The Ins and Outs of Email Marketing in 2021

This article evaluates the primary benefits that email marketing provides to businesses in 2021 and reviews the types of emails that are commonly used to engage with customers, prospects, and subscribers today.

Although many marketing professionals believe email is losing its value as a form of communication, 80% of Americans are still checking their email at least once per day in 2021. And while it may surprise some, email marketing is one of the most profitable channels of direct marketing, with an average return on investment of $38 for every $1 spent

Effective at every stage of the buying process, email marketing can influence someone to choose your product over a competitor, nurture the customer relationship post-transaction, or simply provide general brand awareness across your target audience. But regardless of your ultimate purpose, the reality is that the use of emails to inform users, promote products or services, drive sales, and build a community around your brand is crucial to ensuring long-term success in business marketing. 

Benefits of Email Marketing

Rather than focusing on “one-size-fits-all” mass mailings, modern email marketing emphasizes consent, segmentation, and personalization. This means that your content is tailored depending on the ages, ethnicities, or demographics of the people you are targeting, or depending on their stage in the sales funnel. In either case, crafting unique emails to engage users or prospects based on what you know about them is the most effective way to maintain loyal customers as well as acquire new ones. 

But before we get too far ahead, let’s review some of the core benefits related to email marketing.

The nine core benefits of email marketing in 2021.

1. Increase Conversions

Much like the other forms of marketing, the ultimate goal of email marketing is to convert efforts into sales. To this end, the conversion rates of email marketing supersede most other content marketing forms in that roughly one in three U.S. retail email list subscribers have purchased something from the brand whose emails they receive. Thus, it’s no surprise to find that email marketing generates around $37 billion in U.S. retail sales annually.

One of the main reasons that email marketing is so effective is because businesses can take advantage of “impulse” behaviors with well-timed emails. For instance, customers that have just purchased a product or that have visited a site to look at specific products may be enticed to act on impulse if an email that features those or similar items is delivered within the same week, or if an email with special offers or discounts is delivered.

The inclusion of relevant promotions in particular is a great way to drive a “buy” decision, considering 42.3% of Americans subscribe to email lists to receive savings and discounts. New promotions ultimately provide a simple yet relevant call-to-action for customers to click on the links and partake in a purchase in a timely matter (i.e. before the promotion ends), which goes a long way in increasing the conversion rates for marketing and sales teams. 

2. Promote Brand Awareness

Email acts as a direct and in some ways, personal way for businesses to generate one-to-one communication with their customers. Sending an email directly into someone’s inbox, especially one with a catchy title and relevant content, diminishes the probability of being ignored or scrolled past, such as with social media posts or various digital advertisements.

Although it’s true some emails may end up in a spam or junk folder, there are steps that businesses can take to prevent this from happening. And ultimately, delivering emails to prospects or customers that have already interacted with the brand via a previous purchase or subscription is an easy and effective way of keeping them engaged on new promotions and updates. Moreover, the opportunity to personalize the emails delivered to these audiences by age, gender, and other factors creates a more impactful experience that can be provided with general social media posts, press releases, or other content mediums.

3. Develop a Unique Brand Identity

As touched on above, email provides a direct line of communication from a business to the inboxes of existing or potential customers. This means businesses have full control over how their brand is presented to the customer.

Because emails offer a “distraction-free” interface for viewing content (as opposed to a crowded LinkedIn or blog feed), businesses have a brief moment to capture the reader’s full attention. However, the average reader’s attention span is only a few seconds, so companies must develop their brand identify quickly and effectively.

While every company’s brand identity will be different, the important thing is that you are consistent with it once you begin. Your identity should be strongly tied either to the preferences and lifestyles of your customers, or to a certain set of values, morals, and practices that your customers find desirable.

In either case, once this identity is established, the subsequent email campaigns you deliver should have this distinctive voice, style, and image on full display for your subscribers. Over time, fostering this brand identity is what increases the potential for your target audience to recognize the brand, engage with it, and subsequently promote the brand to other potential customers. . 

4. Build Credibility Through Consistency

Staying in contact with customers and keeping them up to date on company not only keeps a brand top-of-mind for customers but also grows their familiarity with (and trust in) the brand. 2021 data shows that the more channels and avenues a company can engage with prospects, the better chance they stand of gaining a follower or customer. But while social media, tv commercials, blogs, digital ads, and other content forms are all important components of any multifaceted media marketing strategy, the use of emails is particularly important.

