What is the business case for investing in email marketing in 2023?
Email marketing is still the most successful form of direct marketing in use today.
When partnered with digital marketing, email marketing campaigns provide a foundation for stability and growth. Email automation provides a constant stream of leads and sales which can be relied on throughout the business cycle. According to the UK Data and Marketing Association, for every pound invested by a business in their email marketing strategy, they generate £42 of revenue.
In this beginner’s guide, we consider which email marketing strategies will generate you the largest return on your investment.
Creating your company’s own successful email marketing plan – the foundations
You should consider the following three approaches, to create your own successful email marketing plan for 2022:
- outbound email marketing using a bought-in email list – sending cold marketing emails to decision makers within businesses, schools, charities, and the public sector.
- grow your email list – using your website and social media to build your email list for use on promotional emails and on email newsletters, and
- transactional emails – a transactional email is like a welcome email. This is the one you send to customers and subscribers when they first subscribe to your email newsletters, purchase from your site, or download marketing materials like an e-book or a white paper from your website.
The best email marketing strategies will result in better brand awareness, and your products and services being seen at all points of your existing and potential customer buying journey.
More Than Words definition – in this article, a “recipient” describes any decision maker who receives promotional email from you. A “subscriber” is also a recipient but one who receives emails from you because they have purchased from you in the past (your customers), they have signed up your newsletter service, or they have contacted you in the past but not yet purchased from you.
“New subscribers” are subscribers receiving email marketing communications from you for the first time.
Strategy 1- a bought-in non-consumer list for use on outbound email marketing
There are three strong commercial arguments in favour of “cold” email marketing campaigns from bought-in lists:
- pick the contacts most valuable to you for your email marketing campaigns,
- 12 months in which you can market your products and services to the prospects you choose, and
- opportunity to teach your target audience about your brand, company, its products and services, and the benefits.
So, from the perspective of a complete beginner in marketing, how do you start?
Which products and services do you want to sell the most?
The best way to choose which products and services you want to promote with email marketing is to first consider “product market fit”.
Product market fit describes the degree to which a product you offer satisfies a strong customer demand . When working with an email marketer, let them know which products and services you want to focus on – and to what markets.
They’ll then come back to you with their list of “suspects” based upon:
- the types of markets you already target, and
- markets you don’t currently target, but where there is an opportunity.
Email list – what types are available?
The four lists marketing professionals will consult when searching for suspects include:
The account manager at the firm you’re getting a quote from should only select from the email list containing those companies and organisations where your products and services would really make a difference.
B2B email list
With a UK business database, you’ll be able to choose the contacts you advertise to by:
- trading activity (what the company does),
- the geographical area in which a company’s HQ is located, and
- the size of the company (measured by the number of staff, turnover, and/or the number of branches).
List of school emails
If you sell to the education sector, emailing to schools should be a core activity within your overall marketing strategy. More products and services are sold to schools via email than any other direct marketing channel.
The minimum level of information you should expect on a school database is:
- school names
- contact names (normally the head teacher)
- postal addresses,
- telephone numbers, and
- school email addresses.
There should also be supporting information on:
- the types of school (primary school, secondary school, independent school etc),
- the number of pupils,
- their academy status (and, if they are an academy, are they part of a multi-academy trust ), and so on.
More Than Words note – our email marketing service team have helped over 8,000 companies targeting the education sector promote their products and services to schools. Click for our guide on how to sell to schools in the UK.
Public sector email list
Public sector campaigns are some of the most successful types of marketing campaign using bought-in lists. By email marketing to public decision makers regularly, companies often win urgent, specialist and ad-hoc orders (sub-£100,000) with little or no competition.
Here, there is not required the level of scrutiny or involvement of higher-value deals put out to tender. In addition, sending a series of emails to public sector buyers gives them the chance to get to know your company better. This can help to carry their interest in your products and services through complex tender-led procedures involving multiple decision-makers and influencers.
With most public sector email lists, you can target by:
- type of organisation,
- area of government,
- geographical area,
- job function of a decision maker, and
- seniority of a decision maker.
Click here for our guide to marketing to the public sector.
Generic emails versus personalised emails – which is better?
When we are collecting email addresses, one of the questions we ask is which is the email address a company would prefer to be contacted at.
There is a general divide between companies with 49 or less staff and companies with more than 50 staff.
Email marketing to companies with 49 or less staff
Most companies registered with our email marketing service that have 49 staff or less will be run by their original owners who will have built up the business over a number of years. When the founders are still involved in running a small business, they will have given some power to others but not that much.
Around one in three companies of this size provide generic emails as their primary point of contact. This is because, at this company size, the owners/founders will still want to see what staff are getting through on email – many owners find it hard to delegate. For 26-49 staff, that process of transfer will be at a more developed stage.
