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  • Writer's pictureExpert Opinion

How email marketing is done

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

Despite the rise of social networks, email marketing is still one of the most effective ways of communicating with your audience. It’s not an optional process but a necessity for all kinds of online businesses.

When done correctly, email marketing can help a business increase sales, traffic, and maximize profits.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is the digital marketing process of communicating with an audience via electronic mail messages (email). The email messages usually have a commercial intent but they are also used to educate and inform the recipient on topics of interest.

In simple terms, email marketing is the process of using email as a sales channel.

In order to do this, you need to have a BIG email list of people who voluntarily signed up to receive your messages.

This automatically excludes buying email lists, even if they include emails of people who are somehow related to your niche.

How does email marketing work?

Email marketing is not a complicated process but it’s a process that requires a lot of A/B testing to find out how to best communicate with your subscribers in a way that is beneficial for them and for your business goals.

Here is an overview of how email marketing works:

  • Sign up for an email marketing tool

  • Create an email marketing strategy

  • Build and grow your email list

  • Setup automation tasks

  • Monitor and improve campaign performance through A/B testing

  • Regularly ‘clean up’ your email lists

Sign up for an email marketing tool

Email marketing is a process can be fully automated with the help of a good email marketing tool.

If you try to use your personal account to email hundreds of people and manually keep track of the results won’t work, so your first step is to select which platform to use.

An email marketing platform will help you:

  • Create an email list

  • Add users to your list using a number of methods

  • Send emails to your audience

  • Provide you with reports on how many people open your emails and interact with them (click a link in the email)

  • Provide you with different options to segment your audience based on specified criteria

  • Create retargeting audiences on Facebook based on your email list

  • Automate various email marketing tasks such as sending a welcome email to your subscribers or different emails based on their actions

  • Make sales directly from an email message

  • Create email funnels to redirect users to pages/products/actions you want them to take

The most popular email marketing tools to consider are:

  • Mailchimp

  • ConvertKit

  • Aweber

  • Get Response

  • Constant Contact

  • SendPulse

Create an email marketing strategy

As with any type of digital marketing campaign, the first thing to do is to create a strategy.

Having an email marketing strategy in place before running any campaigns will help you to:

  • Decide how email marketing will be used in conjunction with the other online marketing campaigns you’ll be running.

  • Decide which email marketing platform to use and figure out your monthly costs.

  • Decide on the strategies to use to grow your email list

  • Decide when to use automation and what kind of messages to send and when

  • Have the right reporting mechanisms in place to measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns

Build and grow your email list

For email marketing to work, you need to have a BIG list of active subscribers so the most important task in your strategy should be how to grow your email list.

As mentioned above, it’s not only a matter of adding random people to your list but people who manually registered to receive your emails.

Growing and maintaining an email list is tricky but with the right approach and tools, it can a valuable asset for your business.

The best ways to increase your email subscribers are:

Publish great content on your site – if your content is not what users want, whatever technique you use, it won’t help you get more subscribers.

If, on the other hand, your content provides value to users, your email list will grow faster.

Give them incentives – Free eBooks, trial offers, and other ‘gifts’ are great incentives to offer to users in return for their email address.

Give incentives to users to register for your newsletter.

Make it easy to subscribe – Having the position of your signup buttons in places that users can easily spot (on both desktop and mobile), will make a difference to the number of people that can sign up for your emails.

You can use the resources below to learn more effective ways on how to build an email list.

Setup automation tasks

One of the biggest benefits of email marketing is that it’s a process that can be fully automated.

Email Marketing automation example. One of the biggest benefits of email marketing is that it’s a process that can be fully automated.

When we refer to email marketing automation, we mean sending targeted emails to your users based on the actions they take when they receive your emails or actions they perform on your site.

