Few things had such an impact on the speed of digitalization as 2021. It is said that eCommerce had advanced by at least 4 years because of all the events of that particular year.
If you would do a Google Trend search for various online services, stores, digital businesses - you would see a huge spike in searches. Changes and shifts always bring a lot of opportunities, but it is important to be prepared, in the same way as a surfer who is waiting for the wave.
In this post, we will discuss one of the most important aspects of any online business. A marketing area that was with us from the beginning of the internet, and will still be with us for the years to come - email marketing.
Email marketing is arguably one of the most powerful digital business tools. It helps you to create a link between you and your future or existing customers. There are not many tools that allow you to do that.
When the visitor reaches your page, either they interact with it or they do not. In any case, if they did not make a purchase (or other action that you wanted them to do) they are gone. You will most probably never see that exact person ever again on your site.
Email marketing changes that. It gives the visitor the reason to leave their contact and it allows you to use that contact and reach out to them later. This is where an email marketing strategy comes in.
You can create a default opt-in, throw it on your landing page and possibly get some low conversion rates. Then you would from time to time, inconsistently send an email out to your leads, that are probably dead cold by now. This would get you very low results, and can not be considered a serious approach to email marketing.
Email marketing is much more than that. To get anywhere, you have to start at point A and plan how you will get to point B. The saying goes “failing to plan is planning to fail”, it is the same here. An email marketing strategy will provide you with a map of the exact goal and a plan of how you will reach it.
There are three main parts to a successful emailing strategy:
In this post, we will discuss exactly that, and illustrate how to put together a plan that will lead to email marketing success.
Before you start driving traffic to your page, you must have everything in place for your visitors to be interested in joining your email list. So when building your landing page you should already have this goal in mind as you will want your opt-in to be seen.
There are several ways where to put your optin. It can be in the body of the content, at the end of it, in the top menu, or in the sidebar. You also have pop-ups and slide-in opt-in forms.
Let’s take Mailmuch as an example. The goal is to get more people to try the platform, so you will not find the form anywhere on the main page. If you would go to other pages, for example, the blog section (in which you are now) you will soon see this:
A non-intrusive slide-in, that appears on the page with an offer. So on the main page, there is just a call to action to Book a Demo or give the platform a try, as it is the main goal of the landing page, and that starts the main sales funnel. If you are not interested in trying the platform, and would just go browsing other pages that MailMunch has to offer, you will be soon prompted by this slide-in with an offer of an eBook in exchange for your email - starting another sale funnel that will explain the advantages of what MailMunch platform along with a lot of valuable information.
Here is a completely different example from Ryan Robinson:
The whole landing page is one big opt-in form. The main goal is getting your email address which will start the sales funnel. Ryrob.com is one of the very successful affiliate websites, its primary income is from hosting affiliate programs. But ranking in Google for hosting keywords is very difficult, so the site focuses on blogging, business ideas, side hustles, etc., through which it sells the hosting programs.
Optin-form plays a key role, as the product here is information. So before anything else, you need to get the email from the visitor to send them that information that will later convert that visitor into a hosting service buyer.
Placement of the opt-in form and its overall dominance on your site goes hand in hand with your business objective.
If you are running an ad site that just needs visitors to get to the site so the ad is loaded - you may not need such a strong emphasis on email marketing. On the other hand, if you are selling a premium product for a higher price, you may want to do all that is necessary to get that email address for future communication.
You must give your visitors a reason to register. Let’s have a look at another “opt-in centric” landing page.
If you landed on Backlinko, you are most probably looking for SEO tips, backlinking, ranking, and other topics. Backlinko knows it and says exactly that.
Op-in offers exclusive tips that are not shared on the site. Secret information only for subscribers. In the MailMunch example, there was a whole eBook, Ryan Robinson is offering free blogging lessons that helped me reach close to $500k a year in blogging. The examples go on.
The most important part is that the call to action has to be clear. There are also additional aspects like CTA button color or text that is on the CTA button, but that goes beyond the scope of this post.
Placement of the opt-in form should reflect the importance/priority of an email lead for your business goals. Other elements like the copy and call to action should also be aligned with that.
For example, if you are planning to launch a series of lessons on an online course platform, your landing page would be centered around that. You would feature the main highlights of attending the lessons. Your email opt-in would play a dominant role and you might offer an “early bird discount” to those who leave their email now.
