Email is a fantastic tool for connecting with people in a different way than social media. Are you trying to grow your network? Or trying to promote your service to business contacts? Read on to learn why and how, in 2017, you can capture the potential of email marketing to meet your business goals.

UPDATED: This post was updated in January 2018. It was published initially in October 2017

Email is free

The majority of social media channels are becoming pay-to-play. Facebook’s recent timeline update means posts from Pages will rarely show up in the Facebook Feed.

Reach has been declining for business posts for years. As social media channels get busier and businesses get better at using them, the networks themselves see the cash stacking up, and are constantly looking for more ways to make money from you doing business.

Email marketing is free when you use platforms like MailChimp. Other services like ConvertKit or Drip charge a subscription fee for using their software, but the emails themselves are always free.

Email is easy to personalise

Have you ever seen a Twitter advert or a boosted Facebook Post with your name in it? People can do that now, but it still feels kind of creepy.

There’s more to personalising emails than just names though. The thing about emails is that you know exactly who’s getting them, and because of that, you can know things about them, like their place of work, their job title, their business’s challenges. You can do your research about the people on your list and you can segment them in a way that lets you target them based on their needs rather than their characteristics.

Gathering data about your subscribers should always be above board, but it’s more important now than ever. New data protection regulations (GDPR) mean you have to follow very stringent rules when gathering and using data about your leads and prospects.

Email is more popular than social networking

Are you are specifically targeting 16-24 year olds as your ideal customer? If so, then social media may be the best place for you.

Otherwise, think back to the biggest contract your business has won so far. How old was the person who you reached out to to win it? How old was the decision maker? The Office for National Statistics published their report on internet use in 2017 and found that every age group above 25 shows greater use of email than social networking sites. 88% of 45-54 years olds use the internet to send and receive emails, but only 68% use it for social networking.  The older your audience gets, the bigger the gap between the two.


How to get started with email marketing

So what if you’re now running your business and looking to start marketing the business itself in a more intentional way? You’ll need a list of email subscribers to get you started, so leverage the one you already have from networking, and invite those people to subscribe to your marketing emails. Send them a ‘taster’ as a one off, and if they don’t bite, leave it until the next time you chat anyway, to offer again. You won’t engage them all, of course, but you’ll round up a few to get you started.

Make sure you’ve read up the new GDPR rules for data use and email marketing, so you’re not annoying people or putting yourself at risk of a hefty fine.

Once you have got started, make sure you’re promoting it as well – put a sign up form on your website, and link to it occasionally on your social media profiles, so that your newer followers can find out about it too. When you meet people in person who you think might be a good fit, you drop your newsletter in conversation and ask if they’d be interested in subscribing. If they agree, you can send them the sign up link directly.

Researching your email newsletter

What should you actually write about in your email marketing? Now that’s really a much longer topic than I can cover here, so I’ll just give you a few pointers about doing your research.

  • Firstly, any blog posts, videos etc that you’re creating you should be linking to in your emails, either as the main content, or in a ‘other news’ link section.
  • Secondly, get yourself signed up to the email newsletter of businesses like yours, and see what kind of content they’re publishing, and what you’re actually interested in reading.
  • Come up with a variety of options for your subject line and test them in a headline analyser, and choose the one that you like that scores highly. Use A/B testing tools within your newsletter programme to see what gets the best response, and keep doing that. MailChimp offer a number of testing options with their free plan.
  • Finally, you can use all your normal content prompts and sources for any other content you create, or come up with a recurring theme.

Tracking your email marketing success

So you can measure the success of your emails in more detail, we’ve put together a quick download on how to create a trackable URL that feeds awesome data into your Google Analytics. It helps you see more easily which emails your traffic is coming from. You do get this data in MailChimp and other programmes, but with the tracking URLs you can see in Google Analytics not just that they clicked on a link in your email, but also where they went next, how long they stayed, and all that other juicy data.

Download the Tracking URLs cheat sheet