Because emails can be quickly generated, tailored, and delivered straight to a subscriber’s inbox, companies can build trust and authenticity through timely and relevant updates. Updates on store openings, product releases, and other company alerts and milestones can be significant in showcasing the reputability of a brand.

However, companies must be wary of oversaturating their audience.

Instead of fostering trust, a constant slew of irrelevant email updates will likely irritate prospects more than engage them. Thus, businesses must be careful to segment their audiences and only provide relevant content to each tier of follower or subscriber, based upon their interests and level of prior engagement. In doing so, prospects will grow to appreciate and respect your brand, and engagement with your company will likely begin to increase accordingly.

5. Foster Strong Customer Relationships

Building strong relationships with your customers is hugely important for sustaining loyalty and trust. With a click of a button, customers are able to easily share the content of the email received. In doing so, they are increasing a business’ brand awareness, building their reputation through word-of-mouth or viral marketing, helping influence new customers to become followers of the brand, and building a community amongst the customers themselves.

6. Create Targeted and Personalized Content

Although there may be circumstances where mass emails are delivered to your entire email audience, the most effective forms of email marketing are typically achieved when businesses can segment their list according to key audience differentiators.

By categorizing their audience into different lists based on their preferences, demographics, or stage in the sales funnel, businesses are able to craft highly personalized content that is exponentially more impactful than a mass mailing. For instance, if a business knows that their top selling product for 50-65 year-old women in the U.S. is birdfeeders, but their top product for 18-25 year-old males is basketballs, the emails to these two audiences will likely look very different.

And so they should.

Ultimately, analyzing your audience to determine its composition by various demographics and preferences is instrumental to developing engaging email content that resonates with each type of customer your service. Remember, the more you know about your customer, the more targeted your emails can become, and the more sales and engagement you’ll achieve.

7. Easily Track & Measure Effectiveness

The majority of email marketing platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact offer built-in analytics features that provide insights on the results of email opens, clicks, and general engagement.

Information such as how often your emails were opened and by whom, who clicked links in the email, how many emails “bounced” or did not reach a user, and who unsubscribed will be available. Historical charts and analysis can be performed to determine list growth, unsubscribes, and other behavior over time.

These stats can be very helpful for determining which types of emails work best, or which days and times that delivered emails are most engaged with. Moreover, it is easy to test different copy, subject lines and designs to see which is most effective. Having this data can prove incredibly helpful for shaping and developing future campaigns, as you can begin to release emails based on the identified habits and behaviors of your audience.

8. Connect Quickly With Customers

As a means of direct communication, email marketing allows a business to connect with customers in real-time. Through the use of triggered emails, such as website activity, recent purchase, or shopping cart abandonment, you are able to target and reach the proper audience, at the right time, with content that you know is relevant.

Acting quickly on website visits, store visits, or subscribes and purchases is a great way to increase brand prevalence and establish better relationships with the customer. 

9. Cost-Effective & Simple Development

The process of creating an email campaign to send is not difficult in the slightest. It is time conservative and easy to use, especially on an email marketing platform. Email marketing is budget-friendly as well with no advertising fees, printing, or media space costs. 

Engaging in email marketing is especially easy with the assistance of our experts. SpeakClear provides an email marketing service through email and contact list management as well as professional template designs and execution of all email campaigns and newsletters. Contact us to learn more.

Types of Marketing Emails

Having decided to engage in email marketing after reflecting on the benefits, the question remains as to what sort of emails are to be sent? The types of emails used for marketing include:

This image shows the different types of emails that businesses use to engage with their online audiences in 2021.

1. Welcome Emails

Rather than diving straight into a sales pitch after someone initially signs up for the mailing list, welcome emails allow for a focus on good first impressions. First impressions can demonstrate industry knowledge and expertise, which will beneficially guide future communication with the customer.

Offering a personal touch in welcome emails as opposed to an immediate sales pitch reflect higher open and click-through rates than standard marketing emails. Introducing the business and its brand, inviting customers to follow social media accounts, and getting to know them by asking their birthday, their email preferences, how they found you, etc. make a customer feel like they can trust the brand more. In fact, subscribers who read an initial welcome email will read 40 percent more content from a sender over the subsequent 180 days. 

When initially subscribing to an email, only around a fourth are immediately sales-ready whereas a half are not ready to buy just yet. Thus, it is important to nurture customers in order to drive them closer to the buying stage.  

