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The Value of an Effective Email Marketing Campaign—And How to Build One

For a short while, email marketing was the pinnacle of modern marketing. Reaching a huge number of clients with a minimal amount of time and financial investment was a breakthrough for businesses—especially smaller, local businesses with minimal marketing funds. But, very quickly, businesses used too much of a good thing, and consumers got really tired of a spam-filled inbox.

With the introduction of the ever-handy spam filter, it became much more difficult to get your email marketing efforts in front of potential customers.

And so, businesses backed off of the email marketing bandwagon, and turned their attentions to other online marketing efforts. But did we, perhaps, write off the value of email marketing just a little too soon? Is this actually an area where your business might be able to invest some of its marketing funds, and see a significant return on your investment? Let’s take a closer look.

Spamming vs Email Marketing

Spam Email marketing

First, let’s discuss the differences between spamming and email marketing—because, although spam may have given birth to email marketing in some ways, these are actually two very different things.

The first mass email was sent way back in 1978, before the internet was even born. After Hotmail launched the first ever web-based mail service in 1996, email quickly became the primary means of contacting people online.


This became known as the era of “spray and pray”—aka, spraying out your emails with a virtual firehose and praying that you hit someone who’s actually looking for what you’re selling.

More often than not, however, you just ended up with a lot of irritated people caught in the crossfire of your spam gun. And so, in 1998, the word “spam” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Not so coincidentally, this was the same year that the Data Protection Act was updated, requiring email marketers to include an “opt out” option on their emails.

The first decade of the 21st Century was strongly anti-spam. Even as connectivity spread around the world, privacy acts and other laws trying to filter and limit spam were introduced. But amidst this era, the first behavioral email was sent—the first attempt at targeting individuals based on their actual interests and behaviors, rather than sending out spam to anyone whose email you could buy.

This one campaign introduced an entirely new concept to the email marketing world, which didn’t come into fruition until after 2010. As we entered the second decade of this century, email marketing began to rise again. But this time, rather than simply buying up email lists, marketers were making an actual attempt to target their ideal audiences, and connect with true potential customers.

Thus, modern email marketing was born, and this is the key thing that makes it different from spam: Spam sends emails to anyone whose information they can buy, regardless of that person’s interests or demographic. Email marketing connects you to your ideal customer base, and puts relevant information into their hands.

Building an Email List

So, if the key difference between spamming and email marketing lies in who you’re reaching out to, how do you cultivate a quality email list for your business? There are a few key strategies that marketers employ:

  • Add opt-in incentives on your website.
  • Offer valuable downloadable content in exchange for an email address
  • Engage with people on social media.
  • Provide special discounts and coupons to subscribers
  • Collect contact information at trade shows and other events.
  • Ask for referrals from current subscribers. (Offer a reward for any referrals who sign up.)
  • Customize your payment app or receipts to ask for an email.

All of these options are viable ways to collect contact information for prospective customers—not just people who will hit “Mark as Spam” the moment they see your message, but genuine warm leads that might actually want to purchase from you. But while these might be great options, they take a lot of time.

Another choice is to hire a company to collect those emails for you. No, this isn’t the same as buying up an email list. At Bistar Digital, we meticulously scrape LinkedIn and other reliable sources for contacts that will actually have value and meaning for your business. Then we provide that information to you, so that you can reach out and make use of those leads. It saves you a lot of time, but still provides you with the quality contacts you need for a successful email marketing campaign.

Choosing What to Send

Okay, so now that you have a contact list, what are you going to send to them? Remember, these are people that you know have a need for your product or service, because you’ve cultivated your email list carefully. So, you probably don’t need to spend too much time touting the value of your service or going through a lengthy introduction of your business. If you want to hook them and keep them as active subscribers, you need to send them things that they’re actually interested in.

According to research, a whopping 48% of consumers are most interested in special offers, promos, and coupons. So make sure that those first messages you send out include a coupon especially for email subscribers. Additionally, 15% of people like to learn about new products, and 12% enjoy receiving newsletters. Note that all of these things can be combined into one email, so you can appeal to the majority of consumers at once.

