How to Get Started With Email Marketing For Your Brand

By Gaurav Belani

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So you’re finally convinced that email is one of the most cost-effective and customer-friendly channels to drive stellar marketing results. You’re not alone — 81% of SMBs use email as their primary customer acquisition channel, and 80% believe email marketing boosts customer retention.

Plus, with nearly four billion people using emails daily, it’s clear that despite the growth of mobile messengers, social media, and chat apps — email is an increasingly integral part of daily online consumption. And consequently, it’s a powerful marketing channel for your brand.

But now that you’re aware email marketing generates an average ROI of $38 for every $1 invested, how do you start realizing such impressive returns for your brand?

While there’s a lot that goes into crafting high-performing email marketing campaigns, here’s a high-level roadmap to help you build your first (and effective) email marketing campaign.

Pick an Email Marketing Provider

If you’re serious about email marketing (and clearly, you should be), the first step is to choose and sign up for an email service provider (ESP). This simplifies various key aspects of email marketing as with a good ESP, you get:

  • Customizable email templates for different types of campaigns and email sequences.
  • Tools to grow your email lists, such as sign-up form and landing page builders.
  • Tracking and analytics feature that show who is opening your emails, engaging with your email content, clicking through to your offer, etc.
  • Features to segment your email list based on audience preferences and demographics, and send targeted promotions and personalized product recommendations.
  • Ability to automate your email marketing funnel with scheduled welcome emails, content newsletters, cross-sell/upsell promotions, etc. types of sequences.
  • A drag-and-drop email designer to quickly create beautiful branded email designs.

There are quite a few reputable and reliable email marketing providers available today, such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, ConvertKit, Campaign Monitor, and more.

To pick one that’s right for your business, establish your email marketing goals, the key features you need, the size of your email list, and your email marketing budget. Your email marketing provider should be flexible so you can easily upgrade or downgrade your plan.

Set Your Goals

As you pick your ESP and think about your first email campaign, take the time to establish your email goals and how they tie to your overall marketing strategy and long-term business goals.

Your email marketing efforts will only bear fruit if your campaigns are built with a clear purpose. A mishmash of marketing messages and random company news won’t do much good.

So, set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based) goals, such as:

  • Increasing conversion rate by 10% within six months.
  • Hitting an average of 1,000 free trial sign-ups per month within three months.
  • Generating 30% more leads per month for your sales team.
  • Improving customer retention by 20% within six months.

Then, determine which email marketing metrics are most important in reaching those goals — such as open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, spam complaints, forwarding rate, etc.

Research the average email stats for your industry and use them as benchmarks for your goals. For example, below is industry-specific data from HubSpot’s 2017 benchmark report.

Setting goals will dictate the type of email campaigns you create, who you target (the buyer persona and their needs), what content to send, and how to measure performance.

Build Your Email List

To send marketing emails, you need a list of email addresses, don’t you?

Your email list consists of customers (existing and potential) who have provided permission to send them relevant content and offers. When you’re just starting to build your list, don’t be discouraged by a small subscriber count. In fact, a smaller list of highly engaged recipients is better than having a huge email list with few people who bother to even open your emails. An email verification tool like Voila Norbert will improve your sender's score and ensure your emails land in the primary inbox, leading to better open rates and engagement.

To build your email list, you need to make it easy for prospects to opt-in to receive your emails. Here are a few tips to do that:

  • Have prominent and persuasive opt-in opportunities across your website (blog, product pages, checkout pages, footer, exit-intent pop-ups, etc.).
  • Create a lead magnet — a free resource like an ebook, checklist, template, course, etc. — and offer it in exchange for their email address, thus incentivizing sign-ups.
  • If you run an eCommerce store, consider providing a discount on their first order as a way to nudge opt-ins.
  • Keep the opt-in form short and sweet — ask only for their email address and write crisp, relevant copy with a clear CTA. See an example below.

Though your email list may be small initially and grow slowly — treat your subscribers with great content and offers — and you’ll soon see your email list drive tangible returns.

Create and Launch Your First Campaign

With goals established and an email list to start with, you’re ready to create and launch your first marketing email.

Whichever email marketing provider you pick, you’re likely equipped with a decent collection of customizable email templates, along with a drag-and-drop email builder to easily create a professional email design in accordance with your branding.

But before you start customizing a template and build a standard reusable email format for your brand, consider the following tips:

  • Create a welcome email — it serves as your first impression and reaches your prospects when they’re highly engaged with your brand. Deliver value straight away with your best content or offers. Share a warm greeting and an overview of what they can expect to receive from you in the future. Also, ask new subscribers to add your email address to their whitelist.
  • Include high-resolution images and videos to boost engagement.
  • Encourage recipients to open your email with an enticing subject line. Follow it with succinct email copy and finally a clear, color-contrasted CTA that invites clicks.
  • Implement basic personalization — start by adding their name in the subject line and salutation. In future emails, customize your campaign content based on list segments (demographics, past activity, etc.) to maximize engagement.
  • Don’t just send promotional emails (offers and sales) and company announcements. Mix it up with newsletters — curated blog content, expert interviews, infographics, support information like FAQs, and so on.
  • Develop a brand voice and style guide (colors, fonts, etc.) to use in your emails. This includes a neat and enticing email signature to sign off your emails professionally. If you’re using Microsoft Outlook, here’s how to add signature in Outlook 365.

With all these things in mind, go ahead and cut the ribbon for your email marketing.

Measure and refine

Like most marketing, emails aren’t a one-and-done deal. Keeping in mind the SMART business goals and metrics you set earlier, be sure to analyze your campaign’s performance.

Track your email open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rates, etc. — to see how well your campaign resonated with your audience. Tie your campaign to your broader goals, such as how many new free trial sign-ups did the campaign generate?

Split test (your ESP will have this feature) the various elements of your emails such as subject lines, copy, CTA (size, color, etc.), visuals, layout, timing, etc. Over time, you’ll have a much better idea of what’s most engaging for your audience.

Also, consider directly requesting feedback from your email list to gain a better understanding of their preferences and improve your future campaigns. Send out a quick two-minute survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey, and incentivize them to share sincere feedback with a coupon code, for example.

Over to You

Email marketing is a powerful organic driver of customer engagement, retention, and sales — but it is no cakewalk. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the effort involved when you’re just starting out.

But once you launch your first email campaign, things become much clearer. After that, it’s mostly about figuring out what kind of content and promotions work best for your audience and improving upon that in future campaigns.

Follow the steps outlined above to kickstart email marketing success for your business.

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