10 Steps Guide to Build a Brand with Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most pocket-friendly marketing channels.

According to the Digital Marketing Association, 66% of customers purchase a product because of an email they received. This makes email a highly valuable medium for building a brand and driving business growth.

Email marketing gives businesses the opportunity to offer a personalized one-on-one communication.

That being said, marketers often fail to derive its maximum potential.

In this blog post, I’ll show you how you can use email marketing to increase your brand’s visibility and credibility.

1. Ask for permission before sending an email

No one likes uninvited guests. The same applies for the emails you send.

No prospective customer would want to receive emails from brands they do not know or have not subscribed to.

With the implementation of strict anti-spam laws like GDPR, you should send emails only after seeking the user’s permission. Sending unsolicited emails to purchased lists can harm your sender reputation and ultimately cripple your email deliverability. We strongly recommend you follow a double opt-in method to make sure that the subscriber is genuinely interested in hearing from you. All you need to do is to send an email with a confirmation link that helps you to verify the email address provided by the subscriber and build a quality list.

Here’s how Weemss sends a verification email with a clear CTA – Yes, it’s me.

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According to GDPR, you should acquire positive consumer consent by unchecked opt-in boxes along with an easy-to-understand explanation of how you will use the personal data for which you are seeking consent. Do not ask for any information that has nothing to do with sending emails. For example: Mailing address.

You should use different opt-in boxes for newsletters and promotional emails. GDPR suggests that you should have explicit consent for every type of communication and data processing. Make sure all your sign up forms abide by this law.

Take a look at the GDPR compliant sign up form on a website. Take note of the two different checkboxes and the links to privacy policies and terms & conditions. Understand that your customers hold the right to be forgotten and they can request the removal of their information from the database.

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Moreover, you should also specify the usage of cookies to ensure GDPR compliance of your website.

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2. Take a customer-centric approach

The most basic tactic for effective email marketing strategy is personalization. It enables customer-centric approach that provides a pleasant customer experience before and after the purchase. This, in turn, brings repeat business and encourages customer loyalty.

You can do so by asking the right questions when the subscriber signs up.

NEWOLDSTAMP asks all the important questions in their signup form to send personalized emails. You can also segment subscribers based on this information and send relevant emails to different lists.

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Brands that put the customers at the cynosure of their marketing strategy understand what they are looking for and send emails that talk about those products or services.

ASICS sends out an email promoting the GEL-NIMBUS series of shoes based on similar products I searched for. Notice the subject line that puts the email recipient in focus by adding the word ‘you’.

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3. Focus on an engaging and informative email copy

Your email copy should be written in such a way that it offers valuable information to the subscriber. It should be engaging enough to capture the recipient’s attention and keep him or her hooked to your brand.

Take a look at the welcome email by Ellevest. The best part of this email is that it lets the new subscribers know what kind of emails they will receive in the inbox and sets the right expectations. They share their mission of closing the gender investing gap and helping women get more money. Mentioning these details in the copy would surely entice the women to try Ellevest and invest more.

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Here’s another example by Really Good Emails. Although the email copy is pretty long, it is interesting to read and brings a smile to the reader. I loved how the email copy talks about the journey of RGE throughout the four years which is riveting enough to make the reader scroll through the entire email. It reflects their personality and builds their image as a prestigious brand.

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4. Design a flawless email that renders well across all email clients and devices

To build a credible brand, it is of utmost importance that your email renders well across all email clients and devices. A broken email layout might scar your brand reputation and turn off your subscribers.

Look at the email below. It is a turn off for the subscriber to open the email and see misaligned text like this.

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Hallmark ecards sends out a beautiful email that renders well on the desktop and mobile. It imparts a pleasant user experience on all email clients like Gmail, Thunderbird and Outlook.

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It is advisable to proofread the emails for any personalization and grammatical errors and coding inaccuracies that can spoil the subscriber experience. After all, it is better to be safe and be doubly sure than sorry.

