Email Marketing – What Is It And How It Works?

What is email marketing? To be direct, you promote your brand values and your products / services to your email recipients. But, the most important part is to build a good relationship with the recipients, also called leads. Whether you strike a deal or not depends on the emails you send. What’s your chance of striking a deal with your leads?

By striking a deal, I mean the conversion of leads into customers and generating ROI. You strike a deal only when the reader finds your emails intuitive, clicks through them, reads them and engages with your brand. Looks like it is easier said than done? To an extent, yes. But the results can be astonishingly awesome if you do your marketing right.

However, before getting to how to do the right kind of email marketing, I would like to answer a universal question about email marketing being… dead?!

Is email marketing dead?

Whenever I look up something about email marketing on Google, a popular search term comes up, “Is email marketing dead”. Also there are others like, “Is email marketing still relevant”.

Hey! It’s very much alive and undoubtedly effective. For the record, according to the surveys by OptinMonster and GetResponse, email marketing is certainly not dead. In fact, it generates the highest ROI among all other internet marketing strategies.

Here are some fun statistics about email marketing:

  • Email has the most users out of any age group – 5.2 billion users as of 2018.
  • 77% of consumers prefer email over social media for permission-based promotional messages.
  • 75% of the email marketers surveyed by GetResponse said they were using email automation, and 58% were using personalization techniques.
  • 23% of email marketers surveyed by GetResponse said lead generation is the greatest benefit, with improved sales next at 19%, and improved conversion rates in third place at 17%.

From what we can see here, the major goals of marketing – lead generation, sales, conversion and ROI can be achieved in a good margin with email. So, let’s stop worrying about the death of email marketing and hop off to learn what exactly it is.

Key Takeaway: Email marketing is not dead.

Types of email marketing

If one had to separate emails by type, there would be so many outcomes. We’d get welcome email, thank you email, transactional email, update / press release email, promotional email, retention email and what not.

But when we look at the bigger picture, email marketing falls into two broad categories of emails:

  • Newsletters
  • Direct email campaigns

Newsletters

Simply put, newsletters are broadcasts. Generally, newsletters are informational content sent over email regularly. It could be anything ranging from sharing life hacks to an update about a new release product. You can also send a performance report as newsletter.

Some of the best newsletters in my personal inbox are Inside newsletters, Higher Thoughts from Medium and Wait But Why. They are valuable content that I subscribed to with consent. That is how newsletters work. They do not focus on sales, but they focus on keeping the reader interested.

Newsletters from businesses are written in a way that the reader develops a liking for the brand. The focus on selling a product is less than the focus on providing valuable content. However, some business owners send promotional offers, reminders to grab a seasonal discount or even push the products to their newsletter subscribers. And most of the times, they end up being reported as spam.

Newsletters are NOT where you should be selling your products. They exist to keep your customer informed, and to keep them in the loop with useful information which may or may not lead to sales. But, if you want to use emails to sell your products directly, opt for email campaigns.

Email Campaigns

While newsletters are vague, email campaigns are goal oriented. You’ve got to plan things out for running a campaign. You set a goal or objective, and send direct emails to target recipients to meet the goal.

For example, let’s say that you are an online store owner and your goal is to bring back inactive customers to your store. So, you decide to run an email campaign saying “Bring ‘em back”.

For the campaign, you would determine the target recipients based on certain criteria, inactive customers in our case. You would then craft a beautiful email with attractive content, include a call to action and send it to the “inactive customers only”. The game is not over yet.

Every decent email campaigning tool comes with analytics. After all, the control over data is what sets a campaign apart from regular newsletters. You get to see who opened the email, who took action and who came back to your site. For them, you may want to run a special campaign to make them buy something.

So, you have met the goal of bringing them back to your store. You can now set a new goal to make sales. Something like “Make ‘em buy”.

But, what about those who didn’t open your email?

There may be recipients who did not open your email or did not take any action after reading. Just like you know who opened your emails, you will also know who didn’t. So, for those folks, you could resend the email with modified content or you could give them an offer.

Basically, you have the data and you can respond to the reader’s action accordingly. You can automatically send each new message based on previous success or failure.

Key Takeaway

  • Newsletters are for indirect brand marketing. Not for selling products.
  • Email campaigns are direct, targeted and goal oriented. For selling products.
  • Email campaigns can result in a better ROI. Newsletters are informational.

How To Run Email Campaigns

Running an email campaign is much like running for a marathon. You’ve got to be patient, persistent and you need a defined goal.

Even for someone who has no clue of marketing, email marketing and campaigns today have become a learnable task, if not way too easy. There are a lot of tools out there that come with many marketing and analytics features. Such features let you understand how well your campaign is running and how recipients are reacting to your emails.

So, to create an email campaign, here are the steps you have to follow:

  1. Sign up or install a good email campaigning and automation tool.
  2. Build your mailing list from scratch or import existing contacts whom you “know”.
    Never ever buy a mailing list. There are a lot of businesses who buy a mailing list and send random promotional emails to random people. Guess what happens to them? “Unsubscribe” or “Report spam”.
  3. Set the conditions for sending the email, and set the conditions for what happens when they don’t open the email.
  4. Come up with attractive and creative content. Especially, write a catchy subject line.
  5. Include a Call to action if you want the reader to take an action.
  6. Comply to make the reader comfortable. Provide them with the “Unsubscribe” option.
  7. Watch the metrics, modify the objectives or modify the email. Run more campaigns.
  8. Enjoy higher conversion rates and ROI!

So, the bottom line is this – If you want to give informational content while indirectly marketing your brand, go for a newsletter. Or if you want to market your product directly and generate revenue, run an email campaign. Your call.

Whatever your choice be, email marketing is definitely not dead! Go for it and see how it works for your brand.

Have you tried email marketing already? Share how email marketing has worked for you in the comments below!