Email Marketing: Definition, Benefits, and Tools

No matter who your target audience is, chances are, email marketing is part of your overall marketing strategy.

But, with more and more people getting information from and engaging with social media posts and some automatically deleting things in their “promotions” folder, is email marketing really worth it in the 21st century?

The short answer is yes! Read on to learn why email marketing should still be a part of your marketing plan.

What is Email Marketing?

In a nutshell, email marketing can be defined as any email communication sent to a prospective customer with the intent of converting them to a sale. But as a marketer, it’s better to think of email marketing as a personalized stream of communication that builds a trusting relationship between you, your brand, and your contact.

How Does Email Marketing Work?

There are two primary types of email marketing: inbound and outbound. Inbound is generally used by B2C brands, while outbound is usually for B2Bs.

We’ll primarily focus on inbound marketing, but the thing to know about outbound marketing is that it’s often used for email content marketing to engage with other companies for collaboration and backlinks.

Otherwise, when getting started with email marketing, you first need to gain email subscribers. Then, you create email marketing campaigns geared toward the type of people who have signed up for your emails.

After some a/b testing for your email marketing campaigns, you should start to get the hang of what works with your particular clientele and be able to craft messages that best meet your goals.

But is email marketing worth it in a world where there are so many other options? Let’s look at some benefits.

Email Marketing Benefits

Email marketing is just one of many channels that can be used in a digital marketing strategy, but it’s potentially the most effective. Some of the benefits to using email marketing include:

  • Email has an average ROI of $44 for each $1 spent.
  • Nearly all Americans check email at least once per day, and many Millennials and Gen Z-ers prefer email advertising over other types.
  • Email is accessible—customers don’t need to leave their house or be tech-savvy to engage with your marketing materials.
  • Nearly one-third of Americans recently visited a company’s store or site after receiving an email. This may sound small, but remember: They probably wouldn’t have shown up without the email.

Email Marketing Best Practices and Strategies

If you want your email marketing campaign to succeed, you need to set yourself up for success by following email marketing tips regarding best practices and strategies.

Ask Before You Email

Have you ever gotten an email and, when you opted out, had to check “I never signed up for these messages?” It’s so annoying and feels invasive. Users may wonder, “How did they get your email address? What other information do they have? Why should I ever trust this company?”

So, if you want your email campaign to succeed, ask for permission before you send that first email.

Even if your current email list is small, never ever buy email lists. Additionally, if you ask them to “Enter your email address for 20% off your first purchase!” or similar, make it very clear doing so signs them up for other advertising or a subscription.

Personalize Your Messaging

Personalize emails to your subscribers. Forbes compiled a great list of stats regarding personalization expectations, both for email and other parts of your brand (like your website’s product recommendations). Some highlights include:

  • 70% of Millennials are tired of companies sending irrelevant emails
  • 71% of all consumers consider personalization before reading or even opening brand emails
  • Some marketers state personalized emails have resulted in up to a 760% increase in revenue
  • Brands report their conversions have improved by up to 202% when they use personalized CTAs in emails

With email marketing automation, you can track your contacts’ website and email behaviors to create messaging relevant to them. This allows you to segment your lists so you can send only useful emails to certain groups of people.

Another way to ensure your messaging is personalized is with an email drip campaign, which sends out emails only when triggered by specific events.

Be Aware of How Often You Send Emails

All too often, marketers execute invasive, ineffective e-blast marketing. One of the 10 Email Marketing Commandments is “Thou Shalt Remember That ‘Timing Is Everything'” for a good reason: Customers want to hear from you, but they don’t want to hear from you constantly.

While it may seem counterintuitive, fewer emails often mean higher engagement. So, less really is more!

Don’t Waste Anyone’s Time

Keep your messages short and to the point. The number of consumers using mobile devices is growing, and more than half of email opens now occur on a mobile device. Therefore, your best way of communicating is through concise messages that are conversational and relevant.

Watch Your Metrics

If you’re not tracking your email marketing KPIs, you won’t know how effective your email marketing strategy was. Luckily, many email marketing packages and platforms offer reporting capabilities, so you will know what works and cut what doesn’t.

Email Marketing History and Trends

These days it’s hard to imagine life without email, but email marketing has a storied history that continues to evolve.

In 1971, Ray Tomlinson sent the first email ever. So what did the message in this historic leap in communication say? Tomlinson says it was “something like QWERTYUIOP.”

Seven years later, Gary Thuerk, the marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp, sent the first-ever mass email blast, which promoted DEC machines to 400 users via Arpanet. The promotion email worked, as it resulted in $13 million worth of sales.

By the early 2000s, spam was becoming a huge problem. So in 2003, President George W. Bush signed the CAN-SPAM into law as part of a nationwide effort to fight the flood of unsolicited emails.

Marketers knew they needed to adjust their email marketing strategies if they were going to reach their audience.

Then, along came 2020. A lot happened that year, but let’s just talk about the Email Marketing Renaissance. Permission-based marketing, also known as inbound marketing, shifted the way marketers and consumers relate to one another.

Email plays an important role in the inbound buyer’s journey. By keeping in touch with interested prospects via the right types of emails, you can help build relationships and pull leads closer to conversions.

Looking Ahead: Trends in Email Marketing Automation

In addition to the growth already experienced, there are also new trends to keep an eye on.

Loyalty Programs via Email

Loyalty programs will play a greater part in email marketing automation. These programs allow marketers to take a closer look at their customer data. That info will enable marketers to better understand their customer’s wants and needs and how they respond to certain campaigns.

Image-Rich Email

To capture the interest of the mobile user, image-rich emails will play a greater role in email marketing. Marketers can use imaging to create behind-the-scenes shots, sneak peeks of new product launches, and story-based images to capture your prospect’s attention. The images need to be striking enough to be shared, as social media is likely to continue to dominate many consumers’ lives.

Email and Artificial Intelligence

Expect AI to play a much larger part in email marketing. In addition to its benefits for email marketing automation, AI will allow greater personalization, optimization, reporting, segmentation, and content automation resulting in quicker, more effective marketing campaigns.

How to Choose an Email Marketing Agency

Questions you need to ask before investing in an email marketing automation platform:

Will it better my email list management?

Does it include time saving templates and analytics?

Does it have opt in/opt out options?

Is it compliant with the latest/worldwide regulations?

Is it mobile-compatible?

Can it handle my email marketing challenges?

If you look at SharpSpring, the answer to all of these questions is “yes.”

Our revenue growth platform includes excellent email marketing software that will get your business’ email marketing campaigns in tip-top shape.

We may be able to help you address some other pain points, too.

Free Email Marketing Resources

If you’re ready to get started, check out a few of SharpSpring’s free resources to get you on your way.

5,000 Businesses. 30 Million Fewer Emails Sent. More Opens, More Clicks.
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Get Out of the Spam Folder and Into the Inbox

Book your demo of SharpSpring today.

Complete Guide to Email Marketing Automation