Email marketing is a wonderful option for startups because it’s cheap and super effective. Wondering how to do email marketing right?
Keep reading this guide.
First question: Is email marketing dead?
There’s no ambiguity about this. Simply, no. Email marketing is not dead or outdated or primitive.
It still works brilliantly! The first marketing email was sent in 1978 and it drew in a whopping 13 million dollars in sales. And it has not slowed down since.
Don’t believe us?
Check out these very real facts:
Email marketing has a way higher ROI (return on investment) than social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Because email marketing allows you to have a direct link with your audience. Compare this to Facebook’s organic engagement with nosedived to less than 1% in 2021.
In fact, the newsletter open rate is 21.33% which is 20x times higher than the Facebook post engagement rate!
Imagine the sheer difference this can make to your sales!
Why does email marketing yield better results than social media marketing?
The answer is simple:
People expect ads in their email inbox, not on their Facebook wall or Instagram feed. According to a study, 86% of the consumers prefer promotional content to be confined to their emails rather than taking over their TV or Facebook time. (Hubspot)
How many times have you groaned at your TV for playing the same ad thrice in an hour? Compare that to all the times you have groaned at your Gmail inbox i.e. never.
Also, you can avoid your Facebook profile for a while if you’re sad or busy, or plain exhausted after a long day of work. Can you ignore your email inbox?
Nope. You can ignore memes but you cannot ignore your boss. That’s why email marketing works. Email promotional content is kinda unavoidable.
Result: Email converts 40x more leads into customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.
What makes email marketing even better? It’s way cheaper than social media marketing.
Are you finally convinced? Well, then let us move on to:
How to do email marketing yourself?
The very first thing you need to do is build your email list.
You might be tempted to rent or buy pre-made email lists from various online sources but this is a terrible idea. How would you know if the users of those emails are a part of your target audience at all? Worse yet, how would you know that they even exist?
You might get a list of dead emails that no one uses or emails with very high bounce rates. You might as well start stuffing your marketing emails in with a box full of dead letters.
How can you expect results if you go on firing blanks?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
How to build your email list?
(Or, how to convince people to give you their emails)
Emails are highly coveted pieces of personal data. Did you notice how almost every single site you visit asks you for your email address at the very least?
They don’t care about your credit card information- they just want your email. Why?
Because your email can actually help them convince you to give them money later. Or at least increase their site traffic which will also be profitable for them in the long run.
The good part is- no one protects their email addresses like it’s their grandma’s jewels. All you’ve got to do is to have a few tricks up your sleeve to get those precious email addresses:
Ideal Placement of Opt-In Messages
People visit your About page most often. The good news is: the people who visit your About page are most probably interested in your site already.
So where should you place your Opt-in Message? About page. Obviously. And if you have an overly long About page that cannot be glanced at in one go- you need to add the Opt-in message at the top AND the bottom.
Don’t let people forget about subscribing by the time they reach the end of the page.
What are squeeze pages exactly?
These are landing pages that are designed to “squeeze” email addresses out of your site visitors. You’ve seen a million of these by now.
Squeeze pages do have an exit option but these are most often so well-disguised that the visitors feel like they must complete this option to proceed.
This might feel like an extreme version of cajoling someone to subscribe but it works. Squeeze pages convert 14% of the leads into subscribers.
It’s also a good idea to have different squeeze pages for different kinds of site visitors.
For example, someone might be interested in purchasing infographic templates, someone might want to access the training videos, while someone might want marketing tips. Tailoring squeeze pages to your audience’s needs is the key.
People who’re visiting your site are doing so because they want some information. To them, submitting their name and email address seems like a small price to pay for accessing that information.
Squeeze pages concentrate your attention on the Opt-in message, making you wonder- Well, why shouldn’t I subscribe?
Valuable Lead Magnets
We’re a generation that demands instant gratification.
That’s why offering “newsletters” or a month-long training course might not tempt a lot of us into signing up. These options are either boring, commonplace, or lack immediate effects.
So how to decide what kind of lead magnets to use in your opt-in message?
Go for something that provides that instant gratification: an ebook, video, or meal plans, whatever it is that your site can offer immediately.
Also, handing out freebies to get people to subscribe is a great idea. Nothing is better than free things. Free trial, free webinars, free counseling- offer whichever. All everyone is focusing on is the word “free”.
Immediate returns get you immediate subscribers.
