Rocket’s View On Email Marketing
It has long been the known, and continues to be the case, that email marketing delivers the strongest overall marketing performance when compared to any other digital channel. With an average Return on Investment of over 120%, the ROI can often amount to four times higher than other channels like paid search and social media. These stats alone should be compelling enough to have you thinking how you could either be commencing or looking to improve your email strategy for 2018.
According to a recent report by Mailgen, 89% of interviewed marketers indicated that their primary channel for lead generation is email. Furthermore, 86% of professionals also indicated that email is their preferred method of communication for business purposes. It’s quite clear that people have a preference to receive comms via email and marketers worldwide rely on email for lead generation, yet so many Australian businesses have either no email strategy, no database or no regular communications going out. Why is that?
At Rocket, we normally find this is because one of two reasons. Either businesses struggle with producing quality communications which are relevant for their audience or they struggle with their email marketing platform (or both).
With the ever-growing demand for great emails and the prevailing trends towards complexity within the format (think personalisation, segmentation, gamification, interactivity), coupled with the fact that marketers are very protective of their databases and never want unsubscribes – no wonder some Australian business err on the side of caution when it comes time to implementing an email strategy.
If this sounds like you, not to worry! All these challenges can be overcome. By clearly defining your strategy, goals, content and marketing technology stack, you too can reap the rewards of a successful email campaign.
Related: Email Marketing is Essential to Your Digital Strategy
Email Strategy & Goals
Planning your strategy and goals before diving straight into a full-fledged email campaign is always a wise approach. Marketers need a clear vision of the exact purpose behind their email communications. Furthermore, they need to understand what the ultimate campaign goals are. The following list exemplifies some typical strategic approaches to email marketing:
- Welcome Series Email: Often used when a customer first interacts with a brand e.g. purchase online, submits an online form or subscribes to a newsletter for the first time. These are usually considered critical email pieces. This is your first your chance to introduce yourself, tell the brand story, encourage customers to engage with your social properties, explain how you will be communicating in the future and also to give the customer and opportunity to set their email preferences.
You don’t need to convey all this information in on email. Often this process is built into an automated sequence. The best practice for timing and messaging can vary pending industry, so thought needs to be put in as to how you think your customers should be receiving these messages.
- Nurture Based Email: When customers first engage with your brand, more often than not they are not ready to buy from you. This is particularly true in the B2B space. Many B2B companies have sales cycles that last 12 months or longer. This is where it pays huge dividends to have an effective lead nurturing email campaign in play.
Lead nurturing email sequences are all about guiding your customers through the path to purchase. Ultimately, they are designed to build relationships with prospects whilst establishing your company as a trustworthy and authoritative provider. Importantly, they take the onus off sales (who are usually not very good at doing this) to keep leads warm over long periods of time.
Using clever strategies to automate, segment and personalise these sequences can ensure high-quality email communications are being received by prospects for as long as they are viable for your business.
- Transactional Email: Transactional emails are frequently the forgotten children of email marketing but are often the communication pieces that customers really want or value. So, it really pays to ensure that messaging and timing is crafted accordingly for maximum impact.
What are Transactional Emails? Well, they can encompass a wide variety of categories including:
- Billing and Invoicing
- Account Creations
- Refunds and Renewals
- Receipt of Form Submission Email
- Alerts & Notifications
- Account Safety Notices
- Membership Updates
- Abandon Cart and Cross Sell Emails
- Product Returns
A well thought out plan as to how your customers will receive these types of transactional emails will ensure they have the key pieces of timely information to stay connected with your brand and keep administrative business process running smoothly. Some companies leave these tasks to individual pieces of software to automate, while smarter business have a more structured and holistic approach to transactional email which give a greater overall customer experience.
- Newsletter Email: The classic business Newsletter! Often this is the first starting point for companies venturing into email comms. However, it is probably one of the hardest types of email to get right.
People use this format as a cover-all basis email, where they believe their customers will receive everything they want to stay up to date in one neat monthly package. This is rarely the case – just think how many newsletters you have unsubscribed from over the years!
