Email Marketing 101: The Beginner’s Guide to a Successful Email Marketing Strategy

Email Marketing

A strong email marketing strategy is a proven way to build your customer base.


When done right, email marketing will help you convert prospects into buyers and one-time buyers into loyal customers.


By 2023, there will be 4.3 billion email users — that’s half of the world’s population that can be reached via email!


In this article, we’re going to give you a fool-proof email marketing strategy — in just 5 steps!


Ready? Here we go!

1. Choose an Email Service Provider

The foundation of your email marketing strategy is going to be your email service provider (ESP).


ESPs are software companies that allow you to build email lists and send mass emails.


When choosing your ESP, there are certain features that you’ll want to have:

  • Email creation tools — so you can create click-worthy emails
  • Sign up forms, pages, and buttons — to help you build your email list
  • Customer support — to minimize your downtime
  • Analytics — so you know what’s working well and what isn’t
  • Integrations— to connect your favorite tools

Remember, the possibilities of your email marketing strategy are limited by the features offered by your chosen ESP.


Your level of coding skills and tech knowledge are also important things to keep in mind when selecting an ESP.


A comprehensive ESP can be really worthwhile if you understand coding and can take advantage of every feature.


But if you aren’t so good with tech, keep it simple with a less feature-rich tool — don’t worry you can still get great results this way!


Choosing the perfect tool is a matter of finding one that strikes a balance between cost and features but also suits your skill level and business needs.


But what about your Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook accounts?


Technically, you can use these Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but they'll hamper your email marketing campaign because they’re designed for personal use.


You’ll come into problems such as limited email bandwidth, design, and more importantly, email deliverability.


When mass emailing is done from an ISP, it gets flagged by spam filters, and your account can be disabled due to suspicious activity.


ESPs, on the other hand, have the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure mass email deliverability.


If you want to set yourself up for success from the get-go, we highly recommend that you ditch your Gmail and get yourself a dedicated ESP.


If you need a little help choosing, here’s our list of the top 15 ESPs in 2021.

2. Build and grow your list

grow your list

If you feel like you're talking to a brick wall, it might be because you don't have an active audience.


The best way to curb your email loneliness is to build yourself a user base filled with people who are interested in your business.


This is commonly referred to as growing your list, and there are a few ways to do this — stick around and we’ll tell you our top 4 tips to build a fantastic email list!


The easy way (which is never the good way) is to buy your email subscribers.


But this is a mistake we won’t let you make.


Let’s talk about why you don’t want to buy email subscribers.


Although quick and easy is always tempting, list purchasing is ineffective and can easily backfire.


People who have willingly opted-in are 25% more likely to open your emails, while emails sent to purchased subscribers are hardly ever opened.


There are a bunch of reasons why this happens:

  • People on purchased lists are random and may not even have an interest in your niche, let alone buying your product
  • The audience from purchased lists likely doesn’t know who you are, so why would they care about what you’re sending them?
  • You might end up with a list of people that don’t match your target audience — marketing to them will be a complete waste of your time

Additionally, if your emails annoy someone, they may mark them as spam which can affect your email deliverability — not something you want to happen!


Some email spam filters will flag email campaigns coming from your IP address if you’ve previously been flagged for spam, so you’ll be forever stuck in the junk folder.


You’ll end up with high unsubscription rates, a bad reputation, and hardly any conversions.


So just don’t do it.


Now that you know what not to do, let’s get onto our favorite 4 ways to build your email list!

2.1. Incentivize Your Audience

Incentivize Your Audience

Think of email addresses as a currency — you wouldn’t give away your money for nothing, right?


If email addresses are valuable, you need to offer something of value in exchange.


This is where lead magnets, free gifts, and special offers come in.


Because incentives are digital materials, you can create them yourself with minimal effort and low costs.


For example, systeme.io offers an informative eBook to its audience in exchange for their emails.


Here are more examples of incentives you could offer to your email list:

  • MP3 audio files
  • Cheatsheets of tips or resources
  • A free quote or consultation
  • A free trial or sample
  • Coupons
  • Webinars
  • Quizzes or self-assessments
  • White papers or case studies

The options are endless!


