It’s clear that email marketing has been around for a long time, and for good reason. It continues to be the most effective and direct method to communicate with your audience.
Email marketing has greater reach than social media, podcasting, or blog posts.
Most of your audience likely has a mobile phone, and people are constantly checking their email. Even those who are fanatic about their social media circles tend to read their email more often.
Unlike social media, you can build a sequence of emails designed to nurture your leads and convert them into buyers.
More than that, email allows you to use your own voice. When you build your email list, then you own that list. Any subscriber you have on social media actually belongs to the social media platform, not you.
As we’ve seen, you can lose your position on social media based upon the owner’s whims. Your search engine results can change based upon an algorithm change.
The only way to lose your audience through email marketing is through your messaging, which gives you the most control of all methods to communicate with your audience.
What Is Email Marketing?
An email marketing strategy is a plan and process that marketers use to achieve an objective with email advertising or nurturing.
Following an email marketing strategy gives you direct access through a channel that people use to make buying decisions with higher conversion rates than any other method of online marketing.
When done responsibly and ethically, your audience looks forward to receiving your marketing messages because you’ve tapped into their wants, needs and desires.
Your email marketing strategy depends upon many things, but there’s one critical element you need to understand above all else.
Never send an email that your audience didn’t subscribe to receive.
That means you need to stay on target, on brand and on message with every email you send. Once you lose sight of your message, your audience may not have interest and will reach for your Unsubscribe link.
What are the benefits of email marketing?
The short answer is that email marketing is a very effective method of offering your product or service to an interested audience.
Here are 10 email marketing benefits to help you build your business.
1. An email list will help you to build a community
One of the best ways of nurturing you audience is to allow people to help one another as part of a community. They get to feel like an insider.
Developing a community of people with similar interests is psychologically compelling. We’re drawn to groups of shared interests.
It’s easier to get through difficult times when you have a sense of community. When you have something new to share, you look for a group that welcomes your input.
Communities have a sense of shared growth and development. They encourage and support each other. Also, they create experiences and memories together.
2. The community will help you to build a brand
A loyal brand following is an enormous marketing benefit that serves you and your audience.
Your community consists of your most dedicated fans and followers. They’ll let you know what they want and how they feel, which is some of the best market research you could ever get.
Sending a regular email broadcast or newsletter is a great way to build a relationship with your audience and build a community around your brand.
You’re sending them something they can’t get anywhere else, and people love to feel like an insider.
3. You can build a brand and sell your products online
What are some of the best-known brands in the market?
Not all brands are huge, but they’re no less important to their audience. My wife worked for a company called The RUN Experience, which had a dedicated community of endurance runners – people who like everything from 5K to Ultra Marathons.
Everything they sold was sold online and marketed through their email list.
Imagine having tens of thousands of interested buyers because you developed a brand they loved and communicated with them through email using language and emotions they understood.
That’s the power of email marketing as a brand.
4. You can ask your email list for advice, feedback, and reviews
When you need to do market research to find out what your audience wants, your email list is the place to ask those who are most likely to give you honest feedback.
That’s because they have a voluntary and vested interest in your brand. They want what you provide, so it’s natural that they want an improved version of what you provide, or perhaps a new offering that serves their needs.
When people invest in giving you feedback, they’re interested and excited to see it come to life. There’s a sense of participation with their involvement.
Quite honestly, asking for someone’s opinion or feedback makes them feel important – and they are.
5. You can promote your products without spamming
In a sense, every email you send to your list is a marketing email. There are different types of emails in an email marketing strategy, though.
Not every email you send is about selling. If it is, people will soon leave your list. That will make them feel like they signed up for spam, and that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Remember, the community is one of the assets you can develop with your email marketing strategy. You don’t want to destroy it by sending only sales messages.
Instead, help your audience. Share things with them. You want to nurture your audience so they Know, Like and Trust you.
That way they’ll be interested when you have something to sell them. Promotion isn’t about constantly hammering your sales message.
6. You can create more than one product and sell them
Not only do you want your audience to Know, Like and Trust you, but you also want to get information about their interests.
One way to do this with an email marketing strategy is to offer them opportunities to click links based on what they like (or dislike).
Those links can add or remove Tags – small pieces of information that describe your audience. You can find out if someone has an interest in a subject or product.
When you get enough feedback in these Tags, you can tell if there’s enough interest in developing a new product or offering an affiliate product for sale.
Better, you can directly market to those who specified an interest while you avoid bothering people who aren’t interested.
7. You can reach more people and sell more products
Always be List Building.
That’s the mantra that Amy Porterfield espouses to her students, and it’s good advice. As your list grows, so does your opportunity to expose people to the products and services you offer.
Your email marketing strategy can work for your automatically. First, you build emails that can nurture and offer things to your subscribers.
Then you do outreach to get new subscribers and feed the machine that is your email marketing strategy.
Let’s say that you help people create podcasts. People who want to start a podcast would love to know what you know, so you entice them to subscribe to your email list.
Then your email marketing strategy is to help them understand everything that goes into creating a podcast.