Optimize Home Page for Sign-Ups
We understand that you want to fill your home page with quality content to prove to your audience that you are worth subscribing to.
We also understand that you don’t want to be shameless enough to put your opt-in message front and center.
About that… You NEED to.
Your home page not only has to have an opt-in option compulsorily, but it also needs to be very, VERY obvious and visible. You’re trying to draw attention. Playing it subtle will make you lose subscribers.
Try answering this:
Why is this homepage
…better than this one?
The answer is simple:
In the second one, you don’t know where to look.
In the first one, there’s nowhere else to look.
Exit Pop-Ups ONLY
You hate pop-ups. We hate pop-ups. EVERYBODY hates pop-ups.
But not all pop-ups are hate-worthy.
There’s something aggressive about a pop-up that attacks you the moment you enter the site.
Pop-Ups that continuously interfere with your scrolling are even worse.
Remember when Facebook introduced those mid-roll ads and you wanted to throttle someone every time you watched a video? (I personally dealt with the problem by vowing never to watch the second half of any video)
But there’s a time and a place for pop-ups to thrive.
Exit Pop-Ups are the good guys. No one really hates them because they approach us politely after our browsing is done.
Now, since we have a good idea of the quality of content on the site, we can actually make an informed decision regarding whether we want to subscribe or not.
Ask for limited information
See how every single one of these opt-in messages ONLY asks you for your name and email? The reason is simple:
This is not a college admission form. No one has the time for a long fill-in list.
Also, it makes no sense to badger them for more information when all you need is their email address. There are tools (we’re going to talk about those soon) that can help you classify them into groups so that you can practice targeted email marketing.
Why would you want to make your audience more suspicious of you by asking them for out-of-the-way information? Just ask them for their basic info and move on.
But you cannot do everything by yourself, right?
What if we tell you that there are numerous email marketing software out there that are meant to transform this process into a cakewalk?
Let us briefly go over what to expect from a good email marketing tool before we discuss which email marketing software is best suited to your needs.
What to look for in a good email marketing tool?
These are some of the mandatory features:
- Drag-drop-editor- makes it easy to create newsletters.
- Marketing automation- the tools that help you send out personalized bulk emails.
- Ensures segmentation for targeted marketing
- Easy tie-ups with other sites like WordPress.
- Ensures that your email does not land up in the spam folder.
Are you one of those people who avoid email marketing because you’re afraid of being relegated to the spam folder?
This does not have to be your headache at all! Almost all email marketing tools will take care of this for you. Now can you breathe a sigh of relief?
Not all email marketing tools are equal though. Some features are better in some software and each software, therefore, is suited to a specific kind of user. Read on to see which one will suit you the best:
What are the best email marketing software?
This is one of the most popular email marketing software out there. Why?
Because of its free email marketing service plan which lasts….wait for it…. FOREVER.
It’s not a joke. This plan allows you to send 12,000 emails to up to 2000 subscribers!
Along with this, it has a lot of exciting features like:
- Easy drag-and-drop email builder.
- Segmenting contacts into groups (very important for targeted marketing)
- Setup delivery times based on user’s timezones
- Segmenting based on geolocation.
- Easy integration with WordPress or Shopify.
There’s a catch though. The marketing automation features here are limited. The latter options, Drip and ConvertKid are much better in that regard. Also, the customer support section is no match for software like Constant Contact.
However, if you are just starting out with email marketing- this is the perfect match for you. After all, you should at least know how comfortable you are with this sort of marketing before you start investing in these software, right?
Have an e-commerce site or an online store? Go for Drip.
Remember those personalized Squeeze pages that we spoke of earlier? Personalizing your promotional content according to the taste of your customers is essential when you’re trying to sell them something.
Drip offers the best personalization and automation features out of all. Targeted marketing is their core strength.
These are some of the other amazing features you can look forward to with Drip:
Smarter email segmenting, split testing features, list groups, and a visual automation workflow builder
There’s also an e-commerce revenue attribution feature that tells you how much revenue you generated from an email marketing campaign.
Their customer support is great as well. You get access to live chat support, webinars, automation training, detailed courses, free guides, and more.
Drip might not be completely free like Mailchimp but there’s a free trial period that you should absolutely utilize to see if this is the best fit for you.
If you’re a content creator or a blogger, go for ConvertKit.
Why? Because their paid newsletter feature is perfectly suited to you if you have great new content to offer.