For most small business founders, the early years of opening and running a business involve them taking on virtually every part of running that company themselves. As time goes on and trust in the core abilities of staff members grows, the job of running the business is gradually spreading from just the founders to the founders & their developing management team. So, why do many of these companies give generic emails when they could give the Managing/Finance/Sales Director’s email address instead?
Because responsibility is beginning to be shared across a number of people – but some decisions might require an input from a few people. In those cases, owners decide it’s best that everyone on the decision making “panel” has the same information.
Email marketing to personalised B2B emails
Personalised emails, particularly with smaller companies, will generally always get to the person you are specifically targeting.
If the original recipient does not have direct responsibility, they will always almost have sway over the decision-making process.
Email marketing to school email addresses
Because of the low cost, emails are now the preferred way for companies to break into the education sector.
There are two types of school emails, generic and specific. Generic emails (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc) are used far more than personalised emails. In many schools, the use of specific email addresses (i.e. named addresses) is not permitted.
With our UK schools database, a customer can reach over 30,000 schools by generic email. Some email addresses deliver to more than one school – for example, a multi-academy trust or a nursery and a primary school which share the same name and address.
Generic emails are normally received by the school secretary. We advise customers using generic email addresses to put in the subject line, for example, “For the attention of the Head of Music” so they have as little work to do as possible.
Do personalised school emails work better? Yes. However, the premium you pay for them often depletes the additional revenue you generate from these campaigns.
Which company should you buy your email list from?
Now you’ve spoken with some email marketers, and you’ve explained which companies and organisations you wish to target, what should you look for on their quote?
Being presented with your quote
Normally you’ll get your quote from each supplier within 24 hours.
Email marketing brokers normally charge for email data per 1,000 records. Check the quote to see exactly what they’re proposing to supply you with, and to discover what rate you’re paying. Very few email marketing companies “sell” you the data outright. They normally licence it to you for a period of time and/or a number of campaigns. One-off email marketing rarely works.
You need to plan a series of email marketing broadcasts to the prospects on your bought-in list, in order to generate the maximum possible return on your investment. You should always ask a licence period of at least 12 months or 12 campaigns.
If you’re buying an email marketing database with a number of managed broadcasts, check to see that the price of the design, copywriting, transmission, and reporting is included with the campaign.
6 considerations when selecting an email list provider
When looking for a quality email list , you should consider the following six factors before making your choice:
1. How much additional data is included on each email record
Earlier in this article, we listed some of the fields you could expect on high-quality B2B, school, charity, and public sector databases. What fields are included on your database?
2. Email copywriting and design samples
If you are intending to purchase managed email marketing broadcasts, ask to see samples of work a potential supplier has done for previous clients to check for its quality.
3. Update cycles and accuracy guarantees
Some suppliers claim that their database “decays” to a rate of around 5% a month while others claim 70.3% per annum . In our experience, it’s closer to 30% a year. Ask how often your potential email marketing supplier updates their lists – 3-6 months is industry standard.
4. Does the email marketing data comply with GDPR and PECR?
We cover this in more detail further in this article but this is of particular importance so please always ask this question.
5. For the price they intend to charge you, does the maths seem right?
Could they afford to compile data to the quality they’re claiming charging these prices? If not, please walk away as it’s not worth the risk – the likelihood is that your email marketing list will be at least 50% inaccurate and likely belong to a list owner. List owners regularly sue companies who use their email marketing list even if they got it from a third party source.
6. Does the email marketing representative sound like they know what they’re talking about?
If you purchase a bad email marketing list and the company managing your email broadcasts has little or no design and copywriting experience, it will reflect badly on your brand.
Please click on the link for an article written by our team on how to avoid buying bad email data .
Which laws govern sending emails to bought-in lists?
The laws governing email marketing in the UK (and by default what can appear on any email list you purchase) are the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
Don’t buy email marketing lists containing sole traders or partnerships
Until May 2018, it was legal to collect and sell email marketing databases containing sole traders and partnerships. This is no longer the case, so please always get assurances from any potential email service provider that their database doesn’t contain them.
Email best practices - sell to the company and not to the recipient
You should only promote products and services which benefit your recipient.
For example, if you sell insurance, promoting key person insurance or public liability insurance will conform to best email practices. However, promoting personal insurance would not conform to email best practices guidelines, as you’re trying to sell to the person and not the organisation.
This would likely be in contravention of GDPR and PECR.
Consumer email list – be very careful
GDPR changed the way in which personal information could be collated, stored, and sold.
For email list providers, GDPR made the business of compiling consumer email lists much more expensive and complicated – so much so that many abandoned the market. Some very reputable email marketing providers do still sell consumer email marketing lists.
However, we would urge you to exercise the maximum amount of due diligence before proceeding with a purchase.
What many email marketing service providers think
It is accurate to say that there are people who do not like email marketing. In fact, there are so many people who do not appreciate receiving email marketing that laws have been passed against certain types of promotional email campaigns.
