Author: Jenny Stamper

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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Points to Keep in Mind for Error-free Email Automation

“To err is human”

We come across blunders in emails so often. Most of these emails are set as an email automation program. It can get quite frustrating for the marketer when an email subscriber receives such an email and puts it out on social media for everyone to see.

To prevent this awkwardness, here are some points you should remember for an error-free email automation.

  1. Improper planning

Planning an email automation is not a cakewalk. You need to give it enough time and effort with a clear objective in the mind. For every action that the subscriber takes, you need to carefully consider the condition that will trigger the email, and the responder emails on subscriber interaction. You should set the timeframe for the automation and at the same time, keep a close eye on the email marketing metrics. If a subscriber is not opening your emails and not engaging with it, it is time you modify the workflow to send them re-engagement emails rather than the salesy emails.

  1. Wrong name tag

Personalization is the trick that can make or break your email strategy. When done right, it can give a significant boost to the subscriber engagement. On the other hand, if you end up writing the wrong name tag and send an email with “Hi first name”, it is going to disappoint the subscribers pretty bad, and they might end up deleting your email or marking you as spam.

  1. Too many emails

The number of emails you send is an important point to consider whenever you set an automation workflow. If you are sending too many emails with the baseless assumption that it might increase your conversions, you are doing it wrong. Include only necessary emails in your automated campaigns so that the subscriber does not get annoyed with frequent emails.

  1. Irrelevant content

In the quest of automating your marketing strategy and reducing your time and efforts, you should not forget to send relevant content that matches the buyer’s persona and stage of the buyer’s journey. If a subscriber has subscribed to your monthly newsletters and not to your weekly updates, send them emails according to their preferences. Also, remove the unsubscribes from your list so that you do not end up sending emails to someone who is no longer subscribed to your email list. Doing so would hamper your email deliverability and the sender reputation as well. Keep iterating your email automation workflows based on the results you get and do not forget the workflows you have already set.

  1. Incorrect segmentation

Whenever you are setting up email automation workflow, carry out right segmentation so that the emails can be valuable for the reader. Many marketers set email automation workflows without segmenting the lists. Keep in mind that every country observes different Holidays and therefore, you should send only pertinent offers to the subscribers. For example: Mother’s Day is observed on different days at US and UK. Consider all such similar scenarios before setting the automation workflows.

Final Thoughts

Ease of implementation and time-effectiveness are at the cynosure of email automation. Use it to the maximum potential by avoiding these inane mistakes and yield great results from your email campaigns.

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How startups can propel sales with emails

Startups are all about confidently launching a company and witnessing your dreams getting transformed into a commercialized product, service, or business. Thinking big and acting bigger are the keys to advance past competitors and empower themselves to tie their visions to reality.

With Internet taking over everything, direct mail marketing has become digital marketing. Emails, which were once used for personal communications, are now used to send marketing messages and discount offers. As a startup, it is imperative to have an infallible marketing strategy that includes sending great emails.

That said, we shall delve deeper into how startups can propel sales through email marketing.

1. Carry out micro-segmentation

Once you have organically built your list, you should segment it based on basic parameters like age, sex, and geographical location. If your startup has acquired a few customers, you should start segmenting them according to their past purchases, total purchase value, and types of products browsed for. Service-based startups should consider the resources downloaded and pages visited for better segmentation.

2. Personalize the emails

Email personalization is the key to enhanced subscriber engagement. Create buyer personas so that you can send relevant emails that would deliver more value to the reader. Hyper-personalize your emails by applying the principles of artificial intelligence just like brands like Netflix do.

Your buyer’s journey can be divided into three different stages, namely awareness, consideration, and decision. You should draft valuable emails that would be relevant for the subscribers in the respective stages.

For example: If you are a service-based startup and a subscriber has downloaded your pricing information in addition to several resources from your website, you can send out emails that offer a limited-time discount or incentive on purchase. Such emails will encourage the email recipient to take a decision and complete the purchase.

3. Write engaging copy

Rather than bombarding the recipient with mass emails and sales pitches, write an interesting email copy that would help the reader overcome the challenges that he or she could be facing. Brevity works the best if you want to enhance your subscriber engagement.