ConvertKit also easily segments subscribers into those who have already paid and those who are interested. This allows you to funnel the right kind of promotional content to the right kind of customers.
The targeted marketing features here are comparable to Drip’s. They also have beautiful templates that you can use for your landing page.
Their customer support is mostly email-based but they have an extensive knowledge base that you can learn a lot from.
Unfortunately, they only have a 14-day free trial period.
There are various other email marketing software like SendInBlue, AWeber, and GetResponse. You can check them all out here.
But wait! Just because we told you about these very useful software, does that mean your job is done?
Nope! You still need to figure out which strategies you are going to use to make email marketing work for your business. We’ve got you covered.
What are some of the best email marketing strategy?
Bring back inactive subscribers
Have you ever received an email like this from Zomato:
“You’ve been distant. Was it something we did?”
If you have, your reaction was possibly something like:
“Calm down, Zomato! One clingy ex is more than I can handle. I’ll order a pizza or something, sheesh.”
As you’re devouring that pizza that you didn’t know you wanted but needed anyway, it is a good time to ponder upon the ingenuity of Zomato through which they transformed you into an active customer again.
Getting new subscribers is way more difficult than engaging your old subscribers who have possibly been inactive. Your old subscribers already know you. It’s easier to sell your ideas to them.
How do you define “inactivity” though? Well, it depends on your product. If you sell fridges, you cannot expect a customer to browse new fridges within two months.
A period of inactivity is anywhere between three to six months of non-engagement.
Now once you have identified the inactive subscribers, how do you get them back?
There are two ways you can go about this:
Conduct polls and surveys
Why would this work if none of your regular emails did?
Because you’re giving them something to do.
Tell me something. Why do you take Buzzfeed quizzes to figure out what kind of a potato you are? Is that essential information that you need to figure out? (You’re obviously a french fry.)
Nah, you just like clicking away at some options.
This is exactly why polls and surveys work. We like being given something to do- something easy. How many times have you participated in a random survey on YouTube without even bothering with which channel was hosting that survey?
Exactly. Now you know why Airbnb suddenly sends you those polls asking questions like “Where do you go in your daydreams?”
Give away coupons and gifts
We shouldn’t have to explain why this option works.
Remember that clingy-ex message you got from Zomato? They probably followed that up with a “20% off on Domino’s pizza” coupon.
That’s why you got the pizza that you never wanted.
I cannot think of a company that does this better than MamaEarth.
Every time I see one of these emails I start wondering if I need a new shampoo even though I just bought one from a different brand a week ago.
They keep offering discounts and people keep buying. MamaEarth’s email marketing strategy is so effective that it takes an iron will to abandon them for another brand.
Yes, your email marketing software is going to do this for you. But you should understand why doing this is crucial.
Say you’ve set a time for your emails to be sent out in bulk. It reaches Mr. X in the US at noon. Yeah, he’ll probably take a look at your email.
The same email will reach Mr. Y in Japan at 1 am. By the time he wakes up in the morning and checks his inbox, your email is buried under a heap of other emails.
This is an instance meant to show why you should segment your subscribers according to their time zones and geolocations.
But that’s not the only kind of segmentation you have to care about.
Say, you have a website that offers people courses on various kinds of digital marketing.
Some of your subscribers will be interested in social media marketing, while others will be interested in email marketing. Within the first set, a subset of people will be interested in Facebook marketing whereas another subset will be interested in Instagram marketing.
Every broad category can be divided into multiple smaller categories and then those smaller sub-categories can be divided into even smaller sub-sub-categories.
And along with these, you also need to think about factors like: Are they repeat buyers or first-time buyers? How active are they?
You cannot sell the same pitch to everyone. Well, you can. It’s just that your subscriber engagement rate will be significantly lower.
Take a look at this data which comes from a Mailchimp survey:
Segmented email campaigns get 14.31% more opens than unsegmented email emails.
The numbers say it all.
Make it URGENT!
Be truthful. How many times have you bought something because you were too nervous to compare prices with the other brands during the time crunch?
It’s okay. We’ve all been there, done that.
Amazon is the brand that uses urgency very frequently because they’re aware of the fact that people flip-flop between Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc to compare the prices of a single item.
The time crunch discourages you from leaving the site.
This works brilliantly in email marketing as well. Just give people a deadline: “This offer ends by midnight” or “Only 2 hours left to avail this offer!”
