E-mail Marketing – The complete guide to be successful with your e-mails

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When we talk about digital marketing, it is impossible not to talk about e-mail marketing. Contrary to what many “internet prophets” say, e-mail marketing is far from dead and remains one of the most effective marketing strategies when it comes to reader retention and conversion into sales. No matter how hard you try to buy traffic, create incredible Facebook campaigns or improve the SEO of your content, nothing will come close to the conversion rates with e-mail marketing.

Unlike other forms of digital marketing, e-mail marketing has the great advantage of being a one-to-one type of communication, which means you will send a personalized e-mail directly to a person who has consented you to contact them with that goal. It is the same as you imagine having a store and you know exactly which of those people who are passing by are interested in hearing you or buying from you. The power of e-mail marketing is precisely in this connection between the speaker and the listener, with the advantage that you have the person’s permission to communicate with him; it makes you sure that the person really wants to know about what you are talking about, unlike other forms of digital marketing where you fire your message to every kind of person in the eagerness to find your target audience, as is the case with Facebook ads.

If we take into account that more than 90% of people who use the internet do access their e-mail box frequently, then the game level goes up to an absolutely incredible stage. Whether you are a beginner, an intermediate user or an expert, you will find content, tips, and strategies to improve your conversions and sales using e-mail marketing in a totally effective way without annoying your readers with inconvenient messages.

What is e-mail marketing?

If you are not familiar with e-mail marketing strategies then know beforehand that you are leaving lots of money on the table. E-mail marketing consists of communicating with your readers through messages sent by e-mail. Those communications are done through e- mail marketing platforms or marketing automation platforms, which are available on the internet to send e-mails to large or small amounts of contacts, without you being considered a spammer or breaking any law.

The vast majority of large companies use e-mail marketing to communicate with their customers, either to offer discounts, to inform new product launches, or simply to report something cool that happened and that person might want to be told that. You can use e- mail marketing to communicate what you want, but usually that communication strategy is used for the following purposes:

  • Communicate discounts on products or balances;
  • Confirm a purchase you made at an online store;
  • Confirm the airline tickets you bought online;
  • Communicate new product launches;
  • Report changes to the site or online store;
  • Inform them that you wrote a new article on your blog;
  • Sell a physical or digital product;
  • Among others.

E-mail marketing can and should be used for more than one of those actions. That will involve rules and strategies, things we will talk about throughout this article. When e-mail marketing began to gain visibility in the digital marketing world, it was often confused with the “direct marketing” or “direct mail” communication strategies that were used in the past, which consisted of sending unsolicited messages directly to the mailboxes of people’s houses.

However, e-mail marketing has evolved, as well as e-mail marketing platforms, offering far more advanced technology solutions that avoid sending unsolicited e-mail communications to the utmost, ensuring that marketers and businesses respect their consumers, and, above all, that they respect the laws of communication.

Why should I use e-mail marketing?

E-mail Marketing TipsThere are several reasons why you should want to use an e-mail marketing strategy in your digital business. I have talked about some of the advantages of that strategy earlier, and the main one is that you have the opportunity to directly contact a person who is interested in hearing you. The power of this type of communication is really huge, since it is the same as going out on the street and knowing in advance which people we should approach to buy our product. Ever wondered what that would be like?

Among the many advantages we can list for you to work with e-mail marketing as a valid communication strategy, I highlight those that are the big reasons for you to immediately adopt this strategy in your digital or non digital businesses. Regardless of whether your business is digital or not, you need to start using these strategies and start communicating directly with your audience in an effective way. Here are some of the reasons why you should work with e-mail marketing in your business:

1. Engagement with your audience

If you have a newsletter subscription box on your website or blog, whenever someone leaves their e-mail to receive your newsletter, that person is giving you consent so that you can contact them whenever you have something relevant to say. Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses and marketers tend to mismanage their communication strategies, and one of the ones that is usually left out is e-mail marketing. Working with an effective communication strategy allows you to create incredible engagement with your audience and creates unbelievable authority at the same time.

If you are recording lives on Facebook or YouTube videos to create authority but do not engage with your e-mail contacts, you are doing everything the wrong way. Your e-mails are one of the most powerful weapons you have to communicate with people, even more so after they give you their consent to contact them whenever you find it relevant that they are contacted.