Here are nine tips to help you avoid rendering challenges and deliver esthetic email marketing campaigns.

1. Use standard bullets rather than custom bullets: if you use custom bullets, it may lead to indentation issues in the email and that may lead to improper alignment. This may also lead to improper rendering in mobile devices.

2. It is a must to add alt tags on all images and HTML text for CTAs: this is because email clients have images turned off by default and your subscriber will not be able to understand the purpose of the email in that case. Same applies to your CTA. If it is included as an image, it will not be visible when the images are blocked. Therefore, the safest bet is to add your CTA as HTML text.

3. Refrain from using “Float” and “Clear” coding: these codes do not work in Outlook. Therefore, it is best to avoid them.

4. Code the emails with HTML table tags and not div tags: table tags are better than div tags because div does not render well on all email clients and devices. It is better to use tables even when you want to include lists in the emails.

5. Avoid using JavaScript: while JavaScript is the ultimate tool for website designing, emails do not support JavaScript. Use CSS rather than JS for flawless rendering.

6. It is better to use web-safe fonts like Arial, Tahoma, and Courier: custom fonts might not be displayed in the old-fashioned email clients. To make your emails readable in every email client, web-safe fonts are the safest bet.

7. Choose Inline CSS over CSS stylesheets: apply CSS properties to the HTML elements of your email body to inline CSS, as CSS stylesheets are not supported by every email client. It will also help to decrease the file size of the email.

8. Text to image ratio should be 80:20: not maintaining the text to image ratio at 80:20 triggers spam filters that can land your email in the spam folder. Do not send an image as the entire email.

9. Never place CTA buttons in background images: you want your email recipients to click on the CTA and take action. Putting the button in the background image may make it difficult to render if the images are blocked by the email client. We recommend you place the CTA as plain text to ensure click-throughs and conversions.

5. Adhere to the branding guidelines in your emails

You should follow branding guidelines so that the subscribers can instantly recognize your brand. Your brand logo, font type, email layout or tone of the emails should be consistent in order to build a stronger rapport with the subscribers. Whenever possible, you should try to show off your brand’s personality and culture through your emails.

All the emails by RueLaLa have a similar layout that helps to develop a sense of familiarity with the subscribers.

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6. Think innovative whenever you conceptualize an email

If you want to build your reputation through your emails, think of creative ideas that can help you stand out in the subscriber’s inbox. With intense competition, innovation is the only way to stand out. Include visual elements that can convey your message more effectively and impress the subscribers at the same time. Relevant images, GIFs, cinemagraphs, and videos can come to your rescue in the quest of creating impactful emails.

Adobe Photoshop and CorelDraw are the best software programs through which you can design great emails in the psd format. Once this design is ready (and approved), you can code it using HTML. Blogs on Really Good Emails and EmailMonks can help you with coding flawless emails. You can also check videos by Code School on YouTube.

Take an example of Urban Outfitters, who sometimes creates GIFs to promote the new items that have made it to their SALE. Are you inspired already?

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Moreover, you can also incorporate the principles of gamification in your emails. This works the best during the holiday season or on special occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Easter to name a few.

EmailMonks used this trick to create the Thanksgiving email in 2018 with a maze and drove great results in terms of open rate, click-through rate, and email engagement.

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Brands like Levi’s have tried defamiliarizing their email personality by breaking the monotony of its 12-column grid layout. You can also give it a shot and see if it works for your brand.

7. Integrate social media marketing into emails

Brands who want to build better visibility in the digital marketplace have to drive more visits to their website and organic followers on their social media accounts. Emails can help you with this. Include social media links in your emails to let the subscribers interact with you on these platforms. An active social media presence can build trust among the subscribers and connect with them on a personal level.

Take a look at the following graph that clearly suggests why social media is as important as email.

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Also, there has been a significant increase in the time spent on social media platforms in the past years.

