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Video: Email Marketing Is Still Important (5:36)

It's all about sending the right email to the right person at the right time — that’s where the magic happens.

Why is email marketing still important?

Hi, I’m Courtney with HubSpot Academy. Let’s talk about email and why it’s important to send the right email to the right person at the right time.

Over a decade ago, PC Magazine ran a piece titled “The Death of Email.” It started by asking the reader, “Has email peaked and become more useless?” As marketers, you want to be as effective and efficient as possible, so it’s only fair that you ask yourself, “Is email really worth it? Can it deliver the goods?”

It’s now more than ten years later, and we can see that email is not dead — it might even be more relevant than we’ve ever seen before.

With new technology coming out every day, it can often seem like email is on its way out. But with this new technology, we’re also seeing improvements in email and the different ways we can engage, nurture, and delight our customers with it.

When people discuss email’s place in the modern digital world, those who claim it’s on the way out usually fall into one of two schools of thought.

Some believe that email marketing means SPAM. Now, to be fair, there is still a decent amount of emails out there that are sent and categorized as spam.  And some of those are sent by marketers who purchase lists and send endless email blasts to people who don't want to hear from them.

As inbound professionals, we know this is NOT a good practice and will result in bad email deliverability scores.

There are others who believe that email marketing is old school. Email has been around forever, and people have started to wonder if email is still valuable. Some have started to ask the question, “Haven't people learned to tune email out?”

The overarching question that’s coming from these conversations is, Is email still effective?

And I’m going to answer that with a big resounding, “YES!”

You might be thinking a couple of things. One, “Yes, of course email is effective,” and two, “But why?”

To clear up any misconceptions out there, let’s go over the six main reasons why email is still effective for nurturing your leads and continuing to delight your customers.

Number one. There are one billion Gmail users and more than 4.3 billion email accounts in the world today. These numbers are only projected to go up.

Number two. 91% of consumers report that they check their email at least once a day.

Number three. Email is a channel that you own. While Google and Facebook can change the way they index search results and display content, you’ll always have a one-on-one relationship with the people who open your emails.

Number four. HubSpot found that 86% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes.

Number five. You can be highly personal with email. You can create a targeted, contextual message that’s unique to each person who receives it.

And lastly, number six. We still use email because of the high return on investment — for every $1 you spend, you get $43 in return. That’s a pretty good ROI for your business.

While some things have changed with email — now, for example, more than 66% of emails are opened and read on a mobile device — one thing is clear: Email is still effective. In the inbound world, there are three main reasons that help make email effective.

The first is versatility, the second is personalization, and the last is nurturing.

Email’s versatility is one main reason why it’s still effective. When considering the inbound methodology, email is primarily used to close leads into customers, but it’s also highly effective in continuing to delight your customers.

The second is personalization. The open rate for emails with a personalized message is 17.6%, compared to only 11.4% of emails without personalization.

And lastly, when it comes down to it, the primary function of email is to nurture your leads into customers. Nurturing is all about sending the right email to the right person at the right time.

Nurturing is exactly what it sounds like — helping someone grow.

And providing your leads with helpful, relevant content helps you build relationships with them and continue to nurture those relationships after they become customers.

There are many other aspects of email that make it an effective and relevant part of your inbound strategy, but these three — versatility, personalization, and nurturing — are the foundation.

Inbound businesses recognize that the point of purchase is only the beginning of their relationship with a customer. They use emails to consistently delight people who have already bought their product or service.

This can be as simple as checking in with them or continuing to send helpful resources. Attention is key to delight — a happy customer can be your biggest promoter.

Email is a key part of your inbound success, and it still plays an important role in helping you reach your customers and promoters.

Sending the right email to the right person at the right time - that’s where the magic happens.

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Blog Post: The Who, What, When, and Where of Sending Email

It's estimated that 269 billion emails are sent each day. That is a lot of email, and it might feel like you or your company are responsible for some of that. 

But how do you decide when to send emails? Or, more importantly, who to send your emails to and with what content?


Quiz: Email Marketing Is Still Important

Take this quick quiz to test your knowledge and review the concepts covered in this video.

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Video: How to Send the Right Email (13:49)

Let’s learn about how to send the right email to the right person at the right time and how you can put this into practice at your business.

How do you send the right email to the right person at the right time?

Hi, I’m Courtney with HubSpot Academy. Let’s learn about how to send the right email to the right person at the right time, and how you can actually put this into practice at your business.

Email is an important part of your inbound strategy, and to help you succeed with your growth, there are two key frameworks that will guide your success.

The first framework is made up of the four best practices of setting up your emails for success. The second framework looks at the four steps of building those effective emails. Let’s jump in!

What are the four best practices of creating a successful email? One, Begin with determining who your audience is. In other words, who are you sending this email to? Two, segment your contacts database to match that audience. Three, decide on the content you wish to be sending based off the buyer’s journey. And four, use your emails to nurture those leads into becoming customers.

