To build an online retail environment you have to develop and maintain a consistent and cohesive approach towards your marketing efforts. And you can’t do that simply by pursuing all the different types of advertising, thinking you’ve got it covered.
If you want to create and execute truly effective marketing, never stop:
- Exploring untapped opportunities
- Monitoring and analysing every effort
- Finding improved ways to integrate strategies
- Digging for data and actioning all new-found insights
To accomplish these four key areas properly, you must first take a step back and look at what you’re already busy doing online. To boost your business you have to grow your audience, and to grow your audience you have to treat every digital channel as a unique building block in a 360 degree strategy.
Today we’re taking a step back with you and diving into the topic of email marketing exclusively. Here we explore the different ways that you can use its powerful capabilities, so that you can build your brand strategically and grow your success.
The oldest trick in the book: a short timeline of email marketing
The very first email was sent 48 years ago, making it 18 years older than the inception of the World Wide Web, and 27 years older than Google itself. The fact it’s still around today is impressive in itself, but it’s also interesting to note that it evolved into one of the most effective marketing tactics, and remains so to this day as other tactics have risen and fallen around it.
In 1978 Gary Thuerk, otherwise known as the Father of Spam, sent out 400 unsolicited emails advertising computer hardware for a company called Digital Equipment Corporation. His bold and original move resulted in $13 million worth of sales – which equates to nearly $50 million today.
18 years later, in 1996, Hotmail launched as the first free personal web based email services, opening the floodgates for marketers to reach even more consumers. (Fun fact, Hotmail was first called HoTMaiL, referencing html – the language of the World Wide Web). Things got rough quickly as advertisers took full advantage of spray and pray marketing tactics. This is when email marketing saw its first strike of discipline and standard-setting initiatives.
By the time Hotmail was 2 years old, the United Kingdom introduced the Data Protection Act, designed firstly to protect the personal information of consumers, and secondly to ensure all marketing emails include an opt-out. By 2003 the US introduced the Can Spam Law while Europe set out the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations to further protect and respect the rights of consumers.
Through the early 2000s things were changing fast. Consumers gained power and were given the voice to vote spam or not spam, and so by 2009 over 30% of emails were no longer reaching their destination inbox. Marketers across the globe had to step up their game if they wanted to see success with email marketing. Everyone suddenly realised how crucial creativity and real conversation is for an email marketing strategy.
This 30% unreached inbox statistic only dampened the mood for sneaky marketers though and didn’t harm the reputation of email itself. In fact by 2011 Apple announced that 75% of British iPhone users were using their phones mostly to access emails, making it the most popular internet activity on mobile. And so a new set of strategic tricks and tactics started launching.
From 2010 onwards, The Age of People Power: Segmentation and Targeted Email took the floor. Data-driven marketing automation and improved personalisation became the real deal-breaker for increased conversion and revenue. Marketers were officially given the golden key that would open the door to email marketing’s sustainable and long-term success. This has slowly but surely led us to where we are today.
Who to turn to for effective email marketing in 2020
We already know the basic rules: Don’t spam. Do your research. Stay relevant. Be cool.
If only it were that easy! You can’t accomplish this if you don’t know your audience segments. All of them. Remember, you’re aiming to gain thousands, maybe even millions of subscribers - so there’s a vast number of personalities and lifestyles you’re dealing with.
You need an email service provider that uses the right customer relationship management tools, and that will give you proper support and dedication you need to ensure that you’re running a robust and calculated marketing strategy.
Here are a few important things that any good email service provider must be able to do:
- Target and maintain the right audiences based on consumer interaction insight.
- Use highly customisable API tags to organise your consumers. This is important for advanced segmentation and proper personalisation.
- Find patterns in conversation to develop and run improved, data-driven campaigns.
- Measure and decipher data and performance metrics.
- Create personalised omnichannel marketing campaigns aimed at growing revenue.
- Track ecommerce purchases driven by email campaigns to understand steps of the buyer’s journey better.
Apart from those skills and the basic services they provide, they must also be proficient in:
- Analysing core business strategies
- Integrating marketing disciplines
- Discovering new opportunities
- Addressing emerging issues
- Thinking across boundaries
As a decision-maker in your company, you face a lot of pressure when you have to choose a service provider that covers all that. Being so bombarded by claims and counterclaims across dozens of companies can render you feeling catatonic through the process, no doubt. You simply don’t want to commit to the wrong thing.