But make sure that whatever incentive you choose is:

  • Easily consumable: In today’s fast-paced world, people look for quick, bite-sized content. Your incentive should be clear and straight to the point
  • Enticing: If it’s not interesting or compelling to people, it won’t be worth exchanging their emails for
  • Actionable: Provide value by offering useful, actionable content that can be easily applied to their routines or businesses
  • Relevant: Your incentive should be as valuable as the product and/or services that you offer
  • Noticeable: Don’t be shy to promote your incentive. The more visible it is, the better
  • Immediately available: We all love instant gratification, so make sure that the incentive is immediately available

2.2. Add an “Unsubscribe” Button

Unsubscribing from your email list should be just as easy as subscribing.


If you have someone who wants to back out from the subscription, let them.


Contrary to what you might expect, letting people unsubscribe has a few benefits:

  • It’s a chance to gain feedback as to why people aren’t engaging with your content
  • Your list will be of a higher quality if disinterested contacts can remove themselves
  • You’ll receive fewer spam complaints

Add a clearly visible “Unsubscribe” button to the bottom of your email to facilitate this process.


Don’t forget to ask them why they want to unsubscribe so you can apply their feedback to your business strategy.

“Unsubscribe” Button

Source: Uplers email

2.3. Remove Inactive Subscribers

Keep your email list fresh by regularly removing inactive subscribers.


Check for people who haven’t engaged with your emails in the last 6 to 12 months — these are the ones you want to remove.


Some of them may have changed email accounts, or maybe they just aren’t interested in your brand anymore.


A tip we would give you is to send one more email to see if you can re-engage with them.


For example, freelance writer, Carol Tice, sends a final email to her inactive subscribers that asks, “Do I bore you?”


Some respond and their subscriptions are maintained, but all others are removed from her list.


You can also keep your list fresh by checking in with your subscribers every now and then to ask if they’d like to update their information and preferences.


By doing this, you remind your audience that they can control how they want to engage with you.

2.4. Audience Segmentation

Audience Segmentation

As Meredith Hill once said, "When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one".


That’s why you need to separate your audience into segments.


This will allow you to specifically market and cater content to each segment.


If you're watering down your content to apply to your entire audience, you're missing out on the opportunity to create targeted, high-value content that speaks directly to the recipient.


Successful marketers use segmentation to dramatically improve the overall effectiveness of their email marketing campaigns.


This may seem complex, but it’s actually really simple!


Audience segmentation is when you split up your email list into more targeted groups, according to factors such as:

  • New subscribers: Send new subscribers a welcome email
  • Demographics: This can include age, location, or job title
  • Interests: For example, subscribers who like marketing vs. sales articles
  • Incentive: Send targeted emails based on the topic of the incentive that they opted-in for

Source: Trailhead

Let’s consider the following example:


A brand new lead should receive a campaign that introduces them to your business, but a loyal customer already knows you inside out and might be more interested in product news or developments.


Dumping every email on your entire list is a waste of resources.


Segmentation will get you:

  • Higher conversion rates
  • Higher open rates
  • Higher click-through rates
  • Lower unsubscription rates

In fact, the click-through rate of segmented lists is 100.95% higher (on average) than non-segmented lists.


If every subscriber is twice as likely to act on your emails, that will drastically impact your bottom line in the long run.

3. Send Out Powerful Content

To have subscribers simply open your email is not enough.


You want them to take action.


Make sure that your audience’s subscription is worth their while — you must earn their time by always delivering valuable content.


Email content plays a vital role in a successful email marketing strategy.


The higher the value of your emails, the more loyal your subscribers will become.


In turn, your open rates will increase, and subscribers might actually look forward to your emails.


So, how do you do this?

3.1. Start with an Introductory Email

It’s always good etiquette to introduce yourself to your new subscribers.


A welcome email is the first step to building a long-lasting relationship — it gives a “human” and approachable touch to your brand.

Source: Entrepreneur

Welcome email statistics are extremely compelling.


On average, welcome email campaigns score 4 times the open rate and 5 times the click-through rate compared to any other email marketing campaign.


If you’re wondering how to get your welcome email just right, here’s a straightforward example of an introductory email by Spotify:

Spotify Design

Spotify confirms the subscription and lets the user know what to expect.


Then, they remind the user that there are no strings attached to their subscription — there’s an unsubscription option available right there.


Here's another brilliant welcome email by CB2:

welcome email by CB2

What makes it effective?

