what you need to know about email marketing

What You Need to Know About Email Marketing

Just yesterday, I found myself procrastinating on a task that had been sitting on my to-do list for days. Instead of tackling it, I found an interesting message about why houseplants shouldn’t be kept in direct sunlight. Naturally, I got curious and read the whole thing—even though I don’t have any houseplants. However, I plan on getting some soon, so these little nuggets of wisdom might be useful. Or maybe not. The point is, I was procrastinating and ended up reading an email I would have ignored last year when I did have houseplants.

You get the drift. Email is experiencing a resurgence, although some might argue it never really disappeared. Today, I want to address a crucial question: What do you need to know about email marketing, and how can you craft emails that people will actually open, read, and, hopefully, act upon?

Email Etiquette: What to Avoid

  • Emailing Like It’s Instant Messaging

The first misuse of email I recall is people treating it like instant messaging. They assume you’re glued to your desk, eyes fixed on your inbox, ready to respond when their email arrives. Let’s be honest—it hasn’t been like that since AOL’s “you’ve got mail!” days. Can you imagine how annoying that would be today with the sheer volume of emails we all get? If you need a response within the hour, send a text. If you can wait for a same or next-day reply, then email is your best bet.

  • The Boss Copy

This one gets under my skin because it’s a passive-aggressive way of saying, “I’m sending this to you, but I don’t trust you’ll give it the attention I think it deserves, so I’m copying your boss to ensure you get in trouble if you don’t respond quickly.” Maybe that’s not what you meant, but that’s the message it sends. For entrepreneurs, communication among business partners isn’t as frequent as you might think. If you share an important update with one partner, there’s a good chance they’re too busy to relay it to the others, which can cause issues. It’s best to copy all partners on crucial emails and let them sort the details together.

  • Subject Line Confusion

Tacking on a new topic to an existing email thread might be convenient for you, but your new subject will likely get overlooked. I might skim through it and miss the latest information or ignore it altogether because I assume it’s about the same old topic my team is already dealing with. Always be mindful of your subject line and update it if necessary. Aim to write a meaningful action in the subject, like “URGENT: FEEDBACK NEEDED” or “SCHEDULING REQUEST.” These subject lines signal the reader that the email requires immediate attention and can be dealt with promptly.

  • Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

As a marketing professional, I’m admittedly a bit of a word nerd. Casual emails between coworkers or friends can slide, but when someone sends a document to a client—or me as the client—that’s riddled with spelling or grammatical errors, I cringe. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. When I draft something for a client, I make sure to read it over two or three times to ensure my message is clear and free of typos. I’m not perfect, but I believe this extra attention to detail reflects my professionalism and dedication.

How To Send Effective Sales Emails?

Now that your point is clear, your subject line expresses your intent, your message is typo-free, and you have chosen the right recipients, let’s explore best practices for sending sales emails.

First and foremost, avoid sending cold sales emails. This practice is considered spam, and the FTC has strict regulations against it. Emails must be obtained with the recipient’s permission, meaning they knowingly provided their email address and agreed to receive emails from you. Mishandling email addresses can result in severe consequences, such as having your domain blacklisted by email providers, which can block your emails from reaching clients and negatively impact your website’s SEO ranking.

Think of it like planting a garden. You wouldn’t scatter seeds randomly and expect a thriving garden. Instead, you carefully plant each seed, water it, and give it sunlight. Similarly, you need to nurture your email list by building relationships and trust before making a sales pitch. There are several themes when you’re creating email campaigns, but I like to start with the top five.

  • The New Client Campaign

This campaign is a series of emails to welcome a new client to your business. It lets them know what to expect, introduces their key contacts, and requests the standard information you need from all clients. Additionally, you can set these emails to include helpful resources, such as a guide to your services or answers to frequently asked questions, to help clients get the most out of their experience with you. After a certain period, the emails can automatically prompt the client to provide feedback or review your business on Google. This is an excellent way to gather valuable insights and boost your online presence, as Google highly values those reviews!

  • Abandoned Cart and Post-Purchase Emails

For eCommerce businesses, setting up automated abandoned carts and post-purchase emails is a game-changer. Imagine a customer leaving items in their cart without completing the purchase. An abandoned cart email gently reminds them of what they left behind, often prompting them to complete the transaction. Similarly, a well-timed post-purchase email can thank customers for their purchase, provide helpful information about their new product, and suggest complementary items, enhancing overall customer satisfaction and potentially increasing future sales. These automated touches are invaluable for maintaining customer engagement and boosting revenue.

  • Monthly Newsletters

A monthly newsletter is a good idea for just about any business. A newsletter is a monthly reminder to your contacts that you’re still in business, which is particularly important nowadays. It’s also a great way to make sure they understand everything you do to send you referrals.

  • Educational Drip Campaigns

Building on the idea of a monthly newsletter, let’s explore the concept of educational drip campaigns. These campaigns involve a series of emails aimed at an audience you’ve already engaged with through an initial sales conversation or email exchange but who need more time to make a purchase. These emails can be sent weekly and are designed to educate recipients about your area of expertise without pushing for a sale. Instead, they might include a closing paragraph about your services, links to a blog post on your website, an intriguing story, or a fun “did you know” fact.

The main goal is to nurture your lead until they’re ready to buy. To make these emails effective, engage your readers with visually appealing designs that capture their attention. Use humor, when appropriate for your brand, to keep things light and entertaining. You can also evoke emotion or offer something valuable, even if it’s just insightful content. Remember, the key is to keep your audience curious and engaged, gradually building trust and interest in your offerings.

  • Sales Campaigns

If someone continually opens your emails and clicks on your links, they demonstrate interest, so you may want to move them to a sales campaign. This type of campaign is a series of emails more focused on reinforcing the benefits of buying from you. Be careful of this one, though, because if you overdo it, they’ll unsubscribe, so a good practice is, in addition to the call-to-action button, to give them a “no thanks” button that drops them out of this campaign and keeps them on your newsletter list.

Final Thoughts

When I started working with clients on CRM in the 90s, it took multi-million dollar software tools to execute these types of campaigns. Today, a small business can start with software licenses as low as $20/month for a small list and access all of this functionality.

When it comes to your message, be as authentic and honest as possible. Track your stats, but don’t get overly hung up on them. Emailing people on your list is a privilege. With that in mind, let me wrap up with a quote from David Ogilvy: “If you’re trying to persuade people to do something or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.”