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Email Marketing Strategy for Startups

Global email marketing market is projected to increase to $17.9 billion by 2027

Global Email Marketing Projection

Before email marketing was a thing, the most successful founders would regularly keep in touch with their clients and colleagues with the help of their trusted sidekick, the Rolodex.

The smartest founders used phone or direct mail to keep their clients informed of company news, exclusive offers or upcoming events. Each customer felt valued, important, and connected, and it was clear that there was a direct correlation with retention rates.

By forming genuine connections and building relationships with your audience, you will have a much easier time growing and retaining a loyal following for the long term.

Traditional phone calls and classic mailers would gradually evolve over the years into one comprehensive strategy that has the power to do it all at a fraction of the cost.

Today, your email marketing strategy holds all the cards. Note: In this case we consider email to include SMS text messaging simply because the best email providers will provide you with both email and SMS on one platform.

Email Marketing Strategy Sample

In 2020, the global email marketing market was valued at $7.5 billion and was projected to increase to $17.9 billion by 2027 (Statista, 2021)! What’s more astounding is that email generates $36 for every $1 spent; that’s an impressive 3600% ROI, consistently outperforming other marketing strategies by a wide margin.

Did we catch your attention?

It’s safe to assume that highly successful founders should master e-mail marketing by knowing when and how to apply certain techniques to grow their business long-term.

With that in mind, let’s break it down.

When to Begin Implementing Your Email Marketing Strategy

Most organizations leave email marketing as an afterthought because they are concerned about the resources it takes to send emails with a regular cadence. We’ll come back to email frequency shortly but know this. When building your website, capturing email addresses should be at the forefront of your marketing plan.

Producing a custom, well-designed website with top-tier content and new weekly blog posts is part of a long-term SEO strategy that will drive results, but not right away. Growing a social media following is no different; both require you to be patient and keep consistent from start to finish.

So here’s a solid recommendation, build a database of emails right from the start. By doing so, email will draw attention to your brand or any newly published content without relying on ever-changing algorithms or costly ad spending. If that alone isn’t convincing enough, you must also consider how the big email conglomerates such as Gmail and Outlook score your emails to prevent Spam from completely overtaking your inbox (i.e. a higher spam score means less chance your emails will get through).

Let’s make a comparison between two competing startups which are sending almost identical content in their emails.

Startup A: Holds back on email marketing until they have an email database of over 1000.
Startup B: Sends out emails from the beginning, starting with a database of only 5.

Which do you think will have a greater percentage of deliverability and less chance of their emails getting stuck in Spam filters?

Startup B Winner

If you picked Startup B, you are right!

Entities such as Gmail look at the history of the account sending emails, how many people opened and engaged with those emails and, of course, how many people flagged those emails as Spam. Of course, email deliverability has other contributing factors, but the factors mentioned above are significantly more important. Again, we’re isolating the content as almost identical for both startups, but Startup B gets a leg up on their competitor. They are slowly building their email reputation with a growing database rather than Startup A, which comes out of nowhere and sends an email blast to 1000 people.

Developing an Email Marketing Strategy

An email marketing strategy can go far beyond awareness of new content your organization produces. It builds on your relationship with your audience, drives engagement and boosts your brand awareness for minimal cost. It can be a mighty tool for educating your audience about the mission of your brand and the products you are releasing, whether that be B2B, B2C or both.

Essentially, it is a critical step of your customer journey and regularly drives acquisition and loyalty more effectively than any other channel. For eCommerce startups, it can generate immediate revenue at the press of a button. Conversely, B2B businesses that require more time to nurture leads can give them a competitive advantage, even in the most crowded markets. Think of it this way.

Checking email marketing messages

When reviewing all your subscribed emails, how many organizations can create content that captures your attention and drives action? Arguably, not many, right?

Ok, now that you have a better understanding of why developing an email marketing strategy is so important, let’s jump into the fundamentals of how to approach it.

First, if you haven’t done it already, make sure to define your target audience by building out 2-3 personas of the perfect customer and identify what their biggest pain points and goals are.  

Second, identify which pain point is common with your different personas. We’ll use this as the overarching theme of your email marketing strategy. 

Third, build out a welcome email series which will consist of 3-5 emails to tell your leads who you are and how your product/service stands out in the crowd.  Use these emails to build and strengthen your relationship with them, providing as much value as you can up-front so that they see your brand as an authority in its sector. 