But what do email service providers think?
Many email service providers like MailChimp will not send mass emails to bought-in lists. Many service providers have written blog posts warning about buying in a database containing recipients who have never heard from your company before.
Look at these articles from:
All of them warn readers about the alleged threat of having your website removed, having your email provision removed, and the huge damage it will have to your company’s reputation.
Nevertheless, most email marketing services providers do actually send email campaigns to bought-in lists if you can prove that you’ve purchased it from a reputable supplier. Most companies offering email marketing services know who the reputable list owners and brokers are.
If you purchase an email marketing database with a million emails on it for £20, they will not send it for you.
However, if you purchase an email marketing database from a reputable supplier like More Than Words, most will.
Strategy 2 - grow your email list and send regular email newsletters
Investing in a bought-in email list is a quick route to finding the organisations with the highest level of interest in your products and services.
It’s an investment thousands of UK businesses make every year.
At the same time however, you should start building your email list.
In this case, an email list consists of decision makers within companies and organisations, whom you’ve already been in direct contact with.
Start with your existing customers
Your first set of subscribers should be your existing customers – they are your company’s “fans”. They know you, have dealt with you, and understand the value of what you offer.
Better still, staying in touch by email newsletter pays dividends. 90% of customers state that they prefer to receive updates from a brand or supplier via an email newsletter.
Furthermore, one in five of us read every email newsletter they receive to see if there’s an offer in there.
Extend communication to your prospects
Your second set of subscribers should be your prospects. Decision makers within prospect companies and organisations will have enquired about your products and services before. They’re nearly your “fans” but they’re not quite there yet.
Prospects are generally at the first or second stage of the buying journey or sales pipeline. They may need what you sell but they’re just not ready to buy it yet. Modern marketing theory suggests that, prior to an interest becoming a sale, they need to see your brand name up to 13 times.
You should use email marketing to keep prospects reminded of the value your products and services can deliver to their business.
Build your email list via SEO, PPC, and social media
For most companies, their website and social media accounts form the basis of their email marketing automation.
For those visitors who don’t immediately turn into a lead of a sale give them every opportunity to become subscribers to your newsletter. Every new enquiry and new subscriber will join your sales funnel – they’re leads which may turn into sales in the future.Make giving an email address or other contact details a condition for downloading content you create from PPC and social media campaigns.
E-books, white papers, and product descriptions are known lead generators. Every email address or set of contact details you capture is a potential new future client in your sales funnel.
Strategy 3 - using email marketing automation to build a series of transactional emails
For your prospects and subscribers, you should begin work on a series of emails (sometimes called an automated email sequence).
The purpose of these is to move potential customers forward faster on their buying journey. At the same time, you’ll need to choose which email marketing software package your company will use.
You can use email marketing software to segment your lists into customers, prospects, and newsletter subscribers. For each segment, create a series of emails. Each will contain information and insights your recipients value but may be unlikely to know. Knowledge sharing builds brand credibility. It promotes your products and services as solutions to your audience as they move closer to the point of sale. Many email marketing software packages allow you to design the emails as well as send emails to your audience.
For B2B companies selling their products online via a shopping basket, abandoned cart emails are a particularly effective email automation strategy. The email marketing tool allows your brand to remind not-yet-customers of the purchase they were about to make.
Offering a promotional discount to complete the purchase can drive significant sales volumes.
What do you need to be able to send an email marketing campaign?
There are dozens of easy to use email marketing software platforms for you to choose from. The likelihood is that you will use a different email marketing provider for your bought-in lists than you will for existing lists.
For help comparing email marketing software platforms for the lists you’ve built yourself, we recommend this article from PC Mag .
Who can send out emails to the decision makers on your list if you can’t do so yourself?
Perhaps you lack the email marketing software and/or the IT infrastructure to send out campaigns to bought-in lists or to your list of subscribers and prospects. In this case, many marketing agencies will do your email broadcasts for you.
This is called “managed email marketing”. With a managed services option, your provider takes care of everything, from the design and copy of each email to the transmission of campaigns – right through to reporting.
More Than Words note – ask us about our managed email marketing campaigns service where we send each email campaign to your target audience, or read our email marketing top tips blog.
Now your email marketing campaigns are underway, here’s how to monitor your success
Email marketing automation will generally provide full or partial reports on the following metrics:
- open rate
- open and click through rate
- interaction rate
- purchase rate
- email deliverability
What are open rates in email marketing?
The open rate is the percentage of recipients and subscribers from an email campaign who open your email to read the contents upon receipt. The best email campaigns deliver higher open rates meaning that more of your recipients and subscribers are exposed to your marketing message.
What are open and click through rates in email marketing?