So we’ve made sure that our own list of trusted email service providers ticks all these boxes, because our most important goal is for our own clients to prosper. These companies we work with have proven that they care about your brand growth, that they want to work with you as a team, and that they are equally as excited about skyrocketing your company’s success as you are. You can give us a call if you want to chat further about choosing the right email marketing service provider, based on your specific industry. We’d love to help!
Important list-building tactics for email marketing
1 Get them to sign up
It sounds pretty obvious as a first step, but it’s not such a straightforward approach any more. A lot of companies implement this wholeheartedly and still don’t see the results they want. If you want to create successful sign-up forms that work to gain and convert leads, then make sure you:
Embed your forms on the right channels, without forcing it. People get sign-up requests left right and centre, so you have to be sensitive with your approach and make sure that you’re targeting relevant, valuable leads. Would you rather have a smaller email list with genuine engagement, or a mass of subscribers with an embarrassing open-rate?
Customise your forms. Remember when we spoke about personalising your push notifications to grow your Shopify store? The same goes for customising your sign-up forms so that it speaks to your brand. You’ve got to give your consumers a unique interaction experience, every chance you get.
Create excellent calls-to-action that lure people to sign up. Marketers sometimes take this for granted, not realising the long-term impact a few words can have on a person. Truth is, the shorter your content, the more challenging it is to create. So spend proper time refining that one-liner – it can cost a lot of leads if you don’t.
Make your forms easy to fill in. You don’t need to know everything about them just yet, so get the information you need swiftly, and let them carry on with what they were doing on your page.
2 Stay in their inbox
Imagine someone asks for your number, but then never calls? Consumers know they have the upper hand when it comes to marketing because they can reject you with the click of a button. But oh boy. should you feel flattered when they give you their details! To keep their attention hooked, be sure to:
Send a warm welcome once they’ve hit send. Not only does it verify that they’ve subscribed successfully, but it also introduces your voice to their inbox and sets expectations about what they will be receiving from you in terms of content and frequency. It doesn’t help if they sign-up and only hear from you a week later when you send out an automated campaign. You’re fresh in their memory right then and there, so make it count.
Consider why they signed up in the first place. The bigger your brand, the more campaigns you’re running- you can’t possibly expect each consumer to read every goal-orientated email you send. It all comes back to segmenting your audience and staying relevant to their current position with your brand.
Create a unified brand experience with your messages. You have to be cohesive with what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Remember that the process of brand recognition and brand recall is a subconscious activity, so every time they interact with you, they’re building their perception of you.
Integrate your campaigns. If you’re running a sale on your ecommerce store, you’re going to spread the word on more than one platform. Or if you’re alerting someone on your website that they’ve abandoned cart, you’ll want to remind them of it a little later when you see they haven’t returned. Even if someone signs up for an event on your social media, for example, you can make things official by dropping them a confirmation message saying thank you and expressing your excitement about their involvement.
3 Keep them educated
At the end of the day your email is the one place left where lengthy content is still accepted and appreciated. An inbox is a personal space where users don’t have followers looking over their shoulder and counting their every action. Use this opportunity for consumers to relax and really dig into the knowledge and insight you have to share:
Inform your customers on upcoming products, changes in the company or relevant industry news. You’re most likely sharing this sort of information on social media as well, but we know how distracted people are when they’re doing a routine Facebook or Instagram scroll-through. Your email is for the exclusive crowd – make them feel that way with the news you share and the way you share it.
Use customer education as a strategy to create confidence and build trust in your brand and its products – especially if you’re launching anything new. Sharing downloadable guidelines or useful advice is also an extremely popular way to retain consumer engagement and build loyal customers.
Ask them questions about what they would like to know, or hear more about. Not every email has to be sent from a no-reply address. This is the true test of engagement, and will help you surface the most valuable insight on the consumer’s mind.
Don’t wait any longer
Even if you’re running highly functional campaigns, today’s booming digital industry means that the marketing environment will keep changing things up. It’s inevitable, so no matter how successful you are right now, you have to keep improving if you want to keep growing.
So make sure you’ve been doing it right from the start, and that you’re patching up all the gaps from now on. Better yet, you can ask us to take care of it for you – we have a whole team of ecommerce and email marketing experts that will be delighted to hear from you!