Does Email Marketing Still Work?
Are you old enough to remember getting catalogs in the mail? I’m not talking about the Amazon Toy Book you get every Black Friday that turns your kids into thankless malcontents. (Or the IKEA inspiration book that turns me into one.) I’m talking about major retailers like Sears, J.C. Penney, and L.L. Bean mailing you catalogs with order forms for you to fill out and mail back. I mean, could you even imagine being able to shop online from a computer and have items show up on your doorstep the next day?
If you’re a small business owner like me, you might assume that just like e-commerce killed mail-order catalogs, social media has killed email marketing. You might be surprised to learn that email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach and engage with customers. In this blog post, I’m going to try and convince you why you should not delete your mailing lists. Then, I’ll share some practical strategies for building your subscriber list.
Benefits of Email Marketing
1. It’s cheap
Email marketing is an extremely cost-effective way to reach out to your customers, especially compared to traditional marketing channels like TV, radio, or print ads, but even cheaper than digital ads. With email, you can reach thousands of people at once without spending a lot of money. The only cost you may incur is a subscription to an email marketing platform like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or MailerLite.
2. It has a ridiculously high ROI
According to a 2021 study by DMA, email marketing has an ROI of 4350%, meaning that for every dollar spent, you can expect an average return of $43.50, which is by far the highest ROI of any marketing type. (For comparison, that’s 3 times higher than social media.) Am I beginning to convince you yet?
3. It’s laser-focused
With email marketing, not only can you presume that your subscribers are in your target audience (they had at least enough interest in your product to sign up), but you can also segment your list based on interests, demographics, and behavior. This means you can tailor your messaging per segment to make it more relevant and increase the chances that your subscribers will engage with your content.
4. The analytics are simple
Email marketing allows you to track and analyze the performance of your campaigns. It’s easy to see how many people opened your emails, clicked on links, and made purchases, which allows you to adjust your strategy accordingly. You can even track which day of the week gets the most opens, click-throughs, and conversions to become a timing ninja.
5. It is good for relationship building
Now, I know what you’re thinking. 90% of the emails in your promotions folder never see the light of day. But what if you could craft your emails in such a way that your audience begins to see you as a trusted friend? We’ll get into the art of the subject line, and writing to just one person in my next post. But, consider this stat: 74% of Baby Boomers think email is the most personal channel to receive communications from brands, followed by 72% of Gen X, 64% of Millennials, and 60% of Gen Z. (Bluecore, 2021) By emailing value-rich information on a regular basis, you can not only keep your brand in front of customers but you can and earn their trust.
Now that I’ve convinced you to give email marketing another try (or your first try), keep reading for tips on how to grow your list.
Strategies for Building Subscriber Lists
1. Give something to get something
To entice people to sign up for your email list, offer them an incentive such as a coupon or free content. Make sure the offer is legitimately valuable, though, so you don’t lose their trust (and their address when they unsubscribe). Offer a discount, a freebie, or a pdf that is truly valuable in exchange for their information. And remember, it’s a small price to pay for the potentially hundreds of contacts you will make with them.
2. Use great content to make them want more
You can also entice people with the promise of exclusive member-only content through an opt-in form on your website. These tend to work best when someone finds your content through a Google search that led them to a blog post. Once they see that you have valuable content, they will be more apt to sign up for more of it. Feature prominent subscribe buttons on every page of your site, plus a pop-up lightbox that is easy to fill out (and easy to close so they don’t bounce away from your site out of frustration). Ask for their name and email address, and let them know what kind of content they should expect and how often you will send it. Leverage your social media for links to your opt-in form as well.
3. Here’s a thought: go out and meet people
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, you could host events and collect email addresses from attendees. Even if you’re an online business, it never hurts to get involved in your local business scene. Host a tent at parades, festivals, and other city events. Host a wine and cheese social, a class, or a B2B meet and greet. Attending conferences is another great way to meet potential customers. If you host a booth, give away some cool swag in exchange for email addresses.
4. Gather at the point of sale
If your business is online, it’s a no-brainer to ask for a customer’s email address to send an order confirmation email. But you can also ask customers for their email addresses when they make a purchase in-store. Permission to send them marketing emails is implied in both of these scenarios, as long as you allow them to opt out at any time.
In my next blog post, I’ll discuss some campaign do’s and don’ts, and how to make sure your emails don't end up in the trash.