  • CB2 explains what value new members will get from their newsletter
  • The email lets new customers know how to connect with them on social media
  • Connecting with them on social media builds up social proof and, in turn, attracts new customers

These examples show us that it’s important not to pitch a product right away.


Introducing yourself with a sales pitch can come off as desperate and even annoying.


Instead, take this opportunity to make a great first impression that solidifies the start of a new business-customer relationship.


Just like Spotify, remind them that there are no strings attached and, like CB2, invite them to connect with your brand on social media.


Your new subscribers will get to experience another side of your brand and learn more about your values.

3.2. Deliver on Your Promise

In their introductory email, Birchbox explains exactly what subscribers can expect from their email marketing campaigns:

Birchbox

If you choose to make promises in your introductory email, it’s crucial to set the right expectation and deliver exactly that.


Don’t ever make a promise you can’t keep — your subscribers will feel cheated and will most likely unsubscribe immediately.


Your first few emails are your chance to build trust and rapport.


When your audience knows what to expect, they’ll feel more comfortable engaging with your campaign.


This results in higher engagement and fewer spam complaints.

3.3. Don’t Rush Over Your Subject Line

Your subject line needs time and attention.


In fact, you might want to put more time into your subject line than you put into the body of your email.


If your subject line doesn’t get the email opened, there’s no point in writing the email at all.


You only get a few seconds (and roughly 40 characters) to convince your audience to open your email.


Here are some of our top tips for subject lines:

  • Keep it short: About 40 characters will be visible in their inbox (and even fewer on a mobile screen)
  • Offer value: Hint at what they’ll get from your email
  • Make it urgent: Include a deadline
  • Be mysterious: Make them want to know more
  • Ask a question: They’ll naturally want to know the answer

Do not “clickbait” your audience by using deceptive subject lines.


Deceptive subject lines will cause rapid unsubscriptions, a decrease in customer trust, and an overall negative brand reputation.

3.4. Personalize Your Content

Your email campaigns are designed for lots of people, but they need to make each person feel like you’re talking to them and only them.


Appealing to your audience on a personal level will give your emails a better chance of being opened.


Of course, this starts by using their name in your emails, but this is the bare minimum — there are loads of other things you can do:

  • Segment your audience
  • Send tips on how to use a product they’ve bought
  • Advertise products that would suit what they’ve already bought
  • Send emails at an appropriate time considering their timezone
  • Send a discount code on their birthday
  • Send insights about their behavior as a user

We love Grammarly’s weekly user insights emails:

Grammarly

Users find this sort of email irresistible to open because it’s positive and completely about them!

3.5. Write Like a Friend — or Don’t

Most people would be excited to open an email from a friend, so writing like a friend can help your open rate.


The trick here is to show empathy for the recipient.


Using phrases like, “We know you’ll love this” comes across much better than, “Customers will love our new savings option”.


Or, try something like, “You’ve gotta check this deal out” instead of, “We’re offering savings to our customers”.


Don’t be afraid to throw in some humor and wit — it’s personal, entertaining, and often sticks in people’s minds.


Witty one-liners or even funny GIFs can add a touch of personality to your content.


But, sometimes it’s better not to write like a friend.


You need to really think about your brand, as well as who your client is before you start cracking jokes.


Always be respectful and make sure your content is appropriate and on-brand.

3.6. Include a Strong Call-to-Action

If you don’t ask, you won’t get.


Sending out emails and hoping that people will go in search of your website or your product is never going to work.


You need to give them a clear call-to-action (CTA), preferably in the form of a bright, bold button.


Using a call-to-action button, instead of a call-to-action link, can increase your click-through rate by up to 28%.


A call-to-action button should let users know exactly which action to take and how when they open your emails.


Do you want them to buy your product? Add a call-to-action button that makes that abundantly clear:

call-to-action button

Source: Econsultancy

Be sure to use words that invite action.


Here are some call-to-action text ideas with the active words in bold:

  • Call us
  • Buy now
  • Read the full article
  • Get your free copy
  • Start your free trial

You can incorporate words like “now” and “today” in your button text to create a sense of urgency.


Aesthetically, your button should be:

  • Bright
  • Bold
  • Easy to read
  • Concise

Try to have your call-to-action button near the top of your email but make sure it makes sense — you can’t have a button inviting people to “Book Tickets” before you’ve introduced the event that the tickets are for.