2. Educate your audience

Contrary to what the vast majority of people think, e-mail marketing is not just used for the purpose of selling something. In a properly thought-out and planned digital communication strategy, education of your target audience must be included. You are going to understand that there is a huge difference between both strategies when trying to send 100% of commercial messages on regular basis or educational content.

Educating your leads is critical for them to realize how important your content is, the relevance of what you have to say and also what solutions you have for their problems. Basically, what everyone wants is to solve their problems in some way and you can be an important part of that process, as I said in my article about inbound marketing. If you imagine that a good percentage of your mailing list is leads and you need to turn them into customers, you need to educate those leads and make them understand that you are really the solution to their problem.

3. Incredible organic reach

When you send an e-mail to your contacts they actually receive it, unlike other media like Facebook, where the organic reach has dropped considerably. Companies and professionals are tending to have more and more difficulties in making their messages reach their target audience. Regarding e-mail marketing, it does not happen, because when you send an e-mail to a list of 1,500 contacts, they will all receive your e-mail in their inbox. It does not mean that they will open the e-mail, but at least you are sure that they have received it.

The organic reach of an e-mail list is far more powerful than any other media you use. If we add to it the fact that those people want to receive your e-mails and read what you have to write, then the result will be considerably better than any other strategy you choose to carry out in your digital business.

4. Promote content

If you write regularly on your blog, keeping a newsletter is critical to communicate with your audience and also as a way to promote your content. If you follow my newsletter, you know what I am talking about. In a content marketing strategy, you can also include e-mail marketing as a way to promote that content to an audience that wants to read it. What is more, when someone subscribes to a newsletter for a blog, it is because they want to be the first person to read the new articles you publish.

5. Sell your products

Naturally, in an e-mail marketing strategy selling is also important. It should not be your priority when sending an e-mail to your readers, though, but it should be part of your communication strategy with them. E-mail generates incredible sales conversion if you respect the four points I mentioned earlier, that is, if you work your leads well, with relevant content, creating higher engagement with them and nurturing your knowledge with intentions free of second thoughts.

Obviously you also want to sell something to your audience, whether it is sending a newsletter with new products that arrived in your store, or promoting an e-book that you created specifically for that audience. Regardless of the reasons that lead you to want to sell something to your readers, you need to understand how often you should do business approaches, at the risk of a good portion of your subscribers to unsubscribe from your newsletter. Pay close attention to it!

6. Marketing Automation

With the evolution of the internet and e-mail marketing softwares, the introduction of automation into marketing made all the communication experience simpler. Nowadays, using an e-mail software you can schedule your e-mails to be triggered automatically under certain conditions. For example, if a person signs up for your list, he will automatically receive a welcome e-mail. If the person does not click on one of the links in your e-mail, you may schedule to send another e-mail the next day. If the person did not buy your product or did not open the e-mail, you may send a new e-mail with a new title, two days later, and so on.

Today, there are several automation options to choose from, which means that a lot of your work can stay on autopilot while you focus on doing what you do well. This is wonderful!

What mistakes to avoid in e-mail marketing?

Mistakes to avoid in e-mail marketingWhen we talk about e-mail marketing, we often forget the importance of having well- defined strategy and planning. Internet is full of spammers wanting to convince you that you need to buy a product. Obviously, if you want to work with it in a professional way, you need to understand which errors to avoid and what you should not even do when working with e-mail marketing, otherwise you could be throwing away your entire business, your credibility, and your authority.

