Email Marketing: Making In-roads Through the Inbox


Welcome to today’s webinar, Email Marketing: Making In-roads Through the Inbox. I’d like to start by telling you just a little bit about Albers Communications Group. For those of you who are not familiar with us, we are a full-service PR and digital marketing, and communications agency headquartered here in Omaha, Nebraska. We are the largest PR firm in Omaha, and we strongly believe that PR and digital marketing go hand-in-hand and they really work best when they’re used as part of an integrated communications strategy. We represent clients in all 50 states and in Canada. Our PR and social media specialists help our clients achieve positive exposure nationally and locally within their own markets. We have a specialized expertise that is helping companies become leaders in their markets and in their industries.

I want to personally thank you for joining us for today’s webinar. Several of you have probably participated in past webinars that Albers has hosted, and I’m glad you could join us again today. If this is your first webinar with us, welcome to the Albers webinar series. My name is Julie Swartz. I am the Director of Account Management for Albers Communications Group. I oversee the digital marketing service that we provide for nearly 100 clients, and a key component of that service is email marketing, which is what we’re going to talk about today.

Here’s a look at the topics that we’re going to address today. First, we’re going to take a look at whether or not email marketing is still a relevant practice. Then, we’re going to look at who you should be targeting in your email marketing efforts. Then we’ll look at content that must be included in emails, as well as content that perhaps should not be included in emails. We will identify the different types of emails, and how you can measure the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts. Then, we’ll finish by taking a look at a few best practices for successful email marketing campaigns, and then at the end we will take time to answer any questions that have been chatted in. As I mentioned earlier, throughout the presentation, please use the chat function on the lower left-hand part of your screen if you have any questions.

First thing we’re going to look at is – should you even be doing email marketing? Is this a relevant use of your time, and is it effective today? The answer of course is yes, because an effective email strategy allows you to target your message to specific audiences and really gives you an opportunity to showcase your expertise. What are you good at? What makes you different from your competition or from other organizations? Connecting with your audience keeps your business or your organization at the forefront of people’s mind. We know there’s a lot of competition for our attention out there, and you want your message to be the one that’s heard. So, making a personal connection with your audience and through their inbox is a great way to keep you top-of-mind for your audience. Email is a great tool for that personal connection. It allows you to deliver a custom, targeted message to a specific audience right in their inbox, on their mobile phone, or straight to their tablet. Another advantage to email strategy is that you can track who’s receiving your messages. Tracking this data allows you to see if your recipients are opening your emails, and then if they’re visiting your website from your emails. Email can be a very valuable tool in driving traffic to your website. Certainly, your business or your organization has a website, and probably a Facebook page, and you might even have a Twitter or blog. We all face the challenge that sometimes it can be really difficult to drive people to those properties. By linking to those spaces in your emails and showing your audience the content that they can find on your website or on your Facebook page, you can effectively drive traffic to those properties. What’s nice about this is that you can track your analytics to show that they’re arriving at your website because they clicked a link that was in your email.

Who should you target in your email marketing strategy?  The answer really is everybody. It can be current clients, prospective clients, your former clients, and any other people who could potentially refer business to you. The message to each of those audiences can be different, but that’s the advantage of having an in-depth email marketing strategy. So naturally, you’re going to have announcements and information that you want to share with your existing clients. You may be regularly sharing information that relates to the service that you’re providing, or details about an upcoming event, or developments in the news depending on what your business is. You probably also have a database of prospective clients, and you can tailor your message to them in order to encourage them to take the next step in doing business with you – call in your office, scheduling an appointment or a meeting with you – whatever the case may be. It’s a way for you to stay top-of-mind with them so that they continue to see you as a credible resource or option. And then of course, you don’t want to forget about your former clients. Just because you may no longer be doing business with them or you may not have a relationship with them, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be or shouldn’t be communicating with them by providing helpful information, news on trends and developments, because you could possibly convince them to do business with you again or perhaps refer somebody else to do business with you. Because emails allow you to share information and important messages, you should be encouraging your recipients to share those emails by forwarding them on to other people that perhaps you don’t have a relationship with. By including an opt-in button or a join our mailing list button like the one you see here on the screen, you can acquire new email addresses, and thereby that expands your audience. It’s important that you keep in mind that you need to be including only people who have opted in to receive your emails. You don’t want to be spamming your recipients with emails they aren’t interested in receiving. We all know how annoying that can be to have your inbox inundated with emails that are not interesting or that you just don’t want to be receiving. Your emails should include a convenient unsubscribe option so that your recipients have the option to choose to be removed from your list. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always be building your email database with emails that you collect while you’re out networking or meeting people, so just because you start with an initial list, that list should continue to grow constantly. You should be collecting emails from your website visitors as well, so make sure on your homepage that you have an easy to find button for people to opt-in to your mailing list.

