Q: What is an email marketing strategy?
A: Like all marketing strategies, no two email marketing strategies are the same. An email marketing strategy is designed to help you reach your marketing goals, whether that is improving brand recognition, increasing sales or keeping your customers up to date.
Once you identify your marketing goals, you can create a series of emails and workflows with tools such as automation, email templates, and list segmentation.
Q: What is the difference between traditional email marketing messages and transactional messages?
A: Traditional email marketing is designed to communicate with many people. These emails can share information about your business, such as news, promotions and special events. You can send these to your entire subscriber list or only segments of your list.
Transactional emails are sent to individual customers after they perform certain actions. For example, when a customer makes an online purchase from a business, the confirmation email they receive is a transactional email.
Q: Why is an effective email marketing strategy so important?
A: Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your products and reach your customers. If done correctly, email marketing campaigns can help you build trust with your customers, encourage users to visit your website, and ultimately result in more sales and satisfied customers.
Q: How do I know if my email marketing campaigns are working?
A: The best email marketing services have extensive reporting and analytics. To determine if your email marketing campaigns are successful, check the recorded data once an email is sent. The reports should indicate how many people received your email, the click-through rate, bounces, etc.
Q: What features does email marketing software offer?
A: Email marketing software provides many valuable tools and features, including:
Segmentation tools: These tools let you send out different emails to different types of customers. For example, a retailer might create a campaign to highlight its new men's and women's clothing lines. Instead of sending the same message to everyone, the retailer can send women emails that feature the line's new dresses, blouses and skirts, while men receive an email highlighting new slacks, polo shirts and socks.
A/B split testing: This tool allows you to test alternate versions of your email to see which one resonates with customers, whether it's due to different subject lines, photos or messages. This feature helps you create campaigns with the best chance of success.
Inbox preview: Many services let you see exactly how an email looks within various email clients, such as Outlook or Gmail, as well as on different mobile devices. This allows you to make sure your designs look the same regardless of which email client customers use.
Spam filters: This helps your emails land in customers' inboxes instead of getting stuck in spam folders. This tool examines each email's subject line, links, images, etc. If a certain aspect of an email might cause it to go to the spam folder, you will know ahead of time and can change it before launching your campaign.
Mobility: Most providers offer mobile apps that allow you to create and monitor campaigns from your smartphone. Some apps let you monitor your distribution list.
Q: How do email marketing services help you grow and maintain your contact lists?
A: Email marketing services offer several tools to help you obtain and manage email addresses from your customers. Most software options integrate with your current email address book to start your list. In addition, many provide the ability to embed sign-up forms into your website and social media accounts to grow your contacts.
Once you run a campaign, most software solutions have automatic tools that keep your list up to date by removing inactive addresses and customers who unsubscribe from your emails.
Q: What are automation tools, and how do they make the email marketing process easier?
A: Automation tools allow businesses to set up recurring emails, which automatically go to certain subscribers based on specific actions they take. For example, if you set up a welcome series, a contact will receive a welcome email once they subscribe to your list.
Q: How much does email marketing cost?
A: Most providers offer monthly plans based on the number of contacts you have. Monthly costs vary greatly. Costs may range from $10-$15 for 500 contacts to $4,000 to send emails to more than 1 million contacts. Some companies offer a free version or free trial. In addition to the monthly plans, some email marketing services offer a pay-as-you-go option, which means you pay for a bulk number of emails.
Q: Is it really feasible for someone without marketing experience to master email marketing?
A: While you might not hit a home run with your first campaign, email marketing services provide everything you need to eventually become successful. The software offers a selection of design tools to help you create emails (including templates and samples), contact management solutions to help you manage and grow your distribution list, and analytics to determine if what you're doing is working.
Q: What types of analytics do email marketing services provide?
A: One of the biggest reasons email marketing is so popular with businesses is that you can track its success. Services typically provide details, such as who opened your email, who immediately deleted it, who forwarded the email to others, and who bought your product or service.
You can drill down into the data even more by looking at the days and times emails are being opened, and the types of customers – male, female, old, young, etc. – who engage with your emails most. All of this information helps you increase the success of future campaigns.
Q: Can you use email marketing in conjunction with social media?
A: Yes, most email marketing services let you take advantage of the social media following you've built. Many providers let you connect your campaigns with your social networks, so your emails automatically post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms. In addition, the services let you collect email addresses for your contact list with prebuilt social media sign-up pages.
You can also get data on whether your email campaigns are resonating on social media by checking which messages are being liked and shared on Facebook or retweeted on Twitter.
Q: Does the software integrate with any programs I already use, such as Salesforce?
A: Yes, most email marketing services integrate with at least some popular business applications. The most common integrations are with Salesforce, WordPress, Shopify and Magento. These integrations save you time and resources by automatically transferring content between your programs and email marketing platform. In addition, some providers let you tap into their application programming interface to build your own custom integrations.
Q: What if I have trouble with the service? What help is available?
A: Whether a problem occurs when you're designing an email, managing your contact list or deciphering the analytics, most service providers offer customer support, either through live chat or a toll-free number. Rather than sending an email and waiting hours or days for an answer, you can reach the service and get help for the problems you're experiencing. Additionally, most providers have an extensive knowledgebase of user guides, videos, and whitepapers that explain the ins and outs of the service and how to use each feature.
Q: What should I look for in an email marketing service provider?
A: Ensuring that the software actually delivers your email is one of the most critical aspects of any service. You want a service that delivers your emails to your customers' inboxes – not their spam folders. Segmentation and automation are also critical features small businesses should look for.
Q: How do I choose an email marketing software solution?
A: When deciding on which email marketing software is right for you, draw up a list of features that are essential, features you would like but could live without, and features that you do not need or want. Then narrow down your choices based on these lists. Determine what you want your email marketing service to do for you, and what you are hoping to get out of it.