The most common email automation tasks are:

  1. Welcome emails – Sending a welcome email to users as soon as they subscribe to your list

  2. Email campaigns – Sending them a series of emails (replicating a sales funnel)

  3. Abandon cart emails – Sending emails to website visitors that added a product to their shopping cart but did not checkout

  4. Cross-selling / Upselling – Suggest products to customers based on their purchase history

  5. Review/Feedback forms – requesting feedback/reviews from customers X days after they made a purchase

Monitor and improve campaign performance through A/B testing

Improve email marketing performance through A/B testing. Besides having the right type of people subscribed to your list, to run successful email marketing campaigns, you need to do a lot of A/B testing.

A/B testing will help you find out what kind of email messages can potentially generate higher user engagement and more conversions.

Things to test with A/B testing include:

  • The length of the email subject titles

  • The format of the emails (HTML, text, with or without images)

  • The length of the email body

  • The frequency of sending emails

  • The level of promotional messages within the email

  • Placement of your signup forms

  • The message used in your signup forms

  • The ‘offers’ used as incentives for email signup

  • The authentication method used to verify the validity of emails (no authentication, double-opt-in)

To perform any kind of A/B testing (not just emails), you need to monitor the right metrics and eliminate any factors that can influence the results of your testing.

For email marketing, you need to monitor the following metrics:

  • Number of new email subscribers per day

  • The exact method they have used to subscribe to your list (if you have multiple placements like sidebar, exit popups, etc.), you need to know which one they used to register

  • Email Open and Click-through rates (how many people opened a specific email campaign and how many people clicked a link in the email)

  • How many people visited your website from a link in an email

  • How many conversions were generated from email (and from which campaign)

Regularly ‘clean up’ your email lists

As a beginner to email marketing, you need to understand three things:

A large percentage of your email subscribers will be inactive – It is normal to have a lot of inactive subscribers to your list. The average email open rate for an email campaign is around 20% and this means that a large majority of the people on your list will not read your messages.

Having a big list is not always the best approach – Sending emails that get opened by a small percentage of recipients will mark your emails as spam. This means your reach will gradually decrease. On the other hand, emails that get opened by the majority of recipients, help the overall performance of the campaign.

Big lists will cost you a lot of money to maintain – As your email list grows, so does the monthly expense. When you reach 10,000 subscribers you may have to pay more than $150 per month to have a subscription with a good email marketing tool.

One of the ways to minimize your costs and increase the healthiness of your list is to occasionally perform a list cleanup and remove inactive subscribers from your list.

Users that registered to your list but do not open your campaigns are not useful for your business goals and it’s better to remove them.

Remember that it’s better to have a smaller list but with active subscribers than a big list of inactive subscribers.

Email Marketing Remains Relevant

In the age of social media, it's tempting to write off email. However, there is statistical evidence that it remains an important aspect of marketing efforts. For instance:

  • Experts with the email marketing company Litmus estimate that email marketing returns an average of $42 for every $1 spent.

  • One survey found that 59% of respondents were influenced by email when it came to purchasing decisions.

  • A study of more than 1 billion shopping sessions in 2019 found that email marketing has a conversion rate of 2.3%, compared to 1% for social media.

It's easy to set up and track an email marketing campaign, which makes it accessible for small businesses. You can add a newsletter sign-up option to your website, for instance. As people sign up, you can send newsletters to a growing audience. You can also direct customers to the newsletter from your social media profiles.

The two biggest advantages of email marketing are price and ease. Compared to other types of marketing, emailing is an inexpensive way to advertise your company and its products or services.

A regular newsletter is a simple and effective way to send updates about your company, upcoming events, and special offers. Email software also makes it easy to schedule automated promotional emails for customers who haven't purchased recently.

Email marketing allows you to target particular groups of customers or even specific individuals. Offering individual customers special birthday deals on merchandise or services is one way to do this.

A restaurant, for instance, might send an email to customers on their birthdays offering 50% off an entree. This kind of personalization helps a business develop and maintain a relationship with a customer—and that can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.

Watch this video to learn more.

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