Email marketing is one of the oldest - if not the oldest - methods in digital marketing. And there’s a very good reason it’s still such an integral part of most everybody’s digital marketing presence. It works. But, that doesn’t explain how so many people in so many industries struggle to see a strong ROI from their email marketing campaigns. Well, that’s because it works - but only when done right.
In this blog post, we’ll cover why exactly email marketing is such an invaluable asset to your digital marketing strategy. We’ll also discuss why so many email marketers fail to see success in their outreach campaigns. And, of course, how you can set yourself up for email marketing success - all in a quick 12 minute read. So, let’s get started.
From the highest level CEOs to the most amateur level college interns - everyone in the business world has an email. And even if they are passively scrolling through it while they drink their morning Starbucks or if they’re actively reading through and filtering their inbox - nearly everyone checks their email at least once a day - and professionals average a check in every half hour.
This is why we all value email marketing so much - nowhere else do you have a personal line of communication directly with your potential customers. Especially one that is so frequently viewed. The inbox is the golden opportunity for all digital marketers. And yet, the average marketer doesn’t seem to value his or her time in their customer’s inbox at all.
This is why email marketing might not be the most desired digital marketing strategy for that much longer. While digital transactions and micro conversions become more efficient and familiar to modern consumers, the more we as marketers need to value each impression and interaction as a rare, golden opportunity.
And that’s not something email marketers are usually known for. As I’m sure you can understand as you filter through your countless spam emails, special offers, and promotional content currently flooding your inbox.
Nobody wants more emails flooding their inbox. They want better emails coming in.
“Here’s the thing. You don’t want more email yet you presume your customer wants more email because email is the number one tool businesses use to communicate with their customer. Why do you think they wanna read your email? They don’t. Unless your email is designed and written in a way to spark curiosity, to get their attention, to provide value, to drive them to act.”
Author of ‘Never Lose A Customer Again’
This is why taking the time to optimize your email marketing campaigns for the human-to-human connection can make such a difference. You’ll see throughout this post that the most effective email marketing campaigns aren’t just the most well built, tech savvy campaigns.
The most effective and successful email marketing campaigns are those that are able to create a sense of a casual conversation when connecting with their users - as opposed to a cold automated mass email sequence.
Speaking of successful email marketing campaigns, let’s take a look at some of the most popular email marketing campaign types - and why they’re so popular to begin with.
For the sake of broad strokes, there are essentially five types of email marketing campaigns that most digital marketers tend to rely on.
Now, these are only for email marketing campaigns targeting an email list that you already possess. There are other types of email campaigns for “colder audiences” such as cold outbound sales sequences and guest blogging email campaigns, but those aren’t as broadly used for marketing purposes as the major five. So we’ll stay focused on the big five for now.
Before we get started, let’s take a second to talk about welcome emails. This is a part of every email campaign. Or, at least any email campaign in which you willingly collected the emails of your audience.
Welcome emails need to check a few boxes in order to start your email campaigns off on the right foot. For starters, they should clearly address the recipient and why/when they were added to the email list - essentially why they're receiving this email.
You should also take this chance to set the tone for your email campaign. When it comes to creating a delightful email experience in your user’s inbox, your welcome email is one of the best opportunities to focus on bright and memorable creatives and clever branding while not being bogged down by too much copy or sales-focused offers.
Lastly, your welcome email should inform your recipient what they can expect to receive through your email campaign. Trying to outwit your email user by taking the passive aggressive road is only going to waste your time and theirs - which is only going to end up getting your emails bounced from their inbox straight to their trash file.
Below you can see a few examples of some strong welcome emails.
Now that we’ve covered your intro that all of your email campaigns should be using, let’s talk about the specific email marketing campaigns at play. Starting off with your classic newsletter and press release emails.
Newsletters are one of the less aggressive types of email marketing campaigns. They often focus on keeping their email audience informed on the company’s latest blog posts or special offers that are released on a regular basis. Likewise, press releases are regularly published articles - often translated into emails for the sake of brand awareness email campaigns - that notify readers about recent updates to the company, service, or product.
For the most part - the best practices for newsletters and press releases are the same. You can relax a bit with these types of campaigns because you have the confidence that your audience has already opted in to be notified on your brand regularly. Which means they must already have a significant interest in what you have to say. All you have to do is make sure that you have something worthwhile to say in every email - or you can end up losing those precious loyal followers.
Taking the classic content newsletter one step further, we have the actual Promotional Email. These emails have a distinct piece of content that they’re focused on promoting (or a specific product they are focused on selling). Oftentimes these emails come with a special type of content or sale - something like gated content or a discounted and/or new product. What’s important about these emails is that you focus on getting the value offer into the three most viewed parts of the email:
The average email reader - even when they are checking their emails daily - only spends 13 seconds reading each email. So you need to make sure that you prioritize grabbing their attention - and holding it - as soon as you can.
