Email marketing is an effective way to reach your target audience, generate leads, and nurture customer relationships, but only if it's done correctly.
Many businesses make the mistake of sending generic emails that don't appeal to their customers while others send too many emails, don't take advantage of all the tools that are available to them, or don't utilize data to make sound decisions.
Whether you’re a small business owner or an entrepreneur, email marketing can be one of the most effective ways to reach out and connect with your customers and prospects. With so much email being sent every day — estimates are that people receive 121 business emails per day on average — it’s important to stand out from the crowd with an effective strategy.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the email marketing tools that can help businesses avoid being just another message in the cluttered inbox and how they can improve email marketing strategies by drawing the recipient in and engaging them.
Personalization tokens can increase engagement
One of the best ways to make your email stand out is by using personalization tokens in the subject line, preview text, and within the email itself. HubSpot offers a variety of personalization tokens that you can use to create customized emails for each individual recipient and email platforms like Mailchimp offer the same feature, sometimes known as personalization tags.
Adding personalization tokens to email subject lines has been shown to increase open rates. A study by Experian found that emails with personalized subject lines were 26% more likely to be opened than those without personalization. Which of the below subject lines would you be more likely to open? Personalization is the next big trend in marketing and it begins with email.
When it comes to personalization in email marketing, there are numerous options. You’ve likely received a marketing email that says, ‘Hi [NAME]!’ or that included your name in the subject line to capture your attention. These personalization tactics are just the tip of the iceberg. While First Name, Last Name, Company Name and even information like Job Title or Industry can make an email feel more personal, marketers now have the tools to take personalization to the next level.
One of the biggest musts of any email marketing strategy is list segmentation. By creating segmented lists within your CRM based on buyer persona, demographics, industry, or another content bucket for your business, you’re able to create highly-targeted campaigns. Marketing segmentation helps companies avoid blasting the same email to an entire contact database.
With a segmented database, marketers can use what HubSpot calls smart content (and some other platforms refer to as dynamic content). With smart content, it’s possible to send one email while switching out components of the template based on which segment receives it.
- Specific subject lines: Outside of using personalization tokens, smart content allows marketers to customize a subject line for different audiences.
- Personalized images: Yes, even the image at the top of a marketing email can be personalized depending on a contact’s segment, location, and other data.
- Dynamic content: With dynamic content, it’s possible to alter parts of a marketing email depending on the recipient. For example, you might talk differently to a C-Level contact than someone with a Manager title.
- Smart CTA: Ultimately, the goal of many marketing emails is a conversion or engagement that leads to a business' website. With smart Calls-to-Action (CTAs), marketers have the ability to lead different audiences to different places. For a prospect, a CTA might be ‘Schedule a Meeting,’ while a customer might get a more simple message like ‘Learn More.’
Personalization tools allow businesses to reach prospects and customers with the right messaging at the right time. But it also creates efficiencies.
A/B testing helps pinpoint the perfect messaging
In order to create emails that are personal, relevant, and engaging, it’s important to test different content and design combinations. A/B testing tools, which split components of an email, help marketers see which version of an email results in more opens, clicks, or conversions.
To accurately measure results and make a data-based decision, it’s best practice to only A/B test one component of an email at a time. Otherwise, it can be difficult to decipher what change is or isn’t working with your audience. A/B testing can be performed on just about anything, including subject lines, content, design, and even send times.
While there are a number of aspects that marketers can test, it’s important to focus on the ones that might have the highest impact. For example, testing color variations inside of an email design might not have the same impact as A/B testing subject lines across contact segments.
The way email A/B testing tools work is similar to a contest. After selecting a component to A/B test — such as the subject line or the CTA buttons within the email — the email is sent to a small portion of the selected contact list. By judging the open and click-through rates of that subset of contacts, a ‘winner’ is chosen and the winning email is sent to the remaining contacts.
To consistently improve email marketing results, A/B testing should be done thoughtfully. Don’t test every aspect of an email at once and don’t guess what will work with a particular audience — follow the data instead.
Email automation engages contacts at the perfect time
Email marketing is a powerful tool for engaging with customers, creating brand awareness, and generating new leads, but it can also be time-consuming. That’s where marketing automation comes in. Marketing automation tools help marketers automate email campaigns by automating the tasks that are essential to running a successful email campaign, such as adding new subscribers to a list, sending triggered emails based on customer behavior, and more.
In fact, marketing segmentation and personalization pair perfectly with email automation tools. By using email marketing automation tools, you can set up triggers that will automatically send emails based on a recipient’s behavior or engagement with your content.
Lead nurturing campaigns are one of the most common uses of email automation tools. With these campaigns, businesses can either continue conversations with customers or nurture cold prospects in their database. By using email marketing tools to send more targeted emails based on where leads are in the buyer's journey, marketers can get new information in front of them when they need it most. A lead nurturing campaign utilizes email workflow tools to automate emails depending on specific triggers.
Another common use for email marketing automation is re-engagement campaigns. These campaigns are designed to reactivate contacts who have stopped interacting with your brand or who haven’t been active in a certain amount of time. Typically, these emails are sent to a segmented list of people who meet specific criteria, such as not opening any emails in the past 60 days. With captivating subject lines, which commonly have an offer, the goal is to re-engage a contact.
In some ways, abandoned cart emails are a type of re-engagement campaign. These emails are a great example of how email marketing automation can be used to improve results and generate revenue. Oftentimes, a customer will get to the checkout of an online store and then abandon their cart. With abandoned cart automation, companies can automatically send these customers an email after a specified amount of time with the goal of reminding the customer about the items they left behind and to provide an incentive for them to complete their purchase, such as a code for 10% off.
Milestone campaigns are often utilized to communicate with customers and help build customer loyalty. Businesses often have information about customers or clients that can make for effective email campaigns. These emails can be automated and sent after a certain amount of time, such as on the anniversary of a contact becoming a client or customer, or on the contact’s birthday. These types of personalized email campaigns, with the help of automation, can be an efficient win for companies.
Form submission and welcome emails
When someone creates an account, downloads an eBook, signs up for a webinar, or simply fills out a form on the website, email automation can be an effective touchpoint. These emails are often used as part of an automated email campaign that includes a series of automated emails. Automation also allows businesses to send these contacts into a lead nurturing campaign that introduces them to your company and provides them with valuable content that will engage them.
You don’t need to be a coding expert to set up automated emails. Marketing hubs such as HubSpot have built-in tools that handle workflows and automation. With marketing automation in place, businesses can focus on the creative and strategic aspects of email marketing, like designing engaging content, personalizing messages, and creating automations to engage contacts at the right time. Because marketing automation is powered by data, marketers can be sure that their campaigns are always timely and relevant to recipients.
Need help with your email marketing strategy? Schedule a consultation today.