3.7. Establish Your Frequency

Now that your emails are coming together, you need to establish a frequency for your email marketing campaigns.


How many emails you send, as well as their timing, can seriously impact your results.


Too many emails can lead to rapid unsubscriptions, but too few will make you a stranger to your own email list.


You need to strike the perfect balance for your campaign.


You can keep track of your open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates while you test different frequencies to find the perfect number of emails for your business.


Or, you can simply ask your list how often they’d like to receive your marketing emails and segment them accordingly.


Speaking of segmentation — don’t forget to segment your audience geographically so you can send emails at a sensible time of day.

3.8. Incorporate Email Automation

The secret to tackling email marketing like a pro is email automation.


You can automate your emails to ensure that you never miss a welcome email for a new subscriber or a feedback email following purchase.


This is easy to set up, especially if you’re using your free systeme.io account:

Email Automation

Our software lets you make automation rules so that specific actions trigger specific responses.


You can set up a rule that says, “When a lead fills in form A, send them email campaign A”.


That way, you’ll never have to sit and send out an email A every time form A is filled in — we’ll automate that process for you!


Automating your email marketing campaigns means you’ll never go missing in action, even on your day off!

4. Test Your Emails

Always send a test email to yourself and your co-workers before launching your email marketing campaign.


If you let small mistakes slip through the cracks your brand image can be harmed.


Would you trust a brand that looks like it can’t run a spell check? Didn’t think so.


Keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Typos
  • Forgotten or incorrect links
  • Text formatting errors

When doing your test emails, always open them on different devices to check that the formatting works well on desktop, tablet, and especially, mobile screens.


Today, 85% of people use their mobiles to read their emails, so the mobile version of your campaign needs to be polished.


Here’s what you should use to optimize your emails for mobile:

  • Short subject lines
  • Simple formatting with single-columns — stay under 600px wide
  • Larger, legible fonts (size 15 or larger)
  • Smaller images to reduce loading time
  • A large CTA button that’s easy to tap with a thumb
  • Make sure your email is as effective without images — Android phones disable image downloads on email to save data

Don’t place two links next to, or on top of one another in your mobile version. If you do, the recipient might tap on the wrong one by accident.


Also, don’t forget to double-check that you’ve selected the right email list.


When you’re sure that your email is good to go, press send!

5. Measure Your Success

Your perfectly crafted email campaign has gone out, but the hard work isn’t done just yet.


After sending out each email marketing campaign, it’s vital to determine whether the campaign was successful or not.

Measure Your Success

Measuring your success will give you insights into what was good and what you can improve on in your next campaign.


You can use marketing analytics, or the data gathered from your campaign, to measure your success.


Your email service provider should provide you with some analytics, but these are the 4 fundamental marketing analytics terms we suggest you look out for:

  • Deliverability: The number of emails that have been sent and delivered successfully
  • Open rate: The number of recipients who opened your email
  • Click-through-rate (CTR): The number of recipients who clicked on the link in your email
  • Unsubscribers: The number of people who opted out

If your deliverability is significantly lower than the number of people you sent the email to, this could mean that your emails are coming off as ‘spammy’.


To fix this, try writing less ‘spammy’ subject lines by avoiding fully capitalized words (BUY NOW) and overuse of punctuation (!?!?!?).


Compare the open rates from different campaigns to see what kinds of subject lines your list enjoys and give them more of that in the future!


Low click-through rates indicate that your call-to-action buttons are ineffective and need to be reworked.


If you have a high number of unsubscribers, you’ll need to take a look at their feedback so you know why they chose to be removed from your list.


Apply this feedback to your future campaigns and see if this number goes down.


Don’t ignore what the analytics are trying to tell you — they’re essential to your success.

6. Conclusion

Knowing how to execute a successful email marketing campaign is important for your business.


In this 5-step guide you’ve learned how to:

  • Choose your ESP
  • Build and grow your list
  • Send out powerful content
  • Test your emails
  • Measure your success

With these 5 steps, we’re confident that you’re ready to run an email campaign that will deliver, all the way to your bottom line!


If you need some help or some amazing tools to assist your efforts, visit us at systeme.io.


We even have a free plan that includes 1000 email contacts, unlimited emails, automation, and tags to help you segment your audience!


So, time to scroll back up to step 1 and get started with your email campaign now!


Other posts about email marketing:

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