Email isn’t sexy.
The technology behind email has existed for a little over 50 years now. It’s ancient in Internet years.
But it works … still.
Social media platforms are more glamorous. SEO is a bigger buzzword. But email just keeps delivering results. No content marketing or digital marketing plan is complete without email. It’s the best channel to generate results if you know how to use it.
All your other channels matter. But email still serves the steak, even if it doesn’t have the same sizzle. It still matters in 2021 — and you need to know why.
Why Email Works
These days you’re an outlier if you don’t have at least one email address. Email was one of the main drivers of the early Internet. AOL’s launch in 1993 and Hotmail’s launch in 1996 grabbed consumer attention, and Gmail’s launch in 2004 drove even more demand. More than half the world’s population has an email account they’ve accessed in the last three months, and that number is much higher in industrialized nations.
Email engagement remains high. OptinMonster’s figures show an average open rate of 22% and 3.7% click-through rate for lead nurturing email, which destroys the 0.6% rate generated with social media. We’ve seen MUCH higher open and click-through rates than average at RMDS.
You can reach people directly with email in a way you just can’t with social media. Social media may be the preferred medium for top of funnel awareness but email reigns for nurturing customers and moving them through the user journey. Even when you pay for sponsored posts or advertising, you’re still at the mercy of the algorithm to get seen — but email is a one-to-one relationship between you and the customer with no middleman.
Email matters, especially when you optimize it.
Capturing Attention in 2021
The best way for most companies to use email in 2021 is to move people down the funnel.
You have to start with effective email capture. To do that, establish trust and value first. Evergreen content pieces like eBooks, market reports and workbooks are great ways to show value and invite users to share their email.
Social media is another good email capture channel. Look at the recent rise in Substack — links to newsletters with a capture on the other end have been driving much of the demand.
Whatever you offer needs to be useful or you run the risk of losing your subscribers on the back end. That juicy fajita sound when the waiter carries the dish out of the kitchen is nice, but if the steak doesn’t taste good the customer won’t come back.
Priming the Pump
Remember the glory days of spam, when you’d constantly deal with Nigerian prince scams and weight-loss magic diets in your inbox? No one wishes for those days to come back, and technology has minimized the most obvious spam. But there are still spam messages coming in, and some of them are coming from legitimate companies.
This should not happen in 2021. We’ve been doing this too long to make elementary mistakes like that. You have to be careful with your outreach.
Cold email has a place — but it can’t be untargeted. If you do decide to cold email, live by this phrase:
Don’t buy lists. Build lists.
Email is one of the most personal channels you can use. It’s not like social media, a TV ad or a billboard where you expect many thousands of people to see an unpersonalized message. You’re speaking directly to your potential client. Email is a laser beam, not a shotgun.
So if you’re going to cold email, be smart about it. Build a reputation in the vertical you’re targeting with sponsorships, smart comments in groups they frequent, etc. Cultivate a relationship with people they care about. Then use that social proof to open the door.
You can start by saying something like “Hey, I saw your posts in this content marketing LinkedIn group and really enjoyed them. Wanted to reach out and introduce myself.” Starting with a sales pitch immediately won’t work. Don’t say something like “Hey, my name is Ed. Do you want to double your sales in the next month?” You haven’t established the credibility to make that claim.
You need to offer value and build up reputation with your email list to succeed. And that boils down to one point:
Someone has granted you access to them directly. In this world of information overload, that’s a rare thing. It’s an important thing. And it’s also unique — people follow a lot of other people on social media and rely on the algorithm to sort signal from noise, but if you’ve made it into their inbox, they’re taking the responsibility on themselves. You know they’re at least looking at your subject line.
This is a privilege. Treat it as such. You’re in the “friends” group now. Respect their time and attention. When you engage with them, you need to provide value, not go straight to the hard sell. You’re establishing a relationship, not looking for a one-night stand.
Here’s a simple example: the thank you reply for a user sharing their email address. Once you confirm the address for their double opt-in, send an email with real value. It may be the download link to the eBook they want or a guide on how best to use your website. Whatever it is, show that you understand that their email address is sacred and it will only be used for content they find valuable. Use that principle to guide everything you send them.
Email Isn’t Dead
Email has been around for a while. But while it may not be as exciting as some of the newer channels available to you, you can use it to drive results at a higher level than those newer channels can offer.
Take advantage of this powerful tool. Build email into the foundation of your marketing effort. If this idea seems like a huge challenge, know that you don’t need to go it alone. We’re in this with you. If you need a little help, just drop us a line, anytime.
Rainmaker Digital Services