Or if you are looking to spread your new WordPress plugin on as many websites as possible - you would give more space to the “Try It Now” and “Download” buttons. Getting emails would be a secondary goal as the number of installations is what you would be going for.
With your landing page functioning and your opt-in form ready to be tested - the next part of a successful email marketing strategy is to brainstorm the traffic courses.
It goes without saying that for this step to be successful you have to be crystal clear about what type of subscribers you are looking for.
Would you like to build a fashion email list? Great, Pinterest, Tiktok, Instagram would be right for that. Are you looking to convert more trial accounts for your cloud storage service? In that case, forget about the ones above and target LinkedIn.
With our opt-in form ready and our ideal subscriber in mind - let’s consider some traffic options.
While email marketing can be a part of organic traffic, it does not work vice versa. Organic traffic takes a long time to get, so you can not structure your organic traffic strategy around your email optin forms.
In this case, it is much easier to adjust the email marketing strategy to the organic traffic that you are getting.
Each platform with an audience will allow you to get paid traffic. Here is where the importance of “know your audience” that we discussed above comes into play. You can get very cheap clicks from both Google Adwords and TikTok - but you must choose where it makes more sense for you.
Keep in mind that you need volume to scale your business. While optimizing for a month and getting those 10 cheap clicks from TikTok is great, but that will not move the needle for you. Rather go to Adwords and pay slightly more but for a much larger number of relevant clicks.
Here you would be considering Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and now also TikTok. Sure, there are other niche platforms, but the day has 24 hours and you must prioritize.
It takes time and resources to excel on any of those platforms, so make sure that you choose the one with maximum potential for your business goals (through the lens of the audience that you will find there).
In the point below we will be discussing both organic and paid traffic from those sources.
Always a great choice particularly due to the possibility of specifying your audience in a way that no else platform can provide. There is even an option to get email opt-ins directly from your Facebook page. So when you set the ads to run with a conversion target in mind, you will be also getting exposure for your page (followers, likes, comments, etc.).
Due to its size, you can find an angle for every niche, though B2B is more suited for other platforms.
It is estimated that nearly 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn. When looking for SMEs, Corporates, or professionals in a particular niche - LinkedIn should be on your email marketing strategy list. If you are launching an event on webinar software and looking for guests to pre-register on your list, or maybe you plan to offer market research in exchange for an email all these options will work great in combination with Linkedin.
Even without the paid option, this is a great way to easily promote your landing page and gain more subscribers. Tagging others and using hashtags will allow your message to be seen more frequently.
With 145 million daily active users, mostly between the ages of 35-63. Twitter casts a wide net, where you can find many subscribers for both B2B and B2C oriented email lists.
A downside may be that if you are looking for a female audience to subscribe to your email list, Twitter users are only 33% female.
Pinterest is here to save the day when it comes to the female audience. Over 320 million users, mostly from the USA, and over 70% are female. Also, over 50% of Pinterest users have $50k+ of household income. Combine that and you have a perfect combination to generate qualified leads for your email list.
Pinterest also offers something that Google does not - instant organic traffic. Pinterest is a visual search engine and if you pair a good pin with a good board you are looking at instant clicks.
There is a downside to this. Pinterest’s audience has quite specific tastes. Fashion, lifestyle, travel, personal finance, self-development, etc. - will work very well and you can build a highly converting traffic stream easily.
For other more business-related topics, it will be more difficult. There are angles to be found for them too, but the volume and the audiences’ interest is just not there.
If you are building an email list for an online store or have an info-product, these may be the perfect options. Keep in mind that the audience is quite young, the vast majority of users of both platforms are under 34 years old, and out of those most are 24 and younger.
Due to the nature of the content that the platforms provide, they are well-tailored for offers that cater to impulsive decisions.
If you are building an email list related to clothing stores, various gadgets, games, fitness, etc. - Instagram and TikTok are solid additions to the email marketing strategy mix.
Let’s take social media marketing to another level. Why create your organic traffic sources or pay through ads platforms when you can go directly to influencers and pay them for a “shoutout”? This way you can have a look at their account engagement (number of followers vs average views, comments, likes), estimate the type of audience they are talking to, and make a direct deal.
For example, let’s assume that you are planning to launch a product or service that would teach English or Spanish. You created a landing page with an opt-in form to subscribe to those who are interested in learning a language and sending them down a short email sales funnel. Look for influencers in the travel niche and promote your offer with them. Compare results with various influencers and ads and keep running with the ones that work.
