April 20, 2017

6 Steps to Building a More Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Reading time about 10 min

Whether you’re new to email marketing, or you’re just looking for fundamental ways to make a more effective email marketing strategy — you’ve come to the right place.

At Sendinblue, email is kind of our thing. And, since we love email so much, we wanted to share our insights to (hopefully!) make your life a little easier.

Consider this post your one-stop shop for tips and best practices to help you get going quickly and effectively. From reaching the right people at the right time, to designing and writing great content, we’ve got you covered!

Starting with an email marketing strategy

1. Build Your Email List with Opt-in Contacts

One of the most important things that you can do in getting started with email marketing is only emailing contacts who have opted-in to receive your messages. This can be done by using pop-ups and other calls-to action on your website, or having people sign up in person.

effective email marketing opt-in

Source: ElegantThemes

Building an email list from scratch can sometimes feel slower than a commute during peak rush hour. Even still, emailing opt-in contacts is a must if you want to have real engagement with your emails.

Some businesses try to get around this by purchasing email lists, but that is never a good idea. In case you’re considering using non-opt-in methods — here are a few reasons why opt-in lists always win:

  • People don’t like spam – If you are sending messages to people who have not opted-in to your list, you are sending them spam. Don’t be that guy (or girl). Never assume that people want your product or service. It is much better to have a list of people that you know is interested in your business. This will also minimize the number of spam complaints and unsubscribes that you receive, which is a big factor in determining whether or not your emails get delivered at all.
  • Contacts are actually interested in your content – When your contact list is opt-in only, you are guaranteed to have qualified leads consuming your content. This is because in order to receive emails from you, contacts have to put in the work to request it themselves. Although it seems counter-intuitive to make it harder for prospects to get in contact with your business, this extra step filters out people who don’t have a genuine interest in your business. This leaves only the people who are most likely to convert.
  • You don’t have to worry about any legal issues – When sending marketing messages to people via email, it is important to abide by international email laws to avoid any issues. If your list is opt-in, then you have nothing to worry about (at least in terms of attorney fees).

Once you’ve implemented an opt-in framework for gathering contacts, it’s time to focus on the real challenge:

How do I send effective email marketing campaigns to these contacts?

Don’t worry — that’s what steps 2-6 are for! 🙂

2. Make Sure Your Email Content is Relevant

Once you’ve uploaded your contacts (hopefully into Sendinblue!), the next step is segmenting your contacts into groups.

By creating smaller segments, you can better target your content to match each group’s needs. Ensuring your message is relevant to recipients will improve your engagement rates and keep contacts happy.

Effect email marketing segmentation
Let’s hope that J. Crew created a segment of customers who are interested in suits or menswear for this email.

There are many ways to segment (or group) your contacts — here are four segment styles that you can start with:

  • Signup source – Where you acquired your contacts (trade shows, blog, PPC campaign, etc.) can have a big effect on how you should communicate with them in emails.
  • Stage in the purchase cycle – Different strategies are required for contacts depending on where they lie in your funnel (e.g. new prospects, new customers, loyal customers).
  • Content engagement – Segmenting customers by their engagement with content you already send them is a great way to provide contacts with more of what they’re looking for. Which emails do they open? Which ones do they click? Which ones did they ignore? The answers to those questions can be effective email marketing segments.
  • Activity levels – Creating a segment for contacts with low engagement levels is also a good practice. You can examine them more closely to brainstorm new ways to reach out, or consider removing them from your list altogether.

Once you start to learn more about your customers, you can use this knowledge to create even more effect email marketing segments.

If you’re using Sendinblue, you can also increase your email’s relevance by personalizing the content. Personalizing the subject line, preheader text or email body with information specific to the reader will increase engagement by making it feel unique and tailored to their needs.

3. Provide Value to Your Contacts

Before creating an email marketing strategy, consider this question. Are you giving your readers a reason to open and engage with your email? Communicate value from the beginning with a clear subject line, and offer something they can use.

effective email marketing coupon

The email above is a great example of how you can provide value for your customers (even after a mistake was made). Not only is there a discount code, but the email also includes personalized product recommendations. This makes life easier for the recipient but provides a strong incentive for them to make a purchase.