Last, identify how your content marketing strategy will feed content into a newsletter and determine the cadence of your emails.  If you’re starting out we recommend bi-weekly at the minimum so your audience keeps you top-of-mind and continually engaged.

Congratulations, you now have a head start with your go-to-marketing email marketing strategy because you have a much clearer understanding of the “Why” and “How”.  Now take one step back and review the best email marketing platforms and where they shine.  

How To Choose The Right Email Marketing Platform

Hundreds of email marketing platforms are claiming to be the best with their feature-set. This begs the question, “Where should I start?”

Picking the right email marketing platform for your tech stack is crucial to the efficiency of your marketing execution. Ideally, as part of this process, you have already chosen your CRM platform. Whether that be Salesforce, Hubspot, Zoho or any other, you should have a deep dive into the integration of your CRM with any of the email marketing platforms you are considering.

Below are the top seven email marketing platforms for startups and high-growth companies. Let’s dive in…

 

The Top 7 Email Service Providers

Salesforce Email Marketing Cloud

Salesforce Marketing Cloud & Pardot

Salesforce acquired an email service provider (ESP) by the name of Exact Target back in 2013 and since then was renamed Marketing Cloud. Salesforce Marketing Cloud has been positioned for B2C organizations who are looking to implement 1:1 customer journey messaging.

On the flip side, Pardot is a B2B platform, strong in sales and marketing alignment, lead management and automation. Both platforms can be surprisingly challenging to integrate with other systems, so you should make this decision thinking of your full tech stack.

More info…

Hubspot Marketing Hub

Hubspot Marketing Hub

Like Salesforce, Hubspot’s email marketing solution, Marketing Hub, is an extra add-on, making Hubspot unaffordable to other ESPs in the market. Although Hubspot has come a long way with its email marketing platform, the most common complaint about Marketing Hub is the limitations of its reporting capabilities.

More info…

Klaviyo Email Marketing

Klaviyo

Klaviyo is one of the newer kids on the block (founded in 2012, raised over $678M) and is a powerhouse if Shopify runs your eCommerce. Most would say there is no other platform that is as good as Klaviyo’s integration with Shopify. Klaivyo’s history thus has been focused on B2C organizations. However, it has recently launched a whole new enterprise-focused division, and it will be interesting to see how it will expand into the B2B market.

Unlike Hubspot and Salesforce, Klaviyo is an email & SMS marketing company that is its entire focus. The robust automation capabilities of Klaviyo are one of the major reasons it has gained so much popularity. For many, the database offered by their platform, created to store personal records such as transactions, means that it can also act as a simple CRM with powerful features. Last but not least, Klaviyo’s pricing is completely transparent and incredibly affordable, even for the smallest of startups.

More info…

Mailchimp Email Marketing

Mailchimp

Mailchimp was one of, if not the most popular ESP on the planet for small to medium-sized companies and has solid integration capabilities, although not as robust as Klaviyo. Unfortunately, when it comes to their automation feature, it is quite limited and more difficult to use than it should be. Similar to Klaviyo, their pricing models are quite affordable. Mailchimp was acquired by the financial software company Intuit in 2021 and has seen an exodus of clients moving to other platforms like Klaviyo.

More info…

Active Campaign Email Marketing

ActiveCampaign

The company claims to be a cloud-based marketing and sales automation software with features for email marketing, lead scoring and web analytics, a CRM platform, and a live chat messaging platform. One of the more difficult platforms to use, it does have a vast number of integrations and has as many B2C features as it does for B2B organizations. Their pricing is semi-transparent, meaning that if you have a large database (50K+ records), then pricing requires discussion with their sales team; in other words, it is not the cheapest platform out there.

More info…

Customer.io Email Marketing

Customer.io

One of the newer ESPs in the market, founded in 2012) , Customer.io claims to be an automated messaging platform for tech-savvy marketers who want more control and flexibility to craft and send data-driven emails, push notifications, and SMS messages. What makes them unique and noteworthy is particularly of interest to organizations that have an app and want to centralize their app notifications in conjunction with SMS and emails. Because of this level of sophistication, most users have stated that it is one of the more difficult platforms to integrate into your website and app. Significant development work is required to get the most out of using Customer.io.