Developing on the previous point - referral contest is a great way to build your email list and you should consider it as a part of your email marketing strategy.
The principles are very simple. You say to your audience that you will choose one (or more) email that will subscribe to your list in the next three weeks and give the owner of that email a prize. Free 6 months on your platform, $50 credit in your online store - whatever fits your overall business strategy.
This will allow both the viral spread of your message and also gain you a lot of new subscribers.
Have a clear picture of the audience you want to convert to your email subscribers. Choose the platform accordingly. First, concentrate fully on that one main platform, when you will reach benchmarks that are acceptable for you, you may continue further to other traffic sources.
At this point, we have two major parts of an email marketing strategy in place - the landing page with its opt-in form and our traffic sources. You are receiving clicks and visitors are being converted into subscribers. The third part of the email marketing strategy is the sales funnel. Having a huge email list is quite pointless if you are doing nothing with it.
Visitors liked your value proposition and CTA, so they entered their email. Let’s have a look at what should happen next.
If your lead magnet was research, report, list of valuable tips - send it immediately. After that, keep sending valuable information.
First impression matters in emailing. If your first email will be a sales pitch or just some water threading info, there is a high chance that your next email will not be opened.
Overdeliver. Your goal is to make your subscribers surprised that you are giving out such valuable information for free.
Continue in the same manner for some time. Your first 1 - 5 emails should not be a sales pitch, but a way to build trust with your readers.
Position yourself or your brand as an authority figure in your field. Give value and give out information that can genuinely help and just keep at it.
You may create a series of emails that will go out each second day. In this series, you would provide information that might seem basic to you, but will be an important discovery to your readers.
To some extent, the less you sell the more you sell. Everyone is bombarded by discounts, pitches, ads, etc. So receiving valuable content without being pitched is very refreshing and will keep your subscribers engaged.
When you had established the rapport between yourself and your readers and shared all the value you could, it is time to convert that trust into revenue.
At this point, after offering so much value, when you roll out what you have to offer it will be accepted with high interest. If you gave out so much for free, how great can be what you want people to pay for?
Another angle is that you can sell the tool that helps to do what you gave out for free. For example - you built your funnel around web design and you shared ideas and resources on how to get started. You send a five email course on how to start with web design, where you give genuine advice and share your own experience. When the trust and authority are established you may send a link to an affiliate program for graphic design software or offer your own product like a “How to get your first client” guide.
The final structure will depend on your overall email marketing strategy, what the product will be, and how it will be priced.
Usually, you will try to increase the trust by selling something of big value for a small price and keep building the relationship further. This will allow you to sell a higher-priced product a bit later.
At this phase, some took action and some did not. If your leads platform allows it, separate these two groups.
Group 1 - would be the leads that did not convert. There may be some additional persuading/selling to be done here. Start working on the “sub-funnel” or try a different product.
In Group 2 - are the ones that made the purchase. It may be a small purchase and you have a much higher value product that you would like to present to this audience.
This brings us to the last part.
Go back to Phase 1 but now with those two groups. Continue providing more value and building trust with Group 1. The goal is to convert as many as possible into Group 2 which would start a funnel for a more high-end product.
With the Group 2 approach is still the same. After the purchase, continue to deliver more value, building even more authority and trust. After some time you can approach this group with the “Make a Sale” phase again. But now it will be a cross-sell, more expensive product or a private webinar. It all depends on your business goals.
After the visitor becomes a subscriber you must prepare a funnel that will provide value, build trust, and only after these phases are accomplished - a sale.
Do not rush the sale. The vast majority of your readers will sense the push or even worse, the desperation. Nobody wants to buy into that. Everyone wants to buy a piece of success and that is achieved with time and patience.
In this post, we went through three main steps that you will need to do to create your email marketing strategy. Do not just hold everything in your head. Start putting the ideas on paper, draw all the pieces of that puzzle.
The key to a successful email marketing strategy for small business is being consistent. You do not want to get traffic with one statement, on your optin have something else and in your sales funnel pitch yet another unrelated topic.
From the first time the user sees your ad, till the moment of the sale, the whole experience has to be coherent and in line with the users’ expectations. Otherwise, it is all about testing and slowly but surely improving all your numbers and metrics.
Email lists are one of the most valuable things in digital business. Facebook may ban you, Google may de-index you, but your subscribers will remain in your list and you can reach out to them anytime. Value them, and they will value you.
Vlad Falin is the founder and blogger at Costofincome.com, a blog about online business and digital marketing tool