Key Steps in Setting Up a Profitable Email Marketing Program
Did you know that email has nearly three times as many user accounts as Facebook and Twitter combined? 91% of these email users check their inboxes on a daily basis.
Given that the average email marketing’s return on investment is 38:1, businesses are trying to understand the key steps in setting up a profitable email marketing program. Let’s go through these steps together and help you set up your own email marketing program.
Before you start thinking about the email content, you need to ensure your email marketing program is properly set up. The setup elements are:
You should start with the right ESP (email service provider). A good ESP company should be able to provide you with: order data syncing, A/B testing, stability of core integrations, reporting, and customer support, some of which we will touch upon a bit later. The most recommended ESPs are Klaviyo and MailChimp.
Apps are the second thing you should be looking at and it is important to choose apps that will work best for you. Important apps include the ones that provide product review requests, loyalty or referral programs, and popups.
The next thing you need to ensure is that the deliverability of your email program is good. Deliverability means that your emails should be delivered to inboxes of your recipients, and not end up in spam folders, or not delivered at all. As the first step, you need to establish SPF and DKIM.
• SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a security measure that makes sure nobody sends emails to anyone on your behalf. So, it’s very important to set this up on your DNS server.
• DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) does a similar thing as SPF, but it’s preferable to set it up on your DNS server as an additional measure. The idea behind this key is that there are two sets of it – one that is unique to your domain and encrypts your signature (this happens in the header of your email) and public key, necessary for decrypting your signature.
After you’re done with the authentication process, the next step is inbox benchmarking. This means that you should use deliverability services to measure your inboxing rates across Internet service providers (e.g. Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail).
Lastly, you need to make sure you don’t end up blacklisted. You can be blacklisted by contacts who complain about your emails spamming their inboxes, for example. In order to avoid that, you need to know when to send your emails and to make them relevant to your readership. You should also include the unsubscribe option at the bottom of your email, so that your readers can unsubscribe from your newsletters if they no longer want to receive your emails, rather than report you for spam. Lastly, you can ask your contacts to whitelist you and your ESP. Be careful with your content, because you are not the only one who gets blacklisted – your ESP does as well, and that can have severe consequences for their overall deliverability.
In some of our earlier blog posts, we have covered what it takes to make the email clickable and readable, but let’s repeat the basics. Your email needs to:
• Be compelling. You can make your emails compelling by knowing your audience and adjusting the visuals and the copy to reflect their tastes and needs.
• Offer relevant content with no spammy words.
• Be visually pleasing.
• Be easy to read and use.
• Contain the unsubscribe option.
1.2.1 Dealing with Deliverability When Having Inactive Subscribers
There are a few types of inactive subscribers, and in accordance with that you should send different types of emails to each group.
• Ghosts – subscribers who joined your list, but never took any action. You should use recommitment campaigns.
• Dormant subscribers – subscribers who used to be active, but haven’t been recently. You should use re-engagement campaigns.
• Zombies – subscribers who used to be active a long time ago. With them, you should start reducing sending time and monitor their reaction.
There are three types of data you should be looking at:
1. Order data of your customers
2. Event data (what happened to your email upon reception and if it was received at all)
3. Profile data (information on contacts on your list)
This way, you can have a deeper insight into how your campaigns perform.
Here are some additional tips that are very important:
• Make sure that your list is clean (updated, so no dormant contacts).
• Never buy your list! Always acquire it through a popup or other forms on your website.
• Be mobile-friendly.
• Include alt text so that people who have the images turned off can also know what your email is about.
• Make sure that your headers are correct (from address, name, and reply to).
• Avoid using [email protected] because it will decrease deliverability and increase spam. Your customers want to know they can reach you.
• Set up your revenue tracking correctly.
• Check your email for grammar, spelling, design, and other mistakes.
Now that you know how to set up everything properly, it’s time to make your first campaign. There are three essential things to do:
• Create a template design
• Create a campaign calendar
• Set up automated flows
When you are creating a template, you are setting the way your emails will look like in the future, as you can keep reusing it.
2.2 Content Calendar
When making campaigns, you should make a yearly calendar to know exactly what kind of email you want to send, and when. You can send, for example:
• Emails for holidays (gifting holidays, general holidays, high season)
• Events (popup shops, content, news)
• Promotions (discounts, shipping offers, flash sales)
• Content (blog posts, videos)
• Recurring emails (featured products, seasonal category)
It’s always good to have these kinds of emails to inform your subscribers what’s happening with you and offer some compelling discounts, valuable advice, etc.
Another thing to consider is frequency of sending. Try to not send your subscribers emails too often, but also not very rarely. To find out the right frequency, you’ll need to create tests for different segments. You want to see which segment (a part of your list that contains contacts separated by something like demographics, for example) can sustain higher, and which one lower frequency. You don’t want your subscribers to be fed up with you or to completely forget about you.
2.3 Automated Emails
Automated emails are premade emails that are triggered to be sent if your subscriber performed/or didn’t perform an action. Automated emails are usually sent to subscribers who haven’t performed any action yet, or haven’t done so for a while. With these emails we want to drive them to become active again.
If you want to understand how setting up automated email flows works, check out this video of a recent webinar we hosted.
3. A/B testing to optimize your email campaigns
Even small changes in your email campaigns can have a big impact on the results. Therefore, A/B testing is very important in creating segments and delivering relevant messages.
It can be done in a number of different ways, for example:
• You divide your list in two equal groups, and send them two separate versions of the same email. For example, one subject line will have an emoji and the email containing it will be sent to one group, and the one without it to another group.
• Or you can offer, say, a 10% discount to one group, and send another email offering a $5 discount to another and see which email performs better. This way you will know what your customers prefer and what your next course of action will be.
Learn more about email A/B testing and the top 6 tests to boost your campaign results.
To sum up, in order to set up your email marketing program, you need to find a good ESP, keep your lists clean, keep track of your metrics, know your audience well and, guided by that, craft enticing emails. It seems like too much to take in, but once you start, it’s going to be simple and easy. With that said, good luck with your first email marketing venture!
Need expert guidance for your email marketing?
Milica Cvejovic holds a Master’s Degree at Faculty of Philology and Arts and has 13 years of a career as a translator, proofreader, and ghostwriter. Milica is currently Essence of Email’s QA Lead and Copywriter.