An Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing Management

An Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing Management
29 April, 2023 • ... • 510 views
Natasha Zack
by Natasha Zack

Email marketing is one of the oldest digital marketing channels — yet it still remains on the front line in 2023. The reason is, it is still more personalized and more cost-effective than its counterparts. But proper email marketing management can be rather challenging. That’s why some businesses keep shying away from it.  

So, how do you handle your email marketing the right way to make the most of it? Read our comprehensive guide to find out.

What is email marketing management?

Email marketing is the process of marketing goods or services to potential or existing customers via email. As it includes multiple steps, it requires proper management to run smoothly. Hence, email marketing management can be defined as the process of managing everything related to email marketing at a given organization. 

Typically, email marketing management includes the following elements: 

  1. Devising an email marketing strategy
  2. Building a mailing list 
  3. Maintaining a mailing list (validating and verifying email addresses, segmenting the list)
  4. Producing engaging content (copy and visuals) 
  5. Planning and launching email marketing campaigns
  6. Running tests, tracking results, and making the necessary changes  

While all this might seem like a lot to take care of, email marketing at its core is no rocket science. However, email marketing management does come with some challenges. Let’s talk about the biggest of them in more detail before we move on to practical advice.

Main challenges of email marketing campaign management

Subscriber growth and retention

You cannot launch an email marketing campaign without a mailing list. So, you need to build up a subscriber base — and that takes plenty of time and effort. There are no shortcuts either, because using “gray” methods like harvesting or buying email databases on the internet is very unsafe. That means you have to come up with the right strategy to grow your mailing list using only safe methods.

What’s more, you have to figure out a way to retain your subscribers and, ideally, convert them into customers. One way of doing that is to consistently provide engaging, relevant, and eye-catching email marketing content, and that can be very exhausting — especially with a voluminous mailing list.

Email deliverability and avoiding spam

Next, it’s imperative to make sure your content actually gets delivered and doesn’t end up in the spam folder. When most of your emails land in your subscribers’ inboxes, it means you have high deliverability. That’s very good for your business because it helps you reach as large an audience as possible. Moreover, it serves as an indicator of a “healthy” (i.e., not spammy or harmful) email activity to your recipients’ email servers.  

Yet achieving high deliverability is quite a challenge because this crucial metric depends on many factors: the quality of your email database, your sender reputation score, and more. 

Moreover, achieving high deliverability is next to impossible without a professional ESP (email service provider). The reason is, public email servers are not designed for email marketing needs, so your emails have a much higher risk of ending up in spam if sent from these servers.

“What, like, it’s hard?” meme
Source: Giphy

Personalization

71% of consumers expect personalized interactions from brands, and 76% get frustrated when they fail to get it, a 2021 report by McKinsey indicates. And here’s where email marketing shines: as mentioned earlier, this channel allows for higher personalization than its counterparts. For example, you can easily address every subscriber by name in an email and include other personal data — not to mention that reaching out via email just feels more personal in the first place.

Personalized email
Source: Really Good Emails

However, advanced personalization features such as segmentation, triggered emails, in-mail personalization, and more are only available in professional ESPs. Luckily, some of these services, including Selzy, offer free plans, meaning that you can use them as free email marketing tools to deliver highly personalized email experiences to your customers.

Data integration to measure ROI

Email marketing is also known to be unparalleled when it comes to ROI. According to Litmus, it brings $36 for every dollar spent. Moreover, a 2019 report from DMA indicates that email ROI has been consistently on the rise since 2015; in 2019, it climbed to a whooping £42 for every pound spent (approximately $52 for every $1,3). 

Yet many businesses don’t really know their email ROI — or ROMI at large, for that matter, — because calculating it can be quite a challenge for various reasons. For one thing, you need reliable tracking to know which channel your sales come from — plus calculation itself is no easy feat. 

Yet again, email marketing software can help. Professional ESPs typically allow integrations with analytics tools — Google Analytics, for example, — so you can have all essential figures you need to calculate your email marketing ROI right there in your account time spent on your website, number of pages viewed, etc.).

Recommended reading 

Email marketing management best practices

Now, it’s finally time for practical advice. So, what can you do to take your email marketing management to the next level and stand the competition with the best email marketing campaigns out there? Here’s a bunch of proven best practices to follow. 

Ensure your opt-in forms are set up properly

Opt-in forms are online forms that businesses use to collect information from website visitors and obtain their consent to receive marketing content via email. These forms are a simple and effective way of building up and growing a mailing list, which is why they are so popular with marketers. 

But to ensure a steady influx of subscribers, it’s imperative you set up your forms properly.

That is, your opt-in forms should:

  • Feature well-written copy that addresses your audience’s needs. 
  • Explain the benefits of joining your mailing list. 
  • Be very visible.
  • Contain a minimum number of fields.
  • Have one clear CTA.
  • Be visually attractive and in line with the brand’s overall visual style.  
  • Have a noticeable “exit sign”.

