What Is Email Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

Email marketing is a form of marketing that uses email to communicate with leads and customers. It is one most widely-used marketing tactics. It’s also one of the oldest.

Today, a more appropriate definition of email marketing is the use of email to develop relationships with leads and customers.

It is one of the many parts of digital marketing, which includes blogging, social media, and advertising.

This in-depth guide will discuss the topics below. Feel free to click on them to jump to that section.

3 Pillars of Email Marketing

1. Lead generation

Lead generation is how your organization acquire leads. It is the process of collecting contact information of prospects or potential customers. It deals with where and how people enter your contact database.

To many marketers, lead generation is not seen as part of email marketing. But, the fact remains that every lead that “comes in” your contact database is based on that person’s email address.

Without a strategy in place to grow your email list, any email marketing efforts will not succeed.

Reports say that the average email database loses its effectiveness by 23% per year. What that means is in 5 years, your email list will practically be useless.

This makes lead generation very crucial to email marketing success.

Typical Online Conversion Path

In digital marketing, the typical conversion path of a person looks like this:

Digital marketing conversion path

  1. A person visits your website
  2. The person saw something of interest and of value.
  3. The person clicks on that link and sends him/her to a page with some explanation and a form
  4. This person fills in the form
  5. The person is redirected to another page where allowing him/her access

A specific example of this would be a person viewing your blog. They saw an image in the sidebar about an industry report. Since they are also from that industry, they realized this might be of value to them. So, the person clicked on it.

They see a page with some explanation of what the industry report contains and the benefits of you they should download this PDF. To the right of that text is a form that asks for their contact information.

Since they saw the value of downloading the PDF, they entered their information and get redirected to another page. In this page, they can download the PDF. Here’s a case study I made that demonstrates this.

Components of an Effective Lead Generation Strategy

There are 2 components that make up an effective lead generation strategy: (1) a marketing offer and (2) the process behind it.

A marketing offer is a type of content that the organization creates that is deemed to provide value to its audience or market. It is often referred to as a lead magnet. Some examples of a marketing offer are as follows:

  1. Subscription to the organization’s newsletter
  2. A PDF download
  3. A webinar registration

The process is a way of gathering the contact information and delivering the actual marketing offer. It can be divided into 3 parts:

  1. Landing page. A landing page is a standalone web page distinct from your main website that has been designed for a single focused objective. In most cases, this is to capture contact information (e.g. email address). In the example above, this is the page that contains some explanation/benefits and the form.
  2. Thank you page. A thank you page is another type of page on your website that contains information on what you promised in the landing page. A thank you page should only be accessible after a person completes a form in a landing page. In the example above, this is the page where the person can download the industry report PDF.
  3. Thank you email. A thank you email is a supplement to the thank you page. It is an acknowledgment of what the person did and what they can expect. In some cases, this is used to “deliver” the marketing offer, instead of using the thank you page. In the example above, the person receives an email thanking them for their download of the industry report.

These 2 components make up an effective lead generation strategy.

The Importance of an Effective Lead Generation Strategy

The most common conversion path of websites today is through the contact us page. People browse the website and see something that interests them. This spurs them to message the company to learn more.

In this scenario, the contact us page is a form of a landing page.

However, having 1 landing page is not enough.

A survey of more than 7,000 businesses shows that companies see a 55% increase in leads when their landing pages increase from 10 to 15.

The same report also found that those with over 40 landing pages increase conversions by 500%!

Given that the typical conversion rates for landing pages are only between 1-3%, a single contact us page will give you unsatisfactory results.

This is the primary reason why creating content — in the form of marketing offers and distributing them using landing pages — is crucial if you want your organization to continuously generate new leads.

2. Lead Management

Lead management is how the leads that come in your database are tracked, segmented, and nurtured. It starts the moment they enter your email database. It is a continuous process that never ends.

Think of lead management as having the ability to group together people with the same characteristics. These groupings allow you to send targeted and more relevant messages to them.

