Is Email Marketing Still Worth It For Promotional Product Companies In 2020?

Most of the 397 recipients were annoyed when they got the email. But when people found out that Gary Thuerk made $13 million in sales from sending the first email marketing blast, they decided to try it out for themselves. Since then, email has evolved into one of the most cost-effective forms of direct marketing. Today, strategic email marketing allows companies to directly contact users and increase relevance and engagement with their audiences. 

Email marketing is an incredibly profitable tool. In fact, today, it’s one of the best, most profitable ways to build a lasting relationship with prospective customers. Reports show that for about every $1 spent on email marketing, companies make about $44 in return. Why? We’ll dive in on the details below, but as a quick sum up, email marketing, when done well, allows you to establish authentic connections, trust, and authority with those valuable buyers who are keeping your business running.

But some marketing strategies that used to work don’t anymore. And promotional product email marketing can be challenging. Your target audience might be incredibly diverse, with buyers on your contact list that range from major tech companies to local coffee roasters. Additionally, the products and services you offer may be equally diverse to meet the needs of your various buyers.

That’s why at ZOOMcatalog, we’ve put together this email marketing guide. We’ll walk you through the tactics that work for the promotional products industry in 2020. No more guessing and experimenting. Put these tips into action and watch that return grow.

First, let’s get on the same page: What is Email Marketing and What Can it Do for Your Business?

Email marketing is a tool that lets us (1) provide value to users in the form of content, and (2) direct users smoothly through each step of the customer journey or sales funnel. B2C (business-to-consumer) email marketing strategies vary slightly from B2B (business-to-business) strategies. But, when done right, either is meant to simultaneously build your relationship with your buyers, solve problems they are facing, and profit your business.

Every company should have an email marketing campaign. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • Email marketing has sales potential beyond other social medias. There are 3.8 billion total users of email compared to the 3.4 billion total users of social media. 60% of people prefer receiving promotions via email, while only 20% prefer social media promotions. When comparing conversion rates, email wins out with 6.05%, while social media at large only reaches 1.9%. 

Engagement rates or click-throughs show even more drastic numbers. Email reaches 22.86% compared to social media at 0.58% engagement rate. Additionally, email has the largest user base overall. But it also has the largest user base of any age group. And finally, consumers sign up for email promotions from brands much more often than for social media. 

  • Email is such a prominent and persistent means of communication in our day that most people check email first thing in the morning, before social media, news, or even firing up their search engine. 

Second, What Type of Emails Should You Be Sending Out?

These numbers tell how good email marketing will result in more engagement, leads, conversions, and sales for your business. But what should you be sending to these important clients and buyers? There are three types of emails in email marketing: transactional email, content email, and conversion email. 

Transactional emails might be things like receipts, order confirmations, sign-up emails, or support tickets. Content emails include welcome emails, new blog posts, newsletters, free tools, and exclusive content. In conversion emails, you’ll offer promotions, lead magnets, product launches, upgrades, or discounts to encourage a point where money is changing hands. 

These emails are distributed to the people on your list in two different ways: broadcasted and automated. Great content that is suitable for your entire email list in addition to one-off promotions can be broadcasted. For example, if you’re doing a seasonal or time-boxed promotion around a specific event mentioned in our monthly marketing planner, go ahead and do a broadcast.

Everything else should be automated based on user actions on your site. According to Epsilon, automated emails have 199% higher click rates than traditional broadcast emails. Even more, automated trigger email marketing has been known to reduce marketing spend by as much as 80%.

Examples of automated emails include order confirmations, welcome emails, lead magnets, and upgrades. Automated emails and campaigns allow you to send content and messages that are much more specific and contextually relevant to your buyers’ interests based on their actions.

Compared with B2C email marketing messages, which tend to be offer or entertainment driven, B2B messages should lead with providing value and solving problems. Help your audience improve their own business. People will look forward to receiving your emails and you’ll earn email opens and clicks. 

Third, What Are Today’s Best Service Providers

There are tons of ESP (email service provider) systems out there. Top-rated providers include Constant Contact, EmailOctopus, SendinBlue, Drip, ConvertKit, AWeber, GetResponse, and Mailchimp. You might be interested in using a budget-friendly system (like EmailOctopus), but know that with these, there are some limitations in formatting and automation. 

Hubspot is a popular option, though they’re on the more expensive side and require a longer-term contract. Keap’s Infusionsoft offers the plain-text email marketing format in addition to a ton of back-end automation to lead people through campaigns and nurture your email list. Sharpspring, Exact Target, and Pardot are other top options that offer some great advanced tracking and email list building tools. Shop around and find the best ESP system for your company.

