Basics of Email marketing: Best Practices Part One

Hrvoje Pilić

Head of Digital Advertising

This is the first part of a guide that covers the essentials on using email for marketing. You’ll learn some of the basics, but also some more advanced techniques to make your email newsletter rock.

So, why do you need to have a relationship with your subscribers based on trust, you ask? The answer is simple, to make them happy!

So how do you make them happy?

Provide them with relevant and interesting content, through which you can subtly introduce your products and their benefits. Nurturing your relationship with your subscribers will get you that so much wanted conversions – they will become a longterm buyer of your products. Newsletters almost always have bigger open rate or get more clicks, mostly because they are focused on customer retention, long term and lifetime value of a customer, while the promotional emails, on the other hand, are focused on short term customer acquisition.

Email marketing can be sometimes confusing, especially if you consider all the guides and (mis)information available online. In this series of posts I’ll try to cover the basics and best practices of email marketing.

This post will cover the following:

  • Email marketing vs newsletter marketing
  • Importance of email marketing and newsletters
  • How to get email subscribers?

Email marketing vs Newsletter marketing

Before we continue, let’s pick up some basic terms. :)

Email marketing is basically a message marketed to a broader audience using email as a medium. It is a wider concept which includes terms like transactional emails, promotional emails, triggered emails, crm emails, newsletter email etc.

Email newsletters are often mistaken for email marketing, but it’s actually a part of an email marketing strategy. Newsletters are based on creating the “right” and most relevant content in order to give your subscribers additional value and build the foundation for the long lasting relationship based on trust.

Importance of email marketing and newsletters

There are many market researches which confirm the importance of email marketing and newsletters. One such example is the research from Econsultancy which reveals that marketers still rate email as one of the best channel for return on investment with 66% of respondents rating email as “excellent” or “good”. Generally, most researches and studies find that email marketing is an important part of marketing strategies which has a positive impact on sales, ROI (return on investment) and ROMI (return on marketing investment).

To sum it up, email marketing and email newsletters are important because they provide:

  • Excellent ROI
  • Increase in income and sales

And all that at a low cost.

Emails provide great return of investment because you are communicating the right message at the right time which leads to new customer aquisitions, increased sales and income through cross-selling and/or up-selling. They also help to maximize customer lifetime value, drive offline sales and lead to repeated purchases.

Email is less time consuming than traditional direct marketing, and most important – more than 60% of users prefer to receive promotional content and messages through email. Of course, keep in mind that every campaign differs in approach and results so use this as a guideline and adjust to your specific situation. That’s why you always have to TEST, TEST and TEST your marketing activities and tactics.

Additional to that, users love email, especially on their mobile devices. Even though users use email across various devices, most of them use the same email address on desktop and mobile. While desktop usage is important, most exciting prospect of email definitely happens on mobile. Is checking your email messages first thing when you wake up or last thing before going to sleep? Yeah, so I thought it is. :)

If you’re still not convinced, just take a look at all these mobile usage statistics or look at the example from one major tourist accommodation provider on the picture below which shows the conversion rate comparison by medium of traffic sources from Google Analytics. Looking at conversion rates for booking of online accommodation inside the same marketing campaign, you can see the best performing source of traffic is organic search (conversion rate 0,73%), followed by paid search (0,69%), while email with 0,66% and social networks converting at 0,02%.

Ecommerce Rate Conversion

How to get email subscribers?

Wondering how to get new email subscribers for your newsletter campaigns? Well, there are lots of ways to get email subscribers, just get creative. While some tactics are easier to implement or are more cost effective than others, you should definitely start from your website.

Website

In most cases, your website will be the starting point for collecting your user emails through a form ideally placed strategically across your site.

Ecommerce Rate Conversion

Form

You can embed a form on a dedicated landing page as a part of the sidebar or a blog post, inside a pop-up or a “side-bar pop-up”. If you have a blog on WordPress, you can consider implementing tools like list builder or scroll box for example, but be careful with these tools so you won’t annoy your audience and potential prospects.

You can also motivate your fans and non-fans on Facebook and get them to jump on your email list through a form on a tab as part of your Facebook page. See how it looks on Degordian Facebook page at the moment where we are using Form builder from Socialpuzzle.

Ecommerce Rate Conversion

Application

You can also embed a sign up form inside a canvas Facebook application. The best way to do this is to put a sign up form when the user enters the contest. You can usually put a box which invites the user to start receiving the newsletter. This is a common practice in various online contests, such as in the one displayed below.

Ecommerce Rate Conversion

Incentive

You can include a call to action for email sign-up almost everywhere in order to increase your email sign-up conversion rates. Call to action can be effective, but it works best if you have some incentive or a “decoy” to motivate users to join your list via interesting and useful content like ebook, white papers, discount or information which provide your customers with additional value. Of course, it’s best to offer highly relevant incentive connected to the company or brand so you don’t end up with low quality subscribers on your list. You want to reach relevant users and potential buyers, not “prize hunters”.

Ecommerce Rate Conversion

Offline methods

Not all people are aware that offline can also play a big part in collecting subscribers.

Here are some examples of offline sources for collecting new subscribers:

  • inside your stores or shops
  • call centers
  • offline contests
  • trade fairs
  • seminars
  • loyalty programs

Offline sources can be a great addition for getting new subscribers. Be sure to include them as an addition to your online efforts in order to boost the growth of email subscribers.

Ask for permission

It’s important to understand that you need to ask your subscribers for permission to receive newsletters. If you skip this step, there’s a risk of getting bad karma for your email marketing. If you buy or sell emails, you can get into serious trouble with the legislation and worldwide spam systems. Without the permission from the email address owners to contact them, you will most likely face the consequences such as having your account suspended. On the other hand, if you play nicely, you won’t get high abuse rates and spam reports. You can also reduce spam reports by providing users with an easy way to unsubscribe from your list if they lose interest for your service or product.

That’s it for now, we’ve come to the end of the best practices for email marketing part one. Second part will cover most important email newsletter elements that are a must have, great examples, elements of an email campaign process, and more on insights why we use MailChimp for campaigns at Degordian.

Stay tuned for the second part, coming soon. :)

In the meantime, we are curious to know what methods you use for collecting email subscribers?

Author

Hrvoje Pilić

Head of Digital Advertising

Curious about numbers, exploring and testing new things in digital. Loves football, food and reading. Huge Arsenal fan.

All stories by Hrvoje

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