experts on email marketing

[Expert Chat] Getting Started with Email Marketing

Whether you have a small personal or portfolio site, an eCommerce store, or are just starting up a small business website, there is one thing that can effectively boost your online presence at every stage – email marketing.

To help you get started and grow your email marketing efforts, right on time for the upcoming holiday season, we organized an #SMBGrowthChat on Twitter Spaces along with Alessandra Farabegoli (@alebegoli), Digital Agency Owner & Email Marketing Expert, and Emanuel Cinca (@emanuelcinca), Marketer, Entrepreneur, Creator of Stacked Marketer. If you missed the live event, we’ve got you covered. Here are their expert tips on how to build and grow your email list, choose the right email marketing solution, optimize your email campaigns, and other key elements for your emails’ success.

Is email marketing right for you

Contrary to popular belief, email marketing is not only for companies with huge budgets, “Email marketing is for everybody who wants a long-term relationship with their customers,” Alessandra Farabegoli, Digital Agency Owner & Email Marketing Expert, points out.

Email marketing is your direct communication channel with your audience that helps you grow, engage, nurture and eventually convert the people interested in your company – whether you’re a blogger, an artist, an NGO, a b2b company, or an event organizer.

“Depending on what resources you have and what strengths you already have within your marketing team, maybe email marketing is not the first thing that you think about doing, but in the long-term, it’s for everyone,” says Emanuel Cinca, Marketer, Entrepreneur, Creator of Stacked Marketer. 

How to get started with email marketing

Since email marketing is within your scope, you’re probably wondering where to start from. Here are the basics of email marketing to begin with and then build upon them:

How to grow your email list

Before sending any email marketing campaigns, you need to start gathering subscribers to reach out to. To effectively grow your email list, the main thing you need to do is know your ideal subscriber. 

“Know the people who want to join your list, because you have to know where to look for them, how to advertise your list (maybe on social networks), where the people you want to join your list are,” Alessandra Farabegoli advises.

Once you know your audience well, your next step is trying to understand what will trigger them – what kind of interesting and relevant content or reward to offer to these people who are thinking of joining your list. Build your promise around that and tell it effectively – explain what they’ll get, if they join your list.

It’s then crucial to deliver on your promise – “make sure that whatever you promise in any lead magnet or any reason you give people to sign up, the content you deliver, or the information, the products continue to be within that sphere,” Emanuel Cinca points out. For example, if you get people to subscribe to your list through a lead magnet on how to create social media campaigns, but then you deliver content around SEO, that might not be a good idea, adds Emanuel Cinca.

At the end of the day, it’s not the numbers, it’s the quality of your audience, as Alessandra Farabegoli notes. “You want to grow your list with people who actually want to stay with you and continue to read and be engaged in the long-term,” she adds.

If you’re wondering where to find these high-quality readers of your future email campaigns, Emanuel Cinca advises to look for other email lists for people who are already engaged with different newsletters, because in general, newsletter readers read other newsletters. Alessandra Farabegoli adds that guest posts and guest newsletters are also a great way to make you known by other newsletter readers.

If you’re a SiteGround client, using our Email Marketing tool, you can easily add a subscribers form on your website and start building your email list with our Lead Generation plugin for WordPress. It’s a great opportunity to create a lasting relationship with your site visitors, nurture them and turn them into loyal customers.

To collect email subscribers easily and efficiently, it’s crucial to choose the right email marketing solution.

Choose the right email marketing solution

Choosing an email marketing solution that best fits your goals will actually depend on your business needs. 

For example, if you’re doing an eCommerce project, you “need automation features that allow creating automated workflows, such as an abandoned cart, or complex welcome series that can segment people and differentiate messages,” Alessandra Farabegoli says. 

On the other hand, if you’re doing a newsletter, look at newsletter-focused features – you need to have highly-customizable templates that are easy-to-use, good team member permission to have different roles for different team members (to add and do reports, view and send newsletters), Emanuel Cinca advises. He adds that it’s also important to have an integration with WordPress or any other solution you use. Other crucial features include the view of the email editor, the ability to segment subscribers and send relevant messages to the right people, Alessandra Farabegoli points out.

At SiteGround, we understand that ease of use is key. That’s why our Email Marketing tool is user-friendly and integrated into the SiteGround Client Area, allowing seamless management of your website and email campaigns in the same place. You can choose from our highly-converting layouts, customize them to suit your brand and send your campaign in a matter of minutes.

Top strategies for sending email marketing campaigns

Now that you’ve built your email list with subscribers, you have to start communicating with them directly via email. Here are our experts’ top tips for sending successful email marketing campaigns:

Types of email campaigns you need to send

Our experts are of the opinion that the most important campaign is the welcome email or the welcome series emails, because when a subscriber enters your list, it’s the peak of interest moment. Alessandra Farabegoli advises you to build upon this interest still with the first emails that will make people think it was worth subscribing to your newsletter, as you’re sending them interesting content. 

