Article first published in March 2018, updated June 2019
It seems like the entire world is online. In today’s world, everyone relies on digital channels for communication, education, entertainment, and shopping. The online world has become a crucial part of everyday existence.
According to Pew Research, an astounding 84% of Americans use the internet; If you look at certain age groups, like younger generations, internet usage is even higher. It’s expected that usage will continue to grow in the coming years.
Given our digital dependence, it’s not surprising to learn that marketers are investing in digital strategies at a super-fast pace. By 2021, an estimated $146 million will be spent on digital marketing, according to predictions from Forrester.
To be successful in digital marketing, however, you need a strategy. With dozens of platforms and tools available, marketers have to figure out how to combine different marketing efforts to form a solid digital strategy that keeps revenue coming in.
While strategies will vary, one thing is certain: The cornerstone of every digital strategy should be email marketing. Before we explain why email marketing is such a crucial component to a digital strategy, let’s look at what kind of marketing efforts contribute to an online marketing plan.
The marketing tactics in a digital strategy
The goal of a digital marketing strategy is to build brand awareness, find new customers, retain existing customers, and increase revenue.
Digital strategies vary, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but, when people discuss digital marketing, they’re usually referring to tactics that fall into the following categories:
- Content marketing. To succeed online, you’ll need great content that connects with customers along their buying journey. From blog articles and how-to guides to videos and infographics, you’ll need content that’s compelling and relevant.
- Email marketing. Using email, you can attract and retain customers with personalized messages that promote your content, brand, and product. You can segment contacts and use personalization techniques to deliver messages that customers can’t ignore.
- Social media marketing. Your customers use social media, so it’s important to maintain a presence that engages customers. Announce new products, ask questions, and run contests to keep fans active.
- Organic and paid search. Help customers find your website and product through organic SEO practices and paid search efforts. Organically, you can create content for your website and blog that customers might search for and combine those efforts with paid search ads to bring customers back to your site.
- Digital advertising. To attract customers, you’ll likely turn to digital advertising. Investing in Google or Facebook ads, for example, is a great way to fill your sales pipeline.
- Online events. Hosting online events like webinars not only helps you establish credibility, but it also provides a great means of data collection. Upon signup, ask customers for information like their email address, job title, and location.
All of these tactics can be used to increase brand awareness, target new customers, find new leads, and ultimately increase revenue for your business.
What is the advantage of email?
While each of these marketing tactics has their advantages, if we had to pick one of the above to focus on at this time, it would be email marketing. Why? Because email is the king of content and brings in an unbeatable ROI compared to other digital marketing channels.
During recent research, we even asked small businesses which channels they used the most, and email marketing came in at second place, only topped by Facebook.
Source: Campaign Monitor
Now, while small businesses say they used Facebook as their primary marketing channel, studies have shown that consumers prefer email marketing over Facebook marketing when it comes to receiving marketing materials, which shows in overall consumer engagement as well:
- Email is shown to be 40x more effective at acquiring new customers than either Facebook or Twitter – McKinsey
- Email marketing has the highest conversion rate at 66%, when compared to social media marketing, direct mail, and others. – DMA
- A message is 5x more likely to be seen via an email than via Facebook message or post. – Radicati
- Seventy-two percent of people prefer promotional content by email, compared to 17% who favor social media channels such as Facebook. – MarketingSherpa
Why email marketing is crucial in digital strategy
Of all the marketing techniques mentioned, email marketing is often ranked as the top contributor to a successful digital strategy. Here’s why.
Email offers an unbeatable ROI.
Marketers gravitate towards email marketing because it’s effective and cost-efficient. Research shows email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, and some companies see an ROI as high as $76 for every $1 spent.
Email ties all your marketing techniques together.
Every marketing effort you make can be promoted via email. Creating content for your blog? Share it with subscribers via email. Launching a social media contest? Invite subscribers to join with an email invitation. Want to drive traffic to your website? Send a product email to subscribers and follow it up with a retargeting ad through paid search. As you can see, no matter what kind of marketing you do, email is at the center or it.
Email connects with more consumers than social media
Social media use is growing. No question about it. However, it still doesn’t outpace email use. More consumers use email and rely on it daily to communicate. OptinMonster offers research to support this:
Email messages have a longer lifespan than social posts.