Additionally, opt-in forms can also include a checkbox for obtaining explicit consent from leads, as shown in the example below.

Really Good Emails opt-in form
Source: Really Good Emails

Also, there are more types of opt-in forms than one — pop-ups, sidebars, etc. To determine which type brings more conversions, try several options and compare the results.

Verify new contacts with double opt-in

If you’re offering a lead magnet, people might sign up to your marketing emails just to get access to it. In that case, they’d provide disposable addresses, either generated by specialized services or otherwise created for single-use. Others might also sign up with an address that was actually theirs but has been abandoned. 

In both cases, such contacts are certain to cause you trouble, increasing bounce rates and lowering deliverability. To prevent them from getting on your list, verify new contacts with double (confirmed) opt-in. Unlike single opt-in, double opt-in is a two-step process that includes sending a confirmation email with a link a user has to click on to get on your list.

Confirmation email
Source: MailCharts

Keep your list clean

While double opt-in helps eliminate invalid addresses at point-of-collection, it isn’t a magic pill to keep your mailing list clean. To ensure it stays in good shape, you also need to validate it regularly, whether you’re using double opt-in or not. This will help you get rid of the harmful “dead weight” such as invalid and inactive contacts, bounced addresses, and more.       

To learn more about email validation and how to perform it, check out our comprehensive guide on how to validate an email database (see the link in “Recommended reading”). There, we explain what email validation is and how it differs from email verification, and provide step-by-step instructions on cleaning up a mailing list

Important

Sometimes, inactive contacts might be simply dormant. To wake them up, launch a reactivation (re-engagement) campaign targeted specifically at that segment. When the campaign wraps up, analyze its results and remove contacts that failed to respond.

Other best practices to maintain your list and keep it clean include list segmentation and adding an unsubscribe link — and that’s what we’re going to discuss next.

Ensure proper segmentation

Simply put, list segmentation is a personalization tactic that implies breaking a subscriber list into several groups, or segments, based on common characteristics that people in each group share. This tactic helps marketers better cater to each group’s needs and comes with many benefits, such as delivering more relevant content, optimizing the frequency of emails, and moving customers down the funnel more effectively. 

For example, here’s how segmentation by engagement level looks like in Selzy:

List segmentation by engagement level in Selzy

Typical approaches to list segmentation include segmenting by demographics, location, level of engagement, subscriber behavior (the way they interact with your emails) and more. 

As mentioned earlier, segmentation is also a way to maintain your mailing list because the more personalized your content is, the less chances it has of being ignored or sent to the junk. 

That said, segmentation is not a tactic to be used without a specific strategy. Just that you can segment your list doesn’t mean you have to.  

Let subscribers choose the frequency of emails

As engagement goes, it’d certainly be great if all of your subscribers could be equally (and highly) engaged. But more likely, some of them would get annoyed if they get too many emails from you, while others would love hearing from your brand more often. 

To keep both these groups happy, let subscribers set the frequency of emails early on. Also, you can go the extra mile and enable them to manage other preferences — for example, the type of content they’d like to receive.  

To do that, include a survey in one of your welcome emails, asking your new subscribers to choose from several options. Once you get their replies, segment your list accordingly.

Zulily email preferences
Source: Litmus

Voila! Now you can send emails to your fans more often without annoying the rest of your list and deliver more relevant content, thus decreasing the number of unsubscribes.

Tip

You can also send a similar survey to your older subscribers when you notice they’re becoming less engaged. Sometimes, it can help to win them back if it turns out the high frequency of your emails was the problem.

Define key performance metrics and track them

As we’ve mentioned earlier, tracking is an essential step to calculate ROMI. But there is more to it than that. Setting the right KPIs (key performance indicators) and tracking them also helps distinguish successful email marketing campaigns from mediocre ones, identify weak points, and make improvements.

For email marketing campaigns, the main KPIs to track are: 

  • Open rates 
  • Click-through rates (CTRs)
  • Conversion rates (CRs)
  • Bounce rates
  • and Unsubscribe rates  

To make the most of this data, make sure you understand why you’re tracking a specific metric, which component of your campaign it is tied to, and what you can do to improve it. For example, if you notice your open rates going down, the problem might be weak subject lines, while a surge in bounces typically indicates there are too many invalid addresses on your list.

Tip

To identify the benchmarks to shoot at, research your industry and try to find the average KPIs from key competitors in open sources. Also, you can compare your current results with those from your previous campaigns if you have enough data.

