How email marketing can boost sales for your business


Ever feel like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade… Desperately searching for the Holy Grail of marketing that will grant your business immortality?

Email marketing may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but like Indy’s goblet, this humble marketing technique can deliver impressive results.

Indiana Jones choosing the Holy Grain from among false grails

Email has distinct advantages over other marketing solutions. For example:

  • The median return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is 122%—more than four times higher than social media, direct mail, or paid search. (Source: emarketer).
  • On average, one in five marketing emails gets opened and just under 3% of people will click (source: MailChimp). Compare that to Facebook where only about 2% of your followers will see your posts and paid ads only get about a 0.9% click through.
  • People are more receptive to marketing via email with 60% of consumers preferring to receive company messages via email over social media or text (source: MarketingSherpa).

But perhaps the biggest and most important advantage of email marketing is that you own your email list. No one can suddenly pull the rug out from under your marketing. So long as you treat your subscribers well you can continue to market to them year after year.

Email marketing can boost sales for your business only if…

To succeed at email marketing you must first build your list, which means getting permission to email your subscribers. This takes work and there are no shortcuts.

If you have a collection of email addresses from your customers, you can start there. But do not:

  • Buy an email list from a broker
  • Download the emails of your social media followers
  • Go around the Internet pulling email addresses off of people’s websites

These tactics are not only prohibited by the CAN-SPAM act (and similar legislation around the world), they erase the advantages of permission-based email marketing. The people you email will not be happy to hear from you, they will not buy from you, they will mark your email as spam, and you’ll get blacklisted from email service providers… It’s an overall bad idea.

Instead, offer people an incentive for joining your mailing list. For example:

  • VIP discounts available to subscribers only
  • A special gift with purchase if they sign up
  • Exclusive content delivered via email
  • Entry into a sweepstakes

Here are some real-life examples:

This signup form from Mailmunch offers to teach "how we grew MailMunch to 1 Billion+ pageviews"

This signup form from National Geographic offers a list of the 10 happiest countries to visit

How to use email marketing to boost sales for your business

Email marketing gives you the opportunity to stay top of mind with your prospects, promote products or services, and generate repeat business. Here are a few ideas for how to use email marketing to boost sales for your business.

Nurture your leads – Not every lead is ready to buy. By setting up automated email campaigns you can nurture your relationship with prospects while reducing the amount of time you spend reaching out to them. This is a good opportunity to share the benefits of your product or service, customer testimonials, and case studies, all of which can help build trust in your brand.

Lead nurture email from Hulu showing available shows and offering a free trial can help boost their business by enticing people to signup.

Raise awareness – Are all your customers aware of everything you do? Probably not. Use email to highlight products and services your customers might not be familiar with. This is a great opportunity to cross-sell or upsell existing customers and educate new customers.

This email from Freshbooks features "more ways to save time" with their apps and integrations

Drive immediate sales –  A limited-time promotion (a.k.a. a “flash” sale) can drive sales quickly. Often tied to holidays or clearance items, the limited nature of these creates a sense of urgency that encourages people to act fast. Just be careful not to overdo it because false scarcity (telling people something is limited when it’s not) undermines trust.Boost sales for your business with a flash sale like this limited time myster sale from Grammarly

Keep customers coming back for more – Personalized messages to existing customers can really boost sales. Not only can you introduce them to related products or upgrades, you can also reward their loyalty with special discounts. Even just sending out birthday wishes can leave customers more satisfied with your services and likely to return for another purchase.

Email from Microsoft that says "You are being rewarded" with their loyalty rewards program.

Tips for sending successful email campaigns

There are several things you can do to improve the success rate of your email marketing campaigns. Here are a few:

Focus on the subject line – In order for email marketing to boost sales for your business people must first OPEN your emails. Your open rate is most directly tied to your subject line. Generally, the more specific you are in the subject line the better. It’s good practice to brainstorm at least 10 alternatives for each email then pick the best of the lot.

Segment your list – No one wants irrelevant email clogging their inbox. To avoid this separate the people on your list into groups based on geography, interests, their relationship to your brand, past purchases, and any other information you have on them. Then only send each group emails that makes the most sense for them.

Reuse successful campaigns – You don’t always have to start from scratch. If you have had a successful campaign—whether it was a blog post, social media post, or in-store sale—reuse that content by sending it out to your email list.

Email ideas: What to send to your list in order to boost sales

So what kind of emails should you be sending to your subscribers? Here are a few ideas:

A weekly newsletter – This is one of the best ways to stay top of mind with everyone on your list. Every week send your subscribers an email with useful information such as your latest blog post or a roundup of posts.

An email newsletter example from Quietly that features 4 blog posts

Announcements – When you add products to your lineup, hold an event, introduce a new promotion, or release upgrades, you can raise awareness and drive sales by letting everyone on your list know about it.

Boost your sales like Mailchimp did with this announcement that they are now offering free automation for all

Industry news – Curating content from your industry is a great way to demonstrate that you are the go-to source for the latest news, trends, and information. It’s also a good way to generate goodwill from those whose content you share.

MarketingProfs shares tons of information in this newsletter including podcasts, surveys, and articles written by their contributors

Need more ideas? Check your inbox. Pay attention to what promotional emails you open, which ones you delete, and which ones you click on. Collect your favorites in a file to give yourself ideas later on.



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