Email marketing is usually claimed to be an incredibly effective marketing tactic. And it can be.
But a lot of people don’t seem to get the promised results. Instead, their subscribers demand more and more free content, reply with critical comments when they aren’t pleased, and unsubscribe in hoards the moment they see a link to a sales page.
Don’t blame the tactic—learn to use it.
If you don’t know how to use different email marketing strategies, you can’t expect good results. And if you only know how to use one of them, your results won’t be as good as they could.
Typically you should use three different email marketing strategies. You can emphasize some more than others, but you shouldn’t just stubbornly stick to one strategy.
What makes email marketing so effective?
Email marketing has some significant advantages compared to most other marketing methods:
- High reach: When you get people to join your email list (aka “subscribe to updates” or “opt in”), you can actually reach them. If they just like your Facebook page, for example, it’s quite unlikely that they’d actually see your updates. Sure, not everyone opens your emails, but the numbers are usually still in favor of email compared to other communication methods.
- Great flexibility: Email marketing can work for pretty much any kind of business. It doesn’t matter whether you sell houses, lingerie, or consulting; you can get lots of sales as long as you use the right email marketing strategy in the right place. And you can promote practically anything relating to your business—you aren’t limited to sending links to your sales pages.
- Minimal risk: Some top marketers expect to burn through $10,000 of advertising budget before even knowing if they can make a campaign profitable. With email marketing, the costs are much, much lower. A simple system like AWeber is very affordable even if your business isn’t a huge success yet. And even if you go with something advanced like Infusionsoft, you’re still far away from the kinds of investments many other marketing tactics require. Sure, email marketing and advertising aren’t directly comparable (advertising is mainly used to reach new prospects), but you get the point.
- Low barrier of entry: Besides being comparatively cheap, email marketing doesn’t take such a steep learning curve as many other tactics. Even if you’re not an expert, you can see great results when you learn to use the different email marketing strategies—great execution of the strategies improves your results a lot, but even if you make some mistakes, you aren’t wasting your time.
- Full control: Most other marketing tactics are at the mercy of policy changes (e.g., Google and AdWords) and other decisions beyond your control. Sure, some laws affect how you can use email marketing, but laws rarely change with short notice and they even more infrequently radically change what you can do.
1. Email marketing strategy: Offers
Many e-commerce businesses rely heavily on making offers in their emails, but regardless of what kind of a business you run, you should know how to make offers in your emails.
The basic idea is to urge people to get something they really want. That can mean giving them a discount coupon for a product they’ve indicated they’re interested in. Or it can mean a general promotion that goes out to everyone on your list.
When you promote something, you always run the risk of seeming “sales-y.” However, if you seem sales-y, you’ve done something wrong.
A good offer doesn’t feel sales-y. It doesn’t feel pushy. It doesn’t feel manipulative.
Instead, a good offer feels helpful. So, when you promote something via email, do it as a friend who wants to help the recipient.
That isn’t to say that sales-y promotions wouldn’t ever create results—as Internet marketing “gurus” have proved. The results just aren’t as good as they could be.
People buy when they feel that they have good reasons to do so. So, you need a strong value proposition (=great reasons for buying what you sell) in order to be able to give people good reasons for buying.
But if people don’t believe those reasons, they don’t buy either. As long as you seem like a friend who’s trying to help them, people are likely to believe that you’re sincere and that buying from you is a good decision.
The downside of just making offers is that they’re not useful on their own. People on your list won’t receive any value from you unless they buy what you’re promoting, so they have little reason to stay subscribed. That’s why many e-commerce sites struggle to keep people interested.
However, if you never make any offers, you’ll struggle to make any sales, so don’t forget or shy away from this email marketing strategy. Rather, learn to combine it with the next strategy, so even your promotions have value to your subscribers.
2. Email marketing strategy: Content
SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses and bloggers often use content email marketing strategy more than other strategies.
They create a piece of content (e.g., report, infographic, video, article) and tell people about it with an email. Or the emails might be content-rich on their own.
Some of the content is available publicly (e.g., blog articles), but some content should be behind an “information wall.”
The information wall works just like a “pay wall” except it doesn’t require a monetary payment, but instead it asks for information from the visitor. The simplest information wall is an email opt-in form that requires people to join the business owner’s list in order to get the content.
But if you want to make the most of this email marketing strategy, an opt-in form shouldn’t be the only information wall you use because once people have joined your list, asking them to do it again doesn’t make much sense.
For example, you can ask people to share a link to the content in social media before getting access to it. Or you can ask for more information about them (e.g., specific interests or their company’s size).
The additional information gives you a better chance to tailor your email marketing to match what they’re most interested in. And that gives you a better chance to convert them into customers.
Content email marketing is a great tool that you should learn to use regardless of what kind of a business you run. When you use it well, people will start to see you as a trusted source, which makes them more likely to buy what you sell.
But you shouldn’t stick to just content. You should also make offers—and build relationships with the people in your list.
3. Email marketing strategy: Relationship building
For many businesses, building a relationship with their leads is the primary reason for sending any emails. That said, very few marketers rely solely on this email marketing strategy. But some trust it more than is healthy for their businesses.
You could think that you build relationships automatically if you make offers and provide useful content (the previous email marketing strategies).
To some extent that’s true. But it’s not all there is to this strategy.
For example, you can ask your subscribers to reply to your emails or ask them to fill a survey. And you can tell what’s going on in your life or about your personal beliefs and opinions to create a stronger emotional connection.
Note that whenever you share an opinion or belief, you need to be willing to distance everyone who has an opposing view.
Most people don’t mind if you don’t share their worldviews, but some do. So, talking about things that don’t directly relate to your business (and topics around it) is always a risk.
Unless you want to play with fire, avoid dipping into politics, religion, sexuality, and other topics where many people have fundamentalist views.
If, however, you know that most of your audience shares your opinion on a topic that’s important to them, you can instantly seem more trustworthy by pointing it out because people trust people who are similar to them.
But most importantly, you should always remember relationship building as an email marketing strategy. No matter what kind of an email you send.
If you forget that you should build a relationship with your subscribers, your offers will feel pushy and your content distant.
Remember that you’re not a company. You’re a person. Act and write like one.
How to build your email list—fast
Whenever I write about email marketing, several people ask about how to build your email list quickly. Kind of makes sense; writing masterful emails doesn’t make much of a difference if no one’s reading them.
You can choose from four list-building tactics:
- Advertising. The issue with advertising is that it can get very expensive—even before you see any results. But when it works, it can create incredibly good, consistent results.
- Affiliates. If you have lots of connections to people in your field who have large emails lists and willingness to promote something of yours, you can get almost any results you want.
- Speaking. As long as you get in front of large, new audiences on a regular basis, you can grow your email list by asking audience members to sign up. However, making this tactic work takes a lot more work and is harder than most people think.
- Guest blogging. It’s the only low-cost, effective way to grow your list if you don’t have a massive advertising budget and you’re not well connected. That said, most people don’t get almost any subscribers with guest blogging because they don’t know how to write effective guest posts.
In case you’re wondering, I have yet to hear of any other reliable way to quickly grow your email list without relying on luck, but if you know of some, do let me know.
All of these list-building tactics work regardless of which email marketing strategy you use the most. So, you can choose based on your resources.
And please share what is your favorite email marketing strategy in the comments. Or if you have any questions, let me know.