Why Email Is The Number One Business Marketing Tool
As a business leader and decision maker, you know that it’s important to be kept informed about the latest trends in digital marketing. By positioning yourself right on the edge of the information curve
you’re always up-to-date on the top platforms and tools, staying one step ahead of your competitors.
So here’s a simple question: which digital marketing tool consistently delivers the best return on investment (ROI)?
Your website? It’s a fantastic resource for promoting your products and services, but in and of itself it probably won’t generate new business without a lot of help.
Social media? Facebook and Twitter are fantastic for raising awareness of your business, building an audience and generating engagement, but they aren’t as effective as this (seemingly old fashioned) medium for conversion rates.
Paid search? Used intelligently, paid search campaigns can generate a fantastic sales return, but there’s another marketing stalwart that has got them beat.
So who’s the king? Email. A 2015 eMarketer study revealed that 79% of agencies and 66% of companies rated email as the marketing channel that provided the best ROI, beating paid search, content marketing, mobile marketing and social media.
A 2013 Direct Marketing Association report found that two-thirds of consumers had gone on to make a purchase online as a direct result of an email marketing message, and their 2015 study found that more than seven in ten consumers say that email is their preferred method of communication with brands.
Snapchat is cooler. Facebook is dominating the world. And Google makes billions of dollars from search. But when it comes to generating new business – and specifically getting a prospect to sign on the digital dotted line – none of these are as effective as email.
Email Marketing Best Practices
As with any digital marketing tool to get optimal results from an email newsletter campaign there are a series of best practices, rules and guidelines that should be followed.
1. It Started With A List
Any email campaign is only as good as the list of people it is being sent to. The best email list is made up of people who have opted into receiving marketing messages from you and have been kept highly engaged and informed in all of your marketing. They are not only happy to hear from you – they’re looking forward to it. The worst email lists are made up of old mail addresses, catch-all email addresses (the “info@” variety) or acquired email addresses – either purchased from a third
party or “borrowed” from somebody else. Finally, when you initiate your campaigns, unless you’re losing huge numbers of people with every send, don’t concern yourself too much with unsubscribers. It’s far better (not to mention more economical) to have a small or medium-sized email list with high engagement rates than a huge list where nobody really cares. So (unless you’re being really obnoxious) anytime somebody unsubscribes from your email database you should think of it as a positive, as it is actually purifying your list.
2. Invest In An Email Marketing Platform
The emails you send at work are all managed by a software client, such as Microsoft Outlook. These are perfect for everyday use, but to send campaigns you need to invest in a dedicated online email marketing solution. Not only will these services allow you to send huge numbers of emails with a single click, they offer design templates, list management, reporting and analytics. At Identity, we like and recommend MailChimp, which is a great starting point for any business, but other platforms are available.
3. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
The best email campaigns are designed to quickly capture the attention of the reader. The look of your newsletter should be consistent month to month (to build recognition and trust), and the design should be clean and elegant. Any good email marketing platform will have a number of off-the-shelf templates that you can use and customise, but you still need to have a good eye (and invest time and resources) to make your newsletter really zing. And if design isn’t your bag, it’s worth spending the money on somebody who really knows their stuff.
4. Don’t Share News – Share Knowledge
Wait a minute: it’s called a newsletter, right? What else are you supposed to write about? Here’s the problem with news: it’s out of date as soon as you’ve shared it. If your newsletter goes out at the end of January, telling people what happened at the Christmas party is the fastest way to get them to click on the “unsubscribe” button. It turns a newsletter into a snoozeletter.
Instead, write about what’s coming. What’s on the horizon for your business? What new products and services are being launched? What events are you attending? Most people sign up for newsletters to receive information, so strive to keep them informed about developments and make all content interesting and relevant. And if you are going to write about the past, focus on customer successes and case studies instead of old news.
5. It’s All About The Call To Action – What Do You Want Your Reader To Do?
The call to action (CTA) is the focus point of your newsletter. It’s the one, main thing that you want the reader to do above anything else. For example, clicking on a new product image to go to that page on your website. While your newsletter will likely have multiple stories, the call to action must go right at the top and be given all of the attention, both in terms of design and placement.
Without a clear CTA, readers will be unsure about the next step. Give them too many options and you’ll lose them to choice paralysis. Whenever you’re building a newsletter you need to figure out its primary goal, and that is what takes pride of place. Everything else is secondary. Indeed, the most effective email campaigns usually have just one single CTA, and nothing else. And because the reader then only has one option, that is what they’ll take.
6. Analyse, Review & Improve
To get the most from your email marketing campaigns it’s essential that you take the time to analyse the data after each send. This should include monitoring basic (but critical) metrics such as opening rates and clicks, but also broader metrics that require a little more detective work. For example, how does your data stand up against industry averages? Is that CTA getting all the attention it deserves? Was it clear to the reader what you wanted them to do? If not, how could you better position the CTA image or change the wording around it for next time?
Really deep dive into the data and study who exactly is clicking on your links, which links they’re clicking and what they’re doing when they get to your website. Not only is this the whole point of doing email marketing in the first place, it’s a fantastic way to generate a list of ready-made leads for your sales team.
Shéa has managed the digital campaigns and marketing solutions for both B2B and B2C brands across a variety of industries, including retail, finance, education, healthcare, charity, sports and events. A recognised authority within the digital space, he has published two books and written thousands of articles about social media, and his work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the BBC.
Identity specialises in the manufacture and implementation of corporate branding, with over 30 years’ experience in the industry. A major supplier of digital marketing, events management and commercial signage across the UK and Europe, Identity is a multi-award-winning company with a very experienced team of industry respected individuals.