Best Practices: Drive Clicks to Page Impressions from Emails
Are there really different "email marketing types"? Isn't sending an email to a customer list just a process of plugging in some content and then hitting "send"? Isn't the purpose of email marketing all the same? No! The answer to all of these questions is "no". Email marketing is, like most marketing channels, extremely nuanced and judged based on different goals, which are accomplished using different processes. In this section, we'll take a look at four different email marketing types, what their purpose is, and the basic ways that most companies implement them.
The best email marketing programs integrate all four email marketing types, typically based on where a user or customer is in their customer life cycle After reading this article, you may want to take some time to think about what role email should play in your marketing mix and which email marketing type will serve both you and your clients best over the long term.
Email Marketing Types No. 1. Customer Acquisition and Sales Generating
By far, the most common type of email marketing is email that is designed to directly generate new revenue for your company by either converting non-existing users or members to paying customers or by convincing existing customers to make an additional purchase. Of course, at the end of the day, all the four email marketing types are essentially about creating productive and profitable customers. However, some email formats and strategies involve a more direct route to attempting to generate revenue or sales.
- Who Receives a Customer Acquisition or Sales Generating Email? Typically, your user demographic for an email that's designed to directly generate sales or acquire customers will be one of three groups. The first group will be a list of potential customers who have never been exposed to your product before. You will typically rent or purchase this list from another company (we'll discuss how to grow your email list later in this book). The second group may be people who signed up for information about your product or filled out an interest form but have never purchased your product or service. The final group will be customers who previously purchased or visited your website and who may be interested in a follow-up purchase or visit.
- What Is the Content of a Customer Acquisition or Sales Generating Email? The content that you include in a customer acquisition or sales generating email will be content that will inspire the user to visit your website or take a purchasing action. Typically, this will include a discount or sales offer, but there may be instances where simply providing information about your product, service or website is enough.
Customer acquisition and sales generating emails are the backbone of driving direct revenue and return-on-investment from email marketing. However, they are most successful when you incorporate them with the other email marketing types discussed in the following pages.
Email Marketing Types No. 2. Customer Loyalty and Brand
Have you ever received a newsletter from a company that you've patronized that seemingly had no solicitation for sales or other action on your part? What about a happy birthday email from a company you've done business with that offers you a discount on your birthday just for having done business with them in the past? These types of email marketing are considered customer loyalty or brand building email marketing. The purpose is to keep your brand in the mind of your customers, to have your customers feel like they are building a relationship with you and, as a result, to have your customers stay loyal to using your website, product or service rather than go to a competitor. These emails may not have any direct revenue value for you, but the relationship that they're building with your customer and the brand awareness that they're creating means that your customers will remain your customers for longer, spend more money with you over the long term, and are more likely to recommend your brand or company to a friend, family member or colleague.
- Who Receives a Customer Loyalty or Brand Building Email? Typically, the best recipients for your brand awareness and customer loyalty emails will be your most active clients or your "short-term lapsed" clients. While it may be tempting to send customer loyalty or brand building emails to your entire email database, emails that generate low open rates or high spam complaints can impact your ability to get your email delivered to inboxes in the future. For that reason, you should target customers and users who want to have an ongoing relationship with your brand and build on that loyalty and awareness.
- What Is the Content of a Customer Loyalty or Brand Building Email? The most common type of content in a customer loyalty or brand building email is newsletter content. Providing customers or users with useful information that is entertaining, informative and written in the voice of your brand will cause them to build an affinity for your brand or business. It will also create high email open and click-through rates. Other common types of customer loyalty and brand building emails include holiday and birthday greetings, thank you emails, company status updates and tips and advice emails.
It may seem as though customer loyalty and brand building emails do not have a direct return on investment. However, email is one of your most direct channels to build a relationship between your brand and your customers. That relationship, in the long term, can help to grow your business, revenue and client base.
Email Marketing Types No. 3. Customer Retention
So you have customers, but now how do you keep customers? Customer retention email marketing is any email that takes existing customers and tries to ensure that they remain customers who keep coming back to purchase or visit your website again and again. Unlike customer loyalty or brand building emails, customer retention emails will prominently feature a product or offer. However, unlike pure sales generating emails, those offers will typically be tailored to appeal specifically to repeat customers and will likely be less generous in nature. In essence, this segment of your email marketing program is the segment that is designed to maximize the actual revenue or page view value of any previous customer or site user.
- Who Receives a Customer Retention Email? In short, any customer who has ever made a purchase with your or registered at your site and has a viewing history of your website should be on your customer retention email marketing list. However, ideally you'll segment this list further into types of customers to retain (we've talked about list segmentation in our Tutorial). For example, if your business is a pet business, you may want to send a different customer retention email to customers who have previously purchased cat products than you would to those who have purchased dog products. The best way to retain customers is to incentivize them to remain customers by putting the most targeted information and offers possible in front of them.
- What Is the Content of a Customer Retention Email? Because a customer retention email is specifically designed to spur multiple purchases from a returning customer, the content of a customer retention email is almost always an offer, sale, discount or free gift. However, it is possible to use content that simply makes customers aware of new products that they may be interested in as a method of retaining them.
The most profitable customers are customers who make multiple purchases. However, sometimes customers need to be reminded that they want to make multiple purchases or incentivized to do so. That's why having a strategic plan for customer retention email is such an important part of any email marketing plan.
Email Marketing Types No. 4. Customer Win-Back
The final common email marketing type is customer win-back email marketing. This is email that is designed to"win back" customers who were once customers or users but have "lapsed" or otherwise abandoned your product, service, business or website, to take them back as customers or users. It is frequently the email marketing type with the lowest response rate and should therefore be minimized in use so as to not create poor email metrics for you. However, it is always more cost effective to retain or win back a customer than it is to acquire a new customer. For that reason, customer win-back email should always be a part of your email marketing mix.
- Who Receives a Customer Win-Back Email? Any customer who was once a regular purchaser or site user should be on your customer win-back email list, unless they have specifically unsubscribed from emails from your company. However, it is often most effective to group these lapsed or abandoned customers into groups based on how long it has been since their last interaction with you. Customers who haven't had a purchasing action in a short amount of time (typically three months or less) will require a less aggressive offer or sale than customers who have not interacted with you in more than a year. By splitting out your email list of inactive customers by time frame, you can create a more impactful email campaign.
- What Is the Content of a Customer Win-Back Email? A customer win-back offer will need to incentivize a customer who has not interacted with you in a very long time to return to you. For that reason, these types of marketing emails must include offers, sales, free gifts, free shipping or other exclusive opportunities that are not available to the general public and that are incredibly compelling to the user.
Your list of inactive customers may be one of your best marketing tools, but your response rate will always be somewhat low. That's why email marketing is such an effective way to attempt to win back customers. The cost of sending an email to a lapsed or inactive customer is incredibly low, so even if your response rate is low your return on investment will be positive.
Now that we've talked about the most common four email marketing types, you may want to take a quick break to think about how these types of email marketing can work with your business or marketing goals and where in specific your resources should go. When you're done, move on taking some time to think about the various email marketing types as a whole, and you may find your way to have them all in your own email marketing campaign.