Over the years there’ve been a few ‘your email marketing sucks, here’s why’ posts. Posts like that are of course carrying that title to entice you to read what’s inside. Most of the time the articles carry a few tips to upgrade from email marketing that sucks to email marketing that..well, sucks less.
Great email marketing cannot be achieved with just a few tips though. It needs more than that, a lot more.
The reasons for that is the fact that email marketing looks plain and simple from the outside. You collect contacts (no, they are people, not email addresses), put some content in a newsletter and send it out.
How hard can it be? Well, for quite a few marketers out there, pretty hard. Email marketing can be tedious, dealing with unsubscribes and bounces. Email marketing can be technical, dealing with HTML and CSS coding, and the many types of email clients and screen sizes these days.
On top of that, there’s authentication, which really is a dark art to some people when terms like blacklisting, spamtraps, SPF, DMARC and DKIM are discussed. Opt-in sounds scary too, to a few. If it does, please stop reading. If not, read on: it’ll be worth your time.
Here’s why your email marketing doesn’t suck
You’re doing it. You’re actually doing email marketing. Even if it is at a very basic level, you are sending out a newsletter. That is a whole lot more than many companies who don’t even collect new contacts, or send out email campaigns. This means you are already getting some value from email marketing, even if it’s small.
The trouble is, you probably have many channels and tasks to attend to as a marketer. If SEO, website, social media, AdWords, advertorials, banners, print ads, aren’t enough, you are expected to create content, distribute it among the previously mentioned channels, educate and inform sales, report on marketing metrics, research upcoming trends to stay in the loop…
…and then there’s email marketing. Much loved by those who understand and exercise its value, but shunned by those who only love hip things like Instagram and Periscope.
Email marketing has proven its value time and time again. Like all marketing channels, it deserves time, budget and focus. SEO won’t work with one simple site check up. Social media won’t work with a tweet here and there. The power of marketing, and that includes email marketing, lies in repeating your message, providing relevant content to the right person at the moment they need it.
And here are the pointers you need
Your marketing department (and actually, your company) should only ask itself one question:
“How can we help people in our industry do a better job, and spend less time doing it?”
From the answers to this question you should be able to digest many things that will help you towards better email marketing. The ‘help’ part should be inspiring, helpful, thoughtful content in the form of a video, blog article, white paper, checklist, whatever: whichever format lends itself best for the topic.
‘People’ is your audience of course, or intended audience. Be sure to know who your audience is: their wants, needs, challenges and difficulties. Ask them! Don’t just assume they are looking for a specific product or service you are offering just because they arrived at your site via Google.
The ‘our industry’ part is very important, as it is a broad but also very relevant part. Be sure to know what challenges are doing the rounds in general in your industry. What your competitors are offering to both prospects and clients. How partners can help you help others in the industry.
For your audience, ‘do a better job’ is the most important part. They want to succeed at their job. They have a billion tasks to do every work day. You can help them by research the processes they apply to their work, how they structure their work in general, do their tasks. Find shortcuts, find more efficient ways. Build a product, a piece of software, a tool, write an article: anything that can help your audience do a better job. This will look great on your résumé by the way: “I helped people in our industry do a better job”.
The last part might seem odd, but ‘spend less time’ is a necessity in our busy lives these days. Effeciency is not only important: it’s paramount to having people accept something new or a (partial) change in their process. Because when they understand that a new way or insight can help them do a better job -and- save time, they will adapt it far more easily then without the perspective of time saved.
Get better at email marketing: ask your audience, strategize and act upon it
This all applies to email marketing, as it can be an excellent promotional as well as educational channel. Just a newsletter is not enough. In that case you are maybe using about 2% of the potential of email marketing. A customer survey, event invitations, happy birthday emails (yes, for all companies!), a review request, a client case request, an industry digest, product information, product inspiration, you name it. Don’t think because your company is not an ecommerce web store that you can’t do it. You can do everything a web store can, and more.
Because the best email marketing you’ll ever do is helping people. Once you’ve got that right, they’ll want to do business with you. And that’s how you grow, and keep growing.