What is Email Marketing? [Step-by-Step Guide]

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Today, there is an abundance of e-marketing platforms to choose from.

Each allows you to achieve your business objectives through a number of built-in optimization tools to make your campaign thrive.

Yet, since its steady growth along other technical novelties of the 21st century, email marketing has failed to become obsolete as an effective tool for online communication. 

In fact, there are still qualities to the medium that transcend the payoffs of conventional marketing strategies in the contemporary age. 

Among these is a personal bond waiting to be fostered through a direct link established with your customer. There is a trust and credibility to be gained through its usage that cannot be ignored.

However, when used in a way that oversteps the boundaries of familiarity, it can prove harmful to sender reputation. Brand names quickly become a joke this way.

Luckily, here at KAMG, we know that people prefer their bad jokes like their spam email—deleted. As a provider of email marketing services, we’ve created a nifty step-by-step guide to help you make the best of this powerful tool and avoid becoming irrelevant.

Ready to expand your customer base and secure their loyalty?? Then read on!

What is Email Marketing?

Email Marketing

Email marketing, also known as email campaign marketing is a promotional strategy used to send messages in bulk to a targeted group of people.

It is usually done with an email platform where you can automate audience research, subscriber categorisation, and sending emails.

 Typically, these emails have their purpose in advertising, creating leads, or driving recipients through a sales funnel.

How Does It Work?

Like any good strategy, there’s a recipe for success, and effective email marketing campaigns will have three ingredients:

Start With Your List

Your mailing list is a vault of active email contacts that have an established interest in your brand or product. It is crucial to keep this list updated with people who find your product relevant and can contribute to your return on investment (ROI).

Add an Email Service Provider

A reliable management platform for your email campaigns (email platform) can help save you time by automating actions triggered by your mail respondents. This allows you to spend more energy analysing your engagement and personalizing it to audience interests.

However, you’ll want to choose the ESP that has the right infrastructure—flexible email bandwidth, design, or features improving deliverability— to handle bulk emailing. 

Choose platforms like Mailchimp, ConvertKit, or an ecommerce solution like Drip whose gears are fitted to boost online sales.

Clearly Defined Goals

The goal of your marketing campaign ultimately sets the template for communication. It determines the tone, language, and style of your copy, while even impacting some design elements.

Therefore, it’s crucial to know whether your campaign is set to:

  • Create awareness and expand your audience
  • Drive leads
  • Engage active recipients
  • Boost sales through conversion
  • Retargeting

Consider the instance when your campaign is meant to drive sales by targeting leads. Little will be achieved if the copy sings hymns about your brand and value commitment instead of promoting the specific product you’re aiming to sell.

It’s like praising the cobbler when the customer is simply interested in the shoe.

The Importance of Email Marketing

Perhaps the greatest value of this marketing tool lies in its payoff to solidify the  relevance of your brand. This is due to its capacity to personalize your targeting based on a number of benefits.

A Direct Link to Your Audience

Checking emails is a scheduled activity of daily admin, meaning that subscribers scroll through their inboxes on a regular basis.

A Benefit of Consent

The fact that a subscriber has given you permission to be included on your mailing list means you have been given access to a private route of communication. 

This is evidence of a foundational  trust being established, opening the way to nurture and engage your leads to eventually turn  them into committed customers.

A Way to Personalize Engagement

Whereas ownership of audience management is wrestled away from you by most other platforms, email marketing offers you the exclusive asset of your subscriber relationships.

Measuring the efficacy of your email campaigns is still fully under your control, while the available scaling options will respect your budget constraints and desire for frugality.

However, more importantly, owning this link with your customers offers you the ability to mould your advertising efforts to their interests. 

Data-driven campaign results of this nature allows you to remain adaptable and relevant within a profitable range.

Here at KAMG, we understand your ecommerce headaches. With our consultancy services, you’ll gain enough traffic, eliminate low conversions, and boost sales in a matter of 90 days.

Here’s and infographic about why email marketing is important (and more) according to SocialMediaToday.

Importance of email marketing - infographic

Growing Your Email List

Grow Your List

Getting email addresses is an important step for any eCommerce startup. In fact, it forms part of our 10 tips to improve your overall revenue. Naturally, you’ll want to approach this the right way.

Your mailing recipients aren’t a randomized sample of contacts. Instead, they’re like a predetermined guest list that consists of people you’ve invited to show an interest in your product or service.