The question we’re trying to answer with these best practices is: Who’s getting your email and why?

Great email is all about CATS. No, not the cute and furry kind, but the proven facts of successful email: the right content, served to the right audience, delivered at the right time, equals success.

Let’s take a look at our first best practice. We need to find the right audience for you to send to. So what’s the best way to separate your different audiences?

Give yourself a pat on the back if you were thinking buyer personas. Buyer personas are so important to your inbound strategy, and our the first part of our inbound email best practice framework. But how do they help build the foundation for your email strategy?

A clear definition of your buyer persona helps you define your audience. This allows you to create a crystal clear picture of who will be on the other side of your email send, reading your message. Tied with the first best practice of determining our audience  is answering another question:

Where is your audience in the buyer’s journey? Sending a great email to the right buyer persona at the wrong time can be a huge problem.

To quickly review the buyer's journey, there are three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.

In the awareness stage, the buyer realizes they have a problem. In the consideration stage, the buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it. And finally, in the decision stage, the buyer chooses a solution.

If I start sending my contacts emails for coupons, rebates, or offers when they’re just looking to learn more about different options, it might come off as pushy and may cause the lead to unsubscribe. And when someone unsubscribes, you’ve essentially lost them for good.

An email that’s perfectly positioned for someone in the decision stage could be pretty jarring to someone who’s not looking to buy anything right now. But an email with the right information that hits a prospect’s inbox at just the right time, well, that could be a breath of fresh air!

Use buyer personas and the buyer’s journey to guide you in slicing and dicing your contacts into the right segments. Together, they make a great foundation of an effective email and segmentation strategy.

Now we’re going to move onto our second best practice, segmentation.

One fact that often dazzles people is that sending targeted content dramatically increases open rates and clickthrough rates. In fact, emails that are sent to segmented lists receive 62% more clicks than emails sent to non-segmented lists.

You can segment people in an endless amount of ways. Let’s go through the most common and frequently used types of segmentation.

You can segment people by geography, using criteria like IP country, time zone, area code, and address.

This can be helpful when you’re only providing your product or service in a certain location or if you need to route people to different sales reps in different locations.

In addition, you can segment your contacts using data about a person’s company — things like size, the nature of their business, or their specific function within a department.

If you have the ability to track a lead’s behavior on your website, like HubSpot users can do using the Content Optimization System (commonly known as a COS), you can use that tracking to gauge how interested leads are and what they’re interested in. For this you could use conversion events, like downloading an eBook about Twitter, email opens, and page views.

These are just some examples of different ways to segment your contacts, and it doesn’t mean you have to segment by one criteria or another — the real fun happens when you combine some of these elements to really address a persona. For example, you can target a lead who has a specific role in a specific industry by their location and how many times they’ve visited your website.

Now that we’ve selected our buyer persona and segmented our contacts based on different criteria, our third best practice is to select the right content to send to our prospects and customers.

In the world of email marketing, content plus context is what will equal success. Together, let’s explore the different types of content you might send, and how it syncs up with the buyer's journey.

When you’re creating emails for the awareness stage, keep your content easy to consume. Videos, blog posts, slideshares, free tools, and high-level guides are great at capturing interest and educating prospects, which will help move them further down the buyer’s journey.

In the consideration stage, you’re answering the unasked questions that you anticipate are running through your lead’s head. Some suggestions of content to email during this stage are webinars, case studies, frequently asked questions sheets, product whitepapers, and third-party reviews.

And how about the decision stage? This is the time to send those free trials, return on investment reports, product demos, consultations, and estimates or quotes, depending on your industry. You want to be upfront with what you can offer, and it’s time to let the lead get up close and personal to your product.

But how likely is someone to buy based on just one great email? Not very likely. It often takes a series of emails to build trust and earn business. That’s where lead nurturing comes in.

Our last best practice here is lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with prospects with the goal of earning their business when they’re ready.

HubSpot found that ‘lead nurturing emails generate an 8% clickthrough rate compared to general email sends, which generate just a 3% CTR.’

You can’t force your leads to buy from you. But you also can’t afford to lose a lead because their lack of readiness doesn’t match your desire to sell.

The golden rule of sending any type of email is: Emails should add value, not ask for it. So the next time you go to press send, ask yourself one thing: Would I be excited to read this if it showed up in my inbox?

Ok, maybe excited is overreaching, but the idea here is would it add value to your day?

A few key aspects of building success with lead nurturing include: using targeted content, having multiple touches and timely follow-up, sending personalized emails, and encouraging sales and marketing alignment with the content that’s going out to your leads.

These four best practices create the framework for sending the right email to the right person at the right time. But what does that look like in practice?

Let’s get into the details of how to make your emails rock. Our second framework will help you build emails that drive success and growth.

This framework is made up of four steps: one, define a clear goal for your email; two, personalize when appropriate; three, focus on engagement; and four, test and analyze.

Defining a clear goal before you do anything is key, and even more so when you send out an email. Why are you sending this email? This is an important question because it will be hard to write a great email if you don’t have a clear idea of why it’s being sent.