Along with this, the veneer of exclusivity works too.
“Limited stocks” or “Hurry! Only 1 left!” work wonders as well.
No more than ONE Call-to-Action
Call-to-Action or CTA is the button inside your email that asks the viewer to buy or use your product.
It’s the one that says “Buy now!” or “Click here for a free trial.”
We told you just a minute back that your subscribers have varied needs. But does this mean you’ll put a variety of CTAs in one email?
No! This is exactly why segmentation is important.
Send different emails to different kinds of customers. Don’t try to accommodate a variety of options in one email to satisfy all kinds of customers.
Take a look at this page:
It has not one but 3 CTAs. Don’t do this. Telling the customers “But this or buy that or better yet buy that one there” is terribly confusing.
They’ll not know where to look because they cannot focus their attention on one single thing.
If you ask them to check out one thing, they’ll most probably do it and then they’ll be able to view the other products available on your site.
Get the timing right
We’ve already spoken a bit about this with the “Mr. X from America and Mr. Y from Japan” example. But sending the email during daylight hours is not enough.
Why? Because there are certain optimal periods of time when people check their emails more often. Not only that, they also have to have enough time on their hands to then visit your website, browse through your content and buy something or share it with their friends.
But how on earth will you know your customers’ email checking patterns?
According to CoSchedule, the best times to send emails are 6:00 am, 10:00 am, 2:00 pm, 8:00 pm, 10:00 pm, and 12:00 pm.
But trusting CoSchedule isn’t enough. You need to figure out which time works best for your customers specifically. How to do this?
Experiment with your timings. Try sending out the emails at different points of time to see which one gets the most number of opens, click-throughs, and visits. But don’t try this all in one go. Stick with one particular timing for at least a month to see what result it yields.
What are some of the best examples of email marketing?
You cannot possibly still be under the impression that email marketing is dead. But just in case you are- let us quickly go over how even these huge Fortune 500 companies still use email marketing religiously.
Since this is (or well, ‘was’) a true-blue Indian company, their email marketing strategy is focused on maintaining an Indian flavor.
The Republic Day email not only has an Indian flavor, quite literally, because of the spices, but it’s also as patriotic as it can possibly be with the tricolor and #MadeInIndia standing out proudly.
Amazon is just sales galore.
They offer discounts on anything and everything every single day.
You probably get an email from them twice a week.
Amazon doesn’t need to remind people of their existence through regular emails. Their emails are mostly meant to inform people which sale is going on at the moment.
They also email you to let you know when the items on your cart go on sale. Another incentive to keep checking your emails from Amazon.
Apple’s email marketing is mostly focused on sending out beautifully crafted newsletters. Since Apple always needs to inform people about their new models, updates, features, etc- their customers actually look forward to their emails.
Makes complete sense why Apple doesn’t need to be sneaky or aggressive about their email marketing.
See that very obvious unsubscribe button? We’re not asking you to have one quite that conspicuous, but do allow your subscribers to leave if they want to.
The above email represents quintessential gentlemanliness. Aspire to that. If you let people leave on a good note, they might even come back.
Uber has nailed the art of story time emails.
Take a look at this:
Mourning the death of Prince together, inviting a complete stranger to do karaoke, and getting a future bandmate?
Man, I want to take an Uber right now!
Sorry. Got carried away.
The point is- Uber’s storytime mails are that effective. They literally make you want to take a ride RIGHT NOW just so that you can meet interesting people.
Hell, this seems like a better way to meet someone than swiping through Tinder.
Uber knows exactly how to affect the emotions of their customers. This is not an easy trick but if you can make this work out for you, you’re golden.
See how every company uses a different type of email marketing? You need to figure out which one works out for you, so let’s take a look at…
What are the different types of email marketing?
Newsletters are basically digital newspapers that contain news of your company. The recipients of your newsletters are people who are interested to know what’s going on with your company or whether you have any new updates for them.
The good thing about sending out newsletters is that this is an easy way to get people to subscribe. It’s like a newspaper after all. People look forward to these regularly.
Since these are habit-forming, you also have to deliver on this consistently. A newsletter cannot be sent out intermittently or after long gaps of time.
They work because people remember them and expect them.
Also, you can inform your subscribers about a variety of issues through your newsletters. Apple uses theirs to inform their customers about new products, new updates, new features, new accessories, new stores near you- everything.