Lead Management in Action

Imagine you are an eCommerce pet store. Your main customer segments are dog owners and cat owners.

Simple explanation of how lead management works

With proper lead management, you will be able to segment people who are dog owners from the cat owners.

This allows you to send dog owners emails related to dogs without sending the same email to cat owners. That way, the cat owners will not receive irrelevant emails.

Why is this important? 

Data shows that 56% of email users unsubscribe because the content is no longer relevant. Think about that for a moment.

These people unsubscribed from companies not because the email subject nor the copy was bad. In fact, it may be awesome. Rather, they unsubscribed because the content is no longer relevant to them.

If you’re a cat owner and continuously receive emails about dogs, how would you feel?

Data shows that 56% of email users unsubscribe because the content is no longer relevant. http://snip.ly/higla Click To Tweet

Components of an Effective Lead Management Strategy

An effective lead management strategy needs to fulfill 4 things:

  1. A defined marketing and sales funnel. A defined marketing and sales funnel means two things: (a) the different “stages” a contact falls under are defined and (b) both marketing and sales know who has the main responsibility for that contact. A simple funnel looks like this: visitor –> lead –> opportunity –> customer.  To satisfy the definition, a lead is someone whose email address you know. They become an opportunity when they either requested for a price catalog or when they checked out. They become a customer once they pay. Marketing has responsibility for visitors and leads, while sales has responsibility for opportunities and customers.
  2. Key segments are identified. These are the different segments that are relevant to your organization. This differs from one company to another. For example, for a pet store, some key segments are the pet owned (dog, cat, others), type of owner (first-time, expert, others), and what products they bought.
  3. Create content. This builds on the funnel and key segments described above. Content is any information (e.g. articles, videos) people consume
  4. Email automation. Email automation is where you use a software to automate the sending of emails (or series of emails) when certain conditions happen. For example, once a person enters this segment: “dog owner, first-time owner, lead” –> they enter a welcome series that teaches them about being a first-time dog owner.

Disclaimer

Lead management is more appropriately called contact management because past and existing customers are still included in this process.

Lead, by definition, starts the moment you have a person’s contact information and ends when they either start paying (they become a customer) or they get disqualified (for whatever reason). So, the term lead management does not encompass everything.

But the principles remain: for every major segment, a nurturing strategy based on educational content must be implemented. For example, a new customer is enrolled in an onboarding series; or a customer for 3 months, gets asked feedback from the usage of product / service.

3. Email Execution

Email execution refers to the crafting of the actual email and sending of these emails. It includes 1:1 emails (transactional emails) and 1:many emails (informational emails).

This is also the part where triggers and automations are setup.

Most marketers focus solely on this part of email marketing. However, addressing lead generation and lead management will take the worries out of the issues most marketers are concerned about in this stage.

Some of these concepts are as follows:

  1. Deliverability
  2. Design
  3. Content
  4. Timing
  5. Metrics

If you’re implementing effective lead generation and lead management, email execution is like a walk in the park.

For example, deliverability won’t be an issue because you already addressed sources, permissions, and expectations upfront.

Leads are coming into your database through the landing pages you made. You already know what they downloaded, what they are interested in, and told them that they’ll be receiving something from you. 

In the design and content, if you planned your segmentation strategy, you’ll know what words to use and avoid in your email. You’ll also be able to determine what topics to send them directly. 

For metrics, if you have an engaged audience from the start, you won’t have to worry about open rates and click-through rates because everyone will look forward to reading your emails.


Why Use Email Marketing?

There are a lot of benefits of using email marketing.

One of which is that 86% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes. That is very significant because it is a very strong indicator that email is not going away anytime soon.

Email allows for asynchronous communication. What that means is you can send a message now to your email list and they don’t have to do anything now. It is a way of showing respect for their time.

And, it’s arguably one of email’s best quality.

98.4% of people go through their emails at least once a day. That gives your organization a huge chance of sharing your story, staying in touch, and even get revenues.

