What do you think about when you hear the term ”email marketing”? You can be candid, there’s nobody listening! The first half of the phrase – email – probably conjures nightmarish images of your inbox because let’s be honest: everybody gets too many work-related emails. Even once you get the crushing weight of your inbox out of your mind, the marketing part doesn’t help either. Email marketing is just another way to say spam, right? Wrong.
No, email marketing isn’t as dashing as that darling social media. Nor is it as buzzy as the uber-popular content marketing. These days, it’s not even in the same conversation with mobile tactics and strategies. To some, email marketing is a dead, boring and ineffective marketing channel. Of course by ‘some’ we mean marketers and businesses that aren’t running any optimized email campaigns. Because make no mistake: in 2017, email marketing is one of the most effective digital investments you can make.
According to a very recent report, email marketing was deemed the most effective – in comparison to other digital tactics – for building awareness, acquisition, retention and conversion. What business doesn’t want all of that marketing goodness?
We know it’s strange, given the amount of email you get that you consider being spam. However, if you think about the emails you receive a little more carefully, you may start to realize that you’ve been converted by one or more email marketing ‘campaigns.’ The reason that email marketing works (and likely the reason it worked on you) is that when done correctly, you may not even realize it’s a campaign. Great email marketing provides subscribers with real, tangible value; what consumer doesn’t want that?
You see how that works? Email marketing should be a two-way street, filled with engaging communication from both brand and consumer.
Getting started is not as hard as you think
Even if you or your company is completely unfamiliar with email marketing, getting started isn’t as daunting as it seems. Yes, despite the fact that you don’t even know the first step.
Let’s assume that most people reading this aren’t email marketing experts, which means you don’t want to hear about setting up and configuring email servers. That’s a story (or a technical essay) for another day.
Chief among these new opportunities is the ability to setup, configure and send emails – all from the same place. This is important because as time goes on you’ll want to become more involved with your email campaigns, and having the ability to access campaign data and observe the whole process will help you become much more comfortable with email marketing.
Additionally, you would have to adhere to strict rules for uploading subscriber lists, which means better deliverability and less chance of emails ending up in spam folders.
Five Ways to Maximize the Benefits of Email Marketing for Nigerian Business
After setup is complete and you’ve assumed control of your email marketing campaign, there might be a tendency to look up every advanced strategy article you can find. We understand that launching something new can be extremely exciting, but you have to be careful. Sometimes too much tinkering – especially before you’ve even established the basics – can be a bad thing. Why not keep things simple for a while? Gain some traction, find out how many people are interested in what your business has to say, and then get really good at tailoring and delivering your messages with impeccable timing.
- Respect the Subscription Process
There are many ways to grow your list of subscribers. Put some quality content behind a subscription form or even, you know, just ask. If you’ve got anything remotely interesting to say, we’re sure that you’ll find ways to grow your list. The most important aspect of growing your list is actually respecting the subscription process (this also most definitely means NOT buying an email list).
It goes without saying that you should make it as easy as possible for people to subscribe to your newsletter or email list. But would you be surprised to learn that it’s equally as important to make your unsubscribe button visible and obvious? The key to email marketing is trust, so subscribers should never feel like you are tricking them. We have all tried to unsubscribe from an email list only to find that it’s absolutely impossible to do so. This doesn’t even make sense; why would you want to retain a subscriber who doesn’t want to hear from you? It’s not like they’re ever going to convert or even listen to what you have to say. Give your subscribers what they want, even if you perceive it to be negative. In the long run, you’ll earn the trust of more subscribers than you’ll lose.
- Timing Is Everything
Much like social media, the timing of your messages can make all the difference in the effectiveness of your communications. But for email, there’s no best practices or reference guide. You need to mine your own data to determine the best time to contact your subscribers. For example, if you’re a business-to-business company, chances are you don’t want to send emails on weekends. If your target audience is night-shift workers, you might not want to send emails in the middle of the day. The patterns will be easy enough to see once you’ve accumulated some data. The most important thing is paying attention to the data and timing your messages accordingly.
- It’s About Your Subscribers, Not You
A common problem with most Nigerian business’s digital marketing is that it’s all about them. Their website copy is about how great their products and services are and their blog is filled with more of the same. They chatter on social media about nothing but themselves. It stands to reason that companies like this are also sending out emails proclaiming their awesomeness and cramming features and benefits into as many inboxes as possible. Don’t do that. It might not be spam in your eyes, but that’s because it’s about you. Think about your own inbox – do you ever pay attention to that kind of material? We didn’t think so. Unsubscribe, delete, goodbye. That’s how it usually goes when you make it about you instead of the subscriber.
People want what they sign-up for, and that’s value delivered to their inbox at a predetermined time. If subscribers are promised value once a month but you email them once a week, they aren’t going to be happy. They might not even realize they originally gave you permission to contact them because the customer experience you deliver is so far off of what you promised. That’s bad form.
Make your emails about (and for) your subscribers. In fact, make sure all of your marketing is about your customers. Sure, it’s still going to feature your brand and you can make offers, holiday campaigns and special one-off emails. But whatever you send has to bring subscribers real insight, not just what future value they might get if they buy your product or service.
- Optimize for Mobile
Statistics show that 49% of emails are opened on a mobile device. Now here’s a question: have you ever even considered which device your subscribers might be using to read your emails? You’re not alone if you answered no, but it’s a scary thought. If you forgot to consider mobile devices, what do your emails look like to people who open your messages on their smartphones? It might explain those low open and high unsubscribe rates.
- Follow the Rules
The first rule of email marketing is that you must follow the rules of email marketing. Canada and the USA have CASL and CAN-SPAM, respectively. Globally, if you send unsolicited emails, your domain will be blacklisted by Spamhaus. Make sure you follow the email marketing laws and guidelines as the penalties can be severe. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult, we just need to make sure you’re aware. This is the basics, after all!
In today’s fast-paced world, we sometimes get too caught up in the latest tools, hacks and trends. But the bottom line is (and always has been) just that: the bottom line. Sales and return on investment are the only metrics that matter, and whether you realize it, email marketing is the key to both. Here’s a brief rundown of the numbers:
- The Direct Marketing Association estimates that email marketing has a 3800% return on investment
- During a recent study, email was found to be the number two online activity in Nigeria (just behind social networking)
When it comes to email marketing and why you should use it, there are only two things you need to know. The first is that the majority of people who use the Internet also use email; a lot of people use the Internet, so you can do the math on that one. The second thing is that as the stats indicate, digital marketers are relying heavily on email marketing because it works really well.
The insight provided in this article was given by Ifeanyi Onuoha. Ifeanyi is an email marketer and social media professional; he currently works for WSI Axon as the Digital Account Manager.
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