You can branch further out and include a survey or provide a link to your other blogs. You can offer a diverse selection of content through newsletters.
However, the problem with newsletters is that people can often just dismiss them with the excuse: “TLDR.” It’s after all not something that can be taken in at a glance or gives instant gratification.
There are also more than one CTAs in newsletters. If you intend to focus the concentration of the subscriber on one thing only, the newsletter should not be your weapon of choice.
Whether or not you should send out your newsletters depends upon your subscribers and your content. It’s one of the more conventional options of email marketing but if you have good content to offer, you can have a loyal subscriber base that comes back time and again.
Dedicated emails are focused. They look a bit like Squeeze Pages:
As you can see, there is a singular CTA and a singular message. Therefore it’s the exact opposite of a newsletter.
With a dedicated email, you can focus the concentration of the audience on a singular thing. This is a better way to get click-throughs from your new subscribers.
And look at the picture above. It is obvious that dedicated emails are also a lot easier to design than newsletters.
Another perk of dedicated emails is that it’s very easy to measure the views, click-throughs, and website visits because there’s only one CTA that you have to track.
But you won’t get the perks of the newsletter here. That is, you can neither build up a habit among your subscribers to click on the emails nor can you supply them with diverse content. You have to stick to delivering a single message intermittently.
So, which one should you choose?
Guys, segmentation is the key!
You can just figure out which of your users don’t have the time to read an overly long newsletter and send them dedicated emails.
The ones who want to be more involved? Send them the newsletters.
Customer is king, after all.
This one you’ve seen a hundred times from Amazon itself.
Why should you send out review requests though?
You need reviews. Good reviews, bad reviews- doesn’t really matter.
Reviews by real people convince other real people that your company is real.
Imagine you’re trying to buy a weighing machine.
Machine A has a 5-star rating but only 2 reviews.
Machine B has a 3.8-star rating but 567 reviews.
Which one are you going to buy?
The second one, right? Even though this one has a lot more bad ratings than Machine A, you at least know people bought it and mostly liked it.
This is the marvel of social proof. You only buy things that you know other people are buying. And how do you know that other people are buying this?
Search Engine Optimization
Ah! The three magic words. Now you’re listening.
Yes, if you get enough reviews this can actually boost your SEO levels. How, you ask?
You know how there are review sites that provide backlinks to your site? Well, that only proves to Google that your site has valuable content and therefore is worth a good ranking on the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.
Reviews are also basically new content that is keyword rich (for example, “best rice water shampoo”) and hence also helps you climb the SERP rankings.
And that’s the tea, sis. Hopefully, by now you know why and how to do email marketing and also what tools you can use for this purpose.
Finally convinced that email marketing is not dead?
Well, I have one last card up my sleeve. Take a look at this.
While researching for this piece, I came across this insanely eye-grabbing opt-in message.
Was I tempted to sign-up for this? Yes.
Was I fully aware that I was never going to use this? Hell, yes.
Point is- this works.
Email marketing works.
So go ahead, give email marketing a try, and do let us know how it worked out for you in the comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Some of the most popular kinds of marketing emails are: newsletters, dedicated emails and review request emails. There can be various other kinds as well. Like re-engagement emails and brand story emails.
Yes, they absolutely do! Email marketing has a way higher ROI than social media marketing. The newsletter open rate is 21.33% which is 20x times higher than the Facebook post engagement rate.
Mailchimp, ConvertKit and Drip are some of the best email marketing software. However, there are many more to choose from. Sendinblue, EmailOctopus, EngageBay, Salesforce are all email marketing software. You have to choose whichever suits your priorities the best.
Email marketing is relatively cheaper than social media marketing. And it also has a much higher ROI. Moreover you are reaching out to an already interested audience. Unless they wanted to get your emails, they would not have given you their email address. So technically these are not cold emails. Also, with email marketing the results are much more easier to measure.
The most important bits you much include in your email marketing template is the description of your content. And also, how it can benefit the reader of the email. Your marketing email must also be direct and come with an enticing subject line. If possible, personalize it based on the one you are sending the email to.
Use it for retargeting rather than reaching out to a whole new audience. This way you will know the audience is already interested. Give your reader something to do. That is, send them polls or surveys. They are much more likely to engage with these. Segment your audience before sending out the emails. You cannot send the same mail to a first time buyer and a returning buyer.