According to Emanuel Cinca, another important type of email you should have is the re-engagement email to clean up your list. If someone disengages after a long period of time (period is based on the emails they’ve received, not on time), send them a re-engagement email. If they still don’t engage with you, he advises you to consider segmenting or unsubscribing them, so that they do not receive as many emails as everyone else. Otherwise, this might hurt your email reputation.

Alessandra Farabegoli points out that if you’re selling online, there are then some more types of emails you need to send, such as post-purchase emails, abandoned carts, winback flows, etc. which you can set up in order to nurture your customers, have them use your products better, and maybe cross-sell and upsell.

An important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you must have a plan, Alessandra adds. This goes to say that you need to create an email calendar with the topics you want to build on and their schedule. “Find a regular schedule to send emails, because consistency is key. Your newsletter must be an appointment. People should know – today, this newsletter is coming and I want to read it,” Alessandra notes.

How often should you reach out to your subscribers

Indeed, it’s important to have an “appointment” with your readers and send them emails regularly. Yet, how often should you reach out to them so that they don’t consider you spammy? 

Our experts agree that there’s no one size fits all. The timing will depend on your subscribers’ list, their reading habits, their expectations, what content you send and the purpose of your email. However, there are some general factors to consider when sending emails:

What defines the right moment to press “send”?

Nowadays, everybody checks their email every day – from when they get up until night, but what’s the right moment, when they’re ready to read your message, when they will be interested to read about the topic, or consider buying your product, Alessandra Farabegoli asks. The simple answer is that it depends on your message.

For example, if you’re sending a news email, you can send it in the morning, when most people are reading the news. If you’re sending a sales email and you want the reader to make a right-away purchase decision, mornings are not the best time to do so. For instance, sending an email about planning a trip would perform best outside working hours.

In Emanuel Cinca’s experience with a Monday to Friday newsletter that includes marketing news and the latest case studies, Monday to Thursday still gets the same engagement, because they’re providing readers with information related to the subscribers’ jobs, they are reading it as part of their work routine.

As Alessandra Farabegoli points out, you need to avoid busy times of the week, e.g. Monday mornings are generally not the best moment to send b2b campaigns, but there’s an exception to this rule – for example, welcome emails or post-purchase emails should be sent immediately.

Segment and personalize your email campaigns

Once you’ve identified when to hit the “send” button, you might also want to segment and personalize your email campaigns before sending them out, for better performance and results. Our experts give valuable advice on both the eCommerce and non-eCommerce side of things:

  • eCommerce projects

“If you work on an eCommerce project, the most obvious segmentation is between people who are already customers and people who are not,” Alessandra Farabegoli says. She explains that there are two main factors to keep in mind – engagement and source. 

Engagement is key for eCommerce projects and you need to clean your list regularly – avoid putting people that are less engaged, even though they are customers. You can still write them for sales, Black Friday, special offers, or new product launches, but you need to lower the frequency of sending emails, so that they don’t mark you as spam or unsubscribe from your list.

The source is also very important, according to Alessandra Farabegoli – “if you realize that people, who come from a lead acquisition campaign, don’t buy anything in the end, you may reconsider if this campaign is the right place to advertise,” she says.

  • Newsletter publishers

Emanuel Cinca gives insight on the non-eCommerce side – for newsletter publishers, you can have segmentation by frequency (when they want emails to be delivered) and activity (re-engagement of subscribers on a regular basis). You can also segment based on the source where people came from – not necessarily to personalize for them, but to know how things are working: ROI generating, readership status, sales numbers, etc., he explains. One more way of segmentation is interests, as Alessandra Farabegoli adds. “Ask people what they are interested in, or use the interest from where they clicked on,” she points out.

With the Email Marketing tool, SiteGround clients can target specific audience groups and add a personal touch with dynamic content variables, such as the first name of the recipient, etc. Our system also automatically suppresses hard bounce email addresses to keep email lists healthy and improve open rates and reputation.

Best practices for optimizing your email campaigns

After sending your email campaign, you’d need to make sure that your deliverability and open rates are as high as possible. Our experts have some valuable advice on how to achieve that, what other key metrics to track, and how to optimize your email campaigns for even better results.

Ensure higher email deliverability rates

According to Alessandra Farabegoli, the main factor is your sender reputation. “To ensure you reach the inbox, keep your promises and send relevant content. The main thing is how you keep the relationship with your subscribers, so that they continue to think your emails are worth opening, clicking and reading,” she explains.

