Where & How You Should Be Investing Marketing Spend In 2024: Email Marketing

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We get a lot of questions about what channels companies should be investing in for 2024. This is a simple question with a lot of different answers depending on a company’s industry, budget, stage of funnel, and a variety of other factors. But, no matter the company or industry, there is one channel we ALWAYS recommend and that’s e-mail marketing. Why?  

Why You Should Be Investing In E-Mail Marketing

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Well, let’s start with some statistics for e-mail marketing:

  • 99% of e-mail users check e-mail daily. That’s simply not the case with so many other marketing channels.  
  • Half of all the people in the world have an e-mail address. That’s over 4 Billion people. So, e-mail marketing is incredibly scalable.  
  • E-mail generates, on average, $42 for every $1 spent on it. That’s a 4,200% return on investment. This can vary by industry (for example, consumer e-commerce is higher, whereas software and tech can be lower). But, simply stated, e-mail marketing can be your highest ROI channel. In fact, Hubspot ranks it as the highest-performing channel. 
  • Customers do business with people and companies they like. E-mail marketing is one of the best ways to build real relationships with your customers because of its flexibility. You can send out long-form or short-form e-mails to all of your customers, personalize e-mails to send specific messages to specific customers, and send out consistent e-mails that inform and inspire your current, past, and (hopefully) future customers. 

When You Should Be Investing In E-Mail Marketing

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One of the great things about E-Mail Marketing is that you can use it at every step of the customer acquisition and retention funnel.  

Awareness Stage

At the top of your customer acquisition funnel, the goal is to raise awareness and attract the attention of your target customers. E-mail marketing can be very effective at this stage. You can use cold e-mail campaigns to build awareness within the segments you are targeting. You can also partner with other companies that have customers that you want and send co-marketing e-mails to raise awareness for each other’s products and services. When you are using e-mail during the awareness stage, you should be sure to:  

  • Follow best practices: You will want to follow best practices so as not to spam endless potential customers.  
  • Focus on delivery: There are a variety of tactics and tips for ensuring that your e-mails are getting delivered at a high rate.  
  • Add value through the e-mails you are sending: Nobody likes to receive spam. So, be sure that your e-mails provide value to those who are receiving them. Teach them rather than sell them.  
  • Test-test-test: Be sure to test which messages, subject lines, designs, and calls to action are going to work best. You’ll be surprised that those that you think are going to do well don’t. And, those that you aren’t sure will do well sometimes do. Therefore, be sure you test, measure, adjust, and repeat.  

Consideration Stage

As leads move further down the funnel, they enter the consideration stage, where they evaluate different solutions to their needs or problems. E-mail marketing can be the best way to help your customers make the decision to use your product or service. During this phase, you must build a relationship with those receiving your e-mails and nurture those relationships by providing value and continuing to teach them. When you are using e-mail marketing during the consideration stage, it is important that you:  

  • Build trust: In order for a customer to convert, they must trust that your product or service can help them solve a problem, and they must trust you as a company (and person).  
  • Be human: As trust is so important, be sure to be human and personable. Don’t try to sell them too hard. Find ways to ask them questions in these e-mails to get a response and turn your e-mails into another step in a conversation.  
  • Build credibility: You will want your e-mails to build credibility for your product or service during this stage. Focus on sharing case studies and reviews and make those as specific to your customer’s needs as possible (i.e., industry or size of business). During this phase, it is good to include user-generated content and comparison guides. 
  • Consider segmentation: In an effort to further personalize your e-mails, consider segmenting your messages based on a variety of factors. These factors can include characteristics of a customer, actions they have already taken (or haven’t taken), or both.  

Decision Stage

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In the decision stage, leads and potential customers are ready to make a purchase. Sometimes, this can be because their need has become so great that they have to make a purchase, it is because they have gotten enough information to make an informed decision, or sometimes it is because they feel that if they don’t make a decision now, they will “lose out .”Things to consider during this stage:

  • Create urgency: Be sure to create urgency by including limited-time offers, promotions, discounts, or exclusive deals. Creating a sense of scarcity and that a customer is going to lose out on the ability to purchase something or get a discount on that purchase can convert interest into a purchase.  
  • Phone call: Combining e-mail with a phone call to “close” that customer can be effective.  
  • Ask for the sale: One of the most important rules of sales is to “ask for the sale .”This is no different in e-mail marketing. Ask for the sale.  

Activation Stage

Once a customer has made a purchase, they then have to activate that purchase. Sometimes, the purchase itself may be the activation. For example, when you purchase a new pair of socks online, the opening of the package and putting on those socks is the activation. But, this is very different than when a customer is purchasing software. For example, a customer who purchases software may have a few hours of work to do in getting the software up and running. This process is called the activation stage. Customers that don’t activate will likely not stay around for long. Things to consider during this stage:

  • Get them to have an a-ha moment ASAP: Use e-mail to get the customer to have an “a-ha” moment as soon as possible after buying your product. This a-ha moment is when the customer sees the value in what he/she just bought.  
  • Check-in and offer help: You want your customers to be successful with your product, so don’t sit and wait until they reach out needing help. Be proactive in reaching out to see if your customer needs any help. Let them know you are there. Most people who don’t know how to use a product or don’t activate it won’t tell you - they will just go away.  
  • Use data: Use data when you can to see when people activate. For software companies, this is easier than for a sock company. But you want to know when customers are or aren’t activating so you can reach out to nudge them to activate.
  • Use predictive analytics: If you are a larger company and have a lot of data, use predictive analytics to be sure to identify which customers need to be nudged and supported more than others.   

