Email marketing has a higher ROI than Facebook ads. Here's how to get started with it.

August 26, 2020

Email marketing has a higher ROI than Facebook ads. Here's how to get started with it.

When considering your company’s holistic digital marketing strategy, email needs to be at the top of the list. One of email’s key roles within this strategy is that of lead nurturing, or the act of turning prospective customers into paying customers. Nurture emails are done through a process of education, awareness, and relationship building. According to eConsultancy, 76% of marketers say targeted personalized emails increase customer engagement.

The importance of email nurturing

High-funnel advertising or lead generation is important for most businesses. But few companies sell products that customers would purchase with just one touchpoint, and even fewer customers buy anything after just one encounter with a brand. As a result, without lead nurturing, most leads are likely to disappear.

Nurture campaigns are designed to convey to a customer that they, as an individual, matter to a brand as a whole. And customers want to receive this message; according to Omnisend, email marketing has an ROI of $40 per dollar spent, compared with $22.24 for SEO and just $17 for keyword ads such as Google Ads. Even after accounting for notoriously low open rates and even lower click-thru rates, email offers a return for your marketing spend that other channels just can’t match.

Building an email marketing strategy begins with a welcome sequence.

The first foray into a brand’s email marketing for most customers comes via the “welcome sequence.” As a result, this is typically the first sequence we recommend most companies create.

A welcome sequence forms the important role of a soft introduction to the company and to its products, services, and value propositions over a short series of emails. Keep in mind that many prospective customers haven’t even heard of your brand, let alone your products and services, so it’s very important to begin building a relationship slowly with these elementary pieces of introductory information.

While the appropriate length and duration of a welcome sequence varies across companies and industries, we typically begin with a general recommendation of 3-6 emails delivered every 1-2 days.

In addition, the best welcome sequences offer a “lead magnet” to encourage subscriptions. A lead magnet is a free something given to new email subscribers to encourage subscriptions and to build your lead list and potential future customers. This could be a 15% off coupon, a e-book “guide” to something relevant to your company, an audit or consultation, or anything else that could be of value to customers but is relatively cheap and easy for you to provide.

Personalization matters

According to Experian, personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates and according to Monetate, companies see an average increase in sales of 20% when using personalized emails. Statista reports that the open rate for emails with a personalized subject line was 18.8% compared to 13.1% in 2016. These statistics are staggering. Clearly personalization is integral, but what exactly should you be personalizing?

Well, it’s easy to start with a name. Gretting your readers with their name is a relatively simple level of personalization using data you may already have available. Even so, it’s much more powerful for a reader to see an email with their own name in the subject line or greeting, rather than a generic “friend” or nothing at all.

Another example could be to send the same email content to different recipients at different times or to personalize based on their location. For example, a bar or restaurant could send an email promoting happy hour at 4:00 pm local time, optimizing for subscribers to receive the promotion at the moment they might be most likely to be considering or open to happy hour specials.

Another great way to personalize your emails is through segmentation. If you can collect data on why your customers are putting their email address into your site in the first place, you can build separate lists based on off this data and send the most relevant messages to the exact correct recipients. For example, if your company is a car dealership, someone who recently purchased a car and may soon be looking for service on it would benefit from a very different newsletter content experience than a customer who is in the market for a new vehicle. Segmenting your lists in this way is sometimes referred to as a “drip campaign.”

Drip campaigns vs. Blast campaigns: Which is best?

A “drip campaign,” as we just gave an example of above, is an email that goes to a portion of a complete list, filtered based on some criterion. That criterion could be demographic, such as age, location (e.g. local promos), or interest; but it could also be behavior-based, meaning a criterion could be someone who has made a purchase with your company in the past (or a purchase over a certain dollar amount, for example) or someone who has sent an email to your company. A “blast campaign,” conversely, is sending an email to all members of your email list.

As an example, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta Air Lines sent a series of “blast emails” to all members on its email list. The emails were titled “Your update from CEO Ed Bastian” and contained information on what Delta as a company was doing to handle the crisis and what customers should know, even if they weren’t scheduled to be flying at that moment. On the other hand, a “drip campaign” came from Delta when they canceled a flight. They sent an email to passengers scheduled to fly on a given canceled flight with information on that cancellation.

(A drip campaign differs from a “trigger-based campaign” because, in a trigger-based campaign, emails are sent to individual customers based on an action they’ve taken, which is the “trigger.” In our Delta example, when a customer completes a flight booking, they receive an email with the flight information. That’s a trigger-based email because it arrives on an individual basis whenever the customer completes the trigger, in this case a purchase. That contrasts with a drip campaign, where the email is sent to all eligible customers at the same time.)

The answer for which is best is “it depends” and “usually both are good to have in your toolkit.” For each campaign you intend to send to your subscribers, it’s important to consider if it will bring value to all of them or if it would be better to target a smaller subset. It’s better not to send emails at all that might be irrelevant to subscribers since you risk unsubscribes or, worse, spam reports, which can inhibit future email marketing efforts.

Trying to build an email strategy from the ground up is daunting.

Start by entering the contact information you may already have into an email service provider, then send blast email campaigns about a topic of interest to your company or industry at a regular and recurring time, for instance biweekly. From here, you can begin to build out email sequences such as a welcome sequence and drip email lists over time.

Did you know Empower Ideas can help you set up your email strategy? We can configure your welcome sequence, trigger-based automations, and much more. It’s all included and available to you as part of our Unlimited Work retainers. No hours to worry about, no fluctuating costs to worry about…just the digital marketing work that you need, taken care of. This limited edition plan is only available for new sign-ups until Labor Day, so join us now!