I understand why people falsely believe that email marketing is easy and worse when people say it doesn't work. When I started in email in 2002, there were a limited number of sending platforms. Strategy and segmentation weren't really a thing and lists, for the most part, were small and manageable. I'm not even sure the term deliverability was discussed. It was mostly the prominent brands that did email.
Today we have a wide variety of platforms at varying costs. Some have cross-channel capabilities, and some are built into website builders or POS systems. We even have template builders that are often built into the platforms. Some even have pre-made templates that can be adjusted for a specific brand. This means that all businesses, regardless of size, have the easy ability to send. But this also leads to people thinking email is easy.
When brands think email marketing is easy or doesn't work, they are not only incorrect but also leaving money on the table.
Email is complex, not impossible or complicated, just complex. Doing it right vs. just sending will make the difference in how well your email marketing is perceived and how well it positively impacts your business.
5 Essential Components to Build a Successful Email Program
1. Understanding your data
This is key! It starts with your email collection process and ensuring that you validate and verify those who enter your list, but you need to think beyond that. Email data gets stale over time. Subscribers might become unengaged with your brand or even abandon that specific email address. This means having data hygiene practices in place and understanding the basics of deliverability is essential.
Understanding your data means knowing the difference between zero-party, first-party, and third-party data and how and when to use it. It also means having a strategy that acknowledges email from engaged to highly engaged, to moderately engaged to unengaged. When subscribers are unengaged with your emails, one of the questions to ask yourself is whether they are unengaged with your brand or just your emails.
2. Reviewing your metrics
Understanding how your emails perform will help you determine what changes need to be made to your program. Go beyond the open and click. How often is someone clicking on your emails? Of the number of emails you send each month, what percentage of your list do your emails reach? Review bounce rates. Are they creeping up over time? Are people taking the action you want them to take on the landing page? When people say email is easy, they are likely not reviewing metrics.
3. Test Test Test
We often think we know what will work and what will not. There are many times I am surprised that what I believe will be the winning subject line or the winning creative is the opposite when we run a test. What you think isn’t fact, it’s only your opinion, and while valuable, your opinion isn't essential. What your audience tells you is what is essential.
4. Segment – don't treat each subscriber the same.
It is hard to say that all batch and blast emails don't work because I have seen first-hand that it still does have a place for some email programs. But when it does work, it is usually a small and highly engaged list. If you treat all subscribers the same, you are leaving revenue on the table. I'm sure you have received emails where it is so clear that a brand doesn't know you. Think of what you do with those emails? Make sure you aren't making that same mistake with your brand.
5. Utilize automation and develop a customer journey
A solid email marketing strategy includes a customer journey. Hitting subscribers with the right message at the right time with their specific journey will build a lasting relationship and email engagement. And guess what? While the strategy can be complex and takes time to create a strategy and implement it, once your journey is done, it just needs to be maintained.
Next time someone mentions that email marketing is easy, ask them about the above. Chances are if they think email marketing is easy, they aren't doing it right.
Email Marketing Strategy Consultant, and Founder of MochaBear Marketing
Elizabeth Jacobi brings over 20 years of email marketing, digital marketing strategy, and program management experience. She is the founder of MochaBear Marketing at a small boutique consulting firm that successfully works with clients to design and execute strategies that consider all areas of digital marketing (email, social, web). At the core, it is still about email marketing, as that is the most effective marketing channel to retain a customer. However, with the complexities of the digital space today, an email strategy must work with all areas of marketing.
Before starting MochaBear Marketing, Elizabeth led the marketing technology efforts for a CRM agency, spent 8 years at CheetahMail, and launched the email marketing program for Paramount Digital Entertainment.
Elizabeth served on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce and is an active member of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and LAX Coastal Chamber. Most recently, Elizabeth joined the OI Email Metrics Project.