But what drives them to accept the invite? What leads them to feel attracted by your offer?

The Force of a Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is a complimentary item that has its aim in securing the contact details of a potential sales lead. These could be anything from newsletters, a free sample, or even a trial subscription.

What Makes a Good Lead Magnet?

Your offer needs to be irresistible if your goal is to increase your site conversions. Therefore, your lead magnet needs to tick the right boxes to be attractive and make your email recipients buy into your brand.

Unique value proposition. Your offer needs to set you apart from products or services offered by your competitors.

One way to ensure this is that your expertise is tied in with the perceived value of what you make available. This should however also match the actual value, in order to add a layer of trust in your brand.

Satisfy a need. When your offer comes as a timely solution to a problem, your mailing recipient is more likely to accept it. Does your product fill a gap? Or is it simply a nice amenity?

Accessible. In essence, your offer is a gift. So, it makes no sense to make it hard to come by. Consumer psychology places great emphasis on the principle of instant gratification.

Whatever the offer—a voucher, a promotional code, a tester, or a trial service—people will want it instantly if they show interest.

Allowing too much time to elapse and placing too many barriers between the customer and the offer will make them lose interest and rob you of the opportunity to showcase your brand.

Easily digestible. Your product needs to make an impact. It needs to be fast and hard-hitting.

The best way to accomplish this is to make it simple to understand and easy to process—especially if the offer is more informational in nature, e.g., a whitepaper, or a newsletter.

Let’s say a yoga company launches an app that allows guided at-home practice. The email could include an embedded 15-min quick flow video that showcases the skills of an instructor, while highlighting the quality of the content.

The content is a) unique—giving an actual glimpse into the product; b) satisfies a need—yoga in the comfort of your own home; c) accessible; and d) easily digestible—a video that engages the senses and attention.

This makes a follow-up offer of something like a trial subscription easier to accept, because customer interest has been piqued by something consumable.

Choosing the Best Email Marketing Service

Email Service Providers (ESPs) have the infrastructure to deal with mass emailing. But there is little point in paying for powerful marketing if you’re either not interested in using its features, or don’t know how to use them all.

To choose the service that is best tailored to your needs, consider the following:

  • Skill Level—Can you design emails from scratch by writing HTML code? Or are you a beginner that might benefit from email templates or drag-and-drop editors?
  • Email Type—Do you plan to send promotional emails with a strong CTA? Or are your emails more informational, keeping your customers updated on your brand or announcing new developments? This determines email frequency.
  • Marketing Flexibility—Does your ESP offer a nifty automation feature that saves you time in responding to standard events and spare more time for responding to custom leads?
  • Budget—Despite your desire for diverse marketing features, allowing you the freedom to adapt your campaign, your wallet may limit you to the basics. However, a small investment now could promise an upgrade later.

A good example of software that passes the test is Klaviyo.

It’s an ecommerce email marketing tool that acts as an easy-to-use plug-in to ecommerce platforms like Shopify or Magento, while pulling in real-time customer data that allows you to custom build sales experiences.

Personalized Email Marketing with Segmentation

We’ve talked about clearly defined goals in email marketing, but even with a clear goal, your campaign may swing too broadly. 

The subscribers on your mailing list have one thing in common: an interest in your brand. However, beyond that, they have a wide scope of other clustered interests that drives them to use your brand differently. 

A good practice in this case is to group your mail recipients, otherwise known as email list segmentation.

What is Email List Segmentation?

Email List Segmentation is the process of clustering your subscribers according to commonly shared features. 

This could include demographics (e.g., age, gender, etc.), consumer behaviour (looking at purchase history) or location.

Why Segment Your Email Marketing List?

We’ll stress another key word here: relevance. 

Targeting your mailing list as a uniform group is a big mistake, especially if your campaign has a specific aim that doesn’t reflect everyone’s vested interests in your brand. 

If your promotion or information is not value-adding, then there is no return on investment. Though general campaigns are ultimately necessary to stay in touch with your subscribers, they’ll eventually look for something catered to their needs.

Segmenting your mailing list into clustered sub-lists has a number of benefits.

Favourable Results. Email campaigns that nail an understanding of subscriber needs will yield an overall better click-through rate (CTR), and potentially drive your subscribers to that coveted conversion funnel.

Better Engagement. There is a dual payoff to curated campaigns that follow the cues of the segmented list it’s created for. 