In turn, that offers you the opportunity to recommend quality products and services they need in order to create their podcast.
They’ll need a podcast hosting service, a microphone & stand, a way to record, perhaps some audio processing software, etc.
More than that, they’re likely to buy from you based upon your recommendation if they Know, Like, and Trust you.
Manage your brand and reputation. Serve your audience. Then make offers of products to people who are already interested.
8. You can build a platform to power your business
It’s entirely possible to only use email marketing for your business. As long as you have a way to get people on your email list, you can deliver relevant information to an interested audience.
Given the choice of a website or an email marketing service, I’d go with email first. It’s effective, intimate, and ultimately the best way to offer your products and services.
How do you start an email marketing campaign?
Now that we've reviewed what an email marketing strategy is and what benefits you get from your email list, let's take a look at an email marketing campaign.
A campaign is a specific component of your overall email marketing efforts. You'll likely have multiple campaigns to support different parts of your audience or different offers from your business.
For each campaign you create, you're going to have to address the approach you take to reaching your objectives.
1. Set email marketing goals
I started my first email list without ever understanding how to do it. Everyone told me I needed an email list, so I started one.
I had no idea what I wanted to achieve. I had no consistent message to attract people to sign up for the list. Finally, I had no idea what message to send them.
Really, it was just a hot mess.
As I like to say, start with the end in mind. What do you want to achieve?
Al good and valuable goals. The kind of email you send to your audience will be different depending upon your goals.
If you want to get the greatest benefit from your email marketing strategy, start by knowing what you’d like to achieve.
2. Pick the necessary email marketing tools
One of the important things that you need to know is that you don’t send email marketing messages from your personal email service. That’s a good way to get shut down, as those accounts aren’t designed for bulk email.
You’re going to need an Email Service Provider (ESP). That’s a service dedicated to sending marketing emails in bulk, and they have to abide by laws and regulations.
Read this article on our best email marketing services for your business.
Many people will use an Email Service Provider that operates as Software as a Service. In other words, you log into the ESP platform to create and manage your email list and marketing strategy.
The good news about using an ESP is that they do all the technical things for you. It also ensures you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. If your website goes down or you get booted off of social media, you still have your ESP so you can stay in touch with your audience.
The bad news is that these SaaS providers can get rather expensive. Some offer a crippled version of their service for free, up to 2,000 subscribers. You can email them, but you can’t automate things in the background to create an effective email marketing strategy.
To get access to the real power of email marketing, expect to pay about $30 for your first 1,000 or 2,000 subscribers per month. The rates only go up from there. The more success you have in building your list, the more expensive it gets to maintain that list.
At the time I’m writing, having a list of 55,000 subscribers on ConvertKit would cost you $379/month on their monthly plan or $3,790/year on the annual plan (which gives two months free).
You can see how success can be expensive. Not to pick on ConvertKit. Other services may cost as much or more depending upon some slightly different criteria.
Another option is to use a WordPress-hosted Content Relationship Manager (CRM). You host the working part of your interface inside of your WordPress site, but you connect the email service provider with another business, like Amazon Web Services Simple Email Service, to actually send the emails.
The good news is this can be much less expensive as your list grows. After paying for my CRM software, my monthly bill to send a couple of thousand emails per week was under $1 last month (on a different site).
There are other services that are less complicated to set up, and they charge $10-$15 to send emails.
The downside to a self-hosted CRM is that it only works while your WordPress site works. That should be pretty reliable unless your password is weak and some hacker gets inside your system and locks you out.
The initial setup of a self-hosted CRM, like FluentCRM, is a bit more complicated than using a SaaS service like ConvertKit, but you can grow without spending a large sum of money with the cartel every month. You pay only for what you use.
3. Determine the target audience
Know who you serve and what they want from you. You're narrowing the field a bit for a specific objective in your target audience.
For each list, keep the audience and topics related. It’s OK to have more than one offer for more than one interest, as long as it’s on a related topic.
Here are some examples of related topics.
Interests: Microphones, recording devices, audio processing services, podcasting genres, how to market your podcast
Now here are some examples of unrelated topics.
Interests: Cameras, Blogging advice, Best BBQ techniques
I once had the brilliant idea of bringing up a Blogging segment on my photography site and email list. It did not go well.
Learn from my mistakes. Stay in your lane. Remember the primary advice I started with here.
Never send an email that your audience didn’t subscribe to receive.
There were people on my photography list who were also interested in blogging. They just weren’t interested in hearing about it from me.
Because that’s not the topic I used to get them to Know, Like, and Trust me. Not that I didn’t have experience with the topic, but I didn’t nurture that audience on that topic.
4. Identify the appropriate list building tactics
There are a number of ways to build your email list. Most of them involve offering something of enough value to the right audience so they’ll give up their email address to get it.
Challenges are interesting. It attracts people who want to improve in an area related to your email marketing strategy and repels those who have no interest.
For example, would you enter a challenge to get your first 100 subscribers if you had no interest in creating an email list?
