You want to connect with your customers, right?
Then you need to hang out where they hang out.
There’s an estimated billion active TikTok users as of January 2021.
Even better, there are approximately 2.7 billion users in an average month on Facebook.
But you know which service has 4 billion users…?
According to this research by the Radicati Group there are around 300 billion emails, sent and received, every single day.
If you want to know more about your audience, learn your customer’s behaviours, and find out what your prospective clients like and don’t like…
… there’s no place like their inbox.
Why is email marketing still so effective?
Social media marketing is fantastic for generating awareness around your business. A 10 second TikTok video can explode into millions of views taking your brand from zero to hero.
But, your message can often get lost in the chatter of thousands of other accounts, both personal and business, competing for their attention.
As well, the organic reach of your social media account isn’t what it used to be, as each platform has been working on monetizing their “free” service. What this means is that if you don’t want to spend money to boost your posts , then be prepared to see your reach and engagement drop.
Something that most people don’t think of either, is that your social followers…
…aren’t really your followers.
You’re just allowed to talk to them, if you have a solid social presence, and only at the discretion of your social platform you choose.
Deplatforming is a topic that’s being talked about a lot these days.
We all probably know a certain someone who lost access to their 89M Twitter followers.
So what’s the solution? How do you guarantee that you can continue to communicate with your audience, even if the social sphere falls apart?
You have your own email list.
You don’t buy it, you build it.
To capitalize on that visibility, and turn those conversations into conversions, you have to send personalized emails at scale, with the help of automation.
How can an email be personal if it’s automated?
Aren’t automated messages just spam?
Spam is an interesting word. How do you define it?
Spam email is email that you didn’t ask for. If someone has bought a list and blasted you out of the blue, that’s spam.
But spam is also email that isn’t relevant to you. You may have given permission to Bass Pro Shop to email you after purchasing a new rod for your father-in-law last Christmas.
But, if an email about the top 10 innovative fly fishing lures disturbs the previously calm waters of your inbox one week later, you’ll consider it spam. It’s not interesting or relevant to you.
If Bass Pro was using their email marketing skills correctly,, they would recognize that you purchased that rod as a gift, and may not be a true angler yourself. What interests you might in fact be a heads up on pre-Christmas deals for next year, so you can keep yourself in your father-in-law’s good books.
It’s all about getting the right email to the right person with the right interests. Everybody wants to feel like their opinions are being heard, their concerns are being validated, and their interests are being appreciated.
This is where personalization comes in-- personalized emails drive conversions
In a perfect world, every email to your readers would be hand-typed by you, after spending several hours talking to their grandparents, getting to know intimate details about their interests, concerns, and behaviours.
This is, to an extent, how a sales person talks to each of their leads. They take care to know everything they can about their prospect, and they tailor what they say, and how they say it for optimal reception.
This is the reason that in-person conversion rates are roughly 10X better than generic web conversion rates: we’re talking 27% versus 2.6%. It comes down to personalized communication and targeted follow-ups.
But a salesperson might only be dealing with a few dozen leads, you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of email contacts. It would be absolutely overwhelming to spend that amount of time learning about, personalizing messages, and following up with each and every subscriber in your list.
Thankfully we have tools to make this possible. These tools are called email marketing service providers (ESPs), but you’re probably more familiar with them as Mailchimp, Convertkit, and ActiveCampaign.
ESPs allow you to monitor how subscribers react to your emails, and even how they interact with your website. All of this data lets you build a more complete picture of your subscribers’s interests and behaviours so you can have better email marketing.
Once you start categorizing your subscribers by their interests and behaviours, you might learn that half of your readers respond better to a more casual tone. You could lean into that with emojis and even GIFs in your future emails, while keeping a more professional tone for your other readers.
These changes in your email copy might only take 10-15 minutes of your time, less if you hire a dedicated copywriter, but will certainly increase your chance of conversion with each reader. Multiply that slight conversion rate increase by 5,000 subscribers and those 15 minutes quickly become worth it.