Firstly, it displays a deeper understanding of your subscriber base that makes email recipients feel noticed and as if they stand out. Secondly, this builds stronger relationships, and customers nurture trust in a brand that responds to their needs.

Deliverability. Blanket campaigns run the risk of suffering ad fatigue if a generic template is thrust into the overfull inboxes of your subscribers. 

This creates a negative perception that feeds into your sender reputation. Your content may soon get labelled and end up in the dreaded spam folder where conversion cycles die a swift death.

Improve Your Email Open Rates

Improve Your Email

Any number of metrics may start becoming important to you once you analyse the dashboard of your marketing campaign. But your engagement with any mail recipient starts in earnest when they open the email. 

Your email open rate is a valuable baseline statistic, as it measures your chance of eliciting a number of actions from your mail recipient. 

Consequently, you’ll want to streamline this process as much as possible.

Avoid Spam Filters

For you to even stand a chance of having your email opened, you’ll want to improve the deliverability of your content. In short, this is ensuring that your email lands in your recipient’s inbox. 

We’ve talked about the downfall that comes with too many generic campaigns, but did you know that word choice in your subject line may increase the chances of having your mail labelled as spam? 

The word “congratulations” are among the phrases that make ISP’s throw up red flags, while other spammy choices may include numbers, symbols, and even CTA’s that drive your intention before your foot is even in the door.

Remove Inactive Subscribers to Keep Your List Fresh

Imagine the tragedy of rolling out a campaign to a mailing list whose inactive subscribers outweigh the active recipients. 

In order to avoid wasting time and resources on recipients that will only lower your campaign results, you’ll need to apply good email list hygiene.

That means cleaning out your list to leave behind recipients that will increase your open rate and CTR, while expanding on your leads. 

Perfect Your Timing

Knowing when your email lands is as important as knowing if your email lands. 

When you’ve worked hard on your marketing campaign, you want that message to appear at the very top of your subscriber’s inbox. 

Often, one approach is to rely on work habits and time email delivery to the morning shift when people typically arrive at work, or when they return from lunch. 

However, strategic campaign rollouts will consider the full behaviour analytics of your subscribers and place it in a range when their activity is more frequent.

Make Your Subject Line Stand Out

Landing your email in an inbox is a big deal. You’re guaranteed to be noticed, but now you need to keep your reader’s attention. This is where a hard-hitting subject line comes in.

Keep it short, simple, while “selling” your best offer without making it sound like a pitch too early on. Ideally, you want the idea to resonate with your client’s desires.

A niche business like an archery supply store could for instance benefit from this by including a little humour, curiosity, and a fear of missing out in their subject line. 

Let’s say they’re targeting hunters. Their subject line could read “Aiming for Quality in the Outdoors? Don’t Miss Out on Our Offer.

Write to Just One Person

Playing to the crowd will be the first thing to make you slip into the pitfall of writing generic copy. Remember, you want your offer to feel personal. Your subscriber must feel that this email is somehow “talking” to them and them alone.

Write Like a Friend

Personalizing your tone is just the first step. Next, you want to come across as someone that your subscriber (aka, your potential customer/client) can trust. You need to be friendly and warm them up to the irresistible idea you’re selling.

Write Amazing Content, Every Time

There’s little point in segmenting your mailing list if what you’re writing doesn’t reflect an understanding of the niche audience you’ve created. 

Dress your copy in a conversational tone that will allow you to tell a story. This instils curiosity in your reader and allows you to get comfortable with a little bit of personality. 

Inject Some Humour

Nothing warms your reader than a well-timed joke that distracts them from the mindless slur of work emails starting their inbox. Some humour lightens the mood, while making your reader more receptive to a possible offer that they can’t miss. 

Optimize For Mobile

These days, emails are checked on the go. That means the preview functionality of your email, any attached docs, and even your website should be optimized for mobile devices.

Automating Your Email Marketing with Autoresponders

Autoresponders are a key example of how email automation can make your marketing campaign more efficient. When predetermined events (actions taken by the recipient) take place, they automatically trigger the delivery of these emails. 

These emails go beyond the initial promotional phase of your product—executed by landing that first email—and nudge the reader along a user experience journey through your service.

Choose a Goal for Your Autoresponder

There are a variety of cases where autoresponders become useful:

  • As a double-opt in tool to confirm subscriptions
  • To welcome new subscribers
  • As an initiation tool for potential customers
  • To redirect clients to complete certain actions

However, they are not used for more sensitive cases, such as emails devoted to transactional goals. 

