How Email Marketing Can Work for Your Business

Saad Raja - Email

We’ve all seen them in our email inboxes – automated email newsletters – which on any given day we get a barrage of and they do little else besides reminding us to unsubscribe.

However, every now and again an email drops into your inbox that really gets your attention. These type of marketing campaigns are so good that we actually read the email and also click it, share it and recommend it to our friends. Memorable email marketing campaigns can have an amazing effect on your potential sales leads, at a relatively low cost, but you need to do them well so you switch people on, not off.

A good email marketing campaign must be cleverly written – that’s getting the basics right. And this week I’m sharing some top tips for successful email marketing, and some of my favourite examples.

Why should you consider email marketing?

Email marketing is a quick and convenient method of communicating with a broad audience. This is probably the reason that the average number of emails sent and received daily has reached 269 billion according to data research company, the Radicati Group, in 2017.

If done well, email is a great channel to build awareness, grab attention and convert prospects. You’ll be able to reach out individually and personalize your communications. From big to small businesses, emails can be the most effective way to market a business.

How to get started

As email marketing has become more popular, it has also become much more competitive. With more and more companies sending mailers – and customers becoming accustomed to ignoring the worst- you’ll need to really stand out. But how do you make your mark in a crowded inbox? Here are some of the tips I’ve found to be most useful for creating a winning email marketing campaign.

  1. Look at what your competitors are doing – and what is good and bad

To understand what you’re competing with, you have to know what others are doing. Keeping an eye on their email marketing will help you to understand what approach they are taking and why. How do you respond to it? What would your prospects think? Can you do it differently or better? What types of viral triggers are they using. This competitive analysis will also help you to think of strategies that your competitors might have overlooked.  It’s also worth looking beyond your industry at what others are doing to see if their approaches/tactics would work for your existing and prospective customers.

  1. Scan your own inbox

Look at what email marketing you receive and take a closer look at what really stands out to you. This is a good place to start. One of the most productive habits you can develop is starting every work day by scanning your inbox for some inspiration. See what catches your eye and ask yourself why it did. Once you understand the reason behind this, you can use the same tricks to capture the attention of your own audience.

You don’t even have to look for brands that are similar to yours, or go out of your way to subscribe to new lists. We all have them in our inbox – use them!

  1. Look to Pinterest

You might have great content, but if it isn’t visually appealing, it won’t catch their eyes. The best way to discover beautifully designed email campaigns is Pinterest. This social media platform offers a wealth of striking and attractive models and infographics to inspire you.

The best part of this site is that its community-driven. Some of the designs you’ll see may have come from your audience or influencers in your industry. You’ll even get an insightful view of what’s popular, based on the number of times it’s been pinned on the site.  Understanding what your customers love about an email is useful for helping you create better emails for your company. Get creative – use images and graphics in your campaigns.

  1. Read at least one marketing article every day

When you Google ‘email marketing’, you’re met with more than 7 billion results. Clearly, there is information available to help you out there – and its constantly growing. Reading some of this content every day, can provide you with a great source of learning about the latest trends and best practices within your industry.

The digital landscape is fast-paced and constantly evolving. With the abundance of content, there is so much to explore every day. A little reading daily can help build and sustain your email marketing campaign in a competitive field. It’s worth the effort!

  1. Create emails

You can spend a lot of time researching email marketing top tips, but until you create one yourself, you won’t know what works for you. No matter how many emails you check or articles you read, the best practice is doing. Taking the information you’ve learnt from reading and researching, put that learning into practice.

Make an email, review it in a similar manner to how you review your competitors and ask for a second- or even third and fourth- opinion. Working out what’s working for you and what needs to be changed will help you hone your vision. Soon you’ll create an email marketing campaign perfect for you.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes at this stage. It’s all about trial and error, so redesign and missteps are to be expected. With planning, reviewing and restructuring, your email marketing can work amazingly for your business.

Successful email marketing campaigns

There are some companies out there who are already making incredible email marketing campaigns. Across a wide range of sectors, these companies are capturing the attention of their viewers. Let’s look at what they’re doing well and what you can learn from them.

Poncho – simple yet effective design

Poncho is a company that sends fun and personalised weather forecasts to each of its subscribers every morning. Using a combination of colourful images, GIFs and clever puns, Poncho is appealing to the younger generation who aren’t sitting down to watch the news. This on-the-go method of delivering information is easy to scan, while also giving applicable information about the weather in the reader’s area. 

What you can learn from this: Poncho use personalisation effectively for all customers. However, this goes beyond just inserting their customer’s name into the email. Consumers are getting used to seeing their name in the email by most companies, meaning this strategy isn’t as personal as it once was. Instead, take a cue from Poncho and personalise your emails based on more information about the individual. For Poncho, this is where the person lives and the weather forecast for that area, meaning the information is relevant to them. It doesn’t just have to be based on location though. If they fit into a certain demographic, show them information that appeals to them. Or, if they’ve shopped with you before, you can offer suggestions based on their previous purchases. Making it relevant to the individual will mean they’re more likely to read it. The more helpful it is to the consumers, the more engagement you’ll get.

Buzzfeed – short and punchy

Buzzfeed does something different with its emails, which shows they really know their customer base. Appealing to a millennial audience, Buzzfeed gives pop culture news in an easy to digest way. Their emails, as a result, have short and punchy subject lines and preview text which fit perfectly together. For example, if the subject line is a question, the preview text will be an answer. Through this, Buzzfeed is catching the attention of its audience before they even open the well-designed email.

What you can learn from this: Know your audience well. With proper research into who you are trying to appeal to, your marketing team will know who they are trying to reach. This shapes your approach and guides everything from subject line to content formatting. Understanding where short and witty subject links work – and where they’re inappropriate- is paramount to understanding your approach. You don’t want it to be bland and blend into the inbox, but you also want it to be fitting of your content. Understanding what you’re trying to say and who you’re saying it to is key for a well-executed email marketing campaign.

Dropbox – inspires people to return

There are always companies with products that we just stop using. Whether they’re not for us or we simply forget about them, they fall off our radar. Email marketing can be used to act as a reminder for these services and no one does this better than Dropbox. Their ‘come back to me’ email is cute and funny, successfully using a pair of whimsical cartoons and an emoticon.

On top of this eye-catching design, Dropbox keeps the email short and to the point. With the message that they don’t want to intrude and are simply reminding the recipient that the company exists, they are gently reminding customers of the usefulness of their product. While this method could seem pushy, Dropbox balances promoting the helpfulness of their product with a gentle approach.

What you can learn from this: In most cases, email marketing is best kept short and sweet. If it’s too long, people simply won’t read it. Keeping your emails short and linking to longer pieces will mean that you’ll get more engagement with your emails and are directing people towards your site.

In addition, your emails don’t have to be too serious. If it fits your brand, try using images, emoticons and puns to appeal to your audience. They’ll be more likely to read these than boring pieces.

If you’ve noticed a drop off in return customers, don’t be afraid to remind them of what you offer in your emails. This can be helpful in showing people why your company is worth another look. Try using incentives, such as a limited-time coupon, in your emails. Great email marketing isn’t just about gaining new customers, it’s also about retaining the ones you already have.

Like every other marketing technique, email marketing will take some time to fine-tune. You’ll need a good discipline and strategy to get the results you want. Start relying on simple daily habits and look to your competitors to become a better email marketing professional. The sooner you put these techniques into practice, the sooner you’ll see positive results. It’s easier than you think!

Saad Raja