How to best use email in your marketing mix

How to increase email marketing ROI

As you work on your 2020 marketing planning, there are many shiny new ways to reach your prospects and customers, from emerging social media networks to chatbots to OTT ads. But what’s one of the most economical and successful marketing channels in your arsenal? The humble email. What it lacks in shininess, it makes up for in effectiveness: email marketing ROI is $38:1. That’s a 3,800% return on investment, a stat that few other channels can boast. And what’s more, most of your customers prefer communicating with you by email, even younger customers, with 3 out of every 4 millennials preferring to receive communications from businesses over email.

But to reach peak email marketing ROI, you can’t just start blasting out mass emails and hope for the best. You need to know your audiences and be able to align and personalize your email marketing efforts to their unique needs. And you have to start with great content that’s valuable to your audiences and meets them at their stage of the customer journey. Let’s walk through some foundational principles and email marketing strategies to help you reach your audiences and make email the most effective tool in your marketing mix. 

Create valuable content by understanding your audiences’ needs

Email is a great promotional vehicle and sending coupons or offers is one important component of email marketing, especially for e-commerce and retail brands. But what if the product you sell is very expensive or has a long purchase cycle? What if you don’t sell tangible products or services at all? With the right email marketing strategy, you can do everything from boosting sales and generating repeat business to encouraging brand advocacy among existing customers.

Developing and distributing valuable content is a great way to nurture leads and generate interest, building a relationship with your customers that goes beyond price and offers. Of course, this can look very different for different types of businesses. A financial institution might develop content that helps prospects and customers meet their financial goals based on their life stage and needs, like Bank of America’s Better Money Habits. A beauty brand like Glossier might create a high-quality blog featuring makeup tips and tricks, interviews with influencers and celebrities and reviews of products outside of their category. A university might create a podcast featuring previous resident assistants like NYU’s Where R.A. Now? to engage students and alums. Think about your intended audiences: what do they want to know that you can provide?

Email is a very effective channel, but at the end of the day, it’s just that: a channel. If desirable, audience-inspired content doesn’t form the foundation of your email marketing strategy, any email campaign you launch will fall short. 

Align your email marketing strategy and content to the customer journey

Another important consideration? The points in the customer journey where email can be a useful tool. Email is not a good channel for creating awareness of your organization, but it’s excellent at nurturing interest, onboarding new customers and helping foster loyalty and retaining existing users. 

Map out your customer journey for each audience group and determine where email could help increase conversion to the next phase of the funnel: 


Segment your audiences to stay relevant

Take a look at your CRM or email lists. Can you tell if a given email address is a prospect or a current customer? Do you know what persona or audience each address is aligned to? If not, it’s time to clean up your lists and do some segmentation. 

It’s best if you can categorize each email address in your list in at least two ways: 

  • Stage in the customer/purchase journey, such as interest (cold lead), consideration (warm lead), purchase (client or customer), or retention (long-time purchaser or subscriber). Knowing where someone falls on the customer journey allows you to tailor email messaging to meet their current needs and your conversion goals.
  • Audience or persona. Different audiences can have very different needs. Segmenting your lists by audience allows you to target each group with the messages, tone, offers and valuable content that will make the most impact. 

Segmenting your list allows you to be more relevant to your audiences, which in turn improves your email marketing ROI: marketers have reported a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns

Increase your email effectiveness with personalization

Personalization takes segmentation a step further, zooming in on the individuals that make up your key audiences. Customizing content can be a very impactful investment—74% of marketers said personalization increases their overall customer engagement rates. 

Segmenting your lists and sending each group tailored content can go a long way, but there are many other options for further personalizing email content: 

  • Using personalization tags to address email recipients by name or other details, like city, state or region.
  • Using a marketing automation system (MAS) to send specific email content to a prospect or customer based on their website behavior.
  • Sending personalized product or service recommendations based on past purchase or online behavior.
  • Sending email messages at different times based on the recipient’s time zone. 

Take the first step

The humble email is still one of the most hardworking and cost-effective channels out there. With relevant content sent at the right time to the right audiences, your email marketing can help you increase revenue and meet your 2020 marketing goals. Take a look at your current content and lists to see where email can help you turn prospects into customers and customers into advocates.