Let’s take a look at some of the content that every email that you distribute needs to include. As I mentioned earlier, emails can be an effective tool in helping you drive traffic to your website or to your social platforms, so your Facebook page, your Twitter, LinkedIn, a blog if you have one. That’s ultimately your goal. You want to get people to your property so they can learn more about what you have to offer to them. Including a clear and easy to find button like the ones that you see on the screen here – this is really essential. Make sure these icons are in a location that’s easy to spot, and that they link to your different spaces, so that all your visitors need to do is click that Facebook button and they’re directed straight to your Facebook, or to your LinkedIn or to your Twitter. Linking to research or articles or other credible information that may support your position also can lend legitimacy to your message, so if you want to impact or change people’s behavior in some way, say you want them to buy your product or utilize your services, admire your work, visit your website – whatever the case may be – linking to outside content that supports that be a great way to convince your audience to take that action that we’re hoping they’ll do. And, of course, every email needs to include your contact information, and you want to make it very easy for your recipient to contact you, so your phone number, your email address, Facebook page, website, all those things we talked about – they all should be very clear and easy to find on your emails.

So, how do we know what is worth sharing with our audience? It’s important that the information that we’re sharing with them is interesting to our audience, and its content that teaches them something that they may not already know. Sharing news about industry trends communicates that your business or your organization is staying on top of changes or developments in your industry. This helps to further establish you as a credible partner or resource to your audience. Sharing important news about your company can be an effective way of increasing your credibility among your audience as well, for example – the example that’s on the screen here – this is an email that we recently sent. We were excited to share the news about our recent public relations awards that we had won, and we wanted to share this news with everybody. Of course, we can post this on our website and we can put it on our Facebook page, but by including it in an email that we distribute right away to everybody, we can insure that our audience is seeing this news. We’re proud of the work that we do for our clients, just as you are, and that’s news that you should be sharing with them. Sharing breaking news that affects your business or your clients business is important as well. This can go a long way in reassuring your client that you’re taking care of things for them, or explaining how this news or development could impact their business. They’ll appreciate hearing that news immediately from you as opposed to somebody else. For example, one of our clients is a financial advisor and he frequently is sharing new developments with his clients by sending emails to them right away as things are coming out, and his clients really appreciate hearing that news from him and knowing that he is staying on top of developments so that they don’t need to worry about it.

I want to spend just a minute talking about different types of emails. The format can differ depending on the information that you’re wanting to share with your audience. Perhaps you just want to share information about an upcoming event or development. If sharing that information is all you want to do, include all of it in the body of your email, and of course don’t forget to include those links to your website and your Facebook as well as your contact information. There’s also a jumped article email format, and that’s what this example here is. This is a great option if you have multiple things that you want to share with your audience. For example, you may have information about an upcoming even that you want to share, and you want to drive people to your website to get more information about that event or to register for that event. But within that same email, you may also want to share information about new research or about an article, and you may want to link your audience directly to that article, so you can include a short introduction about both of those events with a link for where you want them to go to get additional information. And again, this is a great tool to help you drive traffic to your website, or to your Facebook, or wherever that additional information can be found. Another example is utilizing a video in your emails. We all know that videos are becoming increasingly popular as a way to share your message in a different format, so including a video message or a link to a video can provide a more interesting way to share your message. This example here is an email that many of you probably received from us. It was an email that we were using to promote an upcoming webinar. When you clicked on this screen, it opened into a video of Alison talking about the upcoming webinar that we were hosting. So, videos are a great way to talk about an upcoming event. You can even link to a video that perhaps you created to help you promote your video, and that’s a great way to share that with your clients or your audience.

Measuring the effectiveness of your email strategy can be really easy for you, because a good email platform will provide clear tracking data for you. So, for each email distribution that you employ, you can track the open rate, the deliverability rate, and the clickthrough rate. An open rate is going to tell you the percentage of your recipients that opened your email. An open rate is varied by industry, but the average open rate across all industries is about 15%. We find with some of our clients, they are averaging about 20% and even up to 40% with open rates. Looking at your deliverability rate will tell you how good your list of emails is, so if about 90% or more of your emails are being delivered, you know you have a good list of updated, current email addresses. We really like to see those percentages up around 95% to 100%, and if they dip below that, it’s a good indication that you should probably devote some time collecting new emails and maybe reviewing the emails that are on your list, reviewing emails that are old or outdated. Finally, the clickthrough rate shows you how many of your visitors are clicking on the links that you’ve included in your email. We’ve talked about linking to articles or to your website to research those types of things. The industry standard shows that a 2-3% clickthrough rate is considered good.

