Marketing practices have changed a lot over the years, but one medium that's stood the test of time despite all the odds is email. So many people use email on a day to day basis (Gmail alone has 1 billion active worldwide users) that it would be stupid not to utilise it for your business.
But there are still a lot of people out there who don't believe in the power of email marketing. They think it's an out-of-date medium, or it can't possibly be worth the money and effort it takes to keep up with.
If that sounds like you, then read on. I'm going to show you why it's one of the most important, efficient, and affordable ways of reaching your customers.
1. It's Cheap
Let's start with the one thing everyone wants to hear: email marketing isn't going to cost you a lot of money. Most platforms have free or cheap options that won't break the bank (MailChimp offers a free choice that lets you send 12000 emails to up to 2000 subscribers, so they're perfect if you're just starting to build your email database).
Not convinced? Well ponder over this:
If you spend £1 on your email marketing efforts, you're looking at getting a return of £38 (€42/$50). Now I'm rubbish at maths, but even I can tell those numbers are good.
Email marketing is great for smaller businesses who maybe don't have the budget to compete with bigger business when it comes to advertising. It gives you the ability to get your message to a large number of people at a small cost.
2. It Provides Instant Access to Your Customers
As I just said, email marketing lets you reach a large number of people without too much effort. But not only that, you're also getting to these people instantly. The majority of emails are being opened on a mobile device (61% to be exact), which means that you can reach your customers no matter where they are or what they're doing: sitting at their desk at work, eating their lunch, squashed against a stranger on the train, avoiding conversation with their family while watching TV in the evening, you get the picture.
This isn't just about getting to your customers quickly, though. This means that you're getting to your customers when it's convenient for them. They'll check their emails when they have a spare minute, not when they're told to.
This is where email has the upper hand over other forms of advertising because it's much less of an annoyance. It's not as inconvenient as a pop-up ad that stops them from seeing what they actually want to see; or a social media ad that's just clogging up their newsfeed. There's no pressure involved because they open your email when they're ready and willing to read it.
3. It's Easily Measurable
If you do any kind of digital marketing within your company then I'm sure you're aware of the importance of measuring and analysing all of your marketing efforts so you can see what's working and what's not. Well, email is no different. There are many different aspects of your emails that can give you insights into what parts of your strategy you need to change, and what parts to focus on:
Measuring your delivery rates lets you know how healthy your email list is. Are any of your emails fake accounts? Does your email end up in a spam folder? What needs to be changed to make sure your emails are getting to your customer's inboxes?
Measuring your open rates shows you how effective your subject lines are. Are you using the right words to hook your customers? Are your subject lines boring and ending up straight in the trash?
Measuring your click-through rates lets you see what content within your emails is resonating most with your customers. Is one blog post getting more clicks than another? Have you got more information on that topic that you can create more blog posts with?
Most email marketing platforms have in-built analytics that gives you all of this information, so it's ridiculously easy to measure everything.
4. It's Personal to Your Customer
In my opinion, the best thing about email is the fact that you can personalise it to every customer. Email can be quite a private platform. Everyone has their own inbox that only they see, it's not as public as something like social media. So it makes sense to tailor everything to each individual customer rather than just sending a mass message to everyone.
The easiest way to do this is by simply using their name. Instead of starting with 'Dear Sir/Madam', say 'Dear Rachel,' or even 'Hi Rachel,' to make it seem more friendly. Something as simple as this makes the reader more at ease and builds trust between them and your business.
But personalisation isn't just about putting someone's name in the email. It works for the content within the email as well. Not every customer is going to be at the same stage in the buying journey, so not every piece of content you have will suit every reader. Some will still be in the consideration stage, not sure if they need your product or not, while others will be in the decision stage, weighing your product up against your competitors.
You should be tailoring your emails for these different stages with content that suits each one. A customer in the consideration stage would benefit from a case study, while one in the decision stage would be more interested in a free trial.
The best way to make sure customers at each stage are getting the right content is to segment your email list. Taking all of the information you've got on your readers you can easily figure out where in the buyer's journey they are and segment them into the appropriate list. When your reader gets content that suits where they are in their journey, they're more likely to trust that you know what you're talking about.
You don't need to be afraid of email marketing
Email marketing is nowhere near as daunting as you might think it is. If you can find an email platform that works for you, you'll be flying (MailChimp is what I use, I find them easy and friendly, but do some research and see what works for you). As long as you use best practices and have high-value content then your readers will be only too happy to receive your emails.
If you fancy having a go at email marketing yourself, keep an eye out for my next post on writing the perfect emails.