The open and click through rate is the percentage of recipients and subscribers who open your email to read the contents, and then click on a link in the email to visit your website. When a recipient or subscriber visits your website, the first page they should see should be a pitch selling your product or service and asking them to purchase or leave their details.
What is the interaction rate in email marketing?
The interaction rate is the percentage of recipients and subscribers who, while not purchasing from you, performed some action as a result of your campaign.
This could mean that they:
- replied direct to your email,
- called your company, or
- filled in a form on your website.
Interaction rates among recipients and subscribers is generally always lower than the open and clickthrough rates.
What is the purchase rate in email marketing?
The purchase rate is the percentage of recipients and subscribers who, following receipt of your marketing email, purchased something from your company.
Generally, most non-consumer email broadcasts are targeted towards generating a sales enquiry for follow-up rather than pointing to an online store.
What is the email deliverability rate?
The email deliverability rate is the percentage of recipients and subscribers to whom your marketing email was successfully delivered.
When sending campaigns to recipients and subscribers, not all emails will be delivered. Some recipients’ and subscribers’ emails will be soft bounces. In other words, email deliverability has been affected because, when you sent your campaign, their mailbox was either full or there was a malfunction. Some recipients’ and subscribers’ emails will be hard bounces.
In these cases, the address is no longer valid because the decision maker has moved on to a different job or the company/organisation they worked for has now closed. Your list provider should provide you with a guarantee on deliverability excluding soft bounces.
More Than Words Note – we guarantee an email deliverability rate of 85% on our business data excluding hard bounces.
The best way to work with these figures from your email marketing broadcasts
Three days after each broadcast, you should analyse the results.
Why three days? While most activity will take place within the first hour or two following your campaign, 99% of all activity which takes place will have occurred 72 hours after transmission.
The email marketing service you use will be able to tell you not only who opened each email and who clicked through – but how many times.
More Than Words note – this is important because, for companies using email marketing to generate leads, your sales team can follow up with the recipients and subscribers who opened and clicked through the most. If you are working with us, your account manager will share advice with you on the best ways to identify the recipients and subscribers most likely to positively respond to a telephone follow-up, from your post-broadcast report
On each broadcast, you should experiment with different subject lines to improve the open rate. As recipients and subscribers become more familiar with your brand following repeated broadcasts, open rates will rise anyway, but the subject line you choose could significantly increase those open rates.
We recommend Snovio Lab’s article on this subject . As important as your subject line is, the content of your email will determine the click through rate you enjoy.
For companies directing users on an online store, you will also have to consider the journey a client takes from your email up to your shopping basket and check-out. If possible, you should split your campaigns, offering recipients and subscribers two routes of different lengths to see which route is more profitable.
How to boost the number of sales and leads you get from your email marketing campaigns
Effective email marketing starts with subject lines which generate interest and provoke curiosity
The subject line you use on each campaign will substantially influence its level of success.
Think of the subject line as an advert which sells the content of your email. The better case it makes for your recipients and subscribers to open it, the more chance you have of generating a lead or a sale. You may wish to experiment with different subject lines on individual email campaigns, in order to determine which tone of voice and which length of subject line works best.
Similar consideration should also be paid to what goes into your “From” name too.
Make sure you lead on benefits and not on features in your email marketing
For any purchase to take place, a customer needs to see the value in it first.
For non-consumers, they need to see how your products and services:
- save them money,
- make them more money, or
- unlock a problem or opportunity.
By leading on benefits and not features, you are able to tell them how what you sell does that in the clearest possible terms.
For help differentiating features from benefits from a target audience, we recommend this article from Wordsteam.
End with a call to action on every email marketing broadcast
In email marketing (and other forms of marketing), a “call to action” is a clear prompt to the recipient to follow up on the interest in the way you prescribe.
Check out this article from Adespresso on the importance of the call to action.
Think of email marketing as a series of promotions, not just a one-off
You should consider your overall company email marketing strategy over the course of a year’s worth of campaigns – not just one campaign. One email marketing campaign rarely works on its own because it takes time for buyers to recognise and trust your brand. It can take even longer still to persuade them to choose your products and services over your competitors or even their existing suppliers.
To find out more about the buying journey for non-consumers and why you need to market constantly to your target audience throughout the year, we recommend that you read this insightful article from Gartner.
Recycle and repurpose your content for email marketing broadcasts
When you send emails, a great way to get started quickly is to recycle and repurpose your other online content.
This could include, for example:
- white papers,
- infographics, and more.
If you have content on your website which engages and informs, it builds up in the minds of your prospective customer the value in your brand and in your products and service.
It’s also a very effective way to squeeze more value out of the content you’ve created or invested in.
What is the best email marketing strategy for your business to take?
Do you want advice on how to make email marketing fit into your wider digital marketing approach?
For each company, the most successful email marketing strategy will be carefully planned and thought out at every stage to achieve the greatest return on investment.
To find out more contact our team on 0330 010 8300.