Let’s look at one possible email goal: “Get 400 people to register for a webinar.”  

This is an example of a great starting goal for an email. It’s a clear, actionable goal that you can quantify. Plus, you're either creating net-new leads or qualifying existing ones.

Some other examples of email goals might be generating leads, collecting feedback, educating customers, or nurturing existing leads.

Now let’s talk about the second part of this framework and my favorite subject: Personalization.

Just because your email is going out to 100, 1,000, or even a million contacts, doesn’t mean it has to feel impersonal.

You want to try to speak directly to your lead whenever you can. You don’t want them to feel like you’re sending the same thing to hundreds or thousands of other people — address them personally so it feels like a one-to-one conversation.

Consider sending your email from a real person, not the name of your company. Why? Because people like doing business with other people.

Personalizing the sender’s name and email address increases the email open rate by an average of 3%.

In this example HubSpot email, you can see what personalizing the sender's name and email address will look like.

Any marketing software worth buying should allow you to personalize your emails based on information you know about your prospects. You can personalize any contact property — first name, last name, email, company name. Whatever helps you better speak to your contacts database, use it!

The third part of our framework is focusing on engagement.

You do not want to be misleading here. Tricking people into opening your emails is good for nobody.

A great way to be clear and compelling is to use actionable language. This can include things like using verbs to create an actionable conversation.

Email isn’t the time for fluff. Use actionable language to attract attention and encourage leads to complete an action. Use verbs in your CTAs, such as “get,” “start,” or “reserve.” You can also let your lead know what they can do by clicking your email’s in-text CTAs or buttons — they can save time, or generate more leads, or increase efficiency by x%, for example.

You only get so much real estate in an email, so you want it to be short and sweet. This is especially important with the increase of mobile readers. You’ll want to make use of every component of your email and use them all to achieve your goal by turning each component into a CTA. Take that image you added and link it to your offer. Consider adding a P.S. to your signature that contains an enticing CTA or an additional resource.

Whew. Now that we have a clear goal in mind for our email, we’ve personalized where appropriate, and focused on engagement, we have one thing left to do: Test and then analyze.

Testing and analyzing results is important in every stage of the inbound methodology, but I’d say it might be most important when sending emails.

Here are some things that are worth measuring.

Delivery Rate: This will answer the question: Did you even stand a chance at success? Is your email even getting to your contacts? If you dig in here, there are some specific metrics that will clue you into the health of your email list.

Open Rate: Yes, it’s nice to track the open rate. But note that this metric only tells you the effectiveness of your subject line, not your offer.

Click Rate: Simply put, this metric will track the number of people engaging with your emails. Remember that clicks aren’t valuable just because someone clicked. It’s what lies on the other side of the click that matters.

Also keep an eye on contact churn — this is the number of people who unsubscribed after receiving an email.

When you see certain trends in these metrics, like if your open rates are consistently low, for example, you can start to test different subject lines.

This was a lot of information, so take a deep breath and remember the two frameworks we discussed.

The first framework, our best practices, can help you set up your emails for success. To do this, you should: determine who your audience is, segment your contacts database to match that audience, select the right content and the right time to send to that audience, and use your emails to nurture those leads into becoming customers.

And our second framework looks at the four steps to building a successful email. This means defining a clear goal, personalizing your email, focusing on the engagement, and testing and analyzing the results.

Paying close attention to the emails you’re sending out will help you grow your business and drive success forward.

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Blog Post: 17 Tips & Best Practices for Writing Catchy Email Subject Lines

No matter what they say, people do judge emails by their subject lines.

In fact, 33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone. That's why it's so important to craft subject lines that are compelling enough to get people to click through.


Workbook: Email Marketing Ebook

The beginner's guide to email marketing. Companies often list email as one of their most powerful marketing channels. With email usage worldwide projected to reach 3 billion users by 2020, businesses simply have to continue using email marketing to reach their audiences if they want to scale quickly.

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Blog Post: How to Write a Marketing Email

Email marketing has come a long way in just the past few years. But with all the fancy new functionality brands are using, you know what’s kind of funny? A well-written, plain-text email can perform just as well (if not better) than a highly designed email with tons of bells and whistles.


Quiz: How to Send the Right Email

Take this quick quiz to test your knowledge and review the concepts covered in this video.

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Tool Walk-Through: What Does Great Email Look Like? (8:04)

This tool walk-through will teach you how to create and draft an email inside HubSpot.

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  • Wilson Nurturing Email Pack

Wilson Nurturing Email Pack

Now that we've covered how to send the right email to the right person at the right time, check out a suite of templates commonly found in nurturing email campaigns.

Use this pack to construct a wide variety of emails with a consistent look and feel. Each template features a layout, fields, and instructional copy all tailored to best practices for inbound success.


Quiz: What Does Great Email Look Like?

Take this quick quiz to test your knowledge and review the concepts covered in this video.