by Oliver Brainerd
Marketing is like your granddad’s toolshed. It’s full of a zillion fiddly tools, maybe crowded together in a messy pile or maybe meticulously arranged in shiny toolboxes. But most importantly, it includes subtle variations on a few themes. Like your granddad will tell you, it doesn’t matter how many of these tools appear to do the same thing, they’re all for slightly different jobs. He has forty-seven thousand screwdrivers because each of them solves a slightly different problem.
In the same way, marketing has a lot of tools that kind of look like they do the same thing. These tools, on closer consideration, have different applications and solve different marketing problems.
On the surface, emails appear to do one thing. Write one and send it off to carry some information. Straightforward.
In marketing terms, emails aren’t that simple. Emails can do a lot of things, depending on when they’re sent, or how they’re phrased (content, subject line, or both). Additionally, attachments or imagery or other content, and context all have an impact. Context is big. An email isn’t really an email, but it’s one part of communication in a larger marketing strategy.
Emails are like screwdrivers: we have different types of email marketing to solve different kinds of marketing problems.
Types of Email Marketing
Most Basic Kinds of Marketing Emails
At the most basic level, we create two types of emails for marketing purposes.
- Warm emails: Emails, often in email sequences, for an “engaged” audience, i.e., an audience with at least some level of buy-in to your brand and marketing.
- Cold emails: used for prospecting and creating new relationships.
These two categories break out into a handful of more precise strategic marketing goals.
Types of Warm Email Marketing
The main efforts in email marketing will probably be designed for a warm audience. Warm is a term marketing borrowed from the performing arts–and marketing is, when working well, a kind of performance. A warm audience is a friendly audience made up of people who have in some way demonstrated their buy-in to your narrative, generally in this instance by giving you their email addresses. If they’ve given you an email address, they’ve at least given you permission to contact them through email marketing campaigns. That removes a lot of hurdles in your marketing, and it informs some of your marketing decisions.
Here are seven types of email marketing sequences you might design for a warm audience…
- Welcome emails. These are used to set the tone of your relationship with your audience/customer base/clientele.
- Newsletters. While newsletters aren’t exactly obsolete, you’ll find they require a lot of thought to get them right–right in this context means “translates to conversions.”
- Promotional emails. These are the great puzzle of marketing. You need to send promotional emails, telling your crowd about sales and deals, but most people get so many of them that promotions often equate to spam. Making yours stand out will be your superpower.
- Special occasion emails. These are becoming cooler as brands start to figure out how to have honest personalities so they can share things they care about in ways people want to hear.
- Announcement emails talking about new products and services. These are good to send, so long as they’re not used too much.
- Lead nurturing emails. Yes, they’ve given you their email address but you’re not sure they’ll want to stick around or purchase anything. In this age of data capture, a lot of people are as quick to unsubscribe from an email list as subscribe to it. Reward people for sharing their contact information with you.
- Transactional emails. Part of customer service is treating your crowd like the people they are. A valuable kind of email marketing to include in your automated sequences are emails triggered by different transactions–purchases, referrals, etc. You increase your odds of future transactions if you put a personal little spark into them.
Use these email marketing examples to inform your marketing strategy. Different types of email marketing campaigns are tools to solve different email marketing problems.
Types of Cold Email Marketing
Less often talked about, but no less important is an email marketing strategy designed for audiences with little to no prior knowledge of you.
In the present age, a lot of people feel wary of receiving emails from sources unknown. Believe it or not, the current mood is friendlier than in times past. We’ve become accustomed to the thought that our email addresses find their way into lists that we either forgot we joined or that we never joined on purpose. A cold email sequence in the past might have been a dead lead. Right now, if you do them right, cold emails and cold email sequences can become powerful marketing tools. But of course, the key is to do them right and make sure you send them in a way that doesn’t get your domain blacklisted. It’s generally a good idea to enlist the help of an email marketing agency so you don’t hurt your other marketing endeavors.
Avoid this stuff:
- Templates. Or if you use a template, rewrite it completely before sending it out. Emails with an impersonal or artificial tone will probably get trashed. Personalization is everything when it comes to cold emails.
- Salesy-ness. Except in special circumstances that’ll be driven by your brand choices, avoid any hint, even in your tone, of how the recipient can help you.
- Any hint of complexity in your call to action. Marketing is, in part, about removing obstacles between your customer base and your product or service.
- Cliched jokes. This turns people off.
Instead, do this stuff:
- Provide solutions. Identify problems and offer solutions. Make it clear that you understand some plight of the recipient and that you have the coolest possible solution to that problem.
- Be human. “Professional” became the watchword for all marketing copy for a few decades there. It’s a good word, but it’s grown to mean “sterile.” Sterile copy moves no hearts to action, thereby undermining all marketing.
- Figure out some way to anchor your brand in the minds of its recipients. If they know little or nothing about your brand, then this is your one shot to make a real, human connection with them. Find a hook.
- Follow up. Especially if you’re using email marketing automation apps, then you’ll have data telling you about open rates, click-through rates, etc. So even if your cold email sequence doesn’t turn any sales right away, you still have some success rate data that you can save and utilize for future contact.
Fill Your Toolbox
That’s far from everything, but it’s enough to get you started. Just remember the fundamentals of marketing:
- Follow your brand.
- Iterate and test.
- Play the long game.
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