's some pretty powerful stuff.
What makes email marketing so effective?
Email marketing is effective because your subscribers have indicated they're interested in receiving information and communication from your business. At its core, email marketing is sending a targeted message to an interested audience with a call to action, and measuring your results. Let’s explore these three components of email marketing.
WIIFM: what’s in it for me? (AKA an interested audience) Your subscribers have specifically indicated they want more information from you. Perhaps it’s the latest updates or trends; maybe it’s discounts or sales; maybe it’s volunteer opportunities. When your subscribers know what to expect and how often to expect information from you, they can make the choice to receive email communications from you. By identifying their interests and segmenting your list, it’s easy and profitable to send targeted email campaigns.
Let’s look at Diane the esthetician. Diane has a subscriber list of around 420. Over the past two years, she’s spent a little time segmenting her list. She’s created various tags for her subscribers: birthday month, acne clients, oncology clients, brides, anti-aging services, and more. Segmenting her list has enabled her to send highly targeted email campaigns and has resulted in an increased open rate and a significant increase in sales. She sends new product announcements to her acne clients, promotes new services to her anti-aging clients, and shares important information to her oncology clients. Her birthday emails always result in extra sales. Average open rates for Diane’s industry are 18%. Diane routinely has open rates of 34% and more because she sends highly targeted emails! OK, open rates are great, but show me the money, right? You got it! Last December, Diane sent a general email to her entire list and sold over $12,500 in three weeks.
What do you want your readers to do? (AKA a call to action) Including a call to action or CTA, is the second most important component of email marketing. Otherwise, readers don’t know what to do with the email. When you’ve segmented your list, it’s easier to create a relevant CTA. A call to action can be a number of things: call us to schedule an appointment; register for our event; redeem a promo code; follow us on social media; watch our video: the list goes on. Most email service providers (ESP) have the capability to include links or embed clickable buttons into your email campaign that make this task very easy. The important thing to remember is to make your call to action relevant to your readers.
Let’s look at the Chamber of Commerce. Like most chambers of commerce, our local chamber has an annual golf outing. They’ve tracked their sponsors and teams and volunteers over the years and tagged them appropriately in their ESP. Wisely, they include information in their monthly newsletter and include a link to register a team for the tournament, or sign up to volunteer, or get more information about sponsorship. They also send targeted emails to previous teams, sponsors and volunteers with CTAs specific to those segmented lists. Using an ESP enables us to track and measure both open rates and click-through-rates (CTR). Now when the events coordinator sees that John Doe has opened and clicked on the sponsorship link, she can follow up with a phone call or whatever her next step is to close the deal.
What are my next steps? (AKA measuring your results) Using a professional email service provider provides you with incredible data. At Constant Contact, they have an oft-used phrase: “if you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing.” Some key metrics to measure include open rate, bounce rate, opt-out rates, click-through-rate (CTR) and SPAM complaints. According to Constant Contact, across all industries email open rates average around 18.5%; bounce rate 9.6%; opt-out 0.2%; CTR 7.8%. It’s important to review your campaign results and see how you measure up to your industry averages. A word of advice: don’t be romanced by a high open rate: focus on the action your reader took! What did they do? Open the email multiple times? Click on a link? Unsubscribe? Paying attention to these metrics will help you decide on the next step you need to take.
Let’s take a look at Bobby, the fishing guide. Even though he’s incredibly passionate about his fishing, Bobby is also a numbers guy. He pays very close attention to the results of his email campaigns. Bobby has a highly targeted, highly engaged email list. He has consistent open rates exceeding 51%. He sifts through the data with a fine-tooth comb and makes many business decisions based on this email marketing results. He measures interest by tracking CTRs; he measures sales through his registration links. He follows up with subscribers on an individual basis when they click through, but don’t register. He monitors his bounce rate and investigates to determine the cause of the bounce. Bobby is a true marketer in this regard.
But wait! What about Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and all the others?
Good question! Email marketing is great on its own. But paired with your social media platforms, it’s an even more powerful tool. Let’s be honest: not everyone who is on your email list is following you on social media. Not everyone who is following you on social media is on your email list. The algorithms on the various social media platforms vary widely and change often; organic reach has continued to decline on Facebook over the years, down to an average of 1.2% in 2018. Email marketing has an average deliverability rate of 90%. Some things to consider: we don’t own our social media platforms, but you do own your email list! Having an email service provider (like Constant Contact or AWeber) enables you to effectively and easily communicate with your subscribers.
Let’s take a look at Ben, the power washer guy. Ben is only marketing through Facebook: no website, no email marketing, just Facebook. If Facebook goes down (as it has on a number of occasions), or worse, shuts down, Ben has lost all ability to communicate with his audience because he built his mansion on rented ground.
Let’s take it one step further: email marketing + social media marketing = increased engagement! Use your email marketing to grow your social media presence. Include your linked social media icons on your email campaigns; heck, send an email that simply drives traffic to your social media sites! Use your social media sites to drive traffic to your “Join Our List” link: create an exclusive offer that will make people excited to share their email address with you! Share your email campaigns on your social media sites. Share your highest performing social media posts in your email campaigns. Think of it like twins: they complement each other and have many similarities and both have an important part in your complete digital marketing strategy, but they can’t take the place of each other.
I’m convinced that email marketing is profitable and easy, but how do I get started?
Yes, email marketing is profitable and easy. There are 3 little steps to get started.
- Pick a platform. Simply sign up for an account with your ESP of choice. There are many options to choose from, so do some research and find the one you think will best serve your needs.
- Upload your list. You likely have a customer list, so add those! Ask your colleagues and potential customers if they’d like to join your list. Remember: it’s important to have permission and ask for their preferences so you can start segmenting and targeting from the start.
- Create your email and send it! It doesn’t have to be a long email, with lots of content. I recommend keeping it short and sweet. Most folks will be reading from a mobile device, so be sure it’s easy to read on mobile. Check your stats in a couple of days, and use that data to help you create your next campaign. (And don’t forget to share it on your social media sites!)
Email marketing doesn’t have to be hard or tedious. Don’t overthink it. You are unique and you are an expert at what you do. You have an audience of clients (or customers or supporters) who are dedicated to you. With email marketing, you have the ability to further nurture those relationships. You have everything you need. You can do this.