Month: February 2019

A Comprehensive Guide to Effective Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs

The effectiveness of your marketing efforts comes into the light when the customer recalls your brand when they are looking for the solution to their problem, even if it was pitched months ago. Such recallability is only possible when they had a good user experience from your brand and having a personalized conversation with them is one of the best ways to make them feel close.

Most of marketers tend to mistake personalization with addressing their customers by their ‘First name’. Personalized communication, in its true meaning, means having a conversation with your customers based on the journey across the sales funnel and their interactions with your brand. No matter how many new marketing channels ‘mushroom’, the level of personalization possible with emails is still unmatched. Yet, just sending a single email doesn’t turn your prospects into a loyal customer; it takes a series of emails to do so.  This applies to all the entrepreneurs out there, too, who are trying to build a successful business.

So here is a comprehensive guide to effective email marketing for entrepreneurs.

Structure of an email marketing campaign

An email campaign is made up of five basic elements:

  • Campaign Strategy
  • Email List
  • Email Template
  • Landing Page
  • Value addition such as knowledge, rewards, incentive that keeps the subscribers subscribed

Absence of any of the above and you are flushing money down the drain.

In addition, you also need certain tools in order to successfully execute your email campaigns:

  1. Email Service Program – to send the emails to a list
  2. CRM – to process the data collected from prospects
  3. Lead Capture tools – to collect the email address and name of subscriber/prospects

Once you have set up everything, it is time to start your email marketing.

Step 1: Onboarding your subscribers and asking for permission

As we stated earlier that an email list is crucial to send an email, so preliminary step towards your email marketing is building your list by having people subscribe to your brand’s email newsletters. Whether you follow the inbound or outbound methodology, people demand value addition in exchange for their email address. When they subscribe, they are classified as leads who have expressed interest in knowing about your brand.

Some of the most common ways to generate leads are:

  • Industry updates and knowledge sharing via email newsletter
  • Free downloadable resources such as eBook, whitepapers
  • Free trial
  • Sample products

Once they have subscribed, it is time to introduce them to your brands and get to know them better. Always send a welcome email that manages the following tasks:

  • Welcomes them to your brand family
  • Asks them to whitelist you or double opt-in
  • Sets an expectation about your sending frequency (if you send newsletters)
  • Link to complete their online profile
  • Connect on social media

In the below email by Craftsman, the email welcomes the subscribers and offers the option to visit the website, find a nearby store or choose what kind of product information would they wish to receive in future. They end the email with links to their social media accounts for the subscribers to connect.

Step 2: Identify their pain points and educate them on your solutions

Now that your subscribers are somewhat aware about your brand, it is time to connect their problems to the solutions you provide via products / services. Now based on basic demographics such as age, gender, locations, etc. and why they subscribed, you can create custom mailing list and send them lead nurturing emails that periodically provides knowledge based on the pain point they are suffering from.

While you can manually send emails if your customer base is <10 people, it is advisable to make use of email automation to send an email campaign to a particular email list based on your choice. Moreover, thanks to the innovation in terms of merge tags and dynamic content blocks, a specific email template can be pre-populated with details of individual subscriber so that each receives a personalized email content.

Step 3: Sending custom emails at different stages to convert

Additionally, automation brings the option to set up a schedule for your email series to be sent to the subscribers at specific time or user behavior. Depending upon the open and click rates, you can analyze the performance of the email campaigns. Based on the criteria set by you, you can activate different set of email automation based on how the subscriber has progressed to the different stages of the customer journey.

  • In the lead nurturing stage, you set up a drip nurturing email newsletter that periodically imparts knowledge.
  • In the purchase, you set a promotional discount coupon email series to lure the subscriber to make a sale under the pretext of availing a discount or cart abandonment email, if the subscriber abandons your products before checkout at the order page.
  • In the post-purchase stage, you set a series that sends the customer the order receipt, shipping notification, and order delivery notification as soon as they make a purchase. Few days later, the same email series sends a product review email and re-order reminder email for subscription-based products.
  • For the dormant subscribers, you can set up an automation for reviving them and making them active again.
  • Customer delight, wherein you send them birthday or anniversary wishes or build loyalty by sending triggered emails on specific dates

Step 4: Analyzing your campaign performance and making necessary changes

Without feedback, there is no room for improvement and email marketing is an ever-changing scenario where the most converting email of today may not be working flawlessly after a time. So, it is always important to analyze the metrics provided by your ESP to understand what worked and what didn’t. The most common metrics that every email marketer should check are:

  • Open Rate: Highlights on the effectiveness of the subject line. Higher subject line means that your subject line resonated with what your subscribers were looking for.
  • Click Rate: Highlights the effectiveness of the email copy in quenching the thirst of your subscribers. Higher click rates indicate that the email copy and images are satiating the curiosity developed by the subject line.
  • Bounce rate: Incorrect email addresses and filled inbox storage of your subscribers draws this flag. A bounced email is an indicator of wrong address, domain or even SPAM content blocked by the ISP. High bounce is a negative factor for your brand reputation.
  • Unsubscribes and SPAM: People change and preferences change. If your emails no longer match the expectations of the subscribers or they are no longer interested in being subscribed, they can opt out of your mailing list. This is denoted by an unsubscribe. Checking this metric after every email send can help you analyze the relevancy of your email to the need of subscribers.

Meanwhile, SPAM complaints are the worst thing for your brand reputation and signifies that your emails either follow bad practices, attempt to ‘Phish’ or communicates the wrong message. Ideally, the unsubscribes and SPAM complaints should be as low as possible.

