Whether you are just starting with email marketing or you're already sending marketing emails every week, you know that emails are one of the best channels to sell. But smart marketers are always looking for new ways they can build relationships and grow revenue.
Should you nurture your subscribers with weekly newsletters? Are dedicated sends (stand-alone emails with one offer) better at optimizing your sales and marketing funnel? What about email digests?
These are all valid questions marketers find themselves asking when selecting the right format to meets their email marketing goals. In this post, we're review the different types of marketing emails you can send, and their respective advantages and disadvantages. This information should help you make an educated decision about picking the most appropriate email type and how to go about using it.
1. Email Newsletters
Many business and organizations send email newsletters in order to stay top of mind for their recipients. Most industrial businesses actually use email newsletters as the foundation of their email marketing program.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of creating email newsletters, you will need to determine your goal. What is it that you want your email newsletter to achieve? You might want to nurture your existing contacts and become the first brand they think of when they need a product or service in your industry. This would be a fantastic goal if you are a B2C company. Or your goal might be to increase sharing so that you attract new people to your list. As you define your goal, think about what metrics you can use to track your progress.
Read more: Marketing Goals Vs. Marketing Strategy
Newsletters are great not only for marketing to prospects, but also for nurturing your existing customers with company news and events, product announcements and feedback requests. Such ongoing communication will help you retain happy customers and collect valuable insights about them, so make sure you're using a marketing CRM like Hubspot to send your emails and track metrics.
For example, if your goal is to drive traffic to specific pages, you would need to monitor clickthrough rates (CTR) closely. A CTR measures the number of times someone has clicked the link versus the number of people who viewed the link.
What kinds of links do they click on the most? Can you upsell to them at all? Which email subject lines have a high open rate? What time of the day is better to send an email? Without a marketing CRM, these questions are left unanswered — and actually one of the top pitfalls industrial sellers and marketers experience.
(Need a refresher on marketing terms? Check out The Essential Dictionary Of Industrial Marketing Terms You Should Know.)
As you work on your newsletter layout and content creation, stay mindful of your goal and make sure you are working towards meeting it by prioritizing the design and placement of calls-to-actions.
Advantages Of Email Newsletters
- Brand Awareness: Similar to newspapers, newsletters create a certain anticipation in readers. Whether it is a daily newsletter or a weekend communication, readers get into the habit of receiving it. So if you're considering sending email newsletters, make sure you're rending them on a regular cadence. If readers enjoy the content, they will most likely stay subscribed to the newsletter. By building a habit in your email subscribers, you enable them to recognize your brand and associate it with a positive sentiment.
- Repurpose Content: Newsletters generally contain information that you have already published. Many companies do quick summaries of their most popular blog posts and link to the articles from their newsletter. In this way, they bring subscribers back to the company website and engage them with more company content.
- Diverse Content: Email newsletters give you the freedom to include different types of content all in one email that might be important to your organization. For instance, the same newsletter can contain a popular blog post, a new offer, an announcement of an upcoming event, information about a discount and a link to a survey. There might even be a video embedded in the email.
Disadvantages Of Email Newsletters
- Diluted Call-To-Action: Due to their forma — a long compilation of information — newsletters can be overwhelming multiple calls-to-action. If you include a series of blurbs or article summaries, the attention of your recipients will most likely be spread across these tidbits of information as opposed to staying focused on a certain element. Of course, you can address this by prioritizing the most important information at the top of the newsletter and include a clear call-to-action after/alongside each block of text.
- Design: With newsletters, the layout becomes a much more complicated task than with dedicated email sends. You’ll have to spend some time deciding on the right placement of images and text, alignment and prioritization of information. This is where A/B testing comes in to play.
2. Dedicated Emails
Dedicated emails, or also known as stand-alone emails, contain information about only one offer. For instance, you can be notifying your target audience about a new whitepaper you have released or invite them to attend an industry event that you are hosting.
Dedicated emails help you set up the context to introduce the main call-to-action. In this sense, they are similar to landing pages. Dedicated sends are generally used to reach out to your entire email database — a practice that is not necessarily efficient in optimizing conversions and minimizing unsubscribes.
While there are instances when all of your subscribers should be notified about a specific marketing campaign, such as a timely new offer or an upcoming event, in most cases you would want to segment heavily based on your subscribers’ different behaviors and interests.
Advantages Of Dedicated Emails
- Focused Call-To-Action: Unlike newsletters, dedicated sends can focus on really driving results for one call-to-action, because there is just one message and one goal.
- Easy To Build: Once you have your email template in place, building dedicated sends should be easy. You will generally grab some of the information already on the landing page, make a few tweaks to it and spend most time on nailing down the subject line.
- Fast To Measure: Naturally, if you have one main message and call-to-action in your dedicated send, it will be easy for you to track progress. You can quickly check the email CTR, landing page views and conversions, and follow the long-term ROI.
Disadvantages Of Dedicated Emails
- Less Consistency: With newsletters, marketers generally stick to a specific schedule. For instance, you might create a weekly newsletter that goes out on Tuesday mornings. Or your company might be sending a weekend newsletter summarizing information published throughout the week. With dedicated sends, the schedule is less clear and, potentially, less consistent. You might use dedicated emails when you have published a new offer (and new products or services are not always launched regularly). Even if you decide to maintain a specific schedule, your subscribers might not realize it or expect communication from you because there is no clear connection between the separate sends.
- Homogenous Content: As dedicated sends contain one message, it’s tough to include a shout-out about some other campaign that might also be important to your organization. Use the landing page your email is linking to to showcase other relevant information. If you're sending an eBook offer, include other offers on your Thank You page, as seen in the example below.