Now, sometimes, special offers and content promotions are… extra special and extra promotional. Those times I’m speaking of are the holidays. Or other special occasions unique to your brand and business. What type of seasonal campaign you choose to run is up to your unique brand strategy. But as a general rule, taking advantage of the holiday seasons is never a bad idea.
You can see some examples of some classic seasonal email campaigns below.
Special offers like Black Friday sales are a great way to take advantage of active email readers who are looking for deals in their inbox. However, there is a caveat to the success of this email campaign type:
Everyone is eager to get into their user’s inbox during the holiday season with their special seasonal offers. But that’s just the thing. Everyone is trying to do that. So you’re going to be competing more than ever to grab and hold the attention of your users. Which means your game has to be more than on it’s A-game when it comes to content, creative, and value propositions.
The next two types of email marketing campaigns are a bit more complicated, and deal with what happens after someone converts on your site. Or, at least gets close…
So let’s start off with classic remarketing drip campaigns. In most cases when you convert on a site - you’ll be required to insert your email and contact information along with your payment details. But that’s not the only information you’re giving to digital marketers when you convert on their site.
You’re also giving them the vital information of what types of products/services you are interested in - what the actual offer was that got you to convert and whip out your credit card. This is where we like to hit you with the remarketing drip campaigns. These emails will slowly work on nurturing you back to the shopping experience on the site. Usually, we do this by showing you related products or services to the one you originally converted on - or upselling you on add-ons that are necessary to take your performance to the next level.
But, “what if I didn’t buy anything on the site?”
Well, it turns out we got you covered there too.
The final type of the big five email marketing campaigns is reserved for this exact type of user. The online shoppe that peruses the shop, even adds things to their cart, but doesn’t end up going through with the transaction. These are what we call cart abandons. And while they are infuriating to eCommerce marketings across the board, there is still something we can do to bring these nearly-sales all the way home.
Cart abandonment emails remind the shoppers of what was in their cart and what they might have left behind. And, they can sometimes be fairly relentless.. But, despite how annoying they may seem, cart abandonment emails tend to succeed more than 10% of the time. Which is why so many eCommerce email marketers rely on these campaign types so constantly.
That covers it for the big five of email marketing campaign types. But, that just covers what each of these campaign types focuses on. We still haven’t discussed the all-too-important problem underlying all of email marketing campaigns - a lack of appreciation for our time in our users’ inboxes.
As I mentioned earlier - or, as Joey Coleman mentioned earlier - nobody wants more emails in their inbox. Yet none of us email marketers hesitate to spam anything and everything we can to our email audience.
And the truth is, what’s the point in that? Especially if nobody is taking the time to read your spammy, salesy emails.
Not only that, but too many of our email campaigns are one-and-done campaigns. Even if they have follow up emails, they are more or less duplicates of the first - reiterated with different grammar and the same offer. And still, we hit ourselves in the head asking ourselves why email just isn’t converting at the rate it should. Well, let me answer that question with a classic maxim:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
There’s no reason to expect that your offer will perform any better just given a slight twist of copy. If the subject itself isn’t working - then it’s time to try something different. And that’s where conditional logic and adaptive email campaigns enter the arena.
‘Conditional logic and adaptive email campaigns’ sounds very high tech and overwhelming, I know. But trust me, all it means is bringing the conversational, human flowing aspect back to email interactions. Sure, it can take a bit of heavy setup to get started, but it’s always worth the effort if you can set up your campaign the right way and learn to optimize it based on your user’s email behavior.
Adaptive email campaigns rely on conditional logic to send different follow up emails to different segments of your email audience, organized by their distinct user actions. For example, the classic logic split basic workflows use is a “yes” “no” sequence.
If the recipient clicks within the email or on the desired link, they’re entered into the “yes” audience of the next follow up email. While if they don’t click, they’re placed into the “no” sequence. Each of these follow up emails will vary and focus on a different offer. The “yes” will usually focus on pushing the user closer towards the ultimate goal conversion of the email campaign, while the “no” sequence often focuses on educating the readers on the value of the brand and why they should consider learning more about the offer (hence clicking more).
It may sound a bit systematic and robotic. But if you put enough time into it, you can create quite an adaptive and organic sounding natural email sequence consisting of only 15 or so emails. And with this, you can actually respond to the customized interests of your different email followers. And, just like a genuine conversation, you’ll be able to shift and adapt to the flow and varying interest level of your individual leads.
After all, we owe it to the user after graciously welcoming us into their inbox, to at least take the time to listen to their wants and needs. And that’s how you take a sterile, automated email sequence to a natural, and engaging conversation.
So, we’ve taken you through all the five most popular email marketing campaign types, we’ve covered the underlying issue that seems to plague each of the five, and - most importantly - we’ve explained how you can overcome the roadblocks that most email marketing campaigns run into once they hit the oh-so-coveted inbox.
Remember, that it’s not about how many times you can show up in your users’ inbox, but what you make of the time once they find you there. Start making more of each of those seconds today.
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