Here are a few of the examples of valuable content that you can offer your contacts:

  • Promotional codes and coupons
  • Sharing your industry expertise
  • High-value content (white pages or e-books)
  • Targeted product recommendations
  • Timely reminders

Good relationships are always mutually beneficial. Ensure your relationship with your subscribers is a two-way street with value moving in both directions!

4. Include a Clear Call to Action

Every marketing email should have a defined purpose. The purpose of an email could be to incentivize customers to make a purchase, drive traffic to your site, have your contacts refer your business to others, etc. If you don’t have a goal in mind, then the email probably isn’t worth sending to your contacts list.

If you want your emails to achieve their intended goal, you need to have a clear call to action. A call to action (or CTA) is the key action that your email asks the reader to perform. This CTA can be in the form of a button, a coupon code, or anything else that prompts the reader to perform a specific action.

effective email marketing call to action
Great example of a clear call to action button.

Source: Business2Community

For an effective campaign, ensure your “ask” is clear and put the focus on a single request in each email. While it’s ok to cover more than one topic, understand that the average reader will only click on one CTA per email.

That’s why it’s important to draw readers’ attention to the most important CTA with focused content and intentional design.

5. Be Conscientious of Your Email Design and CTA Placement

Since the average worker receives 100+ emails per day, most people will only take the time to quickly scan messages looking for important or valuable information. If your design isn’t user-friendly, key information might be overlooked — or the message could be skipped entirely.

With the explosion of smartphone ownership, you also have to keep mobile-friendly design principles in mind.

That’s why it’s important to use an email marketing platform that makes it super easy to design mobile-ready emails with easy-to-read layouts.

Quick Tip:

Sendinblue’s Responsive Email Designer allows you to drag and drop content blocks with pre-designed layouts ensuring your content will be presented in an engaging format. And the best part — no design experience required!

Click to see a Sendinblue tutorial!

If you’re creating a design from scratch, follow this simple checklist from top to bottom:

  • Header – include your logo and/or another graphic that helps the reader quickly identify your purpose
  • Headline – a brief, engaging statement that captures the reader’s attention
  • Text – elaborate on your headline by explaining the full story as briefly as possible
  • Supportive image – choose an image that explains your text or creates an emotional response to your content (Tip: Ensure you have the rights for images used in your emails.)
  • CTA – use buttons or text in noticeable colors near the opening and closing of your email
  • Footer – “sign off” your email with a reminder of your company’s value proposition, direct contact information, website URL, social media icons and your physical address
  • Subscription management – Always give recipients instructions for how they can unsubscribe from future messages or update their subscription

As you test different strategies for your email design and calls-to-action, it is important to pay attention to what works.

Whether it’s the color of your CTA buttons, the headlines you use, the formatting of your promotional offers, etc., you should always be analyzing your results to improve future campaigns.

6. Find the Best Time of Day & Frequency to Send Emails

When are you sending emails? Consider your readers’ daily routine and send on the day and time when they are most able to respond.

If you’re testing new sending times, consider these ideas:

  • Morning – Ensure emails are mobile-friendly and provide a focused call-to-action because readers are likely on their phones and scanning content for value.
  • Afternoon – Better for B2B sales or content marketing emails (guides, webinars, etc.) as this will be when people check their work emails.
  • Evening – Send your B2C / e-commerce focused emails when your reader is likely to have their computer in front of them.

The frequency and volume of emails that you send to your subscribers should honor their opt-in preferences and follow any expectations you have set. For example, people who subscribe to receive your monthly newsletter should not be bombarded with daily product deals.

Similarly, don’t disappoint users who request more frequent updates by sending emails on an inconsistent or confusing schedule. They might forget that they opted-in in the first place and send you to the spam folder!

Analyze Campaign Results for More Effective Email Marketing

As you implement these best practices, it’s important to test each (segmentation, content, design, time-of-day) to see what works best for your readers. While it may take a bit of work to understand your audience, your investment will result in:

  • Better engagement (opens, clicks, shares)
  • Fewer unsubscribes and spam complaints
  • A positive sender reputation (which helps you reach the inbox)

Now you’re ready to create an email marketing strategy and start sending those campaigns!

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