Email provides a credible, long-lasting way to connect with subscribers. Sure, you can reach subscribers with a Facebook meme or a tweet, but the lifespan of social posts fade quickly. Research shows a tweet’s lifespan is 18 minutes, according to Moz. Your tweet lasts for mere minutes and then disappears into the newsfeed abyss, never to be found again. An email is different. It gets prominent placement in an inbox and is easy to reference later on.
Email offers a way to send tailored messages to new and existing customers.
Advances in email automation have made it easier than ever for marketers to personalize their messages. Personalization goes way beyond adding a subscriber’s name to the subject line. Now you can segment emails, create tailored messages, dynamically change content based on the subscriber’s preferences, and insert more personal fields like job titles and locations.
This kind of personalized marketing is the best way to attract new customers and delight existing ones. Knowing your customer and sending relevant messages has become the ultimate benchmark of a successful marketer.
What you need for email marketing implementation
Fortunately, there are dozens of email marketing tools that can aid your digital strategy. Here are a few tools to explore:
Email and data collection
Make sure customers can join your email list in several ways. Include a signup form on your website and consider adding popups that collect contact information too. You can also gate content. To gain access to the content, customers must provide some personal information like their job title, location, and email address.
Tools to use:
Campaign Monitor offers sign up forms that you can embed on your site and offers integrated pop-up tools like WisePops that will send new contacts right into your Campaign Monitor account.
To juggle timely email marketing demands, you’ll need email automation tools. Tools that allow you to pre-make emails and schedule them, or deliver emails to subscribers based on their behavior.
Tools to use:
Campaign Monitor offers automated journeys that cater to the needs of each subscriber and deliver targeted messages that drive revenue.
Email integrations with CRM software
If you’re using CRM (customer relationship management) software, look for email marketing tools that sync with it. As data comes in from contact forms, for example, it will flow seamlessly into your CRM.
This not only helps you build more detailed customer profiles, but it helps keep data organized, accessible, and useful. Too often, brands collect customer information but don’t utilize it. Connecting your email service provider and CRM gives you a one-stop data shop.
2 real-world examples of emails for lifecycle marketing
Having the right tools to send your emails is all well and good, but it means nothing without considering the customer’s journey. This is why you need to consider lifecycle marketing into your email marketing strategy.
Lifecycle marketing takes into consideration the lifecycle of the consumer as they move through your sales cycle. Email campaigns should be designed around the consumer’s current stage in the cycle while also moving them through to the next.
Take these two email examples of lifecycle marketing. Each one takes into consideration where the consumers are and then takes the next step to help move them along.
1. Campaign Monitor
In this example, Campaign Monitor begins by welcoming their new customer to their services. Instead of trying to upsell them or get them to add on any additions, they give the reader information on where they can learn more about what they just opted into.
Source: Campaign Monitor
Once the user has had time to experiment with Campaign Monitor’s tools and set up their first campaign, the brand sends them a follow-up email asking them how their first campaign went. Instead of just asking for feedback, however, they go a step further and suggest helpful tools that allow the user to measure the results of their campaign further.
Source: Campaign Monitor
This example walks the user through three stages: welcome, feedback, return customer. If all goes well, the customer will move on to the advocacy stage and promote the brand to their friends and colleagues.
2. Charity Waters
Another example of lifecycle marketing can be seen here through the Nonprofit organization, Charity Waters.
The first email in this campaign, again, is a welcome email stating to the reader just how happy that Charity Waters is for having them join their cause. This email provides the subscriber with plenty of options to dig in and learn more about the charity and what they have to offer, which moves the subscriber from the interest stage to the investigative stage.
Source: Digital Marketing Institute
Once the reader’s had some time to digest the information the charity has given them, a second email is sent out pertaining to the November holiday, Giving Tuesday. This email’s intention is to move the subscriber through from the investigation stage to the donation/purchase stage.
Source: Really Good Emails
A sound digital strategy can help brands drive website traffic, increase brand awareness, and lift sales. To succeed, you’ll need to rely on several different types of marketing. You’ll have to create blog content, engage customers on social, and target prospects through online ads. However, the glue that holds your digital strategy together will undoubtedly be email marketing.
Digital marketing is an ever-evolving channel. So take some time to read our guide on the new rules of email marketing to better understand what’s working now and what you may have to look forward to soon.