Email marketing has been around forever, and for good reason. It’s the most direct and effective way of connecting with your leads, nurturing them, and turning them into customers, consistently winning out over all other marketing channels.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of setting up your email marketing funnel so that you can acquire leads and generate sales, 24/7.
Email marketing is the highly effective digital marketing strategy of sending emails to prospects and customers. Effective marketing emails convert prospects into customers, and turn one-time buyers into loyal, raving fans.
Pro Tip: Check out these digital marketing best practices to level up your marketing game.
This guide is for those who’re ready to commit to email marketing. If you’re unsure, you may want to read our guide on why you need to build an email list RIGHT NOW!
This is a long and detailed guide, so we’ve broken it down into different sections you can get to using the links in the Table of Contents below.
By using this definitive guide, you’ll know:
- How to build an email list full of targeted customers.
- How to optimize your emails for the highest open rates and click-through rates (CTR).
- How to automate the process of nurturing your leads and turning prospects into customers.
Then let’s dive into the most comprehensive guide to email marketing on the entire internet.
Table of Contents
The Importance of Email Marketing
We’ve covered the biggest question, what is email marketing, but haven’t gotten into why email marketing is so very important for your business. Let’s talk about that now.
Despite the rise of social media and unsolicited spam email (which is never a good marketing strategy, by the way), email remains the most effective way to nurture leads and boost customer loyalty.
There are many reasons you should make email marketing one of your top priorities, but here are the top 3:
1. Email is the #1 communication channel. Did you know that at least 99% of consumers check their email on a daily basis? That can’t be said of any other communication channel.
2. You own your list. On any social media platform, your account (along with all your fans and posts) could be suspended or deleted at any time, for any reason, without notice. However, you own your email list. No one can take those leads away from you.
3. Email just converts better. People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than those who do not receive email offers. In fact, email marketing has an ROI (returns on investment) of 4400%. That’s huge! And if you are wondering if social media converts even better, think again: the average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media.
Email is simply the best way to make sales online.
How-To: Email Marketing
Wondering how to get started with email marketing? Email marketing is made up of several moving pieces, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Here’s how it breaks down…
You start with your list. OptinMonster has made it super easy to start collecting leads right away, even without an email marketing service, with our Monster Leads integration.
With Monster Leads, you can begin building your email list, and even begin reaching out to leads, while keeping your leads stored safely inside your OptinMonster dashboard. Then, when you’re ready…
You add an email service provider. There are a ton of them out there, but we take the guesswork out and make it really easy to choose the right one for you and your goals.
After those two steps, it’s just a matter refining your lists and your messaging so you’re reaching your audience and really connecting with them. Plus, you’ll be able to set up some automation in your email service which will make things much easier for you.
Ready to jump in? Let do it!
Growing Your Email List
What most people do when they want to build an email list is to put an optin form on their website and hope that people sign up. Unfortunately, this strategy usually doesn’t work very well.
To grow your email list, you need to attract people with a compelling offer. You need a lead magnet.
What is a Lead Magnet?
A lead magnet (a.k.a. an optin bribe) is something awesome that you give away for free in exchange for an email address. It doesn’t have to cost you anything to create; most lead magnets are digital materials like PDFs, MP3 audio files, or videos that you can create yourself at minimal or no cost.
It can be absolutely anything you want, so long as it provides value to your visitors for free.
Some popular lead magnet examples are:
- A cheat sheet of tips or resources
- White papers or case studies
- A webinar
- Free trials or samples
- A free quote or consultation
- Quizzes or a self-assessment
- A coupon
The possibilities are endless!
For even more lead magnet ideas, check out our list of lead magnet ideas to grow your email list.
What Makes a Good Lead Magnet?
You already know that a lead magnet needs to provide value for free. But if you want your lead magnet to be highly effective, here are 5 criteria for you to consider:
1. Easily consumed: Lead magnets are only effective when the audience uses them, so if you deliver a 300-page manifesto, you won’t gain traction.
2. Actionable: Lead magnets need to provide an actionable tool, skillset, or useful information that your audience can apply.
