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An introduction to email marketing in 2021

We take a deep dive into what email marketing looks like in 2021, and how you can make a start in it.

What Is Emial Marketing

In the past year, email sending volume increased by 45%, which signifies an important change that many businesses might not have considered or predicted. Email proved itself to be the main channel of communication for people who were stuck at home during the pandemic, both work-related and personal. 

Owing to this proliferation of email communication, the way brands and prospects interact with each other has changed markedly – and the tools and methods these brands use to promote their products and services have also adapted. 

Email marketing is proving to be one of the most important ways to reach the 4 billion people who use email – a number that is expected to rise dramatically in the next few years. So how do you go about harnessing the true power of email marketing in 2021? Let’s take a look.        

What is email marketing? 

First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room – just what is email marketing? Cost-effective, easy to implement, and hugely profitable, email marketing is an essential method for businesses to build relationships with current or prospective customers. It’s another form of digital marketing, only using email to promote the business’s products or services.

An email marketing campaign will endeavour to make the customer aware of the latest items and offers available. By building relationships, increasing brand awareness and customer engagement, and generating new leads, email marketing also plays a critical role in the overall marketing strategy too.

The types of email marketing

The email has come a long way since the first mass email was sent off by the Father of Spam, Gary Thuerk, in 1978. Since then, marketers have been trying to work out the best and most innovative way of finding their way into your inbox and getting you to engage with their email marketing strategy. 

To achieve this end, different types of email marketing have been devised. Digital marketers will find themselves constantly looking for, and trying out, new ways of building relationships and growing their revenue. Let’s take a look at some of the types of email marketing and how and when businesses use them.

Welcome emails

Did you know that 96% of visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy yet? Converting this number into qualified, hot leads is the aim of every marketing team out there, and nurturing these prospective leads is incredibly important.

Welcome emails are a great way to introduce the brand and the business in a personable manner, without giving a sales pitch. It’s an opportunity to provide a great first impression and to demonstrate knowledge and expertise of the industry or product you’re promoting. 

Email newsletters

Many brands and businesses will send out email newsletters to try and make sure that they’re always on the customer’s mind. They can be foundational in an email marketing campaign, as they can educate about the business, as well as announcing new products, and adding a personal touch. 

Newsletters can also help retain customers, and monitoring things like the click-through rate can help you structure other areas of your email marketing campaign. Nurturing existing contacts will lead to them considering that business to fulfill their needs. 

Transactional emails

The customer’s actions effectively trigger this type of email marketing. When they purchase something on the website, for instance, they’ll receive a receipt email or an order confirmation. These both have high click-through rates, as they help complete the action – however, some people could be put off by having to perform another action to complete.

Behavioural emails

As the name suggests, these emails are targeted messages based on the user’s behaviour, and with this type of email, personalisation is vital. Creating buyer personas and getting to know the customers means that these emails can be tailored to be as relevant as possible. 

Recommendations, review requests, re-orders, and even things like a free trial expiry can all be tailored to the customer’s needs. 

What can you use email marketing for? 

Email marketing can be used for a variety of different things, but at the end of the day, its primary purpose as part of a digital marketing strategy is to drive traffic. Owing to the extensive reach of email marketing, understanding and using this power can make a huge difference. Furthermore, it is an ideal way to deliver your message – more so than social media.

Sharing information with current customers is also a use of email marketing. These are people who have subscribed to updates, and so are already a captive audience. Cold emails as part of an email marketing strategy have to follow this as well, in order to retain interest.

What are the benefits of email marketing?

The benefits of email marketing are huge. As a marketing tool, it has become popular because it requires the customer to take some kind of action – whether that’s opening the email, or even archiving and deleting it. It’s a highly cost-effective marketing method as well, with an average return on investment (or ROI) of $42 to every dollar spent.

As well as helping drive revenue, email marketing can help build and establish relationships, and drive traffic to your site. By having highly personalised and targeted emails as part of the email marketing strategy, connections and bonds will be formed with the audience. 

Defining the brand is also essential, especially if it’s a new business – email marketing can really help define the company and give a strong sense of identity to new customers.   

Why is email marketing so effective?

For a while, email marketing was almost a dirty word, and something that marketers didn’t fully harness. However, owing to the events of 2020, email marketing has come into its own – a trend that continues into 2021. With people stuck at home, businesses and companies haven’t been able to have any face time with customers, so email marketing has taken precedence. 

Its effectiveness comes down to a variety of facts and figures. Over 4 billion people use emails, more than Instagram and Facebook combined, plus with figures stating that people born between 1981 and 1996 spend more than 6 hours a day on their emails, the potential that email marketing has is unprecedented. 

