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The Ultimate Guide to Building an Email Marketing Strategy

November 23, 2020

Email has thrived in every era of digital marketing. How? Unlike most other channels, targeted email connects you directly to your audience members’ inboxes – a major communication touchpoint in their daily routines. 

An agency that wants to scale its product suite cannot afford to ignore email marketing. Possessing the means to send high volumes of messages at scale can set you apart from others. 

After reading this Ultimate Guide, you should have a solid understanding of what makes a great email marketing campaign. First, let’s cover some basics. 

What is Email Marketing? 

Though this may sound self-explanatory, email marketing encompasses so much more than leveraging your audience members’ inboxes to engage with them. Beyond crafting an effective message, there are other key campaign elements to consider like: 

  • Who do you want to receive your message? 
  • What should the message’s layout and design look like? 
  • When should the message be sent? 
  • What action do you want your readers to take after reading? 
  • How will you measure campaign performance? 

There are many digital tools and services that you can use to answer these important questions. While this helps create a process with little-to-no friction, your campaign is doomed if it lacks a clear vision. 

Respected authors start writing their novels with the ending in mind. The challenge lies in getting the rest of the story there. Approach your email strategy in the same way.

Is Email Marketing Dead?

While email marketing has existed as a longtime staple tactic for many brands, it is far from dead. Though some parts of the internet may claim that email marketing is dead, the data does not support that. 

In fact, email marketing has grown over recent years. Here are some statistics that may surprise you: 

  • 126.7 trillion emails are estimated to be sent by 2022. 
  • Over 90% of Americans above the age of 15 read the emails they receive
  • More than 75% of teens consider email a part of their daily life 
  • 58% of users check their email before their social media accounts every day. Social media and search engines combined only account for 34%

Looking at the figures above, you can see that email is still the most popular digital messaging channel. Businesses, organizations, schools, families, and friends all use email to communicate.

Why is Email Marketing Still so Popular? 

Email’s popularity can be attributed to a number of factors. Three major reasons are:

  • Versatility: You can use email for personal messages, marketing, eCommerce, sharing files, and much more. 
  • Integration: Businesses can integrate a number of other platforms with their email systems like automation, customer relationship management (CRM), instant messaging, and many other tools. 
  • Privacy: Unlike more public-facing platforms like social media, email allows users to maintain as much privacy as they want. Many people have multiple email accounts for specific purposes. For example, a young adult may have one for their workplace, another for personal use, and a student email if they are in college. 

Benefits of Email Marketing 

Each communication channel that your business uses offers unique benefits. Email offers ones like: 

Reaching People at Their Inboxes

Unlike social media and PPC advertisements, email marketing campaigns meet your audience right at their inbox with a personalized message. While your ad campaigns compete against other distractions on a user’s screen, email can capture more attention. 

Because inboxes can filter out spam content and redirect advertisements to specific folders, content quality is king. Email is still a trusted medium for most users, and make sure you reward that trust by including engaging content, personalized messages, and an interesting subject line. Even if the reader does not open a single message, you will have your brand at the front of their minds each time a new message is sent. 

Targeting Features

Most email marketing platforms allow you to segment audiences into specific groups related to almost any vertical and then target them. 

For example, for popular industries like Automotive, you can segment your reader base by granular interests like specific makes and models, vehicle body types, and many others. 

All About Email Suppression Lists

Sometimes, you want to prevent specific audiences from reading your messages. A suppression list allows you to exclude current customers or anyone from your CRM during a campaign. This ensures that your send is focused on incremental reach in addition to driving retention goals. 

Screen Real Estate

Most other marketing channels are competing for screen space. Social media ads have to fight for visibility against your friends’ posts. PPC ads must match or exceed the quality of organic search results on Google. 

Unlike these tactics, with the exception of full-screen OTT ads,  an email message will take up most of your screen’s real estate. This means you are not battling other on-page elements for your audience’s attention.

Remarketing

Remarketing allows you to keep your brand fresh in your audience members’ minds by re-engaging with them at their point in the user journey. 

Using a remarketing strategy, you can target any of the following audiences from your email send: 

  • Non-Openers: Those who did not open your previous message
  • Non-Clickers: Those who have opened your message but did not click any links within 
  • Openers: Those who have opened your message 
  • Clickers: Those who have opened your message and have clicked through to a link in the message 

Matchbacks

Show your campaign ROI by matching your CRM data with your email marketing platform’s data. This can provide a more holistic view of your success by linking any recent purchases to people who received your email send. This will show if your efforts have a direct impact on revenue. 

A/B Testing

A/B testing is sending two variations of the same core message to different members of the same audience. This way, if you are deciding between two directions for your email marketing campaign, you can see which one is generating better results and use that to inform your decision making. Here, closely monitoring your analytical data is non-negotiable. 

Tips for Successful Email Marketing 

Email marketing involves critical thinking, creative skill, and sharp strategy. Though there are many “gurus” online trying to sell you on their systems for success, these are the four cornerstone elements of any goal-crushing campaign: 

  • Aesthetic Appeal
  • Audience Targeting
  • Value-Driven Content
  • Relevant Call-to-Action

Let’s look at these in more detail.