  1. Do not buy mailing lists. If you think that buying a targeted mailing list will be the salvation for the sale of your product, you are mistaken. In addition to being illegal to send communications to people who have not given you permission to do so, you will be trying to communicate to people who have never heard of you, let alone your company. Your e-mail opt-in rates will be low, your conversions too, and you still take the risk of your message to be labeled as spam and be included in a black list of junk e-mails only.
  2. Do not try to sell desperately. As I said earlier, if 8 out of ten e-mails you send is about the sale of something, it indicates that you are desperate to sell; you will give the wrong message to your readers and destroy your reputation in a short time. Your readers want to be nurtured with quality content and really want to learn from it.
  3. Lack of campaign targeting. Let’s imagine that you have an e-commerce store written in three languages. Whenever you send a newsletter to your entire e-mail list regardless of the person’s country of origin, you are making a gigantic mistake. It is the same as you imagine advertising on TV in Mandarin with the purpose of selling something to a person that lives in Brazil. Campaign targeting, whether by language, interest, product, etc., makes perfect sense and drastically improves your conversion results.
  4. Sending too many e-mails. The two main reasons why a person unsubscribes a mailing list are: number of e-mails sent and constant attempts to sell something without delivering absolutely nothing. How often you send an e-mail to your list also determines the success of your initiatives. Do not be too pushy; give your readers time to consume the content you recommend.
  5. Sending e-mails without text. In the XXI century, it is incredible how many companies still send e-mails with only a single image. Keep in mind that text e-mails perform much better than picture e-mails. What is more, text e-mails are lighter, which makes them to not be considered as junk mail (spam) so much as messages with images only.
  6. Lack of defined goals. Just as you need to do content planning before writing articles for your blog, you also need to plan your e-mail marketing actions. Whenever you send an e-mail, it must have a purpose, whether it is getting your readers to read your articles on the blog, buying something from you or simply reading the content you have submitted. If you do not set a goal for your campaign, it will never meet that goal.
  7. Lack of A/B tests. A/B testing can be performed on any e-mail marketing platform. Those tests are essentially for you to test two different variations of the same campaign by changing only the title of the e-mail or part of the content, and then compare the results of both to see how your audience responds to them. Testing e- mail titles can have a significant impact on the open rate.
  8. Lack of tracking metrics. The metrics do not just mean that you can brag on Facebook about your achievements. They essentially give you better understanding of what you are doing right and wrong and what strategies you need to improve in order to achieve your goals. What is more, metrics can deceive sometimes. If your e-mails have a 60% opening rate but a click through rate of only 1%, you are far from meeting your goal.

There are huge mistakes to avoid when it comes to e-mail communication. Above all, you need to understand the medium and the way your readers consume your content. If you imagine that every e-mail you send is a unique opportunity to talk directly to a person, you would probably be more careful with how you write them. Never forget the importance of writing a message that really adds value to anyone reading it. Anything that does not add value is a waste of time.

Metrics often deceive. If your e-mails have a 50% opening rate but a click rate of only 1%, your campaigns must be improved.

The best e-mail marketing softwares

In the market there are dozens or hundreds of e-mail marketing softwares available. Some are extremely simple to use, others are extremely complex. There are also ones that are quite affordable and others not so much. You will have to choose the one that fits your goals and portfolio the most.

Of all the software out there, my favorite is still MailChimp. In addition to offering a free account up to 2,000 subscribers, it is probably the simplest software to use in the market and also the most widely used software in the world. Its price is average compared to other existing offers, but the quality of the submissions is fantastic, ensuring that your e- mails actually arrive in the inbox of your readers. In addition, MailChimp includes e-mail automation, ensuring you can build a truly effective autoresponder for your campaigns.

E-mail Marketing - MailChimp

Another e-mail marketing software that I have tested a lot and that also offers a very simple interface at a fair price is Campaign Monitor. It also offers automation of e-mails and creation of multiple lists as well as several other interesting features for you to get the most out of every e-mail sent.

E-mail Marketing - Campaign Monitor

There are several other e-mail marketing softwares that you can try out. What works best for me will not necessarily work for you. There’s nothing like testing your campaigns on each of them and comparing the results. Of all softwares I have tested, I also highlight E-Goi, Infusionsoft and Aweber. There are lots of other softwares on the market but, as I have never tested them, I will not recommend or show my opinion about them.

The most important thing in a great e-mail marketing tool is the delivery rate of your campaigns. Obviously, the delivery rate is also conditioned by some factors that only you control, such as e-mail titles, content, among other technical aspects. However, all the tools I have listed above guarantee excellent delivery rates for your e-mails for a really fair price.

How to prevent spam filters

There are several strategies to prevent your e-mails from frequently being labeled as junk mail (spam). Obviously, a good part of those strategies you already control, others not so much. If a good part of your readers frequently label your e-mail as spam, it is only natural that in a short period of time they start to be considered as spam by several other providers in the market, such as Gmail or Hotmail.