I wanted to spend just a minute or so talking about some best practices for an effective email strategy. Starting with the design of your email, this is really important – I’m going to show you an example on the next screen – it’s an opportunity for you to increase your brand awareness in a very visual way. Your email template should include your company or your organization logo, and the design of that template should mirror the look of your website. The look should be consistent between your emails and your website, and for that matter it should be consistent from one email to the next, so design one template that you’re going to use for all of your email distributions. It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t want to overwhelm your recipients with emails. We all know what it’s like to be bombarded with emails from a company or a business or a store or an organization, with too many emails we eventually just start to tune them out altogether. In fact, most people (if you’re like me) get to a point where you just delete the messages because you’re tired of seeing them, and you may not even open them or read what’s in them. We distribute emails as frequently as twice a month for our clients, and for others it may be just quarterly – of course, that’s going to depend on the nature of your business and the messages that you want to share. It’s also important to keep in mind that you target your audience at the ideal time. Research consistently shows that emails perform best when they’re received at 10 o’clock in the morning on either Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. So, keep that in mind and try to incorporate those times and days into your strategy.

Here’s an example that I mentioned. This is an example of an email that we distributed for one of our clients, the Catholic Mutual Group. Up here on the left-hand side is an example of an email that we sent, and then on the lower right-hand corner is their home page. You can see their logo is in the same place, and it matches each other. The format and general layout matches one another, and the color scheme is the same. Like I said, this can go a long way in solidifying brand awareness with your audience, for your company or for your organization.

Here is another example that I wanted to take a look at. As you probably know, Albers Communications Group is a PR firm and we provide media relations services for clients as well as digital services. On your screen is an example of an email with content that was developed for a public education campaign that we helped to create for our client Home Instead Senior Care. The campaign focused on safety measures that families can take to keep a senior’s house safe, and it included free resources that were available for families. We also promoted this same concept through press releases and contacts with news media across the United States. This is an integrated approach – it’s a great way to promote your message in multiple channels on and offline.

With that, that wraps up what I wanted to share with you about email marketing. Before we get into the questions, I would like to invite you to our next webinar. It will be on Wednesday, March 18th at 10 o’clock in the morning, that’s central time. Our video production manager Ann Hadfield will be presenting “Brands on (Digital) Film: Incorporating Video”. Ann’s going to walk through some reasons why video should really be included in your next marketing strategy. Again, that’s Wednesday, March 18th at 10 A.M. central. You can register for any of our upcoming webinars online at

One last housekeeping item – I would like to ask that each of you take just a minute to fill out the questionnaire that will appear on your screen at the end of the presentation today. If you could include your comments about today’s webinar, or share any topic suggestions that you’d like us to address in future webinars, that does help us quite a bit.

Now, I would like to take just a few minutes to answer any questions that have been chatted in. If you have not done so already, please feel free to chat in your questions through the box in the lower left-hand side of your screen.

Okay Julie, I do have a question. That question is: how many emails in a week would you consider to be too many? That’s a great question, and really it depends on the content that you’re sharing and the market that you’re sharing it with. That’s going to vary, of course, by the type of business that you do. Think about yourself, and remember some of the things that we’ve talked about. The content that you should be sharing needs to be of interest to your audience and it needs to be telling them something that they don’t already know. If you can at all combine your messages into one in a week, I think your audience would appreciate that. Obviously, things come up throughout the week and you can’t always predict that, so I would say just keep those things in mind. Is this information that is going to be of interest to them, and is it something that they don’t already know and need to know?

Alright thank you, I have another question. Is there any reason to incorporate non-digital hard copy mailings along with digital email? That’s a great question, and we do have some clients that do both. Believe it or not, there are people that don’t have email still, or work in an industry where perhaps they’re not checking their email all of the time. You may still have a need to share important ideas and information with them, so I would say if you’re going to adopt a digital strategy for your email marketing, by all means try to make that list as comprehensive as possible. But, you may have people that you want to make sure not to leave off. In that case, if you do have part of your audience that is not active on email, you may still see a need to, yes, do a hard copy mailing.  I see that declining more and more, though.

Any other questions?

Okay, great. Again, thank you for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed the presentation. If you would like to discuss any of these strategies or any other communications strategies for your business, please feel free to contact me. With that, we are done. Thank you.

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