What is an email marketing strategy? 

We’ve mentioned email marketing strategies in the article already – but what is an email marketing strategy? In essence, the general rules laid out in a traditional marketing strategy are followed to achieve the desired results through using email. 

It uses the email marketing concept and strategises it – meaning that the emails are planned out, and particular goals are considered for it to be a success. These can be click-through goals, revenue goals, or even open-rate goals. 

How to get started with email marketing

So now we have a better idea of how email marketing works and how much it can help a business, how do you get started? A successful email marketing strategy will have a series of clear goals defined by the desired audience. Let’s go through the different steps that you should take to get started with email marketing.

Step 1 – establish your goals

The first thing you should do is to consider what you want to achieve from your email marketing. The key to working out your goals is to try and align them with the wider desired marketing goals. Do you want new sign-ups? Are you looking for hot leads? Or you could be looking for more people to attend your event or donate to your charity.

Email marketing is the most powerful way to reach your audience, and the results can be almost instant, so considering what you want to achieve is essential before you jump into your campaign. It’ll make it much easier to know what to send and who to send it to, giving you much more focus and more opportunity to achieve your marketing goals.

Step 2 – build your list

Now you know what you want to achieve, you need to compile a list of addresses. You can’t start email marketing if you don’t have any emails, so this is another essential step in getting started with digital marketing. But how do you go about choosing who goes on your list?

Consider creating a buyer persona to try to understand what you want to get from your recipients, as well as considering who you are targeting with your campaign. You could also have a banner or advert on your website advertising email subscriptions, so people who are already using your service might be inclined to sign up.

Targeting customers who already use or buy your service or product is the easiest way to build your list – they already know who you are and benefit from what you can offer them, so they will be more inclined to part with their contact details. 

Step 3 – consider your content

The average person receives one hundred and twenty-one emails every day. Making your content stand out is essential, otherwise it will likely end up forgotten and unopened. Consider your call-to-action, and make sure you have a consistent follow-up as well. 

One particular trend that has been noted in 2020 and 2021 is a more personalised and simplistic email marketing strategy. We all lead busy lifestyles, so digging into a lengthy email isn’t what people are looking for. Something short, snappy, and to the point, while also being familiar and personable, is guaranteed to have a good hit rate. 

Similarly, using video content in emails has a proven success rate – 90% of consumers said that product videos were helpful in making their decision to buy something. 

Step 4 – create a campaign

Next, you’ll want to consider the email marketing campaign that you use. These vary hugely, so choosing the right one is really important. Do you go for a weekly newsletter? Do you send out new product announcements? What about sharing blog posts that could be relevant? Think about which campaign will be best for your audience.

It could also be worth considering having separate lists that people can sign up to – so if a customer doesn’t want to sign up for a newsletter but wants to know about new products, they have that option. Try not to pitch right away, if you’re looking for conversions. It could end up putting people off and unsubscribing, which is not what you want!

Step 5 – make a schedule

This is often overlooked by marketers, but can actually be an important factor in building trust with your audience. Creating a sending schedule that people know and come to recognise will result in brand loyalty and will make people trust you – for instance, if you send out your email on the first of every month, it will be expected then. Sticking to this schedule is also essential.

You can also create excitement and intrigue if, for instance, you announce a new product on sale and break from your schedule. People won’t be expecting it, and if your content is engaging enough, the excitement will be palpable and could well result in further conversions.

Step 6 – track your results 

Some people might think that email marketing ends with a send. They couldn’t be more wrong! Taking note of the metrics as they come through – everything from open-rate, click-through rate, and even unsubscribe rate – will give you a clear indication of what’s working and what isn’t. 

Dive into your email reports and see who is opening the emails, who clicks through, and who is engaging. This can also give you an indicator of who you might need to target to obtain these essential metrics, and will help you understand the anatomy of an effective marketing email.    

Final thoughts 

Email marketing is one of the most essential tools in any marketing strategy, and is at the forefront of any digital marketing campaign. With such a high number of people on their emails at any one time, knowing how to structure an email marketing campaign has never been more important. 

The pandemic has bought the concept of email marketing into the limelight, as more people are spending time working from home, and as a result, they expect more from their emails. People have needed a distraction from the world around them more than ever, and engaging, fun, informative, and exciting emails have come into their own. 

So if you’re looking for a greater audience reach, with a much higher possibility of conversions, then an email marketing campaign is one of the best ways you can do this. 

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