If you are like me, a geek, then you love email marketing.
But unfortunately, most people don’t love email marketing; they think that email marketing falls secondary to every other shiny marketing idea or medium.
I have seen businesses with entire departments built around conversion optimisation, PPC and SEO. These businesses, in turn, have one or two people focusing on email marketing.
This balance of marketing priorities is entirely out of whack!
Smart, smarter, stupid
These conversion optimisation, PPC and SEO teams have smart reports with extensive calculations on conversion rates, time on page metrics and drop off rates.
They track month-on-month, year-on-year performance and have development sprints focused on improving performance.
But once the desired customer action is completed, the attention stops.
Often no one knows what is happening next.
Sometimes, no one cares either.
Think about user experience
Terrible email marketing makes for terrible customer experience.
It drags down your key performance metrics in all departments, and it increases retention rates over the longer term.
More importantly, it makes your company look stupid, unprofessional and unsafe.
Think about it; If you email customers with poor templates, incorrect wording and confusing calls to action, what else they meant to think apart from ‘this is crap’.
This is crap; an analogy for poor email marketing
Imagine buying a cake from me, a huge cake. You have picked all your favourite ingredients to go on it and everything. Your name is even on top of it.
Then, when you about to cut the cake, it falls on the floor.
I quickly pick the cake off the floor and put back on the table in front of you.
It’s still standing, but a bit battered and your name is a little smeared.
You put on a brave face; I tell you that the cake will taste the same.
But that is not how human beings think.
That moment has been ruined.
You certainly won’t be buying another cake from me.
When you remember that moment, you won’t forget that smeared version of that cake.
When you speak to your friends about cakes, you certainly won’t be recommending me.
This is the same feeling you get when you purchase a product you have high expectations about online, only to be followed up with a genuinely terrible email.
It is disheartening for the customer. As a business, it is this underlying principle which makes email marketing so important.
If you get your email marketing wrong, then all the hard work you have done to get to the customer to that point has been damaged.
Having your cake and eating it
I often find that analogies are often the easiest way to get a vital marketing point across to audiences who are not interested in the nuances of marketing.
As marketers, it is our responsibility to explain the importance of subjects such as email marketing to people who don’t care about the issue.
Talking about technical solutions and metrics often doesn’t cut through in a presentation where you have limited time.
Instead of boring the room, I find that an analogy allows me to command emotion and attention to the subject. This then allows you to discuss technical aspects of the matter in a way that people can understand and retain.
When communicating the importance of a subject which usually gets ignored, the ability to do this is essential.
The importance of email marketing
After bringing back memories of disappointing birthdays from your childhood, I hope I now have your attention.
It is time to understand the fundamental reasons why email marketing is essential for your business and why you should dedicate more time to getting your email marketing right now.
There are a few key reasons why email marketing is vital for your business and what it can do to enhance your traffic, leads and sales into your business.
In case you need to justify the budget for email marketing, these reasons could give you food for thought as to how to position the argument why email marketing is a smart move for your business.
Key reasons why email marketing is essential for your business
An opportunity to think about what your customers truly want
Your customers should always be your first consideration when considering any marketing activity.
This fact is especially true when considering email marketing.
It’s our job to get in the minds of our customers.
It’s also our job to tell our customer about things that matter to them, not us.
Sounds obvious, but you would be amazed how many companies forget this vital fact then devising how to communicate with their customers.
The opportunity to think about what the customer would actually want to see and what is the most efficient way to deliver that particular message to them is a valuable exercise for any team.
Unfortunately, we often write and create email campaigns in a purely functional way.
It is this mindset which creates average emails.
This mindset is the also the reason why there are millions of pieces of average content too.
If you think in a transactional, linear way, then don’t expect to get anything other than average results.
It is the process of looking beyond this transactional perspective which will help you make a difference to your customers.
This means bringing together processes and content into one logistical, unified, well thought out approach.
We cover how to do this in later chapters, but it is important not to underestimate the value this process will bring to your understanding of your customer and what they want to get from an email from your business.
Taking this approach can also have positive implications for other areas of your business.
It changes the mindset of how you see your customers; it makes them the centre of your world.
Positivity all round then!
Understanding the basics of customer processes
Email marketing is one of the cornerstones of customer communication, yet is often neglected.
Focusing on email marketing means focusing on getting the basics of your business right: serving the customers’ needs in the smartest, concise way possible.
Mapping out a customer journey forces you to analyse and review your customer processes to see where complaints and inefficiencies are cropping up.
This exercise, in turn, forces you to look at the relationships between different journeys and different mediums as one flow.
The benefit of doing this is that you can usually find smarter ways of reaching a desired action than the current method.
You see the crap you are getting your customers to see or do.
You get to fix these pain points, leading to better customer experiences.
Fixing pain points can reduce complaints and clear up customer confusion, leading to increased customer conversion, retention and engagement rates.
Not an adverse outcome from just looking at some email processes.
Just for note: This point is especially relevant for large companies with complex processes built over time.
You would be amazed how many businesses do not understand how their communication processes work or how inefficient they are.
Driving change in this area can usually make a tremendous amount of business positive change.
Rather than trying to fix the complicated, I find that focusing on the simple gets you results faster.
As someone who wants to make a significant impact on the companies I am working with, I find this an efficient route to success.
Email marketing is metrics driven
Email open and click rates provide great insight into the success of your email campaigns.
