4 Email Marketing Strategies for 2018 (Including What GDPR Means For You)

The very first email was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson. It was a short note, sent from one computer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to another computer in the same room. It was another 20 years before email became popular. Today, email is ubiquitous.

You need an email address to do just about anything online including pay your bills, sign up for a social media account, access your bank account, or apply for a job.

Here are a few more email facts you might not know:

It is clear email matters, but why does it matter for your business? 

Why Does Email Marketing Matter?

If you use social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter to reach your audience, you’ve likely noticed a steady decline in organic reach. This infuriated some business owners who spent time and money trying to get more page likes, thinking that would increase their reach.

The truth is, those followers were never really theirs.

They were Facebook’s or Twitter’s or Instagram’s. It is their platform, and they control your ability to reach their audience.

As a marketing channel, email stands apart because you own the connection. You are not beholden to a third party who might decide to change or take away your ability to reach their followers.

Email is also permission-based, even more so since the recent GDPR laws passed. This means your connections have expressed they want to hear from you.

These factors contribute to making email one of the most effective marketing channels available.

But wait, what is that GDPR thing? Let’s cover that quickly.

What is GDPR & Does It Matter for Email Marketing?

GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation) is a set of laws that create guidelines for how websites collect, store, and use online data collected from individuals in the EU. If your audience includes people from the European Union (or the UK, even after Brexit), you should be concerned about GDPR.

If you are worried about what GDPR means for your marketing plan overall, I suggest checking out this guide from Hubspot.

As it applies to email, the biggest change is you must have explicit, positive opt-in consent to send emails or share any data with third parties. This means no pre-checked boxes. If you are just beginning to build your email list, your email platform has likely built in the new requirements.

If you have an older email list, consider sending a new term and service update requesting positive opt-ins from your subscribers.

I highly recommend checking with your email platform (and possibly a lawyer) to make sure you’re compliant. Also, read this article about email consent under GDPR.

(I am not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice. You’ll need to confirm what these laws mean for your business.) 

4 Powerful Email Marketing Strategies

Now that we have covered what GDPR is and what you should do about it, let’s look at a few less-common email strategies you can implement to build and grow your business through email.

1. Send Less Email

Did your mom ever tell you “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”? When it comes to email, it is more like “If you don’t have anything useful to say, don’t say anything at all.” For all the power of email, it is often overused.

Every morning, I am inundated with hundreds of emails vying for my attention. Some come in weekly, others even daily. No, Target, I do not need a patio set thankyouverymuch.

You know the one email I actually look forward to?

The biweekly newsletter sent by Ann Handley called Total Annarchy. Once, maybe twice a month she sends out a newsletter written in her signature cheeky tone. Sometimes she links to products she likes, sometimes she just tells stories. But every time I see one of her emails, I make a note to read it.

Sometimes less really is more.

2. Segment Your Audience

Say someone signs up for your newsletter from your website form and another person downloads your white paper about social media trends. Do those people end up on the same list? Do you send the same email to, say, your residential customers as you do your corporate customers?

Segmenting your list lets you send more relevant messages – which increases click-through rates and decreases unsubscribes. Here are a few ways to segment your email list:

  • Ask what product lines they’re interested in and send them only information about those topics.
  • Segment by city, state, or country. If you sell sweaters, for example, you wouldn’t want to send Australian customers a promo about winter parkas during their summer.
  • Create a segment based on past purchases and send information about related products.
  • Separate based on job title or seniority level so you can better target people with decision-making power.

Segmenting your list serves two purposes – it means you send less email and also more relevant emails. Both mean happier subscribers who are less likely to hit ‘unsubscribe.’

3. Host a Sweepstakes to Grow Your Email List

There is a reason why gamification is so popular. People like playing games. They like winning, and they are willing to exchange their email address for the chance to win something.

Unlike a static “Sign up for our newsletter” box on your website, running a contest offers subscribers something in return.

You do have to make sure you explain exactly what their email will be used for – it is both against GDPR and just generally bad karma to sign someone up for your email list unawares.

Using a tool like Woobox that integrates with MailChimp and other email providers makes it simple to launch a contest and import those new contest subscribers into your email platform.

This contest from EconoMax was used to increase email subscribers.

In the entry, ask questions to begin segmenting your email list. EconoMax asked for a zip code, but you could also ask for a job title or what industry they are in. Just make sure you don’t ask for too much data.

4. Test Your Subject Line

When I opened my email this morning, I had 30 new emails. Because I use Gmail’s folder feature, just one was in my primary inbox, the rest were into social, promotions, and updates.

You’ve got about half a second to grab me with your email subject line. With the average person getting over a hundred emails a day, your email needs to stand out.

Most email platforms, including MailChimp, allow you to A/B test email subjects. These tools will help you make the most of your email subject line.

Start Growing Your Email List Today

When managed correctly, your email list can be your most powerful asset. If you are ready to start growing your subscriber list, sign up for a free Woobox account and start creating your contest.

Or, if you have more questions, reach out to our Woobox support team.