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Email marketing: the basics

According to a report by WeAreSocial and Hootsuite, there are over 36 million South Africans who have access to the internet. If you then consider that each user has at least one email address there are a lot of potential customers to target with an email marketing strategy. Here are six basics to consider when designing your email marketing strategy.

BASIC 1: Know your audience

As with any marketing strategy, it is critical to have a thorough knowledge of who your audience is. You need to understand who you are targeting, what kind of content they like to consume, how often they would like to receive an email from you and what they would find relevant to read about.

BASIC 2: Set up a goal for your email marketing

What do you want to happen when people read your email.? There are three main activities which you can look at:

  • Open rate: this is how often people open your email to read it.
  • Clickthrough rate: this is how often people will click on your call-to-action button to go to the landing page you have set up for them.
  • Conversion rate: this how many people have bought a product from you through the email you sent them.

You should research what the average rates are for your industry and use them as a benchmark for your email campaigns.

BASIC 3: Develop an email list

Don’t buy an email list as this can harm your sender reputation with internet service providers and customers. Remember when someone gives you their email address, they are allowing you into their private space and it is important to respect the space they have invited you into. If you have not been invited in they may label your email as spam and this could lower the deliverability of your emails. You can grow your email list by having a pop-up on your website asking customers to subscribe to your newsletter or for product updates. You could also offer them a free product in exchange for their email address. This could be:

  • A checklist
  • A free e-book
  • A discount offer for a product/service

It is important that you send the content directly to your customer as soon as they have signed up with you. Once you have got some subscribers, divide your list into segments so that you can send more targeted emails to each list of subscribers. You should also regularly check that the emails you have are valid. If your customers want to unsubscribe, you must not make it difficult and ensure that there is an unsubscribe button on all your emails.

BASIC 4: Choose an email service provider

There are a wide variety of email service providers, but MailChimp is well-known and one of the easiest to use when you start. They have a 101 course which will help you get started with your first email campaign.

BASIC 5: Send your email

When constructing your email, there are four critical areas to work on. They are:

  • The subject line: This is the first line of content which your customer will read and should entice them to open your email.
  • The From name: this is where your customer will see who the email is from. Ensure that this name is easily recognizable as part of your brand.
  • The preheader: this is found in your email body text at the top of your email and should give an overview of what people can expect to find in your email.
  • The call to action: Ensure your call to action is visible and clickable.

With these four points done well and you should have a great email. Before you send your email to your whole list you should send yourself a test to ensure the email looks good on various devices, to ensure the links work, and that there aren’t any grammar or spelling mistakes. If possible you should send a test to a friend or colleague for them to look at as well.

BASIC 6: Check your metrics

Once you have sent out your first email, it is time to check your metrics. This will help to show you how successful your email was. If you can, use A/B testing and send the same email with a slight change to your email list and see which was more successful. This will help you to make emails which appeal to your audience.

By following these six basics you will be well on your way to creating your first email campaign.

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