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Nanit includes links to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube to ‘keep in touch’ with their subscribers. Not only Nanit, but almost every brand has also adapted this strategy nowadays as you get the highest returns when social media and email are used together.

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The good news is you can even include live social media feed in your emails and boost your social media engagement through email marketing.

8. Your email and its landing page should complement each other

The post-click experience presented by the email landing page is as important as the pre-click experience of the email copy and call-to-action. Your email and landing page should be in perfect sync with each other. Many marketers neglect this fact and redirect the subscriber to the website irrespective of the content of the email message. This is a wrong practice. Your email should guide the recipient to the corresponding page, which throws more light on the offer highlighted in the email.

Moo has conceptualized a unique email with a corresponding landing page in continuation to the GIF showcased in the email’s hero image.

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The six key learnings from this email and landing page are as follows:

  1. The scenario created in the email continues on the landing page.
  2. Have catchy hero image and headline in the email as well as the landing page. “Messy! But worth it.” is a great tag line.
  3. Minimalistic layout with ample whitespace makes the page easily skimmable.
  4. A single contrasting CTA stands out on the page.
  5. There are no distractions in the email and landing page.
  6. The landing page displays images of the products that prompt the subscriber to complete the purchase.

9. Set up automated email workflow to send behavior-based emails

Email automation has been used extensively by brands to enhance online visibility and reputation..An automation workflow typically refers to setting up behavioral email campaigns that are triggered according to the past interaction of the subscribers and their sales journey.

These emails work to nurture the prospects and drive them closer to the conversion point.

The main emails included in an email automation workflow are:

1. Welcome email as soon as the subscriber signs up: take a look at the welcome email by InVision, how they have built brand credibility by mentioning that they have a design community of 5 million people.

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2. Promotional emails based on the products searched for, past purchases or resources downloaded: Amazon uses artificial intelligence and sends out a relevant email to cross-sell products similar to the user’s previous purchases.

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3. Cart abandonment email in case the customer leaves the product in the cart: Sunglass Hut sets a nice example of cart recovery email by including the product image and showcasing the perks of free shipping and easy returns on every order.

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4. Re-engagement email to the subscribers who are dormant since 6 months and do not engage with your emailsSpy tried to win back the customer by displaying the features and offering 20% off as an incentive for re-engaging.

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Tools like HubSpot and Exact Target are best for email automation. You only need to create emails and give the conditional clause that will trigger them. Just keep in mind that you keep a close eye on these campaigns and optimize them for best results. Blunders in automated emails can deter your brand reputation and be a major setback for your marketing efforts.

10. Carry out A/B testing to figure out what’s working for your brand

A/B testing lets the marketers know what kind of email elements resonate the most with their email subscribers. Create two or more versions of the same email campaign and send it across to different subscriber sets. The ones that result in more open rates and click-through rates can be assumed to be working well for your brand. You can test your subject lines, email copy, CTA placement, use of visuals, and time of sending an email. Just keep in mind that you should send the emails to a sizeable list as the test group in order to get valid results.

To understand the effectiveness of A/B testing, let’s rewind to Barack Obama’s donation campaigns. In one A/B test, Obama’s team that one subject line brought $403,600 in donations, while another variation brought $2540866. That’s the magic of A/B testing. It lets you figure out what your target audience connects to. You will get an idea from the image below.

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Tools like GetResponse, Kameleoon and Infusionsoft can make A/B testing a breeze for you.

Wrapping Up

When done right, email marketing will bring your brand great laurels and boost your sales.

Try these tactics and tell us how they worked out for you! Do you have any other ideas to build brand visibility and propel the conversion rate? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Kevin George is the head of marketing at EmailMonks, one of the fastest-growing email design & coding companies. EmailMonks specializes in crafting email newsletter design templates, PSD to HTML conversion, and free responsive HTML email templates. Kevin loves gadgets, bikes & jazz, and he breathes email marketing.

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