2. Newsletters

Newsletters are regularly sent emails, typically weekly or monthly, and an excellent nurturing technique. Their consistency keeps the brand on top of the recipients’ minds and continuously presents opportunities for engagement. By educating customers and prospects about your business (such as company news and events, product announcements and feedback requests) as well as showcasing employee profiles, company passion projects, and relevant graphics, newsletters build brand awareness and create anticipation in readers.

They are easy to create as they typically contain information already published elsewhere. For example, many companies include summaries of their most recent or popular blog posts, which further brings subscribers back to the company website and engages them with more company content. Moreover, newsletters offer an opportunity to include all different types of content which is important to the business in a single email. This prevents the possibility of overwhelming subscribers with too many emails in their inbox at once. 

3. Lead Nurturing Emails

Lead nurturing emails are a tightly connected series of emails with a coherent purpose and full of useful content. They are designed to influence decision-making, such as by offering discounts to add more incentive for making a purchase. Each series is targeted and tied to a specific action performed by a customer. After the activity has occurred on the website, lead nurturing emails follow-up to show the customer’s interests are known and to share what they might need next. 

4. Standard Promotional Campaigns

Standard promotional campaigns are the most common emails sent in a marketing campaign. In addition to being the most common, they are generally the most desired as about 60% of consumers subscribe to a brand’s list to get promotional messages and deals. The key is coming up with a way to make your traditional email promotion stand out from the plethora of other emails a customer receives. For example, provoking emotion, adding humor, incorporating lines from popular music, books, or television shows, using color, images, or fonts that grab attention, or giving a free product all draw in a customer more than a typical strict and straight-to-the-point promotional email. 

5. Seasonal Campaigns

Holiday sales account for 20% of all retail sales, amounting to more than $84 billion in the United States alone. Incorporating a seasonal campaign within your email marketing technique adds another enticing element contributing to your overall conversion rate. Some of the best methods for an effective seasonal campaign include starting early to guarantee being the first to reach their inbox and not get lost in the sea of other holiday emails received, offering an exclusive discount strictly for the holiday, or using urgency in the emails. 

6. Action-Triggered Emails

As opposed to a one-size-fits-all mass promotional campaigns, over 75% of email revenue is generated through triggered campaigns. Triggered emails are automated emails sent after a subscriber performs a specific action or acts in a particular behavioral pattern. They enhance the customer experience, improve customer loyalty, increase revenue, and save time in comparison to traditional marketing emails.  The five key types of triggered emails are: abandonment, product catalog, product recommendation, post-purchase, and reminder emails. 

This image shows the five types of triggered email campaigns that businesses can use for marketing purposes in 2021.

Abandonment triggered emails are automatically sent to subscribers who have acted in a manner of abandoning a category browsed or a product in their cart. These are especially beneficial in that 60% of shoppers returned to complete their purchase after receiving a personalized abandoned cart email, and around 75% of shoppers planned to come back later. 

Product catalog emails are triggered by changes to a brand’s catalog data, such as new arrivals, price increase/ decrease, low inventory, or back in stock. Not only do these engage shoppers, but these also tempt them into making a purchase.

Recommendation emails, typically based on a customer’s wishlist or cross-sell, automatically send with the intent to inspire customers to purchase products not yet discovered or considered, thus, encouraging additional sales. 

Post-purchase emails automatically follow a customer’s purchase in order to confirm their purchase, solicit feedback on their experience or reviews of their product, recommend related products for purchase, or share their purchase on social media.

Reminder emails are triggered by calendar dates which indicate a birthday, anniversary, or time to replenish a product ordered on a regular basis. These keep the brand on the top of a customer’s mind in between purchases. 

7. Re-Engagement Emails

Sent in a sequence of three or more emails following 30-60 days after a subscriber becomes inactive, re-engagement emails focus more on the pursuit of winning back subscribers who have fallen inactive rather than attempting to increase their subscriber list. Maintaining an existing customer is 5 times cheaper than acquiring a new customer. Thus, attempting to re-engage with inactive subscribers benefits the business more than trying to replace them. The majority of subscribers who have fallen inactive are due to receiving too many emails, repetitive or irrelevant content, or they only signed up for a one-time offer. It is important to be wary of these reasons while crafting the re-engagement emails. 

Final Thoughts

Used to inform, promote products or services, drive sales, and build a community around your brand, email marketing is the most profitable channel of direct marketing. It proves to be effective at any stage of the buying process. The benefits are bountiful and the options of how to partake are numerous. The question is not a matter of whether or not you should partake in practicing email marketing, but why have you not already begun? For further guidance or assistance, contact us.