Email remains a critical component of any organisation’s digital marketing strategy, especially for those with a large customer/subscriber base to engage. In fact, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach and engage customers and prospects, with various studies showing its ROI to be as high as $50 per $1 invested.
An effective email marketing strategy can increase customer engagement by providing valuable content, personalised messages, and timely offers. It is also a great way to keep in touch with customers and remind them of the value the business provides in order to encourage repeat purchases.
Developing an email strategy can be a daunting task, and so this article is here to provide the bread and butter – the fundamental groundwork to put in place when developing such a strategy – making it easier to scale.
Mapping Out the Customer Journey Stages
Mapping out the stages of the customer journey is the first step in crafting an email marketing strategy, as different email series’ will be created for customers at each stage. For example, one might create a welcome email series for new subscribers, a product recommendation series for customers who have made a purchase, or a win-back email for inactive subscribers.
In the broadest sense, the stages are awareness, consideration, decision, and retention. However, it may be worthwhile to define more touchpoints, as demonstrated in the example below for a B2C campaign by a software provider:
- Awareness: The customer becomes aware of the business through various channels such as social media, content marketing, online advertising, or search engine results.
- Subscription: The customer signs up for their email list by subscribing to their newsletter or filling in a form on the website.
- Welcome email: The customer receives a welcome email that introduces the brand, sets expectations, and provides relevant information about the software.
- Onboarding: The customer receives a series of onboarding emails that guide them through the process of setting up their account and using the software. These emails may include step-by-step tutorials, best practices, and helpful resources.
- Engagement: The customer receives regular emails about updates, tips, and special offers to keep them engaged and interested in the software.
- Up-sell/cross-sell: The company sends promotional emails to encourage existing customers to upgrade their subscription or purchase additional products or services.
- Renewal/retention: The customer receives emails that offer incentives to keep them loyal.
- Feedback/surveys: The customer receives occasional surveys or feedback requests to understand their experience with the business and how to improve the product or service.
Other contingencies need to be taken into account, such as abandoned cart emails, and so on.
Defining and Segmenting Subscribers
An organisation using big data analytics will likely have segmentation down already and it will therefore be a matter of mapping the existing cohorts to the stages of the customer journey, which will inform the email series’ they will receive. It’s not always that simple, however, and different data points may need to be combined in creative ways to ensure the most effective targeting.
Types of Segmentation
When segmenting a subscriber list, marketers may divide their audience based on demographic, psychographic, and behavioural information. The decision to use one type of information over the other will depend on a variety of factors, including the specific goals of the email campaign and the data available about the audience.
Demographic information includes characteristics such as age, gender, income, education, and occupation. This type of information is often used to create broad segments and therefore, can be particularly useful when trying to reach a large audience with a broad message. For example, a clothing retailer might use demographic information such as age range in order to promote relevant product lines.
Demographic information can be limiting in terms of the level of personalisation and targeting it provides, as people within the same demographic segment can have vastly different interests, behaviours, and motivations.
Psychographic information refers to the attitudes, values, beliefs, and personality traits of an audience, which is particularly useful when trying to create segments based on shared interests, values, or motivations.
Psychographic information can be more difficult to gather than demographic information, as it often requires more in-depth research or surveying of an audience. It may also be more difficult to create large segments based on psychographic information, as people’s attitudes and beliefs can be highly individualised.
Behavioural information refers to the actions, interactions, and behaviours of an audience, such as past purchases, browsing history, or current location. Behavioural information is easier to gather than psychographic information and has many uses, such as recommending relevant products that the customer is likely to be interested in, as well as location-based recommendations.
Choosing a Type of Segmentation
As mentioned, one’s goals will influence the type of segmentation used for a given email series. For example, if the goal is to increase website traffic or boost engagement with the brand overall, emails may link to engaging content on the website. Psychographic segmentation could be effective in this case if the content resonated with customers’ values and interests.
Marketers also combine multiple types of information to create more targeted and effective segments, as discussed above. For instance, if an e-commerce business had the goal of encouraging repeat purchases, they may combine demographic and behavioural segmentation. Some data points they may look at include income level and purchase history, allowing them to recommend the appropriate brands based on what the customer may be able to afford.
Another example is the use of location information to inform the most optimal time for emails to be sent, combined with data on customer interests which will inform the content of the emails.
There are endless ways to segment, and it may be best to start broad and refine the approach based on test results.
Personalisation and Dynamic Content
The importance of personalisation in marketing is well-known, and every campaign should take it into account – on top of segmentation.
Personalisation goes beyond simply addressing the user by name; it means personalising other elements of the copy such as subject lines, headlines and CTAs, and the offers and recommendations discussed.
Using dynamic copy is another option. Dynamic copy is when the email content and design changes based on pre-defined variables. For example, the user may see different content based on factors such as location, behavioural signals, or weather data at the time of opening. Businesses selling physical products may also set any offers presented to change based on inventory levels.
Dynamic copy automates the process of personalisation and – combined with effective segmentation – ensures that the customer/prospect is always presented with the most relevant information that is most likely to encourage the desired action.
Keeping Email Campaigns On-Brand
Another critical component of email marketing strategy is developing cohesive messaging that is consistent with the overall marketing strategy and branding. Every email should reflect the brand’s values, voice, and messaging (and this includes transactional emails such as order confirmations).
Always ensure that anyone responsible for crafting emails is referring to the organisation’s brand guidelines, which should include guidelines for copywriting, imagery, tone of voice, and graphics.
Email design is another critical component to consider. Emails should be visually appealing and easy to read, with a layout that is optimised for engagement and conversion. This means creating mobile-friendly emails that are optimised for smaller screens, as well as using design elements such as buttons, images, and calls to action that encourage clicks and conversions.
Testing and Optimisation
A data-driven approach to email marketing strategy is critical to success. As many aspects of a campaign as are feasible should undergo A/B testing, whether subject lines, body copy, design, or anything else. A/B testing can also be used in order to ascertain what works best for different segments. To manage this at scale using automation, add A/B testing software such as Optimizely or VWO to the organisation’s martech stack.
Integrating Email Marketing Strategy with Other Channels
Integrating email with other marketing channels can help businesses create a more cohesive experience for their customer base and prospects. Some suggestions are as follows:
- Social media: Social media is an excellent way to promote email campaigns and encourage subscribers. Businesses can use social media channels to drive sign-ups, share content from emails, and promote exclusive deals and offers for social media followers. Influencers may also encourage followers to sign up.
- Content marketing: As mentioned, email campaigns can be used to drive traffic to a blog, podcast, or any other content marketing channels, encouraging subscribers to engage with the content.
- Event marketing: Businesses can use email campaigns to promote events such as webinars, trade shows, or product launches.
- SMS marketing: SMS marketing can be used in conjunction with email campaigns to provide subscribers with a more personalised experience. For example, businesses can use SMS to send reminders about upcoming sales or events, or to provide subscribers with exclusive deals and offers only available to those who have opted in to SMS contact.
Crafting an enterprise email marketing strategy requires a lot of planning but it can lead to significant growth. Through mapping out the customer journey, effective segmentation, and personalisation, businesses can create campaigns that are designed to get the best response from the recipient at every stage of their relationship with the business.
As with any marketing strategy, testing is vital and can be automated using A/B testing software, enabling the testing of numerous variables with ease. Dynamic content is another way to derive all the benefits of personalisation while saving a great deal of time.
Finally, by coordinating efforts across multiple channels, businesses can create a more effective marketing strategy that delivers better results.
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