Fourth, Email Marketing Strategies That Are Working Now

In our Social Media Marketing Strategy Guide, we explain the process of developing a successful marketing strategy that’s best for your promotional products business. When looking specifically at email marketing, you’ll still want to define your why, identify your audience, and provide value. But here are a few more steps and tips that relate to email marketing specifically:

  • Put the “magnet” back into “lead magnets”

First, you’ll need to build your email list. An email list is a group of users who have given you permission to send them content. To build this list, most companies use what’s called “lead magnets.” A lead magnet is an incentive offered to people in exchange for their email address.

Lead magnets usually come in the form of a piece of digital, downloadable content, such as a free PDF checklist, report, eBook, whitepaper, video, etc. But don’t just chuck free stuff at them like it’s expendable to you. Think of this step as an investment. Create lead magnets with your audience in mind. In B2B email marketing, it is especially important to show respect for your audience’s time and attention. Offer them an actually helpful solution to a problem they have and show them how valuable your services or products are through this free sample.

  • Opt-in Form Design

An opt-in is a form of consent given by users to contact them with further information. Keep this form simple, clean, and straight forward. Test a few opt-in forms and see which ones work best for your buyers. 

  • Build Your List Intentionally

When building your email list, focus on quality over quantity. You’re looking for those buyers who will actually open your emails. It’s better to have fewer people on your list who will insist on telling other people about your business than have more people who take the lead magnet you offered, say thank you, and move on.

  • Split Up Your List

Known as segmentation, you’ll want to specify your emails to target users with different invitations or messages relevant to them. Segment your data in a way that allows different email lists to receive personalized targeted messages. One way to do this in the promotional products industry is by job title. Split your data by department, seniority, or industry so that you can send them the appropriate copy.

  • Decide on an Email Campaign

An email campaign is a coordinated set of individual email messages that are deployed across a specific period of time with a specific goal or purpose. Rather than send out one-off blast emails that you have to keep setting up, you’ll want to build out micro-pieces of content that are sent once or twice a week over several weeks. That way, when someone gets put into your funnel, you can rest assured knowing that they will be receiving regular marketing and targeted emails from you over the next few months.

Promotional products email marketing can be used to serve many different purposes. So you should develop several campaigns that each focus on a few key points. Design your campaigns with your different audiences in mind and build out your automation first so that this process is efficient for you and seamless for the prospect. 

  • The Do’s and Don’ts of Formatting

One of the biggest changes in email marketing strategy within the past few years has been in formatting. The more your emails look like an ad, the worse off you’ll be. Emails heavy with images and links will be far more likely to end up in Gmail’s promotions tab, or even worse, the spam folder. 

If enough people unsubscribe or flag your emails as spam, all of your emails to all of your clients could start automatically be sent to the spam folder by their email provider. In other words, all your email marketing efforts could go down the drain. 

The best way to avoid this is to simplify your format and make the email feel like a valuable piece of content, not an ad. Two or three well placed images and links will do the trick, allowing you to still track your emails with your ESP or CRM system. Focus each email on a specific topic and have a goal action you want the user to take in mind. This will prevent overstuffed emails that get tossed aside. 

  • A Tip on Timing

When targeting B2B in the promotional products industry, many of the people we are hoping to reach are checking their email early in the morning and during the workday. This differs from B2C email marketing, which catches their target audience usually outside of working hours. Try to send out or schedule your emails to match up with your specific customers’ schedule. All email marketing tools will allow you to schedule emails and even break up delivery for specific time zones. Do what’s best for your audience, not you. 

The Final and Fundamental Point: Let Empathy Be Your Email Marketing Guide

Good marketers don’t spam people, interrupt people, trick people, or force people to do things they don’t want to do. Like all good marketing strategies, your goal should be to make authentic connections with real people. Email marketing should be personal. Focus on providing a product or service to someone who needs it and offer them help in order to improve their lives or open a door for them. 

Without that empathetic and others-focused approach, your marketing tactics will feel inauthentic and self-serving to your buyers. So before jumping onto our tips and tricks that will help you get more emails in inboxes and opened, remember that you’re trying to reach real human beings that are keeping your business alive and focus on how you can help them.

Use email to provide relevant and valuable information or services that will help your buyers reach their goals. When you genuinely believe that what you have to offer can help real people and you want your buyers’ success in addition to your own, your emails will start being opened and you’ll build trust with your audience.