Aesthetic Appeal

What would you be more likely to read in an email message: A wall of text with no images or a creative infographic that combines key points with relevant visuals? You don’t need an advanced degree in psychology to assume the latter. 

People are visual beings and spend more time reading content that combines engaging messages with aesthetic appeal. When creating layouts and templates for your campaigns, leave space to insert eye-catching visual elements to enhance the copy. When possible, avoid using stock photos and opt for relevant, branded visuals. 

Email marketing platforms like MailChimp help streamline the design process for your emails. MailChimp includes features like block editors and drag-and-drop functions to create a comfortable reading experience for your recipients.

Audience Targeting

Before you craft your message, you need to know who your intended readers are. Rather than broadcasting to the internet at-large, narrowing down specific audiences will increase your chances of meeting campaign goals.

For example, if you own a local coffee shop in New Jersey but your email subscribers are all skiing enthusiasts in Utah, you have a problem. Where are your local caffeine connoisseurs? 

Sure, that is not a realistic scenario, but it should illustrate a key point: Always prioritize reaching audiences that share interests with your brand. This helps you tailor your messages to drive further engagement and retain a qualified reader base. 

The eCommerce Appeal

Audience targeting is also a fantastic email marketing feature for eCommerce strategies. If you own an apparel company and someone purchased a tee shirt from you this past summer, send an email to tell them about that awesome sweatshirt you just released for the fall season. 

Value-Driven Content

Remember, you are creating email content for your reader, not yourself. This is the time to educate your audience about your products, services, or expertise. If you are selling a product or service, this can provide a great opportunity to give someone a discount code or notify them of a promotion as well. Sharing knowledge to help someone get the most out of their engagements with your brand will result in stronger brand credibility and customer loyalty. 

Relevant Call-to-Action 

How do you drive conversions or further engagement through your email send? Use a call-to-action (CTA)! 

The CTA directs readers where to go next after reading your message. Do you want them to visit your contact page? View a product on your website? Read a new blog post? Make sure you include this. 

Popular examples of a CTA include: 

  • Learn More
  • Contact Us
  • Find Out Why
  • Watch the Video 

Most email marketing automation platforms include layout elements like clickable buttons that can present your CTA in an eye-catching way. If you can include a button for your CTA, do so. 

Choose Your Strategy: Acquisition vs. Retention 

When it comes to formulating your email marketing strategy there are two main approaches: Acquisition and Retention. Both are targeted at reaching specific types of audience members. 

Acquisition 

Acquisition email strategies are targeted at reaching people who may not have engaged with your brand before and are aimed at generating new revenue. Here, goals could include: 

  • Drive web traffic 
  • Increasing awareness of an upcoming event or sale
  • Acquiring email addresses to funnel to your CRM system. 

Conduit Digital’s targeted email services focus on the Acquisition approach. Our team specializes in creating strategic funnels that act as a pipeline between your brand’s campaigns and your CRM system for you to then nurture your leads. 

Retention 

The Retention approach focuses on leveraging contacts in a CRM system or other first-party data platform. These are typically users that have already engaged with your brand through making a purchase, submitting a contact form, or other avenues.  

Some examples of Retention emails could include: 

  • Gated offers, for example: “Unlock 30% on your purchase by giving us your email.” 
  • Weekly newsletters 
  • Reminders that you haven’t completed a purchase yet 
  • Offering a discount on your next purchase if you submit a review for your latest one

Audience members targeted through your Retention campaigns are often users that you want to reach to drive repeat revenue. Here, engaging and value-driven content is critical. For example, if someone just purchased your product, send them an email the next day with helpful tips for using it. 

An Easy Template for Basic Email Marketing Campaigns

We’ve covered tons of email marketing topics here, but it’s up to you to put them into action! Here’s a simple template for formulating a successful campaign: 

Phase 1: Preparation 

  • Determine the type of user-centric content you want to write about 
  • Conceptualize your campaign’s intended goals 
  • Determine your message and its audience
  • Create the subject line and preview text 
  • Finalize message layout, design, and visual elements
  • Decide on the CTA and its intended destination
  • Determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) you will measure your campaign success against. 

Phase 2: Creation 

  • Write your message copy – keep it as short, simple, and readable as possible. 
  • Insert visual elements to support your message. 
  • Add your CTA
  • Have at least one other person look it over to watch for typos or other errors

Phase 3: Sending

  • Make sure all messaging, audience members, links, etc. are working together as intended 
  • Send a test email to yourself if you want to see how it looks in an actual inbox 
  • Once satisfied, hit send!

Want to Scale Your Email Marketing Capabilities? Let Us Help

For over 8 years, Conduit Digital has partnered with agencies to help them meet client demands at scale. The millions of email messages we have sent to countless inboxes have driven revenue in almost every vertical. 

We can help you do the same. If you’d like to scale up your email marketing campaigns, contact us anytime. 

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