Emanuel Cinca also points out some other important algorithms behind email deliverability. Generally, if you follow the rules of most service providers, you’ll usually not go into the spam folder, unless you’re truly spammy. However, your email can go to the Promotions tab, where less people will engage with it. Emanuel Cinca has a fix for this issue: “The best thing to do is get high engagement on your very early emails, e.g. try to get replies on your welcome email – offer a bonus lead magnet in exchange for replies,” he advises. If you get that high engagement early on, it’ll help your emails go to Updates or the Primary inbox, which means that people get a notification when you send them an email. What’s more, the inbox will be the default one for the new subscribers to begin with, unless they start to become disengaged,” Emanuel Cinca explains.

Another factor that matters significantly is the sender itself. “Your own domain, your sender – that’s the key to your subscribers’ inbox,” Emanuel Cinca points out. However, he adds that some email service providers don’t let you completely set up all authentication, SPF, etc. through them, and then you cannot add your custom domain which is essentially the key to the inbox.

Again, it comes to your choice of email marketing tool. At SiteGround, we take care of the technical side of your campaign sending to make sure your emails hit your audience’s inbox. We have one-time domain authentication that boosts the odds of sending your emails right in your audience’s inbox. The more emails that get delivered, the better your reputation gets.

Make sure your users open your emails

Now that your email has landed in your subscribers’ inbox, what would make them open and read that email? According to Alessandra Farabegoli, here are the top 3 factors that would make people open an email:

  • Sender’s reputation

“The sender is the first thing we’re checking when browsing through new emails – if this person or company is regularly writing interesting content, then I can give them my attention,” Alessandra Farabegoli says. If not so, people tend to skip, archive or even delete, without reading.

  • Subject line

Next, you need to write engaging subject lines, because the subject line is the first thing they’ll read. Emanuel Cinca’s experience shows that all their newsletters regularly have very short subject lines, literally 1 to 3 words,  which are slight teasers of what is inside.

  • Preheader text

The preheader text is right next to the subject line and it’s important as it helps readers see what they will find inside. According to Alessandra Farabegoli, the preheader can even be left blank, because in this way your email will stand out, with a bit of space around it.

“I always say the subject line and the preheader text are the ambassadors of the email, but the most important thing is to keep a good relationship with your reader,” Alessandra Farabegoli concludes.

Track key metrics to measure your email campaign success

The key metrics that you need to track are those that are important for your business, such as sales or conversions – a download of a document, an actual purchase and others. Then, you need to check “what builds these sales – is it clicks from the website, is it opens, how many subscribers you have,” Emanuel Cinca explains.

However, Emanuel Cinca warns that nowadays “you should be careful about considering open rate as a very important metric – it’s relevant, but you need to have context behind it, because Apple mail privacy protection, for example, opens 100% of your emails over time”.

Both our experts agree that nowadays click-to-open rate (CTR) is really important, because it shows if you’ve built the right call-to-action (CTA) – if people who opened your email, decided to take it a step further, Alessandra Farabegoli explains. “Look at your CTR, are people clicking on what you want them to click, especially if you have a call to action,” Emanuel Cinca concludes.

With our Email Marketing tool, you have access to built-in analytics to gain insight into metrics, such as open rate, click rate, bounce rate and interactions, to measure the success of your campaigns.

Perform A/B tests to optimize campaigns and improve results

In case you’re not happy with the performance of your email campaigns, there’s a way to improve the results by performing tests of different email elements.

The first thing to consider, before performing any tests, is your list’s length. Alessandra Farabegoli points out that you need numbers to get relevant and statistically significant results. “You need at least maybe 20K subscribers to get a decent result from an A/B test on subject line, or sender, or timing, for example. If you want to test some content element, such as the CTA, you need at least 10 times that number,” she explains.

Emanuel Cinca agrees that if you send a newsletter one time and you have 1000 subscribers, A/B testing the subject line for them for that one time, won’t yield any results. Yet, he has a workaround, if you don’t have the volume now – you can A/B test your welcome sequence and subject line, if you have such automations or sequences. Start testing from the beginning, even if you have a few hundred subscribers – the important thing is to run this test all the time. Then, after 6 months, you might reach a statistically significant result.

To improve the content you send, you need to receive feedback from your actual readers, Emanuel Cinca advises. One thing you can test is your content structure, he adds – somewhat longer articles, bullet points, etc., split up your content as much as you can. Emanuel Cinca gives a bonus tip, in case you cannot A/B test directly and get the data– to run a survey to your audience.

Our experts agree that email marketing is a powerful tool that everyone can leverage, not only big business owners. Follow their professional tips in this article to make the most of your email marketing campaigns.

Check our YouTube recording to hear the whole Twitter chat conversation and follow us on Twitter for more news and discussions on useful topics.

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Dilyana Kodjamanova

Digital Marketing Specialist

Keen on burying herself in reading and writing both technical and non-technical content.

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