The last part of the puzzle is persistence
How many times did you have to bug your friend last weekend to go on that bike ride with you? People don’t immediately say yes at the first opportunity to anything except maybe waffle cones for their ice cream.
Automations and email sequences do the heavy lifting here, and more and more email marketing providers are offering them these days.
What’s the difference between email marketing and email automation?
To back it up for a second, let’s quickly explain some of the terms we’re throwing around, and how they’re different from your Gmail account.
First up, email providers
These are the core of your email ecosystem and what allows you to have an inbox. Think of Gmail, Yahoo & AOL (yes AOL is around, no you don’t need a CD-ROM to install it).
They own the email servers that allow you to send, receive, and store those messages you share with your family members who haven’t jumped on the Signal train yet.
Next up, email clients.
Email clients piggyback onto your email providers and provide a different user interface, but they don’t own and control the email servers themselves. Think of Mozilla Thunderbird, Spark and Inbox by Gmail (RIP).
Now we’re onto Email Marketing Service Providers (ESPs). These are companies that provide bulk email services. There are dozens if not hundreds of different companies in this space (ConvertKit, Mailchimp, SendinBlue, CampaignMonitor, etc). They all offer slightly different features, but in general they allow you to:
- Send thousands of emails a day, to thousands of different people
- As opposed to Gmail which limits you to 2,000 emails in a 24hr period
- Manage subscriber lists, and store additional information beyond just email address and name
- Segment and filter lists to allow for targeted messaging
- View reports of how your emails have been opened and interacted with
ESPs also do the hidden work of maintaining a good sender reputation. A good reputation lets Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and inboxes know that you are trustworthy and not a faux Nigerian prince. ESPs live and die by their sender reputation because if their servers get shut down they don’t have a business anymore.
Finally, email automation
Email automation is what allows you to really level up your email marketing. Rather than blasting your subscribers, you’re building relationships with them. Rather than blindly sending discount codes to half your list, you’re basing your sending decisions off of data-driven observations.
To have this level of oversight used to require investing in that expensive juggernaut: Salesforce.
Nowadays marketing automation and email automation are becoming more and more affordable.
Tools like ActiveCampaign get you in the door thinking they’re just an email marketing tool, slightly more powerful than Mailchimp (although Mailchimp has made serious strides in the last few years).
3 powerful email automation tools you should be using
When you pull back the curtains, you realize that these marketing automation tools are much more than email marketing platforms. They go beyond mailing lists, emails sent, and links clicked. Think of them more as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools that happen to have powerful email marketing functionality.
Their three most powerful tools in your email marketing kit are:
- Automated emails
- Email sequences
- Deep integrations with other services
Connect your Shopify website and now you’ll be able to see when a customer has abandoned their cart because their oven timer went off (around 7 out of 10 shoppers abandon their carts, that’s a worrying number if you’re in e-commerce). A simple automated email one hour later will remind them to complete the check-out process and help you recapture some of that revenue you almost lost.
Once your customer has purchased a product from your store, you can trigger an automated email sequence that spends time educating them on related products and introduces cross-sell and up-sell opportunities without you having to click a single button on your mouse.
You can even use automations for internal business purposes as well. Let’s say that a new lead enters your sales pipeline. Depending on whether there was a phone number or an email address tied to their information, the automation can assign a task to the right salesperson to either call, or email the new lead.
While tools like ActiveCampaign and Drip have been leading the charge in email automation, more and more marketers are demanding a level of control and personalization that only automation and custom email sequences can provide, leading to even Mailchimp finally offering their own version of automations–Customer Journey Builder– in October of 2020.
If you want to connect with your customers in 2021, then you’d better get familiar with email marketing, and email marketing in 2021 means personalization, and automation.
If your head is spinning after reading this blog, or you know you don’t have the internal capacities to make your email marketing campaigns shine, reach out to us. We have an experienced team of content writers, strategists, and email marketing specialists who would love to help out.