Email Marketing 101 for Web Developers

Did you know?

“It turns out that 77 percent of consumers prefer to receive permission-based emails rather than any other form of marketing communication.” How to Create an Email Campaign in 10 Minutes (Step by Step Guide)

Nowadays it is almost assumed (or even required in some situations) that all websites have some sort of channel open for communication, whether it is merely a contact form, or a physical address and phone number listed. But when it comes to the web, email marketing is a special way to make something more out of that contact made between the user and the website.

Ever find yourself on a web page and something pops up where they really push for you to subscribe to their newsletter? That is an example of email marketing. Business websites are increasingly looking for ways to encourage visitors to either be reminded about, or to just hear back from them periodically as a means of maintaining contact, preferably in a good way. Ultimately, testimonials like these are desired:

“Your email newsletters, videos and articles are so inspiring, I really look forward to them and I love your attitude, all of you, and the great images. You make me feel included in a world where it seems everyone is an expert, and I wanted to say thanks.” – SkillCrush, The Beginner’s Guide: WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR TECH PORTFOLIO

Clearly, the message brought forth here is one of great enthusiasm and wholehearted interest. To accomplish that, presentation is everything. And while not every website actually needs to be giving the visitor something in return, businesses especially, are constantly striving to maintain that sense of positive contact with their customers. To do this…

Know How To Sell Yourself

In order to be truly skilled with email marketing, having a sales background can be very helpful. Why?

“Marketing is basically Sales Support anyway, and you need to understand how revenue flows through your organization. At its core, marketing is about convincing someone to pay for your stuff. Make sure you start your career with a solid understanding of working with the sales team.” – Getting a job in Marketing with little to no experience

So while knowing how the revenue can be channeled is the backbone concept here, emails are THE WAY to get the prospective user/customer to listen and to keep that communication channel both open, and actively flowing when it comes to the web. So if you have ever worked a job in retail or food service previously and at times found yourself not only being responsible for getting the goods to the consumer, but also convincing them to buy something, then you have surely developed a valuable soft skill that can be put into use for web development.

Landing Pages

This web term called “Landing Pages” tends to come in different forms, but the one that concerns email marketing is called a Lead Generation Page. Lead Generation pages are specifically used “to capture user data, such as a name and email address” and ultimately with that information get the people from the website find a way to “market and to connect with the prospect at a subsequent time” (Unbounce.com, What is a Landing Page?).

In this case, obviously email is of course the means, but additional perks may be offered as a hook to draw interest. Some examples of ways in order to lure users to make it far enough into the landing page to actually connect include:

  • Email Series’ (i.e. 6 Ways to Change the World)
  • Free Downloads
  • Free White Papers or eBooks
  • Update Lists (New Issue Notifications, Product Updates, New Releases)

(Source: A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Email Marketing, kissmetrics.com)

Attractive Language

“As a rule of thumb, try to use your newsletter as a way to further your relationship with the reader/customer rather than to pitch them. Save the pitch for unique updates, offers, and announcements.”A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Email Marketing, kissmetrics.com

Using words in the subject of emails can make or break user interest when reading emails. The email also has to especially be carefully crafted so that it does not resemble spam.

Case in point: I signed up for Skillcrush for just for one free download and ended up receiving their newsletters as well. Instead of immediately dismissing these emails as nonsense I didn’t ask for, they instead kept grabbing my attention and in fact left me constantly wanting to open them up and read them with great interest. How was SkillCrush so successful? The emails were always titled in such a way that seemed to both spark curiosity and a desire to know more.

Approaches to accomplish this type of allure can take the form of “awesome subject lines and preview text” and can even be “short and punchy” as is commended in Hubspot’s blog, 15 of the Best Email Marketing Campaign Examples You’ve Ever Seen concerning BuzzFeed’s marketing approach. Oh and the call-to-action better be clear as well, otherwise the email may be tossed aside, right?

Make it Brief

Email already has a reputation for being too time consuming for people. Therefore, when it comes to email marking, it is a must to make the message brief in order to maintain a following. Going back to referring to Hubspot’s blog post again, this approach is described as being “easy to scan” (15 of the Best Email Marketing Campaign Examples You’ve Ever Seen).

Make it Mobile

I know I almost exclusively screen my emails via mobile phone. Case in point, Kissmetrics states that “2015 was the first year that mobile traffic exceeded that of desktop users” (4 Hot Mobile Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016, Kissmetrics). This audience only seems to grow rather than shrink.

Tools and Tracking

Preparing emails is only one small part of the puzzle when it comes to email marketing. Email automation programs also assist in sending out and handling the flow of emails in an effective manner. SkillCrush lists some of the more popular services available as Hubspot, Moz, and Mailchimp. Together, tracking analytics and testing that website where the message originally got across to make users interested (i.e. the “Landing Page”) in signing up for emails in the first place, are the means of how campaigning thrives and is what makes the whole endeavor not just a side project but a job in itself.

Want to Learn More?

These were just a few thoughts on the basics of email marketing. A more specific list of guidelines can be found by reading  9 Email Marketing Best Practices to Generate More Leads – Hubspot. In it, the mechanics, such as layout, font usage, etc. are covered. Additionally, the article How to Create an Email Campaign in 10 Minutes (Step by Step Guide), is also great for quickly walking one through the entire process. MailChimp’s Email Marketing Field Guide is well worth keeping for reference as well.

Lastly, I like to keep in mind that sometimes the best way to get a feel for how something like this really works and what makes it cool to users (and not spammy worthless junk), is to simply try it out yourself. So go ahead, try subscribing to something that interests you and while receiving these emails, note the parts that you liked and the parts you didn’t. Not sure where to begin? A fun way to experience an email series is to sign up with one of these recommended websites listed by Medium.com: Back To School: 20 Websites that Will Help You Learn Every Day.

Additionally, from a web development standpoint, another great place to see email marketing in action is through SkillCrush. While they are very much be catering to women, their web career advice and information is very relevant to anyone. They offer lots of up to date info and downloads in the form of guides and seminars.

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About Juliette

Techy girl who also loves both technology and culinary arts. Programming and recipes are my thing! Currently learning about web development while taking a bite out of a delicious crusty piece of bread.

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