Map Out Your Entire Email Sequence

Automating your email workflow will allow you to take your customer on a journey. It nurtures your customer’s experience by offering them the reassurance that their action (subscription, purchase, etc.) is a decision well made.

A double opt-in automation sequence is a good example. 

Here, an email is automatically sent out after a user signs up to click and confirm their subscription. In addition, such an email could again highlight the FAQ’s dealing with terms and conditions, helping the customer make a decision.

An automated workflow considers every trigger action, from opening an email to clicking through the links, in order to reach the campaign objective.

ActiveCampaign has an entire library of automation recipes to choose from. 

E Commerce companies could thus set up workflows dealing with abandoned cart reminders, notification of purchase, and purchase feedback emails to stay in touch with their customer through the sales journey.

Write an Autoresponder Series That Converts

Your ultimate goal is to move your leads into a sales funnel. 

However, your potential customer only converts into a sale when there is constant engagement that keeps them interested, and a timely response that feeds into their conviction at just the right moment. 

Monitor and Improve

While your initial automation workflow will follow a general email template and sequence in which your messages are sent, data-driven results should eventually guide you to customize your automation patterns to the specific groups you’ve segmented.

At KAMG, our email marketing consultation will help keep you reactive to the metrics that mean the most to your business. 

How to Collect More Emails for Your Website

Before you can really adopt a house style for your brand in your email copy, you need to build a list that you can test it against.

Your subscriber-facing communication will be customized by your subscribers, so before investing your time and effort in tools and resources for that laser-targeted campaign, you first need a subscriber capital to draw from. 

So, to do this, the buzz word for your success will be incentive.

Offer Freebies

Remember when we spoke of lead magnets? Freebies are attractive, because they offer your subscriber a way to become acquainted with your brand. Remember that these need to offer real value and should also be instantly accessible. 

Newsletters are a popular option, as they establish a connection through their repeated release while keeping customers updated on products they might be interested in.

Make Sure a Form is Present Throughout Your Website

When a visitor lands on a webpage that sells them exactly what they’ve been looking for, you want them to buy into the action as soon as possible. 

Don’t cause them frustration by making them look for a way to sign up. Have a form available throughout your site, unless you want them dissuaded from following through on your deal.

Ecommerce stores benefit from having opt-in forms as part of their checkout process. Other highly visible areas include on the homepage, contact page, throughout blog posts, and links included as part of your posts and bios in your social media.

Optimize Your Current Form Placement

Site navigation is another element that can be leveraged to gain email addresses. 

Your content and widgets need to be placed in such a way that your site visitor is taken from your page info on a direct route to sign up while the motivation is still fresh in their minds. 

Review What Info You’ve Asked for and Form Messaging

Typos happen, but there is no reason to let them through unwarranted. 

Set up your sign-up forms with a redirection page to review the info your potential subscriber has provided. This negates the clutter of faulty addresses in your growing mailing list while ensuring the deliverability of your communication.

Experiment with Pop Ups

Though this may be a contentious route, a pop up is an eye-catching marketing tool that may draw enough attention at just the right moment. 

It could offer your site visitor an assistant to help navigate your pages, or else conveniently offer a noticeable method to sign up while they are engaging with content they are interested in.

Add Incentives After a Purchase

If you own an eCommerce website, then you know there are many stages in the customer journey just waiting to be capitalized on. One of these is the euphoria immediately following the completion of a purchase. 

You can freeride more marketing in that consumer high by putting forward additional prods to take actions. It keeps you in constant engagement with your customer, especially when they are already warmed to your service.

Run a Contest to Collect Subscribers

Think of this as an upgrade to the freebie, where site visitors could stand a chance to win a full customized package showcasing your services by signing up. Interest skyrockets when the curiosity of premium content is planted in a timely manner.

Earn Emails from Other Sites

There are many doorways that are left open to drive traffic to your site. Social media platforms and affiliate marketing are two options to partner with to increase your chances of gaining more site visitors.

Emails From Othersite

Reach Out to Your Social Followers

When your brand is established, it’s likely you have a social media presence and a follower base interested in staying updated on your movements. Why not solidify this link? You’ve captured their attention, so your aim is to guarantee their loyalty.

