How to win with email marketing

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Written by Penni Stanton

It’s one of the oldest digital marketing tools, and still one of the most effective.  Email marketing is a fantastic customer retention and lead nurture tool.  Winning with email is a simple process: target your emails carefully, use an appropriate tool, create an attractive design, and measure, improve, repeat!  Read on for the secrets to email marketing success.

3 Steps to Winning With Email Marketing

1. Understand what you are trying to achieve

Who are you emailing and why?  Most businesses have leads and customers they interact with – these should be your primary audiences!  Email is a fantastic tool for retaining customers, up-selling and for moving leads along the sales pipeline.  A great starting strategy for any business moving into email marketing is to set up customer newsletters and a lead nurturing email series.

If you are looking at lead generation from your email marketing be aware that this can be a trickier route, but it is achievable.  Some purchase lists, which is a whole blog post in itself!  Be cautious of this method – expect low response rates, research your vendor and make sure you understand the law surrounding opt-in and third parties.  How often do you respond to unsolicited marketing emails from companies you have not heard of previously?  

Others choose to reach out and build their SEO and content strategy, offering a sign-up option for website visitors to subscribe to your marketing emails.  Once you’ve achieved the sign-up, you can move leads into your nurture email cycle and move them along to a sales ready lead.

2. Design, target and segment

Having determined who you’re emailing, and what the purpose is, you can move on to the email itself.  We’ll assume you are using an email marketing tool which automatically complies with your country’s legislation on marketing communications and increases the likelihood of email delivery with a high-rated IP. 

In an ideal world, your email tool will also be fully integrated with the software used to hold your contact information.  At a basic level this may be a simple system with name, email address, company, job title, etc.  Most businesses will have a CRM tool of one kind or another, and this is where you can get smart about your targeting.

You may send an offer to customers who haven’t purchased for a while, whilst excluding all of those who have an open opportunity the sales team are currently working on.  Or you might target leads who haven’t visited your website in the past 30 days.  If you have a fully integrated system, you can use email marketing to send the right message, at the right time, to the right people.

Best practice design changes from month to month, and year to year.  Some tools come with an editor which allows you to adapt a standard template by changing colours, sizes and location of images and text.  If you really want to stand out with a professionally designed email, get a design agency or in-house specialist to design your templates for you.  Make sure your email renders beautifully on different screen sizes, and buttons and click-through’s to work well on computers and touch screen devices.

3. Use your hard-won data

Measure.  Improve.  Repeat.  The ethos to any successful marketing activity.  Your email tool should provide statistical information on open, click through and unsubscribe rates as well as contact level detail.  You can try A/B testing subject lines, designs, day of week and time of day to ensure the best results from your email program.

But there is more!  Integrating the email tool with your CRM system allows you to make the most of granular contact level data.  You are likely to find greater harmony between your sales and marketing teams, where sales can see exactly what emails their leads are receiving and what action they have taken.  Sales can also work with marketing to set up rules preventing their key targets from receiving the wrong message at the wrong time.

Account managers and customer services can quickly pick up on contact information, enabling them to build a real view of the customer’s interests.  Upselling can be targeted and measured.  And marketing can use email data as part of a lead scoring tool.

Why integrate email with other marketing tools?

An email marketing solution is great for… email marketing.  It’s likely to be fantastic at avoiding the spam filter, sending emails that look visually appealing and comparing email engagement levels.  But email marketing can give you so much more if you choose a solution that integrates with your other key systems.

Digital marketing has hugely improved marketing measurement and the elusive goal of accurate ROI reporting.  It gets even easier the more you integrate your various digital platforms.  And the more integrated your platforms are, the less margin for error, and the less data entry your team need to carry out.

What do all those click through’s actually mean? 

Combine your email marketing with website analytics (such as Google Analytics), and you can immediately see what percentage of your website traffic comes through email, how long they spend on your site, how often they convert (be that purchase or providing their contact details), their bounce rate, etc.  How do these stats compare to your organic web traffic, or your Pay-Per-Click web traffic?  Quick calculations using this macro data can help you identify if your marketing spend is effective, or if it could be more efficiently spent elsewhere.

From the opposite point of view, granular level detail provides information on each individual customer, lead, and contact.  If you can’t combine the system that contains your contact data with your email marketing tool, how can you see the effect of email marketing?  Did a purchase happen during a lead nurture cycle?  Did that customer visit your event because they opened the email invite? 

Your team can lose a large amount of time trying to keep both systems up to date, and your customers can get frustrated with inappropriate communications.

To get clever, you need to tie in your data!  We’re huge believers in a fully integrated business solution here at Gold-Vision.  If all of your solutions work together from first point of contact through to ongoing customer engagement, measurement and improvement become simple. 

Still not convinced? Have a read on why integrated CRM is the perfect hub for all your customer data.