How to use email for marketing – without winding up in the Junk folder

Email marketing used to have a bad reputation. Marketers like to claim that email has the highest return on investment of any tactic, but for a lot of people, it can feel very “salesy”, sleazy, and yes: “spammy.”

While that reputation still lingers, things have changed a lot! Strict legislation (like CASL) and well-established best practices dictate what businesses should and shouldn’t do in regards to email marketing. 

There’s no doubt that you can (and should) start implementing an email marketing strategy to promote your business! Follow the guidelines below for a non-invasive approach to email marketing.

Should you use popup forms?

It’d be great if all your website visitors subscribed to your email list wouldn’t it? That way, you could start a conversation and send them valuable content and offers. That’s exactly why there’s a newsletter subscription form on your website. But let’s face it, most people simply ignore it – it happens on all websites. An effective way to increase email sign-ups is to use popup forms.

Popups are small windows that appear on your screen when you’ve browsed a website for a while. If you proactively ask people to subscribe and you give them a compelling reason, more people will.

If you decide to use popup forms, there are a few things you need to get right to avoid rubbing website visitors the wrong way:

  • Offer something relevant and valuable to new subscribers
  • Provide a strong call to action (i.e. subscribe now to receive a free ebook)
  • Be timely (make sure the popup appears when the visitor is done reading or browsing – not when they land on your website)

That being said, if you feel weird about using popups on your website and think it’s going to annoy your visitors, it’s OK not to use them! At the end of the day, you need to be comfortable with the marketing strategies that you implement. You only have to do what works for you.

Should you personalize emails?

Personalization in emails has been talked about for a long time. The classic example is inserting your subscribers’ first name at the beginning of your email (i.e. Hi John). However, using personal information like that can feel like a cheap trick. People know when an email is sent to a mailing list and not to them personally – and they’re more and more sensitive about the use of their personal data. So personalization is not only ineffective but can also make people wary of the information your business has.

How do you decide who gets which email?

Instead of thinking in terms of email personalization, marketers and business owners should focus on segmentation. This means separating your list into categories based on things like interests, purchase history, industry, etc. Ultimately, you want the content of your email to be as relevant and useful to your recipients as possible. This approach will yield great results and won’t feel invasive.

How often should you send emails?

It’s just not effective to send one identical promotional email to thousands of people and pray for a few sales. Most people will open many of your emails before they take action. So play the long game with email marketing; share tips, industry news, how-to’s, and other types of valuable content. And once in a while, mix in a promotion or another incentive to act. 

At the same time, you don’t want to send too many emails to your subscribers. What’s the right balance? It’s hard to tell. It will vary greatly from one business to another. Generally, once a week is a good frequency; once a month is the bare minimum to stay top of mind. 

How do you keep people reading?

Emails are especially effective when they are sent to customers as opposed to prospects. Customers already know, like and trust you. They’ve already committed to your business and interacted with you or your staff. Simply put, your customers are your best email subscribers. 

But that doesn’t mean that you should only contact customers. Email is also great for nurturing leads - as long as those people have given consent and are not surprised to receive emails from your business. Find out more about consent and anti-spam regulations at the CASL link above. 

Hopefully, these tips help you feel good and confident about making email a crucial part of your sales and marketing process.