Come up with a good subject line

In email marketing, subject lines can make or break a campaign. As research by SuperOffice indicates, 33% of recipients open an email based on its subject line. So, if you fail to come up with something compelling, your open rates will likely be miserable, no matter how much you invest in crafting your content — because no one will see it in the first place. As a result, you’ll get lower CTRs and fewer conversions. 

To avoid this scenario, never treat your subject lines as an afterthought. Remember that taking your time to write attention-grabbing subject lines is vital, as well as following best practices such as keeping your subject lines concise, relevant, and to the point — yet never dull.

Compare these two examples:   

✔️ New Guide to email marketing and more📧 

❌ YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS!!!🚨🚨🚨 NEW articles on our blog! Tons of useful content! 

The first subject line is short and direct. It mentions the hero content and hints at other similarly useful publications, while one relevant emoji helps draw readers’ attention. 

The second one is all wrong: it is overly long, very vague, plus it overutilizes words in caps and (potentially annoying) emojis. As a result, it looks spammy and irritating.

Use A/B testing to determine what works best

Oftentimes, the contrast between the options would not be as obvious and in the examples above. You might, for example, come up with two subject lines that seem equally compelling — so, how do you choose? The answer is, you use A/B testing

In email marketing, A/B testing (split testing) is a commonly used tactic that implies sending two variations of emails to two control groups of subscribers, comparing the results, and then choosing the one that performs best. 

Subject line testing is just one example of what you can do with this feature, as it also allows for testing multiple other components of your emails: preheaders, visuals, CTAs, sending times, and more — the options are galore. 

Personalization A/B testing example in a Teleflora email
Source: Bluecore

Specific variables, however, should depend on your testing objectives. For example, you’d want to test subject lines to get higher open rates, or design templates to boost CTRs — not vice versa.

Recommended reading

Recycle your content

Every email marketing campaign requires a lot of content. And what if you have several of them running simultaneously? In that case, content creation can swallow the bulk of your time — if you produce every piece from scratch, that is. 

One way to simplify this task is to reuse some of the content you already have — for example, blog articles or social media posts.  

To optimize your use of the content, follow these three steps. 

  1. Identify content that performs best (has the highest number of views, likes, comments, downloads, etc.). 
  2. Use this content where it is most relevant in your current campaign(s). For example, “how to” and “tips and tricks” articles can fit in nicely in your newsletters, and a welcome post on social media can become a welcome email after some editing. 
  3. Fill in the gaps with new pieces.

This approach will help you save time and make the most of your best content, exposing it to as many readers as possible while also preventing you from turning into a one-person content mill or overspending on content creators. 

Make your CTAs clear

The ultimate goal of any email marketing campaign is to compel subscribers to take action. So, whether it’s a promotional email, a newsletter, or any other type of email, it should always include some kind of CTA (call to action). Sometimes, there can even be several CTAs in one email. 

Technically, a CTA is a hyperlink or a button that serves as an indication of what your readers should do next — for example, read an article, buy a product, or book a call. 

To ensure high CTR (click-through rate), your CTAs have to be clear, concise, and compelling. Moreover, they need to go well together with the copy, as shown in the example below.

Example of a clear CTA in an email
Source: Really Good Emails

Design is also a key factor. Whether you’re using email templates or or building your emails from scratch, highlight your CTAs to make them stand out. One way to do it is to use buttons or icons as they are more visible than standard hyperlinks.

Make it easy to unsubscribe

But sometimes, none of your efforts would work for some people. In that case, it is your duty to offer them an easy way out by including an unsubscribe link (aka unsubscribe button) in each of your emails. Moreover, you should make it really visible and easy to spot, as shown in the example below.

Unsubscription link in an email from The Guardian

If you think you’d rather not do that because your list volume is a priority, think twice. 

First of all, unsubscribe links in marketing emails are a legal requirement, so failing to include them can get you into trouble. Besides, making it easy to unsubscribe is actually in your best interest. 

If you don’t offer this option, unengaged subscribers will start sending your emails straight to the junk or reporting them as spam, which will affect your deliverability and other metrics negatively. 

Moreover, you can obtain valuable insights from those leaving your list if you add a short survey to your unsubscribe page. These insights will help you identify key problems and eliminate them to reduce future unsubscribes. 

Unsubscribe survey at Selzy blog unsubscribe page

Best services for managing email campaigns

All things considered, email marketing management is too much of a task to be handled manually. Besides, some powerful tactics — A/B testing, segmentation, and more — are impossible without specialized software. 

That’s why we recommend implementing email marketing automation via professional ESPs. These tools will lighten your workload and save tons of time, plus you’ll also have access to any features you need, including the most advanced.

To help you choose the right tool, we’ve put together a list of our top picks that are particularly good for small businesses.

pic

Free plan: Yes (up to 1,500 emails/month, up to 100 contacts).  

Pricing: Starts with $7/month, multiple pricing plans.  