Email marketing, when executed effectively, can strengthen relationships, increase credibility, and create new opportunities for your organization — either through referrals or more revenue.


Essential Features and Capabilities of an Email Marketing Software

An email marketing software (EMS) is a piece of software that allows you to handle lead generation, lead management, and email execution — the 3 pillars of email marketing.

Without proper software to help you in your email marketing activities, you’d be wasting a lot of time and energy doing repetitive tasks.

Basic features your email marketing software should have:

1. Ability to segment your list

Segmentation is all about grouping people based on their similarities or differences. If you don’t have the ability to segment your email list, don’t expect a high return on investment in your email marketing.

2. Ability to store contact info

The modern email marketing software is no longer used simply for sending emails. The email list is now tied to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Together, they act as the glue holding all the information you need to serve them better.

When choosing an email marketing software, it’s best to check for CRM integrations. Or an even better solution, check if the company has its own CRM software. This will help your team close the loop between marketing and sales

3. Ability to create automations

Automating your email marketing is essential if you want to free up your time to do other work. This is the only way to scale your efforts. Without automation, you’ll be stuck spending your time sending emails manually and you won’t have enough time to work on more important tasks.

Most people think of marketing automation as simply sending an thank you email after a form submission, or even sending a welcome onboarding series a few days apart. 

But marketing automation doesn’t end there.

In more advanced software where social and CRM are integrated, automation saves you a lot of time by enrolling people into specific workflows/automations based on actions or triggers by them or other departments. For example, when a sales person closes a new sale. That lead becomes a customer in the marketing software, not just in the CRM. Then, that person automatically gets enrolled in an onboarding series. If the person cancels in a few days, that onboarding series stops as well.  


12 Different Types of Marketing Emails

Email marketing is not limited to newsletters. If you’re only using newsletters in your entire email marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a lot of its potential. In fact, there are 12 different types of marketing emails you can send. 

Most organizations only send a product/service update email, not an actual newsletter. 

Mix up your email marketing strategy by identifying what these 12 different emails. Here are the top 5 email types you should be sending regardless of your industry. 

  1. Newsletter
  2. Lead Nurturing Emails
  3. Confirmation Emails
  4. Thank You Emails
  5. Welcome Emails

These 5 types have the most positive impact because it improves customer experience and creates trust. 


Email Malpractices You Should Stop Doing Now

Email marketing is one of the oldest marketing tactics. 

This is also the main reason a lot of marketers, unfortunately, who try to game the system. 

They send unsolicited emails, use illegal methods for obtaining contact information, and make it inconvenient for people to opt-out. These email malpractice tactics make email marketing look bad. It’s the reason why people think that email marketing is dead. 

Report emails like these as spam. Don’t leave them in your inbox or just delete them. 


Examples of Ineffective Email Marketing Tactics and How to Improve

When it comes to email marketing, it’s easy to keep doing what everybody else is doing. After all, if they are doing it, they must be getting great results out of it, right? 

It’s best to question those assumptions. Take a look at these 5 ineffective email marketing tactics and test whether deviating from the status quo is better or not. Don’t be lazy. Continuously test your hypotheses and challenge your assumptions. This is the only way you can stay ahead. 

If you still don’t know where to start, here’s a list of 3 things you can implement today to improve your email marketing. The main point here is to test, test, test! 

At the end of the day, it’s always about your prospects and customers. It has never been about you. Make sure that you create a wonderful experience for them from the moment they engage with your brand. 

A lot of marketers attribute their failure to grow their email list to uncontrollable factors like people don’t use email anymore. But in reality, this is because of inconsistency in their promise to their audience with the fulfillment. They end up getting frustrated and eventually unsubscribe. 

In today’s hyper-competitive markets, the only way to stand out is to deliver exactly what you promised (or go beyond it), but definitely not do something else. Customers expect high-quality products/services. They expect quick turnarounds. They expect great customer support. 

If their entire experience, even in one area is lacking, that is enough to spur them to move to a competitor.