To prevent your e-mails from being considered spam by e-mail providers, follow some of the following simple rules:

  • Avoid too much exclamation points or question marks (!!!????) in the titles of your e- mails;
  • Avoid sending e-mails with too many images. The heavier an e-mail, the more likely it goes directly to the spam box;
  • Be careful with the language you use. The content of your e-mail also determines whether it is spam or not;
  • Deliver value to your readers. If your e-mail is worthless, it will be marked as spam;
  • Do not send e-mails to people who have not subscribed to your list. They will automatically label your e-mails as spam;
  • Some web servers running Apache have a SpamScore to detect whether certain IP is considered a spammer or not. Pay attention to it!
  • Keep the metrics of your campaigns under your care to check if your readers are receiving and opening your e-mails. If that does not happen, your e-mails are probably being sent directly to their spam boxes.

The most important thing is to always deliver content with value to your readers. The more relevant that content is, the more likely your readers will continue to receive your e-mails and they will not be marked as spam.

Tips for Succeeding with E-mail Marketing

Now that you have understood what it all means, what tools to use, what mistakes to avoid, and how to protect yourself in your e-mail marketing actions, it is time for you to understand what you can do to succeed with your campaigns and increase your chances of getting better results, whether it means more people are reading your articles, more sales in your online store, or any other goal you set.

1. A good title makes all the difference

Creating great e-mail titles can make an incredible difference in the opening rates, specially in the results of your campaigns. However, avoid typing headlines just to get more readings from your e-mails because if the content does not match the e-mail title, your readers are likely to mark them as spam. Good titles are those that, quite objectively, create the desire to click on the e-mail with relevant content.

  • Titles with the highest opening rates are between 6 and 10 words maximum;
  • Titles of e-mails with the person’s name generate at least 40% more opening rates;
  • Focus your titles on what the reader will gain by opening your e-mail;
  • Titles with CAPITAL LETTERS often generate less opening rate and are more often marked as spam;
  • Awaken the reader’s curiosity to click. More suggestive titles generate higher opening rates.

In order to understand what would be a good title for your e-mails, let us check an example:

I posted a new article on my blog

or:

15 Amazing Strategies to Generate More Traffic on Your Blog

As might be expected, you do understand the difference between those two titles. Both of them present to the reader the same content. However, which one would get the reader’s attention the most? It is obvious now that you need to work hard on the titles of your e-mails, since they are the first thing the reader reads before opening it. A good title can result in a considerable performance increase in your e-mail marketing strategy.

2. A good call-to-action makes all the difference

If you want your readers to click on a certain link in your e-mail to accomplish a goal, then you need to make that call-to-action very clear. E-mails almost always contain links, except when there is no purpose other than to inform the reader of something. In all other cases, you will want your readers to visit your blog to read a certain story you wrote, buy a ticket for an event, or a product you are marketing. In all those situations, a good call- to-action makes all the difference.

E-mail Marketing - Call-to-Action

In that example, you can see that a strong call-to-action was used at the end of the e- mail and it was also highlighted as a button, generating an even more positive visual impact on the reader. The “click here” action also determines where the reader should click and what action he should take. If you do not define what action you want the reader to do, it is likely that he simply will not do it. So if you want the person to download an e- book, use a call-to-action like “Click here to download the XPTO e-book now”. If you want him to buy a product with discount, use a call-to-action like “Click here to buy now. The discount ends today!”.

3. Your e-mails must be responsive

E-mail Marketing in MobileMore than 70% of e-mails sent over the internet are read on smartphones or tablets. This means that the larger slice of readers who will open their e-mails will likely do so on a smartphone or tablet. If your e-mails are not responsive, they will simply bring a bad experience to your readers.

When you design your e-mail campaigns, pay special attention to the mobile version. It will likely have a greater impact on your campaign results than any other content-related aspect. If you think of mobile first, you’ll understand that there are several things to keep in mind when you open an e-mail on a smartphone, such as text size, call-to-action placement, first link, and so on. To get more out of the mobile version of your e-mails, pay attention to the following:

  • Text Size – Considering that the vast majority of users read e-mails on smartphones or tablets, their e-mails need to be small and fairly objective. Long texts do not work well on mobile. You will need to be much more objective in your copies to prevent your readers from giving up reading.
  • Call-to-action position – In mobile, it is important that the first link in your text appear above the fold, before the user scrolls through the e-mail. Do not forget also to adapt the dimension of the text so that in the mobile you can read it clearly and that your readers can click on the links, obviously.
  • Images size – If you use images in e-mails, make sure that they appear correctly in mobile and do not pop the user screen. It is very important that the images you use to desktop are adaptable to the mobile version of your e-mails, otherwise the reading experience will be very close to bad.