Improving Your Open Rates

One of the biggest struggles of email marketing is getting people to open your messages. Even with the most carefully cultivated lists, the majority of people receiving your emails won’t open them. But don’t let that discourage you! There are a few things you can do to improve those open rates significantly. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a targeted, opted-in list of recipients, as discussed a couple sections ago. A targeted email list can increase your click-through-rate from 3% to 8%.
  • Write an awesome subject line. 64% of people say they open an email based on the subject line alone. Keep the lines under 50 characters for maximum impact.
  • Optimize your email for mobile devices. Nearly 80% of US email users access their emails from their smartphones.
  • Make it personal. Send from an actual person’s email address, so that people can respond. Impersonal email addresses like quickly get marked as spam.
  • Give people subscription options. 69% of subscribers will unsubscribe because they receive too many emails from you. So offer them the chance to select how many emails they receive per month, and improve your odds of keeping them on board.
  • Study your recipients’ behaviors! Your email marketing software likely provides some sort of statistics. So use it. Analyze when they open your emails, what links they click on, and the type of content they interact with. Use that data to improve future emails.

All of these tactics can help you to not only retain your subscribers, but boost your click-through-rates and conversions overall.

So How Valuable Is It?

Alright, so we’ve hashed out all the nitty-gritty details about getting your email campaign started up. Now, let’s answer that highly debated question: Does email marketing really hold any value? As mentioned above, the majority of the emails you send out don’t even get opened. So will you get a return on your investment? Will such a campaign actually bring money into your business. The answer is a resounding yes! Those who tell you that email campaigns are worthless clearly haven’t seen the statistics surrounding this marketing strategy.

Research shows that email can be up to 20 times more effective than other marketing strategies. No, that wasn’t a typo, but we’ll type it out differently just so you’re positive—twenty times more effective. Just let that sink in for a minute before you move onto the rest of the statistics. Ready? Okay, here it is.

Consumers who receive emails from businesses spend 83% more when shopping with those businesses; their orders are 44% larger, and they order 28% more often. This is where those in-demand coupons and promos come into play. They can very effectively draw your subscribers into your store, and encourage them to buy more than they would otherwise.

So, what’s the bottom line? How much of an ROI can you expect to see from this type of investment? According to one resource, on average, businesses see a return of $44.25 for every dollar they spend on email marketing. No wonder 70% of digital marketers see email marketing as the best investment for ROI. As for the other 30%, well, we’re assuming they haven’t looked at these numbers, because they seem to speak for themselves.

What to Do Now

If you’ve made it this far, you probably have a pretty good understanding of how to build an email marketing campaign, as well as the incredible value of it. But we know it can be a lot to take in. From generating contact lists to creating the content to send and building up an email sequence, it can be a lot to handle. So where do you begin?

The answer to this is going to vary depending on how much you’ve done with email marketing thus far. So, here are a few suggestions that might fit with your situation:

If You’ve Never Done Any Email Marketing…

Start working on a contact list right away. Use every suggestion mentioned above, and any other ideas that might come to mind to help you generate genuine connections and valuable leads. Because doing this on your own, one lead at a time, can take quite a while, we offer compilation services the can help you to build a foundational list that you can work with. We’ll scrape email addresses from LinkedIn, focusing on targeted leads that offer real value to your business. From there, you can build on this list with your own contacts, refining it until you have a community of active, interested subscribers for your email campaigns.

If You’ve Run Email Campaigns That Didn’t Work…

Use the information above to determine where you went wrong. Was your list targeted and segmented? Were you sending out the kind of information people want to see? Were your emails optimized? Sometimes, making even a few adjustments can make a huge difference.

If You’ve Tried Compiling Contact Lists but Couldn’t Get Subscribers…

Consider starting with a targeted contact list that we compile for you, and continue your efforts from there. Often, simply having a place to start can push your marketing efforts towards greater success.

If You’ve Had Successful Email Campaigns and Want to Expand on Them…

Then keep doing what you’re doing! If you’ve been successful in the past, then you’ve obviously found a winning formula that many digital marketers struggle to find. Consider working with your current list of subscribers to expand your list. Whether you’re just trying to add new subscribers to an existing campaign, or you’re starting a new campaign for a more targeted demographic within your business, your current loyal customers are a great place to start.

LinkedIn is also a great source for making these connections and finding people within your demographic. That’s why Bistar Digital uses this platform to collect emails for our customers’ targeted contact lists. LinkedIn is a dependable, reputable, and valuable source of information for businesses, and should be leveraged to your advantage.

Whichever area you may fall into, a successful email campaign’s foundation is based in your contact list. If it’s not a targeted list of valuable contacts, then you’re still operating in the “spray and pray” era of marketing, and you’re about 25 years behind the times. And, yes, you’re officially a spammer. But if you want true value from your email marketing efforts, and you want to cash in on that incredible ROI we mentioned before, let us cultivate a custom list of contacts for your business. This provides you with a solid foundation to work with, and a great beginning for a successful email marketing campaign.

Contact Bistar Digital if you want to learn more about how we can bolster your email marketing efforts.