4. Include interesting visuals

Visual email marketing has got extremely popular in the recent times. Add rich media like images, GIFs, cinemagraphs, and videos in emails. Try your hand at interactive elements like menus, accordions, sliders, etc. to make your emails visually attractive and more informative as well.

5. Entice the reader with exciting offers

Being a startup, you should endeavor to bring in more and more customers through exciting offers. Promote discount coupon codes to tempt the customers to purchase from you. You can incentivize the customers for referrals and leverage on referral email marketing. However, you should keep in mind that you do not attract discount shoppers when you implement such strategies.

6. Optimize your CTA design

Your CTA design greatly influences the click-through rates for your email campaigns. The color of your CTA button should be in contrast with the email design. First person narrative in CTA copy brings better results for marketers. Accordingly, “Download my copy now” would work better than “Download your copy”. Carry out A/B testing to figure out what works better for your email subscribers.

7. Add social media buttons

Email marketing yields higher conversions when combined with social media marketing. Add social media buttons in the footer of your emails so that your subscribers can interact with you on other platforms too. This will encourage the subscribers to make a conversation with you and build a stronger rapport.

8. Test your emails without fail

Before hitting the ‘Send’ button, test your emails and check for grammatical errors or rendering issues. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Final Thoughts

If you are a startup owner who is confused about how to drive sales through email marketing, these tips would surely help you in building an effective strategy that helps you in conversions.

Have we missed out on any email marketing tips that could propel sales for a startup?

Do let us know in the comments below.

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optimizing-emails-mobile

Optimizing Your Emails for Mobile Devices

More emails are read on mobile devices and therefore, it has become imperative to optimize your emails for smaller screens. According to Adestra’s report of “Top 10 email clients”, 59% of email opens took place on mobile, 15% on desktop, and 28% in a webmail client. Moreover, 3 in 5 consumers check their emails on the go (mobile) and 75% of them say that they use their smartphones to check emails.

That’s quite a good number of statistics and you certainly cannot overlook them. If you want to optimize your emails for mobile devices, here are some ideas to help you out.

1. Have smaller file size of the images

Content with images work better than content without images. However, when it comes to designing emails for mobile, select high-resolution light-weight images way that they do not hamper the loading speed of the emails. Resize the images by the proportion of the screen by using the code below:

<img style=”max-width: 75%; max-height: auto;” class=”ia_Center shadow” src=”imagesource.jpg”/>

The width property should be modified according to the screen size. You can use tools like FastStone Photo Resizer and JPEGmini to reduce the file size by 80% without spoiling the image quality. The key is to design simple emails without any unnecessary elements that would take forever to load on slow Internet connections.

2. Avoid writing long paragraphs

Make sure your email copy is succinct and relevant and does not have too many links put together. Include the most important information in the beginning of the email. As your subscribers are accessing the emails on the mobile phone, do not beat around the bush to prevent any distractions.

3. Make the links and CTA buttons easily visible

Precision becomes a task for subscribers using devices with small screens. Therefore, you should add taller and wider text links and CTA buttons. Also, add enough spacing to your links so that your subscriber does not end up clicking on any other link accidentally.

4. Write short subject lines with related pre-header text

It is an email marketing best practice to craft short and sweet subject lines that are informative and interesting enough to get more open-rates even on mobile phones. Your pre-header text should provide value to the subject line so that the recipients get curious to open your email. Preheader text should be short and easy to consume because the pre-header text displayed for every device would be different.

5. Responsive layouts are a must

Many marketers use predesigned templates from their email service provider. They should use responsive templates that automatically fit the screen on which the subscribers view the emails. When using a responsive template, you do not have to bother about any rendering issue or broken email layout.

Final Thoughts

Besides mobile-friendly emails, it is of utmost importance to have a mobile-friendly landing page too. Nothing can turn off your mobile subscribers more than the fact that the information they are seeking is not correctly visible on their phone.

These tips would surely help you create emails that will appeal to all your subscribers regardless of the device they are using.

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