How to use email marketing


You hate spam.

You would sooner serve your customers SPAM fries for Christmas dinner than fill their inboxes with unwanted email.

But . . .

You would like to stay in touch with customers after they’ve made a purchase. And it’d be nice to promote your products/services to new prospects. And you’re starting to wonder. . . is there a way to use email marketing without becoming a dreaded spammer?

The answer is yes.

Email marketing is not spam

What if I told you that consumers actually want to receive email from brands that they do business with?

According to MarketingSherpa, 60% of consumers prefer to receive updates from companies via email vs only 20% who prefer social media and 17% who prefer text.

Furthermore, 86% of people surveyed would like to receive promotional emails *at least* monthly, with 15% saying they would like to receive promotional emails every day.

So stop being afraid of email.

Here’s how to use email marketing to become the company your customers and prospects WANT to hear from.

Step 1: Get the opt-in

If there’s one thing—above all else—that separates an email marketer from a spammer it’s this: permission.

Marketing great Seth Godin explained the value of getting permission in his 1999 best selling book Permission Marketing:Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers.*

The alternative [to Interruption Marketing] is Permission Marketing, which offers the consumer an opportunity to volunteer to be marketed to. By only talking to volunteers, Permission Marketing guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the marketing message. It allows marketers to calmly and succinctly tell their story, without fear of being interrupted by competitors or Interruption Marketers. It serves both consumers and marketers in a symbiotic exchange.” -Seth Godin, Permission Marketing

Today, permission marketing is the accepted norm, best practice, and (thanks to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003) legal requirement for email marketers.

The act of getting permission is known as the “opt-in.” (As in, a subscriber “opts in” to get your email.)

There are lots of ways to get an opt-in: you can collect business cards in a fishbowl next to your cash register. You can have a signup form sitting on your trade show booth. Or, you can offer a newsletter subscription on your website.

Regardless of format, however, the best way to coax an email out of your customers is to offer an irresistible incentive in return.

The incentive you offer to the customer can range from information, to entertainment, to a sweepstakes, to outright payment for the prospect’s attention. But the incentive must be overt, obvious and clearly delivered.” -Seth Godin, Permission Marketing

Here are some examples:

National Geographic's offer for the 10 happiest countryies to visit

MailMunch email lead generation form "How we grew to 1B+ pageviews"

Social Media Examiner Email Lead Generation form: How to respond to the ever changing Facebook News Feed.

Step 2: Be honest and set expectations

“Permission Marketers are totally obvious about their objectives with the consumer.”

-Seth Godin

A common mistake among email marketers is to assume that getting permission to send one email is blanket permission to send whatever, whenever. It’s not.

Entrants into your sweepstakes are not necessarily looking forward to your newsletter. And subscribers to your newsletter aren’t always going to be OK with getting sales notices from you.

That doesn’t mean you should shy away from reaching out to your email list. It just means that if you want to be a welcome addition to your customer’s inbox, you have to be totally upfront about WHAT you will be emailing and HOW OFTEN.

The question of how often, of course, is a sticky one. As noted above, some subscribers will want to hear from you every day while others will grow angry if you show up in their inbox more than once a week.

So what do you do?

If you have the resources available, go ahead and produce multiple email messages that go out at varying frequencies (a daily update, a weekly roundup, and a monthly overview) then let your subscribers choose.

If that is not an option, decide how frequently you will be emailing your readers and TELL THEM.

Even if you’re unsure how frequently you’ll be emailing, be honest:

Setting expectations is vital to earning your subscribers’ trust. The easiest and most reliable way to set these expectations is by sending every new subscriber a friendly welcome email introducing yourself and giving them a heads up on what comes next.

How to use email marketing: Welcome letter example

Step 3: Delight your audience

Now that people are on your mailing list, you’ll want to keep them there. The only way to do that is to send emails that make them happy to hear from you.

How do you do that?

Pay attention to what your audience cares about.

Permission marketing is anticipated, personal, relevant.
Anticipated—people look forward to hearing from you.
Personal—the messages are directly related to the individual.
Relevant—the marketing is about something the prospect is interested in.” -Seth Godin, Permission Marketing

For example, if someone signs up for your email list because you offered a 10% discount on kitty litter, it makes sense to follow up with that person offering tips on cat grooming, hairball remedies, and discounts on catnip. It does NOT make sense to send them promotions for dog chow.

This is called segmenting your audience and any email marketing software worth its salt will offer you dynamic ways to do this. You can and should segment based on:

  • How subscribers joined your email list
  • What they have purchased from you in the past
  • How long it’s been since their last purchase
  • Whether or not they open and read your emails
  • Location
  • Any other piece of information you have about their interests

This will allow you to send highly relevant and personalized messages. Here’s what that might look like:

Hi Sharon,

We noticed it’s been four weeks since you first purchased kitten milk from us. Most kittens begin weaning around four weeks of age. If your vet says your kittens are ready, you might consider Kitty’sFirstKittenFood. Here’s a coupon code for 10% off.

Joe’s Pet Supply

Looking for more ways to delight your audience? Check out 5 ways to improve your content marketing

Step 4: Multiply your results with email automation

Odds are, you already have some idea of what your customers are interested in. You know what questions people ask before making a purchase. You know what complaints your service team has to field. You may even have scripts for dealing with these common customer interactions.

By leveraging email automation you can scale these efforts thereby increasing your productivity, sales, and customer satisfaction.

Email automation may sound technical and complicated, but it’s not. With forethought and planning, you can set up a variety of automations that help you sell more stuff.

A basic email automation for Joe’s Pet Supply might look like this:

  1. Someone signs up to receive the irresistible offer of a free ebook titled How to care for an orphaned kitten.
  2. Joe immediately follows up with a welcome email letting this new lead know that in addition to the ebook he will also be receiving weekly information on kitten development, kitty product reviews, and discounts on pet supplies.
  3. Over the next 3 days, Joe sends information on 3 of the most common kitten health issues and what to look out for.
  4. On day 4, Joe sends a promotion for the ultimate kitten supply basket chuck-full of kitty necessities.

This does several things:

    1. It capitalizes on what Joe knows his customer is interested in: orphaned kitten care.
    2. It demonstrates that Joe is a trustworthy source of information on pet (especially kitten) care.
    3. It makes Joe a welcome addition to the new fur-baby foster parent’s email inbox.
For every $1 spent on email marketing, B2C companies can expect to make $42 – source
Even if the customer isn’t yet ready to buy, an ongoing newsletter will keep Joe top of mind which may result in sales later on.

Contrast this to spraying your message across the radio, TV, or social media and hoping somebody takes notice.

This is what makes email marketing such a powerful tool for your business: The ability to reach your customers with the most relevant information at the moment they are most interested.

For more ideas on how to use email marketing for your business, get in touch today!




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