Email Marketing: How to Make it Work

computer with illustrated envelope

Did you know that email marketing has been around for about as long as emails have? The first email was sent in 1971 by Roy Tomlinson. Then, just seven years later, Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corporation, sent the first email marketing blast to 400 people about their computers – generating $13 million in sales. That’s a lot of sales.

And just like traditional marketing, email marketing has gone through a whole lot of changes in its 43 years as well. Emails got a makeover in the 90s when HTML was first introduced. With HTML, marketers could make their emails stand out by adding graphics to the body of their email. They were able to showcase their products and what their businesses could uniquely offer consumers. As email’s popularity grew, so did the number of email blasts that consumers got.

Today, it feels like 100% of my personal inbox is just marketing emails. Whether it’s from my vet telling me my dog’s teeth cleaning is due, and I better book now! To IKEA telling me that I left a whole bedroom set in my cart from my 2 AM insomnia-induced shopping binge when I decided to redecorate my entire bedroom. Email marketing can be as complex as telling your customer that they need to come back to buy what they were looking at a few hours earlier to as simple as directing a potential new customer to your website.

 The key is to get them to open your email.

When your customers have to wade through a million different emails a day, making sure yours doesn’t get lost can seem like a big task. A captivating subject line that draws in your readers is essential. Think about what draws you to open an email when you’re checking yours throughout the day. What does the subject line contain? Does it have a percentage off of a product or service if you open the email? Maybe it tells you what new products you can find for the month in the body. Subject lines can be tricky, you don’t want to be too vague because your email might end up in the trash bin, but you also don’t want to be so descriptive that your reader passes by because they’ve already got all the information they need. Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact science to it, no guarantee that if you write a specific subject line, your customers will open your email. The best thing to do is try different subject lines, see which one has the best open rate, and go from there.

 And now: the body. 

How often do you spend on a single marketing email? Probably about 10-13 seconds, right? That’s the average amount of time that a customer spends on an email. Like most digital marketing, the trick is to get as much information to your readers as possible. You either want them to be drawn to your website to browse your selection of wonderfully customizable products or to have your name in the back of their mind the next time they need promotional products. In tandem with your subject line, the body of your email needs to be eye-catching and memorable to get your reader to scroll down through the rest of your email to see what you have to offer. It needs to be relevant, whether it’s your top ten trending products or a list of products themed for that time of year.

a wall of canned ham
Don’t make your customer’s email inboxes like this wall full of Spam! Space out your email blasts!

Don’t make it annoying. 

I probably don’t need to say this, but don’t send an email every day – we get inundated with spam emails so often that you don’t want to be viewed as a company that sends emails an obnoxious amount. Instead, make sure each and every email brings value to your customers. Emojis are fine in a subject line but don’t make them the entire subject (also a little pet peeve of mine, don’t use a red or blue dot emoji at the beginning of your email subject please, it gives me the twitchies when it looks like it hasn’t been cleared).

And remember…

We are playing the long game here. Just because you haven’t seen an increase in orders from your email marketing doesn’t mean it’s not working. The biggest goal of marketing is to make it so your company and your services are in the back of your customer’s mind sweetly nestled among the song they can’t get out of their head and their dinner plans – that way the next time they need promotional products for their event or to outfit their employees, they know where to go.

Don’t have time to design your own email blast? 

Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered! Our team designs two email campaigns each month, so you don’t have to! Occasionally we will even throw in an extra-special bonus template, like this month’s Made in the USA-themed one. They’re ready to send, so all you have to do is load and click go! You can learn more about our email campaigns here. Happy emailing!

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(Marketing Content Writer)

Betty is the Marketing Content Writer at SAGE. She is a self-proclaimed, bonafide nerd, and when she's not writing, you can find her playing video games, watching documentaries, hunting for heavy metal records, and going down rabbit-holes on Wikipedia.

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