Combine this with calls to actions and link tracking, and you can easily measure the effect you campaigns are having.
You can see whether the messaging is correct and you can often track those individuals to see who converted into a sale.
It is these metrics which can help you make critical decisions as to what you want to test in your next A/B test to improve your results.
For example, a change of header might lead to more opens, but does it lead to more clicks? Does that header lead to more sales?
Of those customers who did purchase, what did they purchase, is there anything we can gain from looking directly at these transactions?
Because email has so much tracking built into it as standard, you can view and end-end perspective which is excellent for deriving insight and direction in how your email campaigns should work.
With an active email testing plan, you will be amazed how much you will learn about customer behaviour.
More importantly, you will realise that most of your assumptions about what customers do are wrong.
My assumptions are always wrong; I would expect yours to be too.
Testing these assumptions, makes you realise how little you know about your customers and how much potential there is to improve.
Email marketing is cost effective to set up and run
Due to competition between email service providers, the cost of email marketing has been steadily reducing over the last few years.
There are a tremendous amount of email solutions which you can get for free.
Make sure you read my article on the best FREE marketing solutions for your business if this fits your current situation.
This guide will give you these best options for those of you who are just getting started with their online business start-up but doesn’t have a big budget to match.
This point is especially relevant because other marketing channels are becoming more competitive as more businesses spend more money on the same number of customers.
A great example of this is Google; businesses plough money into Google to increase their short-term sales, increasing the overall cost for everyone.
In fact, I would argue that most paid media channels are starting to suffer from this very same problem.
But luckily, you don’t get that problem with email marketing.
With email marketing, you can work out what your costs are going to be over the long term, without spikes.
Plus you are not dependant on others to define what the price should be, providing you with much great cost controls.
Email sending services also provide a range of cost models from cost-per-send or a fixed cost-per-month.
You can also get monthly or annual payment options depending on what works best for you.
You can, therefore, pick the cost option that works best for your business budget very quickly.
Most sending services pride themselves on being easy to set up, with fixed templates for you to use for your business.
Their approach reduces the time and effort it takes to get up and running quickly.
Less time spent setting up your email means more time dedicated to creating and sending incredible emails to your customers too!
Quick and straightforward email setups are an essential factor to consider when purchasing an email service provider, especially when your time is such a valuable asset.
The CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) for email is amazing
A fundamental way to understand the benefit of email marketing is to consider its Cost Per Acquisition against other marketing mediums.
Email has a low CPA, which means you are getting more bang for your buck when you are focusing on this channel.
This fact is especially true when you consider upselling and retention marketing. Email far outstrips other marketing channels effectiveness here.
If you are trying to run an efficient cost-led model business, then email should be a significant consideration.
This is especially apparent when you consider the long-term implications of effective email marketing.
There is a reason that most large companies are going paperless.
Email is much more efficient, quick, and cheap compared to sending a letter through your postbox.
Great use of marketing means that you can reactively contact people, providing a better customer experience at a fraction of the cost.
Great use of email can also dramatically reduce the dependency on call centres, allowing you to focus your savings elsewhere.
Email is efficient for the customer too; they get what they want to be done, without having to speak to someone. They can do it at a time which suits them, also.
Using email means you know when someone has opened a particular document, which you don’t get from direct mail solutions.
This information means you correctly know who has done what, telling you who what action you need to do next or who you need to speak to next.
Email allows one person to communicate with millions of people instantly to get them committed to a completing a particular action.
Email allows a band to sell out their latest show in hours.
Email allows a business to communicate a new product or service quickly.
All of this efficiency can only be discovered with email marketing.
No other media channel has quite the same cause and effect impact on its audience.
On this same path, this is also why email has such a bad reputation for Spam as they are so easy to send.
I don’t see efficiency as a reason to spam customers with inappropriate emails, nor should you.
Emails can be efficiently poor, as well as efficiently good!
Upsell, upsell, upsell
Getting customers to buy more than one item is arguably more important than getting customers to buy in the first place.
It is cheaper to upsell to existing customers than to have to find and sell to new customers.
Upselling is easier too, as the customers have already taken the step to buy from you. You are not seeling from scratch.
As email is the quickest and most efficient way to target your customers. You can increase sales without having to raise your marketing budget, all through practical email marketing.
When you are trying to justify focusing your attention on email marketing, check out how many of your current sales come from the same set of customers.
If your sales all come from new customers, then you might have just found a great route to increase your sales numbers!
Email is easily the smartest way to remind people that they still need your services.
You can automate your retention process into a considered retention process to ensure less of your customers leave you at the point they need to renew.
This point is especially relevant if you have a yearly subscription service.
Rather than waiting for the inevitable to happen, you can use email to communicate the benefits of being with your brand before it is time to renew.
You can test the impact your changes against doing nothing to see what the effect is.
Over time you can build up the perfect retentions process, improving your profitability as more customers stay with you.
What could be more important than that?
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why email marketing is so important and why you should be dedicating more of your time and effort into it.
With some thought, email marketing can help you improve how you communicate with your customers, putting their needs first.
The more you discover about your customers, the better your service will become over time.
Plus, because email marketing can be utilised at many points, you can solve problems in acquisition, engagement and retention with the same solution.
Not many other mediums provide you with that much opportunity to improve, let alone make more money.
Next chapter, it is essential to understand why email marketing has a bad reputation, so you can learn what kind of email marketing you don’t what to do.
Sometimes learning from the bad, is the best way to be good!