Generate Positive ROI on Email Marketing with these Six Easy Steps

Despite the growth and prominence of social media messaging, mobile messengers and chat apps, e-mail is an integral part of daily life. In 2020, the number of global e-mail users amounted to four billion and is set to grow to 4.6 billion users by 2025 (Statista), making up more than half of the expected world population.

Although the effectiveness of email marketing has never been doubted, it has long been the neglected child in the marketing strategy mix. During the early days of the internet, it was assumed that an email could be sent to just about any acquaintance. As the volume increased, it started feeling obtrusive, soon it became disruptive, and eventually it turned into annoyance. So, what was essentially a type of direct marketing which used mass emails to share information and sometimes convince a lead to take a specific action, turned into SPAM.

To steer clear of this minefield, you must follow few basic rules:

  • Permission must be sought from the receiver.
  • A clear and concise subject line for easy understanding.
  • An option to unsubscribe at any point in time.
  • Official and/or corporate identity and addresses are a must.

Now that we have set the rules, let us see how to use email marketing as an effective tool in reaching out to customers and users:

If we must define email marketing, it can be said that it’s a kind of direct marketing of curated content that uses mass email technology with personalised messaging to inform, educate, and sometimes convince the receiver to adhere to a specific call to action like downloading a brochure, referring a friend, or making a purchase.

So why are we interested in email marketing? Well, for one, it is the most essential and easy-to-use tool in any effective marketing strategy. It covers dual objectives: converting leads into customers and helping retain these converted (or older) customers. But to achieve the best results, we must know how to use this tool, and that is what we will discuss subsequently.

We all understand how important a role strategy plays in the overall planning for marketing. Similarly, email marketing should also come with its own strategy and planning:

We should keep in mind that the effectiveness of any email marketing strategy depends on three Rs. Right person. Right message. Right time. Simple factors, if done right, will yield definitive results. So, when we suggest a marketing strategy and include email marketing as a part of it, many of our clients ask why. When we delve deeper, we find out they have tried this in the past with unsatisfactory results. Many times, email marketing campaigns are run without any strategy or specific objective. It becomes a case of mass emailing to a list without any personalization or contextualization of the message.

Let us now figure out a few steps to a winning email marketing campaign:

  • Nurture your lists.
  • Set an objective for the campaign.
  • Email list segmentation.
  • Focus on presentation, a good first impression and not hard sell.
  • Have a specific call to action with an optimal landing page.
  • Analyse and optimise whenever necessary.

Let me explain why I chose these steps:

Nurture your lists: Well, it is kind of obvious, isn’t it? Without a list, it’s impossible to start our email marketing campaign. Where do we send our neatly designed emails to if we have a list of receivers? The important factor is the right people, one of the three R’s that I mentioned earlier. The strategy won’t work if we do not send these emails to the right people. Sending an email regarding deep-sea fishing to a group interested in cross-country biking will not give us the desired results.

Set an objective: We must know the destination to choose a path. Otherwise, we could just take any path available. Setting an objective is like zeroing in on the destination. Here, I advise clients not to think of what they want to achieve from the campaign. It can be many things – asking for a referral, requesting to donate, filling up a form, anything. I’d rather suggest that they zero in on what the receiver of the email can take away from the communication. My concept is that if the email can help them with problem solving or share some pertinent information, it will be a lot easier to convince the recipient to engage further. Please note that I am assuming this is the first point of engagement over an email with this recipient. Once we have engaged, the objectives may be changed accordingly.

Email list segmentation: Now that we have the opt-ins and have a list of email addresses, shall we start sending out those emails? The answer is a big NO. I earlier spoke about customization and personalization, and here list segmentation plays an important part. This helps us divide the list into subgroups based on some comparable characteristics, and relevant information can be shared with them accordingly. This helps target people who will be most interested in the content and leads to better click rates and conversions. It is also good practice to periodically remove inactive subscribers to keep the list refreshed.

Focus on presentation, a good first impression and not the hard sell: While we are aware that our ultimate objective is sales, I advise clients to not try too hard for a conversion. Sending the right message is also an equally important cog in the wheel. Given our busy schedules and multiple devices, we do not know when and where the email will be opened. So, the email design must be mobile adaptable and have some supporting visuals as the email will not be read in its entirety by most recipients.

Here we must also differentiate between the objective and the goal. We must understand that goal. The goal can be a smaller component of the overall objective. For example, a goal can be achieving a higher CTR or increasing open rates, while the objective can be more holistic in nature, like retaining customers, increasing brand salience, or generating fresh leads.

I hope to engage more with the customer or lead and try to convince him to convert. Also, some hard words like “discount," “coupons," “sales," etc. may activate the spam filters and the email may not reach the recipient. So, sending emails from clean IPs, having a concise subject line, and not sending to people who have unsubscribed are the small bits that count in not triggering a spam alert for our email campaign.

Have a specific call to action with an optimal landing page: I cannot emphasise enough that getting the email to the inbox is only the beginning. The recipient taking no action and getting busy with their life after reading the email is not the ideal case scenario that we are looking at. We must look at a closure with a specific call to action and lead them to the page that we want at the right time. The call to action is the conclusion and must fulfil the commitment made in the subject line. This completes the loop and paves way for further engagement.

Analyse and optimise whenever necessary: The goals that I mentioned earlier play an important part here. These goals will help determine if the email marketing campaign objective is met. They are, the delivery rate, open rate, CTR, reactivity rate, and churn. I also suggest A/B testing before finalising the email model to optimise the results of the campaign. The point to note is that you only test a similar element to get an optimal result.

To conclude, email marketing needs to be treated as a separate segment, which involves its own strategy. Crafting a campaign is not enough. It should adapt to the expectations and behaviour of the target audience in mind. One size will not fit all. Segmentation of the email list, issues faced during the purchasing journey, and the problems the TA encounters must be considered to contextualise the message. The final piece in the jigsaw is creating an optimal conversion tunnel, which consists of a visible and inviting call to action button integrated into the email, leading to a landing page optimised for conversion.

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