Beware of offering something with general interest, like giving away a free iPad. You’ll get a lot of subscribers and most of them will have no interest in your email marketing strategy. They just want the iPad.
Then you’re left with a higher monthly ESP bill and no valid customers to offset the cost.
5. Divide your mailing list into segments
Segmenting your email marketing list is a simple practice of organizing subscribers to receive specifically related email messages. You can have more than one campaign for a segment, but keep in mind that you don't want to confuse your audience.
Different campaigns may do better if they don't reach the same segment simultaneously.
A subscriber may have more than one interest and fit into multiple segments, but each segment has a specific purpose.
Let’s go back to The RUN Experience example. There are different plans to prepare for a 5K, half marathon, full marathon, and ultra-marathon.
You may have a segment for each type of endurance run, but the email content inside is specific to the type for each segment.
If you like a 5K event, you can pick up the pace and get a faster time. There are drills that help you master that type of race.
An ultra-marathon is a completely different beast. It’s not about time, but rather about the completion of the event.
Some of these ultra-marathons go for 100 miles or are time-based. You don’t shoot out of the gate to compete in an ultra-marathon, so the information you get would give you different drills and advice.
I previously mentioned using Tags to identify someone’s interests. You can use those tags to include them in a Segment. Then people in that segment will get specifically crafted emails based on that interest.
6. Identify the types of emails to send
Here’s the joy of an email marketing strategy. You get to send different types of emails, each designed to serve a different purpose.
Let’s break those down with a brief description.
Your initial signup email goes out when someone first subscribes to your email list. It’s important to set the right tone for this email because it’s your first impression to the subscriber.
Expect that you may have more than one Initial Signup Email because you likely have more than one place for a person to subscribe.
Someone who downloaded a free resource wouldn’t expect the same email as a person who just bought a product or service from you.
The Nurture sequence is a short set of emails to help people unpack the value of the resource they received. If they downloaded something, tell them how to get the most out of it. If they bought something, offer some insights on how to use it and ask if they need any help.
The Welcome sequence tells people something about you and your business. This is the start of getting to Know, Like and Trust you. Put some of your personality into this sequence.
Also, don’t be afraid to repel people who aren’t right for you. Some people are going to unsubscribe and that’s a good thing. Let people know what you’re about and what you don’t do. That helps people decide if this subscription is a good fit for both sides.
Your Regular broadcasts keep in touch with your audience. Again, it helps build the Know, Like and Trust factor. You’re also giving without expectation of receiving to show how much you value your relationship.
Promotional sequences are when you have an offer to make. If you spent time nurturing, welcoming, and communicating with your audience, this won’t seem out of place. They understand you’re in business and, ideally, some of your audience should want what you have to offer.
Then again, some people don’t buy. That’s where the After Sales email goes out to the folks who didn’t accept your offer.
Ask them for the most important reason why they didn’t buy. The answers are often gold and help you prepare for your next promotion. It’s also good to help build the runway for the next promotion by laying out some details in your Regular broadcasts.
7. Create a schedule for sending emails
Schedules are a wonderful thing. They create a sense of consistency and reliability. People may look forward to receiving and opening your emails if you pique their interest.
That consistency is also great for getting attention when you send an email outside of your schedule.
What’s this? I got an email from the business and it’s not Tuesday. It must be important because they always email me on Tuesday. I better open it up and see what it is. It could be important.
Consistency is comfortable. An occasional break in the schedule creates curiosity. That can work to your advantage if you don’t overuse it.
8. Format the email content
This is a case where less is more.
Do you know those marketing messages full of graphics and cute headlines? Those are easy to dismiss because they are so obviously trying to sell you something.
It’s like having someone knock on your front door and start blaring loud music and screaming through a loudspeaker at you to look at the thing, buy the thing, come visit the thing.
Do you know what works well? A simple email like you’d send to your friend. Something with white space. Something that uses their name so you don’t seem like a stranger.
Also, simple emails are less likely to get caught by a SPAM filter. Those things are trained to look for loud, gaudy email messages and bad senders.
9. Optimize your emails
Most people end up opening their email on a mobile phone these days. Knowing that, don’t create complicated presentations in your email that look awful on a phone.
10. Check your email performance reports
If you get to the point where you finally send an email, that’s great. Now you have to see how it performed.
Naturally, some emails will have a higher open rate than others. Find out what makes someone click through on your email and do more of that.
Also, what is your response rate? Did someone click on something inside your email? Give people a reason to click.
Finally, is the size of your email list growing? Which optin forms or methods of growing your email list perform the best?
Analyze and optimize to make the most of your email marketing strategy. This is potentially your best economic engine. Make it hum and adapt to changes.
Why is Email Marketing Important?
By now, I hope the answer to that question is clear. Email marketing allows you to find the right audience, engage with them, and serve them with your products and services.
An email marketing concept works if you do your research, understand your audience and send them what they already want.
Your email marketing strategy should be mutually beneficial, not spammy or unethical. If you adopt a mentality to serve your audience who know, like, and trust you, then you have a critical advantage over other marketers who just don’t get it.