Retention Stage 

Once you earn a customer and help them to get initial value out of your product or service, the key is to help them use your product or service as part of their everyday life. This creates “stickiness” because they start to feel they can’t live without you. E-mail marketing is a great way to enable that. Some tips for doing so:

  • Share success stories: Share success stories of how other customers and people are using your product or service successfully.  
  • Continue to expand the customer’s value: Continue to find ways to increase the value your product or service provides. For example, if you are a software development company, share regular product updates with your customers.  
  • Be consistent: One of the most important things in e-mail marketing is to be consistent. So, send out e-mails on a regular and consistent basis.  

Expansion Stage

Once you have customers that are loyal, e-mail marketing is a great way to have those customers expand their business. So many companies focus on attracting new customers, but one of the best ways to grow is to keep your current customers around longer and get them to spend more. Some considerations for how to do so through e-mail marketing:

  • Reward your current customers:  A lot of companies give better perks to new customers than existing ones. Flip that script and reward your customers for expanding. For example, if you release something new, e-mail your existing customers that they can get a discount on that new product or service because they are already customers.  
  • Ask your customers what they want: Use e-mail marketing not just as a way to send out to all of your customers but also to build personal relationships with some of your customers. How about personal e-mails? How about simple polls inserted in e-mails?
  • Segment and personalize: Again, segmenting your customers is key in e-mail marketing, and this is especially true in the expansion stage of your funnel. You want to offer new products and services to customers based on what they are already using. Therefore, you need to segment and personalize add-ons and new products and services that match what each of your customers will get the most value from.  

Kinds Of E-Mail Marketing

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People tend to bucket e-mail marketing together, but there are a variety of e-mail marketing strategies and tactics that can be used to help your company grow.  

  • Lead Generation: Cold e-mail, warm e-mail, and cross-promotional e-mail can be used to generate leads and possible new customers.  
  • Marketing & Promotions: E-mails can be used to send marketing updates to your current and past customers. These can be in the form of coupons or special offers. 
  • Updates: General update e-mails that are not marketing in nature. These e-mails might cover new product lines or features and are meant to keep your customers informed.  
  • Transactional E-mail: These are sent based on a user taking an action (or not taking an action) on a website or an app. These e-mails are usually automated in nature. These e-mails take quite a bit of expertise to set up properly. 

Ultimately, a good e-mail marketing strategy should include all of the above. Depending on your goals and resources, some of them can be combined.  

What It Takes To Succeed In E-Mail Marketing

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In order to succeed in e-mail marketing, it is important that you:

  • Have a clear plan: You must have a clear plan for your e-mail marketing. Who are you sending e-mails to, what are the goals for those e-mails, how regularly are you going to send those e-mails out, etc…
  • Good copy: Copy is so critical in e-mail marketing. Well-written e-mails can lead to substantial increases in open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. 
  • Experts: You need experts to set up your e-mail marketing. Experts can save you a lot of time and even more money so that you can take full advantage of the channel. If you don’t know what you are doing, your campaigns will be ineffective and even possibly cause problems that lead you to lose customers or get in trouble with spamming laws.  
  • Consistency: You can’t just send e-mails every once in a while and on random days and at random times. Consistency is everything. What you will find is that if you send out your e-mails consistently, you will get higher engagement rates even if you send out more e-mails.  
  • Analytics/Tracking: You need to have your analytics and tracking set up so that you can measure what’s working and what’s not.  
  • Testing culture: You should have a testing culture in all of your marketing efforts, and this is especially true for e-mail marketing. 

How To Manage Your E-mail Marketing

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There are different ways you can manage your e-mail marketing efforts. All have pros and cons.  

Hire somebody on your staff: This is a good option if you have enough work to keep somebody busy on an ongoing basis. But, most e-mail marketers won’t necessarily be good at all of the e-mail marketing tasks. Some may be great at copywriting. Others might be good at setting up and figuring out deliverability. And others may have expertise in setting up transactional e-mails. So, while hiring somebody on your staff may be a good option, you may find that these folks are generalists rather than specialists.  

Hire an agency: This is a good option because you usually will work with a couple of people at the agency. Therefore, you might be able to cover all that is needed to execute your e-mail marketing. Additionally, agencies can be scaled up and down some. The cons of working with an agency may be the expense and the fact that sometimes agencies will push your work to junior people.  

Hire freelance experts: We have a bias at Growth Collective because we think this is the best approach to drive the highest possible ROI. You get an expert or two who is usually quite senior. You get flexibility. You pay a reasonable amount. So, while we think this is a great approach, there are some cons. One con is that your company may not treat the expert the same as the rest of the people who work for you. This can lead to some confusion. You also have to do quite a bit of work to sift through freelancers to find true experts. A lot of freelance platforms have junior-level freelancers or actually have freelancers who subcontract work to their junior folks. At Growth Collective, we focus on experts, and each of our clients only works directly with the people doing the work.  

With limited time and limited budgets, companies are finding that e-mail marketing is an important channel for 2024. If you want help setting up or improving your e-mail marketing efforts, Growth Collective is a great way to do so. Hire an e-mail marketing expert now. 

Dan Minahan
Former company
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Dan Minahan, CEO of Growth Collective
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