One of the best ways to utilize the metrics is by A/B testing different elements of your emails and understand what works for your audience. Moreover, by periodically conducting an email campaign audit can greatly help you optimize your existing email campaigns.

Basic auditing of email campaign involves many stages such as:

  • Email template design optimization
  • Email list hygiene (How well your email list is cleaned from incorrect email addresses and unsubscribes)
  • Sending Timing and Frequency
  • Email deliverability score and sender reputation
  • List segmentation criteria

Email Marketing Best Practices

While email marketing in general, is very easy to set-up and manage, in order to fully utilize the potential of your email campaigns, it is important to follow certain good practices.

  • Have a recognizable FROM name and Sender address
  • Have a CAN-SPAM compliant footer
  • Your subject line and pre-header text should act as a hook, building the suspense about the contents of your email
  • Have an actionable CTA copy that completes following sentence “I wish to ___”
  • Stick to a sending calendar
  • Be open to experiment
  • Periodically ask your subscribers’ feedback

Wrapping Up

Email marketing does promise greater ROI but it involves careful planning and execution. Always look out for industry benchmarks and aim to match them. Other than that, the sky and better engagement are the limits to your email marketing campaigns.

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Boost your Content Marketing and SEO Using Email Marketing

Boost your Content Marketing and SEO Using Email Marketing

For any marketer worth their salt, emails are a boon to build meaningful relations with their prospects & subscribers and eventually convert them in to loyal customers. The core advantage that email marketing has over other marketing channels is the reach and the level of personalization that is possible.

  1. Reach: As long as the email reaches the inbox of your subscriber, the message shall be conveyed to them when they open the email. Although the effectiveness of an email decreases with time, thanks to the reach of the email, once the email lands the inbox, the subscriber can read it anytime.
  2. Personalization: The amount of personalization you can include using merge tags and dynamic content blocks in your emails is advanced to the extent that the same email sent to everyone in a mailing list will get a custom email copy.

Yet, emails are not the only marketing channel in a marketer’s toolbox and instead of each channel competing, they should be working together in helping each other. This article shall focus on the impact of email marketing on SEO and content marketing strategy.

How email marketing improves SEO?

While email marketing doesn’t directly impact your SEO rankings, it does influence the ranking factors. The task of an email is to raise the interest of the subscribers enough to redirect them to a relevant page. When people spend more time on the specific page, they tend to click, comment, and share your posts which in turn improves your SEO score. As your SEO score increases, the visibility of the page increases and ropes in more visitors. Visitors impressed by your content will subscribe to your newsletter and help you craft better content based on their online behavior.

How to use email marketing to improve SEO

1. Drive quality audience to your website

An email is sent to everyone in your emailing list but as we stated earlier, the goal of the email is to redirect those subscribers whose interests align with what you have to offer. This way you separate the qualified prospects from others. These qualified subscribers have a better chance of spending more time to explore all what you have to offer, take up the trial offer or share your article with others.

This is beneficial from content marketing point of view, as you are successful in driving your subscribers to content that matches their interests. This increases the SEO score for that specific page and the page rank for the keywords that connect to the page.

2. Target improved content

The chances of conversion are high only for those with interests aligned to your brand. The best way to identify their interests is based on the emails they interacted with. Right from the subject lines to the body copy to the call-to-action copy, each and every content piece can be tested for relevancy. Add in the factor of personalization and you have a plethora of data-backed content that you can use to engage with your visitors on your website. Based on what content your audience responds to, you can make necessary iterations to the website and SEO.

3. Repurpose existing content

A good content piece is timeless but if it is not promoted periodically, it will soon collect dust. Repurpose existing content that would be relevant to your subscribers by either sending a snippet of the article in your newsletter email or featuring it in a weekly digest. The goal would be to create a content hook and invite those curious to read the complete article on your website, thereby increasing the visits.

In the below email by Simple, each section has a photo, relevant copy of the article along with a link to read the content in detail.

4. Turn high converting email into webpage

An 180o approach compared to above stated example, you can also convert your highly converting emails into dedicated webpages. This is a great way to start building your audience as you curate content to be featured in your emails. Gradually as you progress ahead, you can get a clear picture about what kind of content your subscribers are interested to read about. Voila! You take an inspiration and create your own content around the topic. Everyone looks for value addition and if you manage to provide it in your content, you can watch your page rank up in no time.

In the email below by Sidebar.io, the daily newsletter features 5 links around the central theme of design yet each article addresses a finer topic and based on the interaction you can analyze what topics to feature more.

5. Increased social media shares to increase visibility

Social shares don’t contribute to your SEO… at least not directly. Yet, sending an email, with content that is shared frequently across social media, you end up improving your SEO page rank. By motivating the subscribers to share your email or the content across social media, you gain following advantages:

      • Find opportunities to increase visibility.
      • Increase positive brand mentions.
      • Gain more visits to your website.

In fact, Hootsuite conducted an experiment with 90 articles, where 30 articles were not shared on any social platform, 30 were only shared organically and 30 were heavily promoted with $100 budget each.

The socially promoted articles saw a 23% increase in the search visibility and the ones shared organically also observed 12% increase.

So, send emails that are shared over social media and observe a considerable increase in the SEO ranking.

Key Best practices

Even if you are not targeting to improve SEO predominantly, it is a good practice to remember these practices while planning your campaigns:

    • Check existing content on your website and update it with latest information and trending keywords to remain relevant.
    • Send digest emails containing most popular content to the subscribers.
    • Track the website metrics post email sending and observe the changes.
    • Build content authority by spending time on creating relevant and useful content for your website and email alike.
    • Promote social sharing or ask your subscribers to forward your emails to their social circle.
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