In 2021, 4.03 billion people around the world will use email. Experts expect that number to grow as high as 4.48 billion by 2024. No platform comes close to the potential, direct-to-user reach of email. The type of connection you can create through email is unique and different from the ones you create on social media or other content. So improving your email marketing strategy is an important step for any business, large or small.
You know that email newsletters should be a key part of your marketing plan. They allow you to connect to your super fans on a unique and more profound level. People choose to have your message land into their inbox. And that is a privilege that you shouldn't take for granted.
But how can you supercharge your email marketing strategy? It doesn't have to be complicated. You can model the KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST process that you would want your audience to go through.
Know: create a compelling welcome series
First, you want to focus on getting people to know you and your brand. The best thing you can do to supercharge your strategy and tap into email marketing is to focus on a welcome series.
The welcome series is a series of emails that people will receive when signing up for your newsletter. Use this first interaction with your audience to introduce yourself and your mission.
I want you to take the time to craft a series of emails that can set the scene for your new subscribers. Because for them to turn into “super fans,” you need to get to work. Here are a few guidelines you can follow.
There is a common misconception that everybody that joins your newsletter already knows who you are. This isn’t necessarily true. Give your audience a better understanding of who you are and why you do what you do. Tell them your mission, your vision, and how you help and support people.
Setting expectations is essential because you want to make sure you won't land in your subscribers' inbox as a stranger. Let people know what they can expect from your email list. How often will you send them updates? What will you include in the emails? Introduce them to the process as soon as they start receiving your newsletter. Building familiarity is a great result for any email marketing strategy.
Surprise them from the start
Provide some unique and unexpected value. Entice them with a small gift or something unexpected. Some examples include discounts, gifts, or free shipping.
Welcome email vs welcome series
Should you have a welcome series or a welcome email as part of your email marketing strategy?
Since this is a question that I get a lot, I thought I'd elaborate. I would say it depends. If you want to cover many aspects of your brand, one email might be too long, and people might switch off from that. In such cases, I recommend breaking down your email into a 3- to 4-part series.
When sending more than one email, I suggest having a two to three-day break in between. You need to give people enough time to digest.
Like: foster a community through your newsletter
You want to turn these subscribers into super fans. Luckily for you, there are a few things you can do to help with that. The most obvious is provide recognizable content.
A study by Microsoft concluded that the human attention span has dropped to eight seconds – shrinking nearly 25% in just a few years.
Going back to standing out in your subscribers’ inbox, spending more time optimizing your emails is a practice that will pay off tenfold. On average, people receive around 2.5 times more emails each day than they send.
Provide unique value
If you can give your email list something that people will not find elsewhere, you've given them a reason to open your newsletter.
An email marketing strategy starts from an exchange of value. Think about what’s in it for your subscribers. The best newsletters always give more than what they ask for.
You can create a specific freebie or a perk that only your newsletter subscribers can access. I found it to be a great way to incentivize them to open and click-through your email. I provide subscribers to my email list with a content marketing bundle.
[image of bundle]
Every two months, at Creative Impact we release a digital magazine only newsletter subscribers can access. That helps us to boost engagement by creating an appointment for them. What can you make, or what can you offer that will be only exclusive to your audience?
Figure out what type of unique content you can provide. It can be the body of the email: offer a specific tip, share unique content, or recommend a particular tool. The opportunities are endless.
You could also be sharing a private podcast episode or even a whole secret show. You could run giveaways every month, every two months, or even give unique invitations to events only your newsletter list can join.
Work on your headlines
If you don't get people to open your emails, they will never get to the content.
Trust and credibility can affect the click-through percentage. Make sure that your content provides enough value for people to want to click on that.
Going back to the top, what should you really focus on more is headlines.
Without an appealing headline, your email will get overlooked or mistaken for spam and deleted. The most effective headlines tend to try to capture your immediate attention.
The best email writers tend to ask you a question that triggers a particular emotion. A great example is curiosity, something that speaks to your inner voice and encourages you to open it.
Treat your subject line like a movie trailer – give a preview, so they know what to expect.
Nailing the frequency
Many people ask me the best frequency when it comes to campaigns, and I think it depends on you. I would say that sending an email every other week, at the very least, would be best. However, a lot of brands can get away with sending an email every month.
We currently send two emails a week for Creative Impact and one email a week for Alt Marketing School. That is primarily based on the amount of content we produce weekly and the continuity we want to build.
You need to think about your brand type and what you can share within every single newsletter.
If you already have an audience, play around with A/B testing to see what your audience prefers. Then create a frequency and stick to it.
Consistency is much better than the frequency in this case, so creating a calendar you can stick to will be incredibly beneficial. Is there a better day to send these types of emails (or any emails, for that matter?)
Research suggests that the best times to send are mornings between 9 and 10 am and evenings between 5 and 6 pm, with the highest click through rates being at 10 am, 1 pm, and 6 pm.
Trust: build credibility with email
Last but not least, build trust.
You're going to have to follow a few steps to make your audience even more part of that experience. Because once you build trust, then you turn your superfans into customers. This is what we want. Trust (or sales) emails have the highest rate of conversions that it would be a shame not to tap into it.
In 2021, the average conversion rate of emails is 1.22%, according to Barilliance. That’s just over one sale in 100 emails.
Get feedback from your audience
One thing that you can do is ask your audience for their opinion. You can even use A/B testing to discover which content your audience loves the most within your specific campaigns.
Yes, you can run surveys or even ask questions to your audience through your newsletter. Getting feedback will give you better content for your emails. You can even use the data as a way to get market research and even improve your products or services.
Make your audience shine
To start building community, you want your audience to go from passive to proactive to build trust.
Think about ways you can spotlight your audience in your community within your email marketing strategy. Whether interviewing them or asking them to share a quote or an opinion, this can be the first step to getting into social proof.
Think about ways to get your wider community involved in your newsletter. For example, you can ask them to contribute to a specific topic you'll be covering.
You can foster trust when showcasing results and social proof within your emails. You can do this in a variety of ways: showcase a successful client story, a case study, or a testimonial. Trust emails are great to bring credibility to your brand.
When you're building trust through social proof, I recommend looking at specific emails with a conversion goal. Far too often, we try to cram too much into a newsletter. Create separate emails with high conversion goals. The primary purpose of the email is to get your audience to take action on one clear thing.
Turn subscribers into advocates
Another great way to build trust is to use tools that can help your audience become proactive advocates for your newsletter.
Popular newsletters and publishers use this referral concept to enhance their email marketing strategy—like the Morning Brew, the Hustle, and theSkimm. The more friends your subscribers invite, the more perks they unlock. Reward them with access to exclusive content, online events, Facebook Groups, community shout-outs, or merchandise.
There are tools like Viral Loops. They allow you to reward subscribers when they invite their community to join the newsletter. Those are a great way to build your list and grow your list without virtually having to do a thing.
Think about whether there is a way for you to add extra value for your audience if they invite more friends to your newsletter.
Email marketing strategy that pays off
In 2019, the average ROI was $42 for every dollar spent on email marketing, according to Litmus.
When it comes to the marketing funnel, newsletters can tap into all the different stages quite nicely. It can help you build a relationship with your audience. When done well, newsletters are the ones that are there to help us build a thriving community for ourselves and our brand.
Tom Fishburne once said, "the best marketing doesn't feel like marketing." I believe that emails encourage better conversation, understanding and overall connection towards your brand if used wisely.