Despite what you may have heard, email newsletters are alive and thriving. In a culture driven by social media, email newsletters take the cake when it comes to true engagement.
It is important to incorporate an email marketing campaign into your strategy if you want to expand your audience and connect with your customers.
Why Email Works
There are a host of reasons why email marketing has proven to be so effective. Newsletters allow readers to choose when they want to read rather than making a snap judgement as it appears on their social feed. Watch someone browse Facebook the next time you have a chance. They flick through content so quickly it is surprising they retain any of that information. With email, that information sits in their inbox until they are ready to read it. Which surprisingly is most likely to read be while in bed, in the bathroom or while driving!
On top of that, people turn to social media with a mindset of connecting with friends and family. Corporate content does not mix well in those environments. So, engagement rates are going to be significantly lower due to the mindset of the reader.
If I am zoning out after a long day of writing blog posts about email newsletters, I am going to be more likely to watch a video of a dog skateboarding over a video demo of some new marketing software. Unless that marketing software features a video of dog skateboarding. Which is why according to McKinsey:
Email remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined. [McKinsey]
Another contributing factor to why email is so effective is because people are using it to kill time.
Everyone hates waiting and we are always seeking some type of stimulus. Whether you are riding the bus, waiting for lunch, or in a doctor’s office, most of us have the habit of picking up our cell phone and checking email. One study found that many people read newsletters during this down time. They were “more willing to look at longer content than they’d normally read on their desktop computers“.
Last, but not least, email response rate is almost double that of social media. I have seen this first hand with every site I have marketed through social channels. For email a 20% response rate is average, though I am always looking for at least 30% or more. With social media you rarely will see double digit percentages for clicks or other interactions. That is the nature of social media — it is a fleeting and in-the-moment. If your customers don’t see your message when you post it, then your post has likely gone cold. With email that message will stay in their inbox until they have time to read it.
Building a Strategy for Growth
No matter how effective email is as a platform, you can’t send email blasts about your products every day. While making sales is the ultimate goal, email campaigns are building a connection with your customers. So how do you do that?
Always Be Providing Value
The golden rule of content marketing: always be providing value to your customers. Share information, lessons, stories, anecdotes. Tell them something they wouldn’t have learned or known about otherwise. Give things away. Some of the best email marketing campaigns focus on the start and growth of a company rather than the products it is selling.
You should be applying the Paretto Principle (or “80/20 Rule”) to your email marketing campaigns. 80% of your email content should be giving and sharing, while the other 20% is about your products or what you are selling. Whether it is content, discounts, freebies or other information, by providing this added value to your customers, you are letting them know that you appreciate their time, attention and business. You are also giving them something that they can’t receive from your competitors. So when they are making a purchase, who will they turn to? The faceless company that they only receive emails from during holiday sales seasons? Or the company they read emails from every week because of the fun, relevant, interesting topics they cover?
Every reader has limited time, so ask yourself what you can share that they would choose to read over the other 40 unread emails sitting in their inbox?
Make a Personal Connection
You aren’t going to go very far with non-stop sales propaganda akin to department stores of yesterday. Instead you need to focus on building a personal connection with your customers.
According to Lowell Miller, VP–eBusiness of Qwest Communications:
When Qwest did an analysis recently, it found that its “welcome” e-mail was only being opened 25% of the time with a 7% click-through rate to Qwest.com. After analyzing the click-through data from the e-mails, it became clear that the non-sales links were garnering the most click-throughs to the website. To boost open rates, we reduced and centralized the resource links into a resource page; we also changed the tone of the e-mail and tested various subject lines. Result: We increased open rates to nearly 50% with an 11% click-through rate from the e-mails.
When we are in “marketing mode” we can overlook the fact that we are all humans interacting with each other. We want to feel appreciated and connected. So an email that rattles off some discounts and reasons why we should buy a product won’t make the cut.
Use your email campaign as an opportunity to get your brewery’s voice and mission heard. Put your personality into it. Are you a rebellious, unruly group of forward-thinkers? Then don’t use language that is monotone and subdued. Or if you are a brand that has a mission of local community, make sure you talk about it frequently. Your emails should reflect your company’s values through and through. Remember, your customers subscribed to your email list for a reason. Don’t betray the expectation of your customers with emails that are disconnected from your brand.
Personalize Emails For Each Customer
Many email marketing campaigns begin as a single email sent out to everyone on a single email list. But for optimal results, you should be customizing what you send to each individual based on their preferences.
For example: if a customer signed up to your mailing list after reading about an event you are sponsoring, that person is more likely to respond to emails that highlight events. Or if they subscribed from a blog post you wrote, then they will respond better to emails centered around new content similar to that post.
You can take it further and personalize the products you are highlighting in these emails. Personalizing the products presented to a customer to has shown to trigger positive responses in 98 percent of customers.
Other ways to personalize your customer emails:
- Recommend similar brews or link to complimentary information on your blog.
- Send emails based on a customer’s actions (like buying your merchandise online) to thank them. Include personalized recommendations based on their order.
- Offer loyalty discounts or rewards based on their purchases.
- “Members Only” programs that contain content for your most loyal fans (brand ambassadors).
- Keeping them up-to-date with latest information or interesting news based on their preferences.
The key is to find ways to deliver content that is specific to that individual. You can collect this information in a variety of ways including signup forms, purchase habits, and what content they click on in emails. Any time you interact with a customer you have an opportunity to learn more about them.
Re-engage with Inactive Customers
You can use emails to reconnect with customers that haven’t visited your site in a while. Certain subscribers may have joined your mailing list after signing up to receive a specific piece of promotional material, but then never returned to your site.
Creating campaigns to reconnect with these people could lead to loyal customers down the road. Look for ways to segment these customers based on how they subscribed. Was it at an event? Was it to access exclusive content? Did they buy something online? You can use this information to send a targeted email to re-engage them and bring them back to your site. If they signed up for an event during the summer last year, send a targeted email highlighting events you are sponsoring this summer. Offer them a VIP pass for the price of a normal ticket. Or, if they bought something online you could offer a significant discount based on the lifetime value of your average customer.
One way or another, you want to keep your subscribers engaged. You don’t want to end up in a bulk mail folder that they never read. So find creative ways to make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Managing Your Campaign
Once you have an email strategy you need to put it into action! I could write a book on managing an email campaign…maybe I should. For now you should know that there are a ton of great tools available for little or no cost to help you manage your email campaign. In the “old days” you used to have to worry about designing and coding email templates, and testing them on every web browser out there. It is much easier today.
If you are just getting started with email marketing or don’t know what company is best to manage your campaign, we always recommend MailChimp. We have used them for years and the reason is simply because of how simple they make it to create and send an email.
Just remember that with any type of content marketing consistency is important. Don’t start sending weekly emails and then go dark after falling behind. Have a content calendar and enough content written ahead of time so that you aren’t rushing to put it all together in the eleventh hour.
Email marketing is not only highly effective, but can achieve great results at a low cost. It requires a long-term strategy and it will take time to gain momentum, especially if you don’t have a large mailing list already. But, if you are following the guidelines above, you will build a group of loyal customers that know and identify with your brand.