Email Marketing

Learn how to create email newsletters your customers would want to read

As I have said many times in the past, we are in the business of growth. As such, we are always looking at different products that could help businesses achieve growth faster and better. We also constantly look at what other businesses are doing vis-a-vis their marketing and customer outreach efforts. We learn a few things along the way, and are at times, even inspired by the ingenuity of a marketing activity we came across. Needless to say, we invest a lot of time just idling around and watching what other businesses are doing, even sending a note of admiration when we come across something we love.

You should give it a shot.

There is a lot we can all learn from the marketing activities of other businesses - irrespective of whether they are operating in our domain or not. It is a learning exercise into marketing. Marketing, more than anything else, is connecting with your customers, and sending out communiques they resonate with.

Today, I thought we would look a little bit at email marketing. After all, other than SEO-focused content, email marketing is the only channel that has remained as promising and RoI positive as ever when it comes to nurturing your leads and keeping your existing users engaged.

Why email marketing is so important

Engagement.

Done right, email marketing has a great potential to keep your audience engaged and captivated. With your product, with your brand, even with your journey.

In addition to having the potential to be engaging, email marketing is extremely cheap, making it one of the best ways to keep your audience engaged. Email marketing is so effective that almost all marketing automation systems you see around you today, have been built centered around email marketing.

Look at Zapier. A 5B dollar company, with $140M of annual recurring revenue. with under $1.5M of raised capital. According to Sacra, they are still undervalued and should rather be valued at a higher tag of $7B. I was listening to a podcast where Wade Foster, the CEO of Zapier, was the guest, and while he was talking about the early days of Zapier, he described a time when the early prototype of Zapier was being used by a handful of customers, and they had around 10,000 prospective customers who had signed up to be notified when the product launched. Foster was reminiscing about the fact that for the nine months they were building the product, they let this incredibly valuable base of 10,000 interested customers lay dormant, while they could have been keeping them engaged via emails. It was only after they launched that they did send out an invite to this base. If they had started doing it sooner, they could have converted some of these to customers way sooner. Sure, Zapier is huge now, and things worked out well for them, but in the early days of a business when every single customer matters a lot to the sustenance of the business, you can understand why and how much they would have been regretting that small mistake.

My point is, email marketing is often either ignored or comes across as an afterthought. What’s worse is the fact that email marketing is often dismissed as an ineffective means of marketing - which is as far from reality as it could be. If done well, emails can be a formidable chapter in the book of your business’ growth.

Let us look at a couple of examples from LinkedIn to see what a good (and bad) email looks like.

The good from LinkedIn

LinkedIn sends us a lot of different types of emails. Some of them are good. Surprisingly, if you had asked me 5 minutes ago how I felt about LinkedIn emails, I would have said - “they are bad”. I did not even remember the good emails, because all I remembered were the bad emails that made me question their thought process when designing their mails the way they did. But, when I started writing this section, I opened up my mailbox and went through the different kinds of mails they send, and yeah - few of them are good.

For example:

linkedin 1

Now, this is an example of a nice email.

  • It is helping me stay updated about my connections
  • It is giving me enough context for me to decide whether or not I want to click on any of these links
  • It presents just enough of a hook for me to initiate a conversation with my contacts

Just like this email, I found a couple of other email types that made sense:

  • Your network highlights - follows the same principles as the one above (at least to a large extent)
  • Suggested connections - it shows mutual connections, and gives at least some idea about the person being suggested

And now, the bad… and the worse

On the other hand, look at some of these other emails:

linkedin 2

linkedin 3

linkedin 4

linkedin 5

These are bad, bad emails.

Every single one of these emails has been sent with just one objective - to make me click on these links and bring me back to the app/website. I understand why that matters to the company, as it should.

But you are not a fortune cookie that I should need to crack to read the message hidden within. The same email where you are telling me I have a new message could have been used to at the very least show me part of that message. It would help your users have enough context to know whether that message interests them or not, whether it is a critical message for them or not, so when they click on that CTA, they have a pre-defined intent and are making a conscious decision.

The reason I am picking up the example of the message notification is because that is one we can all relate to. I receive probably a few dozen solicitations every week on LinkedIn, and most of them are templated messages that were probably sent to everyone the person could find themselves able to send to. Most of these messages I will never respond to, so I have stopped checking these emails from LinkedIn altogether. Why? Because they have no valuable information in them. Whatever the message is, they can pile up and I will check them all out the next time I open LinkedIn.

The same lack of context is applicable in almost all other examples. Take the email informing me about work anniversaries and job changes from within my network. It would have been more informative and my actions more contextual if they contained some visibility, instead of just carrying a counter.

Email marketing, like any other channel, is first and foremost about your customer

Every single one of those bad examples we saw up there, were all about the company, and had very little to do with the user - me. Sure, the emails were personalised to me, but if passing on valuable information would have been the primary driver, each of those emails would have contained the core message, instead of serving as a clickbait.

That is the one rule you need to remember when you are designing your email marketing campaigns - it needs to be valuable for your users.

When it comes to social content, and even content marketing in general, it is often suggested to ask yourself two key questions:

  1. Why should they care
  2. Why would they share

They being your customers. The answers to these questions are extremely crucial as they help you craft your content in a way that finds its center at your audience and not your business. This helps you create content that your audience would find meaningful, resonate with more, and therefore engage with.

The rules are the same when it comes to email marketing. Your audience needs to care about the content of that email you just sent them. And unless it is value-inducing to them, they wouldn’t.

Inserting components that would add direct value to your business can be an afterthought, adding value-based components shouldn’t. Every email you send across should serve a specific need of your customers. That is the only way to get them to engage.

Personalizations, segmentations, drip marketing - they all come next.

Yes. Personalisation, segmentation etc can help increase the efficacy and impact of your emails, but it all comes next. The first thing you need to start with is having a email marketing strategy that’s aimed at delivering value to your audience.

Take the emails from businesses like Quora, Medium, for example.

They contain just enough information for their users to make an informed call on whether or not they should check out more.

Emails from businesses like CB Insights and Morning Brew take it a step further and share as much of the actual content in their emails as possible. Both of these businesses are known for their value-filled emails, and the direct result - great email open rates, higher engagements, more CTR.

Which side of the email spectrum does your business fall in?

Want pointers on what your business should do in email marketing? Let me know, lets see how we can improve it for you.

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow.

Cheers

Abhishek

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