3. Creates noticeable improvement: People continue to buy products and services if they work well. Your lead magnet will become successful if it’s as valuable as your products and services.
4. Relevant: If you’ve done your homework about your prospects, you’ll have no trouble coming up with a lead magnet subject that solves problems.
5. Immediately available: People love instant gratification, so give it to them right then and there. Check out 4 Ways to Deliver a Lead Magnet to see how easy it is to get your lead magnet out there using OptinMonster.
Let’s take a look at a few real-life lead magnet examples.
At OptinMonster, we share a list of 12 proven strategies for converting abandoning visitors into subscribers.
Syed Balkhi offers a list of tools and resources for growing a small business.
Here’s another example of a lead magnet we used as a content upgrade to a specific blog post.
Now that you know what a lead magnet is and know how to create a highly-effective one, you’ll need to create your optin form.
How to Create an Optin Form that Converts
The purpose of your optin form is to convey the big benefit of your lead magnet, so your website visitors subscribe to your email newsletters in exchange for getting the lead magnet.
To create an optin form that converts, it needs to have the following components:
1. Enticing headline: Make sure your headline clearly describes the big benefit of your lead magnet
2. Helpful description: Is your description brief, clear and to the point? Use bullet points to help the reader’s eye quickly scan what they will get.
3. Attractive visuals: Include an image of the lead magnet if you can (like a mockup of your eBook). A photo of a person looking towards the optin form is also a great way to boost conversions. We’ve got a great list of visual content creation tools that can help you create amazing visuals.
4. Simple form: Don’t try to ask for more than a first name and email address. Asking for too much information too soon will kill your conversions.
5. Compelling subscribe button: Make sure to use a contrasting color for your subscribe button, so that it really pops out on the page. Also, use non-generic email copy that compels people to click right away (“Send me the 7 steps!“).
For even more tips on creating a high-converting optin form, check out our checklist for creating the ultimate optin form.
Once you’ve created your optin form, you’ll need to install it on your site. There are 14 high-converting places to put your optin form:
One of these is absolutely mandatory if you want to get as many subscribers as possible. That’s the exit-intent® popup.
An exit-intent® popup shows up at the precise moment the user is about to leave your website. This popup doesn’t interrupt the reading experience and only triggers when the user is leaving. This is the perfect time for asking them to subscribe because likely they’ve read your content and found your site helpful.
Using an exit popup works amazingly well, and in fact, our customers consistently see significant results using exit-intent. For example, Neil Strauss was able to increase conversions 125% with exit intent!
To learn more about exit-intent® popups, read our post on 40 Exit Popup Hacks That Will Grow Your Subscribers and Revenue.
Also, check out our gallery to see real-life exit-intent® popup examples.
Choosing an Email Marketing Service
Before you can email anyone, you need their permission. If you started with an optin, you got that permission, so hooray! This is what makes opt-in email marketing great. If you didn’t use an optin, use extreme caution.
While buying email lists may sound like a great shortcut, it isn’t. And we do not recommend it.
We also do not recommend adding emails from people’s business cards that you collected at conferences. Unless you have express permission to send them your email newsletters, your emails are spam. And it doesn’t serve your business anyway.
People who don’t opt-in specifically for your email list are not the people who will buy from you. Emailing them anything at all would be a complete waste of your time and money.
What you need in order to get started the right way is 1) an optin form and 2) an email marketing tool.
OptinMonster helps you create smarter optin forms and A/B test them without hiring a developer. This, and along with many other reasons, makes OptinMonster one of the best WordPress plugins for generating leads. You can quickly and easily create dynamic, targeted, and personalized optin forms that can be embedded on your site anywhere you want.
You also have the option to make them appear at certain times to specific people browsing your site to maximize your conversions. We’ll talk more about how to create high-converting optin forms in the next section.
To send emails, here are a few of the top email providers that we recommend:
Constant Contact is one of the largest email marketing services in the world. They allow you to manage your subscribers and create professional email designs with templates and drag-and-drop editing tools. You can also send automated emails to new subscribers using Constant Contact Lists + OptinMonster and track their performance.