So how do leading companies create engaging newsletters? First, there needs to be good analysis if a newsletter is even required – does it tie in with overarching marketing goals, what action are you looking customers to take? If there is a business case there, you can then begin to think about the format it should take.
Having succinct messaging is usually considered to be best practice. It’s not ideal to have PR releases, mixed in with product updates, staff events and whatever else is going on that month. Having specificity to a mailer is always going to be more effective. As a rule of thumb, shaping specific content to a 90% educational information and 10% sales mix is a sound approach to ensuring relevance.
Great subject lines, singular calls to action and clarity around subscriptions and communication cadence at the sign-up stage will all help in delivering a high-impact business newsletter.
The above points are only a handful of possible strategic approaches companies can take for their EDM campaigns and of course some of these tactics can be run in conjunction too. The important takeaway is to ensure a clearly defined email strategy is in play before comms hit the market.
Related: Transform Your Email Marketing Strategy with These 5 Trends
Like nearly everything in digital marketing, content is king! Content will make or break the success of any email marketing campaign. Strong, compelling and interesting content will always be valued by subscribers and will cement the effectiveness of your campaigns. However, outputting quality content is a challenge whether you are working client or agency side.
Producing content is a costly and time-consuming exercise. So, getting the strategy right is imperative.
Not every business can afford to engage a Content Agency or In-House team to produce copy, especially for one singular channel. For many mid-size Australian businesses, email is woven into the overall digital content strategy. In what is sometimes referred to as Hub and Spoke Content Marketing, many companies will invest in producing ‘hero’ pieces of content, which can then serve a multitude of purposes.
For instance, they may put together a comprehensive eBook or White Paper on a particular industry challenge. This piece of content may then have individual chapters broken-out into separate monthly blog articles, email nurture pieces, content retargeting and so forth – then repeated for the remaining content. If the hero assets being produced can be evergreen (i.e. valid for the foreseeable future) then the content can be updated and repurposed year on year.
There is no right or wrong way for producing content for email, or any other channel for that matter. However, you need to be somewhat pragmatic and realistic about what your capacity is to produce content then devise a strategy around. Avoid at all costs sending irrelevant communications just for the sake of it or ticking a box.
Related: The Future of Email Marketing
Marketing Technology Stack
The third consideration piece for planning your email marketing strategy is deciding on your marketing technology stack, particularly your email marketing platform. This decision is typically influenced by your CRM, accounting software, web site CMS, eCommerce platform or any number of other pieces of tech that you may using. At the end of the day you need a solution which will allow for a level of integration and connectivity within your greater business model.
Your choice of email marketing software is also going to be influenced by the size of your database, the level of sophistication required for automation and personalisation, flexibility needed for template designs and industry specific tasks that need to be handled via email.
There are so many great platforms to choose from these days, that conducting a product comparison can be hard to do. As stated above often the final decision will come down to integration into your business (as well a price!).
The leading Email Marketing Software in 2018 includes:
- Campaign Monitor
- Active Campaign
- Constant Contact
Rocket is agnostic when it comes to Email MarTech. We work on and partner with many of the great companies above. In our experience, we typically see smaller database clients, with simpler needs using platforms like MailChimp, Active Campaign and Campaign Monitor. Clients who need an integrated CRM and other functionality often lean towards HubSpot. Enterprise clients, who often use Salesforce, typically tend to use Pardot and Marketo. However, there is no definitive product fit purely based on organisation size here – many of the platforms can deliver similar outcomes these days. We are always happy to help our clients navigate the software space and help them choose the right fit for their organisation.
Related: The 9 Things Our Fastest Growing Clients Are Doing Right Now!
Email Marketing Agencies
As we have outlined above, there’s many components to running successful EDM campaigns. You need good strategy, quality content and the right software (and expertise to use it!). For many companies using an agency to run their campaigns makes sense, particularly given the scope for solid ROI.
At Rocket we run dozens of high quality campaigns every month – literally sending email to over a million people per month. We have the inhouse specialties to deliver on the three core components for success, so feel free to get in touch to discuss your campaign today!