What is Email Marketing?

What is Email Marketing?

Technology is constantly making giant leaps forward. Marketers of 20 years ago would hardly recognize marketing today. Except for one constant: email marketing.

Email is still one of the most effective marketing solutions available today. Don’t believe it? Let’s look at some numbers:

Cleary, email marketing is a valuable channel to pursue. In fact, most marketing companies believe email is still the best way to market your business.

But really, the question is this: What is email marketing, and how can you implement email marketing solutions to grow your business?

Email marketing consists of three parts:

  1. Build a list (or several lists) of subscribers
  2. Establish a clear schedule of when you’ll communicate with your list(s)
  3. Nurture your list(s) so they will come to recognize your company as an authority and have positive associations with your brand

1. Build a List

A solid, engaged list of subscribers is the core building block of any effective email marketing efforts. But how do you build such a list? There are a couple ways:

Buy subscriber information

We’ll need a second to prepare to state this as clearly as possible:

Okay, ready?

Do not buy email lists. Sure, buying a list of 1,000 people who are supposedly interested in what you’re selling seems like a good idea, but it’s not. The unsubscribes, bounces and spam reports alone could end up blacklisting your email server, or at least damaging its reputation with several email providers.

With the enactment of the GDPR in Europe (and California’s similar law set to go into effect in 2020), the practice of buying lists is becoming less and less popular – especially when a single infraction could result in a $10 million fine. Buying lists has never been a worse idea than it is today.

Instead, go the unpaid route.

Build your list organically

Building your list organically by asking people to opt in to your emails ensures that your subscribers actually want to be on your list. You’re not tricking anyone, buying their information, or sending any unwanted emails. You’re simply providing them with something they asked for.

How do you build your list organically? Simple. Provide content that is valuable enough for people to give you their information for. Webinars, ebooks, fact sheets, white papers, and more can convince readers to provide their email address in exchange for a quick download.

Of course, you’ll need some sort of email marketing solution to manage all of your contacts.

Build your list with sales sweat and public data

Many people overlook the widespread accessibility of prospect data today. So maybe it’s not delivered to you in an easily packaged XLS document with every field handpicked for perfection. But if you are trying to reach Fortune 1000 CFOs based in NYC in the Shoe Manufacturing Industry then open up LinkedIn and create a search.

You’ll find a comprehensive list of contacts. Once you have the contacts identified there are plenty of tricks to track down the email addresses. After that, we’re off to the races making introductions and warming up the list for future interactions. This is a high value job for a new sales guy to build a valuable sales pipeline.

Email marketing solutions

Email software comes in multiple forms that run the spectrum in terms of price, offerings, and integrations. You’ll want to keep these three things in mind when making a decision. For now, here are a few options broken down by price:

$: Mailchimp, Drip – Mailchimp is a favorite among people who are looking for a scrappy, bare-bones approach to email marketing. It’s free for your first 2,000 subscribers, although the free level leaves out a few nice features like send time optimization and multivariate testing. But even their unlimited subscriber level starts at just $10 a month. If you don’t need a bunch of fancy features, one of these low-cost options could be a great fit.

$$: Constant Contact, AWeber – If you need nicer features like a drag-and-drop editor and easier contact management, it might be worth it to invest in one of these mid-level managers. They allow you to add features like coupons and event management while still keeping the cost under $500 a month.

$$$: Hubspot, Pardot – Top of the line products like these offer all-in-one solutions, so you’re not just getting an email marketing solution, you’re also getting a CRM, landing page builder, social media tie-ins, etc. If that’s worth it to you, these might be the way to go, just understand that in order to get all of those solutions, you could end up pay $1,000 a month or more.

With email marketing solutions, you often get what you pay for. While Mailchimp may be one of the cheapest options available, they certainly don’t offer the extent of options you’ll find with Hubspot – even at their highest price tier.

2. Establish a Schedule

When you’re trying to get the chance to discuss an issue with someone at work, you don’t leave it up to chance, right? You set up a meeting. When you schedule an official time to contact someone, they are far more likely to be available.

The same can be said about your email schedule. Once you’ve established a predictable schedule, then people know to look out for your newsletter when it gets to be the usual time. The closer you can stick to that schedule, the better your open and clickthrough rates will be.

3. Nurture Your List (and Respect it)

Once you have your list, the worst thing you can do is just spam them with sales offers every day. Give them what they asked for. For instance, if someone subscribes to your Friday morning newsletter, then you’ll want to send them one thing: a newsletter every Friday morning.

The minute you start thinking of your list as people who you can hit with emails whenever you want, that’s when you’ll see your list start shrinking. We’ve seen far too many great lists go down in flames simply because someone got trigger happy and started treating subscribers like customers in line.

What’s the difference? Subscribers are here to learn. Customers are here to buy. Of course, nobody thinks “unpaid teacher” is a very good business plan, so how can you teach your subscribers while still pushing them toward a purchase?

The answer is “slowly but surely.” Treat your subscribers as interested observers. Allow your CTAs (calls to action) to encourage readers to move further down your marketing funnel.

With the right email marketing solution and strategy, you’ll find your marketing machine running smoothly in no time.

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