Just like on websites, e-mails need to be worked on and thought out first for mobile and then desktop, even more so when 70% of Internet e-mail is read on smartphones and tablets. So work hard on mobile and the results of your actions will be certainly much better.

4. E-mails customization

Everyone likes to get an e-mail that starts with something like “Hello, Paulo…”. That level of customization makes the message more personal and is something that generates an incredible result. For you to do that, you will need to collect at least the person’s first name and their e-mail. The vast majority of e-mail marketing platforms allow you to use tags to automatically include the person’s name on it, making the messages more appealing and with a much more personal tone.

You can go even further by calling the person by the name in the copy of your e-mail. When you create personal messages, the person that reads it will feel that the message was written exclusively for them, generating more empathy and, of course, a higher click- through rate.

5. Think about the user first

When you write an article for your blog the content has to be relevant to your reader. When writing an e-mail the idea is exactly the same. If your e-mail content is not useful to your readers, you are doing it the wrong way. Whenever you send an e-mail, you should first think about the usefulness of the message you are about to send. The more useful the e-mail is to the user, the more likely it is that he will continue to receive e-mails from you.

6. Use a P.S. to get attention

In some of your e-mails, I recommend that you start using the P.S. strategy at the end of it. This feature works extremely well to get the user’s attention and remind him of something important that he has to do, such as signing up for a course or buying the ticket for an event. Whatever you promote in the final P.S. of your e-mails, it must be something really relevant to the user and, especially, your intentions must be clear.

7. Perform A/B tests on everything

One of the best ways to understand your reader’s behavior is by testing different variations of your e-mails. The vast majority of e-mail marketing platforms allow you to perform A/B tests with different e-mail titles, different copies, etc. Everything you can test will help you make future decisions and improve your communication with your mailing lists. In an A/B test, you normally send two different versions of your campaign, one for 50% of the list and another for the remaining 50%. Then just compare the results to understand the behavior of your readers.

8. Use a valid reply address

If there is one thing that upsets anyone is to receive an e-mail sent from an address named “no-reply@site.com”. “No reply” addresses could lead you to cut off all communication with your e-mail list and give them the message that you are promoting something but do not want to know their opinion. If you are going to do it right, always use a valid address for your e-mails and encourage your readers to reply to your messages. That will give you extra work to do, but it will create a stronger relationship with your readers. In a long-term vision, you will gain from it.

9. Keep your list clean

Numbers often deceive. It is not worth to have a list of 20,000 e-mails if on average only 10% of them are opened. E-mail marketing platforms such as MailChimp, allow you to create segmentations in the lists to help filter out which users simply do not open anything you send. You will be amazed at how many people are on your mailing list and have not opened a campaign for several months. Basically, you are paying to have those people on your list.

My advice is that you clean up your mailing list every three months. There will always be people who subscribe to your e-mail list but won’t open anything you send, so you can simply clean it and remove those people. At the end of the month, you are going to pay less and the opening rates will increase considerably from the moment you do so.

10. Test emojis and videos

E-mail Marketing emojisDid you know that it is possible to send e-mails with emojis in the titles? Or that Gmail automatically opens Youtube videos that are linked in e-mails? All of those are ways for you to increase the level of engagement with your e-mail list and create a stronger connection with your audience. Try sending some e-mails with one or two emojis in the title, and compare it with other titles that you sent without emojis. I even recommend you create an A/B test with and without emojis. Work the same way with videos. Showing a Youtube video in an e-mail can make a huge difference to those receiving your content in mobile.

Ready to start your e-mail marketing?

Now that you already have the tools and knowledge about what you should and should not do, it is time to start working on your e-mail marketing and relationship strategies with your audience. Never forget that we humans are highly predictable, so is your audience. If you can fit your message to the desire of your audience, the results with your e-mails will be incredibly positive.

Good businesses!


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