3. Lead Nurturing Emails
As an inbound marketing tactic, lead nurturing is all about understanding the nuances of your leads’ timing and needs. That's why it's important to define your buyer personas to effectively reach your target audience. Otherwise, your emails get left unopened or deleted.
Lead nurturing introduces a tightly connected series of emails with a coherent purpose and full of useful content. In this context, lead nurturing offers more advantages than just an individual email blast.
Advantages Of Lead Nurturing Emails
- It's Timely: Study after study shows that email response rates decline over the age of the lead. You need to use lead nurturing campaigns to take advantage of the dynamic between subscriber recency and CTR. What that means is that if you have a new lead, don't wait to contact them!
- It's Automated: Once you set up lead nurturing, emails are sent out automatically according to your schedule as new leads come in. This leads to a high return on a low investment. You might launch the campaigns and forget about them, but the emails will be doing the work for you, helping you qualify leads and push them down the sales funnel faster. (See what we mean by needing a marketing CRM platform? Here are our other 11 Digital Marketing Tools We Can't Live WIthout.)
- It's Targeted: Studies show that targeted and segmented emails perform better than mass email communications. Lead nurturing enables you to tie a series of emails to a specific activity or conversion event. You can craft your follow-up email based on the action a lead has taken on your website, thus showing that you are aware of their interests in the topic and what they might need next. Based on this information, lead nurturing emails can highlight reconversion opportunities that tie back to their earlier interests.
Disadvantages Of Lead Nurturing Emails
- Generates Less Concurrent Buzz: With dedicated sends to your email database, you can generate a lot of buzz around your brand. If you're sharing a brand new product or service, there is usually an increase in engagement resulting from the simultaneous forwarding and social media sharing (especially if you have Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter sharing links in your email). Lead nurturing cannot quite achieve the same buzz effect because it is programmed to schedule fewer emails to segmented audiences. So while there will still be sharing, you won’t see a huge spike in traffic and conversions on a specific day. Rather, the visits and leads will trickle in.
- Passive Tracking: Because lead nurturing is automated and marketers often forget about it after they’ve set it up, it also tends to be under reported. Make sure your lead nurturing campaigns include unique tracking tokens. Remember to revisit your marketing analytics often to evaluate performance and prove the ROI of your efforts.
Learn how emails and inbound marketing together drive growth for manufacturers and industrial companies.
4. Sponsorship Emails
All the types of marketing email we have discussed so far assume that you are sending communications to your own email database. If you want to reach a different audience and gain new leads, you might want to try out sponsorship emails with display ads. A sponsorship usually entails you paying to including your copy in another vendor’s newsletter or dedicated send.
Sponsorship email campaigns are one component to a paid media strategy, which could also include pay-per-click (PPC), display advertising, mobile advertising, affiliate advertising, etc. In this paid media universe you have the benefit of being super specific when describing the target audience you want to reach.
Read more: Display Ads Vs. Search Ads Vs. Social Ads
Generally, you’ll have to design your email copy or ad placement in alignment with the specifications listed by the vendor. Check if the partner has any size restrictions or image suggestions. Provide them with both the HTML and plain text version of the copy in advance.
The key element in sponsorship emails is to evaluate the vendor. Make sure you trust that they are a credible partner (if you're not already in a business relationship).
Advantages Of Sponsorship Emails
- Highly Targeted: The biggest advantage of sponsorship emails is that you can be specific in defining the segment you want to reach. Get granular in identifying the different characteristics of your target audience — number of employees, geographic location, their interests and challenges, etc.
- Exact ROI: There is a very specific investment in sponsorship emails — you know how much you are paying the vendor. Now you only need to track the results you are getting (visits, leads, sales) in order to determine what is your return on the cost you have paid. Knowledge of the exact ROI will help you fit in your marketing budget and build accurate marketing reports at the end of the quarter.
Reach 300,000+ buyers today with a display advertisement in the daily email newsletter, Thomas Industry Update.
Disadvantages Of Sponsorship Emails
- It's Paid: Sponsorship emails are being sent to people who you haven’t earned as subscribers (they didn’t opt-in to your list). In this context, you have to pay in order to get content in front of them. Vendors offer different payment packages and here you enter the land of negotiation. Some of the most popular options are paying a flat free, paying based on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) model or paying per new lead acquired.
- Dedicated Resources: Sponsorship emails and management of the vendor relationship require a big marketing effort and tight control. In addition to brand synergies, you'll also need to understand the data behind their emails. If your industrial business has a small marketing team, this type of email marketing can be difficult to execute.
5. Transactional Emails
Transactional emails are the messages that get triggered by a specific action your contacts have taken and enable them to complete that action. For instance, if you are signing up for an industry webinar, you will fill out a form and then receive a transactional (thank-you) email, which gives you login information in order to join. If you are using a double opt-in, people will receive an email asking them to click on a link in order to confirm their registration.
Transactional are also the messages you receive from eCommerce sites that confirm your order and give you shipment information and other details about your recent purchase.
Advantages Of Transactional Emails
- High CTR: Recipients anticipate transactional emails because they help them complete an action. That is why they open them and click on them. Take advantage of this dynamic and include a highly customized call-to-action (maybe even as a P.S.) to leverage the fact that the subscriber is fresh and very actively engaged with your email communication.
Disadvantages Of Transactional Emails
- Creates An Obstacle: Sometimes the idea of taking yet another action discourages contacts from completing their activity altogether because it seems to them like they are jumping through hoops.
Email Marketing Nurtures Leads To Customers
These types of emails are a great way to diversify your content and experiment in your email marketing strategy. Need help writing the emails out or figuring out what content to offer your prospects? Contact our marketing team to turn those prospects into customers — we're manufacturing and industrial experts too!
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