If you need a perfect ESP for email marketing novices that is both powerful and easy to use, Selzy is your go-to solution. While offering a wide range of features to have all your bases covered, it also has an intuitive interface that even beginners would instantly feel at ease with. 

Additionally, this service has an extensive knowledge base and provides 24/7 support. If that isn’t enough, you can book the Email Campaign Management service, and Selzy’s team will help you plan and launch your email campaign from scratch.  

Moreover, Selzy is one of the most affordable services out there: you can even do well with a free plan. This plan unlocks access to essential features such as bulk emails, sign-up forms, and analytics, and allows up to 1,500 monthly emails plus up to 100 contacts —  which is very generous compared to competitors. 

pic

Free plan: Yes (up to 1,000 emails/month, up to 500 contacts, other limitations). 

Pricing: Starts with $11/month, multiple pricing plans. 

Mailchimp is a household name among marketers. The platform offers a wide array of tools ranging from online stores to CRM to digital ads, which is why it’s more popular with larger companies and e-commerce. Still, the brand is best known for its powerful email marketing features capable of satisfying the needs of businesses of all sizes.  

The service has all the typical tools other services have, but its distinctive feature is personalized AI recommendations, from subject line suggestions to predictive segmentation and more. However, you’ll need a paid plan to make the most of it. 

But all in all, Mailchimp’s free plan is a decent offer, with up to 1,000 emails per month and 500 contacts plus over 250+ integrations available. The main downsides are, features that come with this plan are scarce, and customer support is limited to just 30 days.

pic

Free plan: No. Free trial: 30 days (unlimited emails, some limitations). 

Pricing: Starts with $7/month, multiple pricing plans.  

Moosend is a well-known email marketing and automation service particularly popular with e-commerce, online courses, media outlets, and other mid- to large-size companies. It can also be a good fit for beginners in email marketing due to its ease of use and simple, clean interface.

Typically, users highlight the ESPs great automation and integration features, reliable customer support, detailed analytics, and an overall decent choice of features as compared to competitors within the comparable price range.     

The major drawback is, there is no “forever free” plan here. All you can have is a 30-day free trial, which might not be enough for very small businesses and those who are just starting out. Also, there are no features beyond email marketing included. 

pic

Free plan: Yes (up to 2,500 newsletters\month, up to 500 contacts). 

Pricing: Starting with £10.66/month ($13.26), multiple price plans. 

If you are an experienced marketer looking for a one-stop-shop to handle the bulk of your marketing, GetResponse is a good choice. As this tool boasts a wide range of possibilities, including those beyond email, you won’t feel hand-tied, whatever your needs and strategies are.  

As business types go, GetResponse is good for online education of all sorts, as well as the service sector and e-commerce companies. Due to its advanced automation features, it is also suitable for any business requiring advanced automation funnels. However, the free plan offers only a small fraction of the features available. To try out more, you’ll need a 30-day premium trial.   

There are more downsides, too. Most importantly, this ESP is not an easy-to-use one, so it probably isn’t an option for beginners. On top of that, pricing options are somewhat confusing and might seem superfluous, especially for a small business.

pic

Free plan: Yes (up to 12,000 emails/month, up to 1,000 contacts).

Pricing: Starts with $9/month, multiple pricing plans. 

This service bears its name for a reason, as it is arguably the easiest-to-use email marketing tool out there. Therefore, it’s an ideal choice for total beginners, micro-businesses, and everyone who values simplicity over functionality. 

That’s not to say MailerLite doesn’t do well with the functionality it does have. For example, its drag-and-drop builder and intuitive interface are highly praised. Also, the free plan includes a website builder and landing pages, which makes the ESP particularly suitable for bloggers, online educators, and creative professionals. 

However, if you need more advanced features or cutting-edge tools such as AI recommendations, you’ll need to look elsewhere, as this service does not have a lot to offer in that department.

Summing up

After several decades, email marketing still remains a powerful digital marketing channel that surpasses its counterparts in more ways than one. But managing email campaigns comes with quite a few challenges: you need to grow and maintain your subscriber list, ensure high deliverability, measure ROI effectively, and more. 

Luckily, this guide contains a whole range of proven best practices to help you out. From setting up opt-in forms and verifying new contacts to segmenting your list and running A/B tests, these foolproof tips are sure to take your email marketing management to the next level if you follow them carefully. 

Moreover, professional email marketing tools are always there to help. Today, you can find the perfect solution to suit both your needs and your budget, whatever they are. And should you choose to go with Selzy, we can also help you set up and launch your best email marketing campaigns from scratch.

29 April, 2023
Article by
Natasha Zack
I’m a professional journalist with 10+ years of experience. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with various kinds of media — print, online, broadcast. Currently, I write copy for brand media and teach English part-time. I also have my own edtech passion project dedicated to teaching English via Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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