Add a From to Your Facebook Business Page

Facebook Business has become an invaluable resource for companies to communicate directly with their set audiences. A business page boosts interaction and discussion, as people share a common interest in your brand. 

This is a great place to promote a sign-up, because visitors can follow the experience of your customer base while developing a feel for your brand based on ratings.

Pin a Tweet That Could Entice a Sign Up

When using Twitter as a marketing tool, you’ll find that the social ecosystem of the platform is set up as a soundboard to gauge follower opinion. These snippets of info are disseminated quickly and in a timely manner.

You’ll therefore want to place your important info right at the top of your feed, where it can get immediate attention and potentially be cycled back to.

Invest in Social Advertising

When you’re looking for a solution to expand reach, boost awareness, generate leads, and drive engagement, then social advertising offers a range of tools that help you to target niche audiences without breaking the bank.

Write for Other Industry Blogs

Another avenue to reach a wider audience is through affiliate marketing, where a commission is paid to an affiliate brand to promote your product. Ads written for affiliate blog sites can be used to funnel traffic to your site.

This could be especially effective when either industry’s product or service is seen as complementary to the other. For example, a fitness influencer may promote a brand they trust as a next-generation producer of natural supplements.

Cross-Promote Your List to Another List

Established industry partners may even go so far as to swap out mailing lists when their products and goals are in alignment. 

When you can label a niche audience who might benefit from the products showcased through cross-promotion, it offers an easy way to inherit a surplus of additional mail recipients.

Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing

Building a recognizable and striking brand identity is hard work and will inevitably offer its fair share of frustrations as some campaigns falter while others yield major ROI.

However, there are a few common best practices that tip the scale favourably, while other habits are investment pitfalls waiting to open. 

Don’ts

Bought email lists. This creates a number of problems. Firstly, some authorities’ intent on protecting personal information will mark the storage of contact information without consent as illegal. 

Secondly, unsolicited emails with a clear marketing angle can easily be labelled as spam, harming your sender reputation and decreasing the overall deliverability of your communication.

Lastly, such lists may contain potential spam traps—inactive addresses that are planted as lures to attract other spammers. 

So, despite the temptation to grow your mailing list faster, slow and steady does win the race.

Untested email campaigns. As snazzy as your email campaign is, you’ll find that a common error can easily throw out a good formula. 

The first recipients of your marketing mail should preferably be a proof-reader or employee. 

In this way, you can test the deliverability of your emails, while allowing these recipients to check features like format, typos, display, and preview functionalities before you proceed to officially send it off to your subscribers.

Do’s

Although we’ve discussed a couple of best practices, there are a few additions to this list that are honourable mentions for any serious marketing campaign.

Welcoming emails. Scored a new subscriber? Then be sure to make them feel at home.

The welcoming email is a great way to establish a familiarity and generate more leads from your mailing list. Here, you can introduce your vision, lay out more offers, or make them even more comfortable with a generous offer for joining your family.

Standout email designs. Your ESP is likely to have built-in or customizable templates that you can edit to your heart’s content. However, your final product needs to be evocative. 

As much as you want to construct a template that personifies your brand identity, it’s important to know what people react to. 

Colour psychology is a good example. Bold designs may pair well with strong CTAs, while softer and more simplistic palettes could feel more comfortable to the viewer.

Leave Breadcrumbs. Crafting good email copy goes beyond great storytelling and writing with personality. Other elements take into account the searchability of your brand. 

Be sure to maintain a balanced keyword distribution from the subject line to the body text. 

Using this technique with email doesn’t help you rank directly. Instead, it hits home what your brand is known for, prodding mail recipients to look you up whenever they conduct a specific keyword search themselves.

It’s like ensuring likeability through repeated exposure.  

For example, if you own a sports brand that is known for their high-quality unisex active wear, then you’ll include these words throughout your email copy. This helps them create a mental schema of what your company does best.  

Furthermore, formatting by breaking down walls of text and using diverse elements like bullet points and subheadings make it more digestible.

Here are some more tips from Campaign Monitor.

Email Marketing Dos And Donts - infographic

As anyone can see, there’s a lot of work and technical preparations when it comes to emails.

So one of the best ways that you can run effective email marketing campaigns is by getting professional email marketing services from an expert.

This way, you won’t have to risk your business to trial and error, ensuring campaigns that will get you the ROI you want.

Check out KAMG’s email marketing services.

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