More info…

Iterable Email Marketing

Iterable

Last but not least, Iterable is also one of the newer kids on the block (founded in 2013 and has raised over $342M ). The company claims to be a cross-channel marketing platform that powers unified customer experiences and empowers you to create, optimize and measure every interaction across the entire customer journey. Unfortunately, Iterable does not have transparent pricing, and some have criticized it for lacking robust reporting features. The platform heavily focuses on consumer behavior to cater to its target audience, growth marketers, content marketers and consumer organizations. A takeaway is the robust workflow functionality with the ability to serve personalized content in emails.

More info…

Identifying Which Platform is Right For Your Organization

By now, you should have a good understanding of the top 7 email marketing platforms and their pro and cons; We also recommend reading real user reviews on G2 or Capterra to help you decide on the most suitable platform for your organization.

 

Why You Should Hire an Email Marketing Specialist

Overseeing your startup’s email marketing strategy can fall under the responsibilities of your director or manager. That said, there are various reasons why hiring a freelance email marketer or email marketing specialist should be a top priority. There are various reasons why.

First and foremost, going back to the example we made about how platforms like Gmail and Outlook create engaging emails is something you should never underestimate. Considering email’s incredible return on investment, hiring a dedicated and experienced Email Marketing Specialist will only maximize your chances of a higher return.

Everything from the subject line to dynamic personalization of the content in the emails requires a specialist who has had a lot of practice and know-how in A/B testing, conversion optimization, reporting and privacy laws (such as the CAN-SPAM Act in the US and the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR in Europe).

Sit down with your team and decide on the primary KPIs you want to measure for engagement and conversion and make sure your team has enough time to set the foundation of your email marketing right from the start. Your email reputation for Gmail and Outlook is everything, not to mention making sure your email content is meaningful and engages your prospects and customers.

An Introduction to Demographic Segmentation and Demographic Marketing

There are four types of segmentation; demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral. Your marketing director should consider these different ways to look at your audience and define what will help your organization convert better.

 

Types of Market Segmentation for Email Marketing

If you are looking for a starting point to target your marketing effectively, then customer segmentation is your answer. You can create segments (or groups) of your customers based on different data points to speak more directly to their needs.

The most common data point used for demographic segmentation are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Income
  • Ethnicity
  • Level of Education
  • Religion
  • Family structure

To help illustrate this a little better, consider the differences in interests for an older demographic vs a younger demographic. If your target audience is investors, for instance, a 28-year-old investor who is not married will likely have significantly different interests than a 55-year-old investor that is married with kids. All the emails in our inbox compete for your attention, so the more specific you can be with your messaging, the more likely you are to engage that audience and build your relationship with them.

How Can E-mail Marketing Fuel Your Overall Inbound Strategy?

One of the other major benefits of email marketing that often gets overlooked is how it can be such a powerful component of your inbound marketing. First and foremost, having a Welcome email series can help potential prospects learn more about your company’s mission and are a great way to educate them about your products and services. As a result, it can help your brand stand out by making it informative, engaging and actionable. But here’s where it gets fascinating…

Welcome email Series Sample

Most platforms, like Google Ads, Meta Business Suite, and Tiktok ads, have the functionality to import your customers’ emails to create look-a-like audiences. In other words, targeting your ads directly to these new prospects can help you find audience groups that share commonalities with your existing customers.

For example, let’s take an organization that sells baby products to new mothers. Once that organization has built a database of loyal customers, it can feed those emails into one of these ad platforms and target new mothers with similar characteristics, thereby increasing the conversion rate of their ads. What a powerful way to fuel your inbound marketing strategy!

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed when you should begin to use email marketing for your business, how to use it, the top 7 email marketing platforms, why an Email Marketing Specialist should be one of the first hires for your marketing team, how you can apply segmentation to personalize your emails and lastly how it can pour fuel onto your inbound strategy by driving new prospects with similar characteristics of you’re growing customer base.

The most advanced email platforms are taking email communications to a new level through AI, automation and sophisticated workflows targeting different segments of your audience with specific messaging that connects and builds loyalty with your brand. It is nearly impossible to get similar results from any other channel, so make sure to raise the priority of email as part of your overall marketing strategy.

Author:

Sam Omidi – Brave Media Inc.
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