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A carefully thought-out email marketing strategy is a great tool for building brand awareness and increasing sales.

Email marketing is perhaps the most pocket-friendly marketing channel. It gives you the undivided attention of your customers and prospects. Email marketing analytics are easy to measure, and the content of an email message can be instantly changed whenever required.

Apart from encouraging sales, email marketing can build your brand, turn customers into loyal supporters and establish you as a trustworthy authority. And that’s why using emails to merely announce a sale or send a newsletter doesn’t even come close to fully exploiting the true potential of email marketing.

Below are the five most important things you need to do with email to build your brand and increase sales.

1. Ask for permission

No brand can ever grow by ignoring the preferences of its customers. Before you begin sending them your email drip campaign, always make a point to ask if they wish to receive emails from you.

Not asking for permission puts you under a unique risk: the very recipients you want to win over might report you as a spammer. (In any case, regulations like the GDPR make permissions compulsory.) Bear in mind how you ask for permission is critical.

The Onion, in the following example, seeks confirmation in a positive way without going over the top.

How it impacts your branding:

It shows you care for your customers and put them above everything else. It strengthens your brand as a business or an enterprise that willingly conforms to the law.

How it impacts your sales:

If you send out emails without looking at recipients’ preferences, in all likelihood your recipients won’t read your email. That tremendously increases the risk of being labeled a spammer. Hence, the first step to sell via emails is to ask for permission.

After all, emails can generate business only if they’re read.

2. Build a strong landing page to support your emails.

Email marketing requires you to begin with the end in mind. Before you write a draft of your email, ask yourself: where do I want my readers to go after they’ve read the email?

Your landing page is an important part of your marketing funnel. Your landing page is where you want your subscribers to come to when they click on the CTA inside your email.

How it impacts your branding:

If you’re wondering how to build a brand using emails, this is your first lesson: the design of your landing page must be consistent with your email. Always make sure the aesthetics of the landing page design match that of your email. Soon, your subscribers will come to identify the design with your brand.

If your email and your landing page are drastically different from each other in terms of aesthetics and design, visitors could believe they’ve landed somewhere else and will quickly exit.

Have a look at the two images below (source: MarketingProfs). The one on your left is the email, while the one on the right is the landing page. Notice the way they’ve used color and design to create a seamless visual experience so that your move from email to the landing page is smooth and natural.

How it impacts your sales:

A visitor who’s on your landing page has shown some intent of exploring your product further – which is why they clicked on a link and landed there. A persuasive headline coupled with a clever copy, and a clear and strong CTA will go a long way in making your landing page more powerful.

How much you want to sell from your landing pages depends upon your marketing strategy – in some cases a gentle nudge works better while in other cases you’ll need a stronger effort. If you have a trial version, you’ll want to have visitors try it first.

3. Create your welcome mail

Your welcome email chalks out the path for the emails that follow and tells subscribers what to expect. Welcome mails will have a very high open rate, so you want to make the most out of it. But remember to maintain clean lists first to ensure high deliverability. Regularly verify email addresses on your mailing lists to make sure you’re sending out emails only to deliverable addresses.

It’s a great opportunity but also a challenge in itself. If your welcome email doesn’t kindle the reader’s interest, the rest of the emails are going to face an uphill task.

How it impacts your branding:

Your welcome email is your calling card, one that’s going to try and make sure your subscribers feel glad they subscribed. If you already have a large community, a considerable social following or something similar, use it to further strengthen your claim of being an authority. Impressive numbers help reinforce your brand.

In any case, give your subscribers an outline of what to expect in subsequent emails. That tells them you are organized enough and that you care about their time.

How it impacts your sales:

Many businesses underutilize the potential of personalization in the welcome email. If you have more than one services or newsletters, include the links to all of them and have subscribers choose what they’d like to read.

Use that information to segment your mailing list, and send more behavior-based, targeted emails. It almost effortlessly provides you a strong basis for segmentation. Using clearer segmentation is a great solution to the problem of how to use emails to increase sales.

The image below shows how the welcome email MIT Technology Review tries to place subscribers in the correct segment at the starting point itself.

4. Remain consistent

There are some areas where you should be creative and experiment on a regular basis. On the other hand, there are some things you should not change because consistency gets better results in these areas.

Your email design, color, logo placement and overall layout is one of those things where it pays to remain consistent. That’s because we humans are programmed to identify patterns. And our trust quotient goes up when we recognize a familiar pattern.

How it impacts your branding:

Coca Cola is one of the strongest and most powerful brands ever. Since the day its logo was registered, the basic design hasn’t changed much. Check out the image below.

Brand recognition relies heavily upon our ability to recognize patterns. The lesson is simple: spend time designing the email but once you’ve finalized something, don’t alter it without a very strong reason.

How it impacts your sales:

A sale is basically an individual parting with their money in exchange of a product or service they are yet to receive. Surely you realize it requires considerable trust to pay money for a product or service that they are yet to receive.

Consistency is not just about design, it’s also about your value proposition. If you promise great SEO benefits today, better deliverability tomorrow and value-for-money product the day after, it’s going to be very difficult for a prospect to pull out their wallet and pay you.

5. Humanize your emails

Humanizing your emails is one of the best ways of using emails to build a brand and to increase sales. And one of the best ways to meaningfully humanize your emails is using social proof, or evidence of how real people have used and benefited by using your product.

How you leverage social proof largely depends on what you’re selling; a gym, for instance, can show a before-after photo. You can back up social proof by showing ratings your customers have left (“5-star service!”) or by using numbers (“With their expert training, I lost 5 pounds in 9 weeks”).

Alternatively, you can write detailed case-studies of some of your customers and share a link from where your subscribers can download the case studies.

In the above case, the sender asks for the recipient’s opinion, making the email quite appealing and relatable.

How it impacts your branding:

A mechanical-sounding email will be written with one single purpose: sell. That makes your company a faceless company desperate to sell.

Although it may sound cliché, this line is so important it’s worth repeating – customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions. Building relationships with customers makes them aware you’re keen to solve one of their specific problems. It makes your brand human and relatable.

How it impacts your sales:

There are a number of ways of humanizing content. People may see you, for instance, as a drilling rigs company, full of machines and stuff. But if your email can talk about your teams, the narrative shifts from machines to humans.

Your subscribers can see you’re more than a faceless engineering company. That’s one way of humanizing. Personalization and humor are some of the other ways you can humanize your message.

Facebook is a platform that’s completely built on user-created content. If millions of its users were to suddenly stop creating and sharing content, there would be no Facebook. So, they must keep asking you to create content if you fall back.

Yet, Facebook doesn’t ask you to create content because they themselves need it. Instead, they show they’re concerned that your audience hasn’t heard from you for quite a while.

Placing the customer’s priorities over yours is a great way of humanizing your emails.

Summing up

Because it’s easy to begin, some marketers often hurry into email marketing without doing the fine-tuning. Not surprisingly, they fail to get the benefits.

With a systematically laid out marketing strategy, you can use email marketing to build your brand, win loyal customers and increase sales. Begin by asking permission from your subscribers and build a compelling landing page.

Next, create the right welcome email, plan out what you’ll be sending in subsequent emails and remain consistent. Last but not least, make sure you give a human touch to your emails – share stories about your teams, invite feedback and encourage a dialogue to build engagement.

With all this, you’re sure to see your brand become stronger. And a strong brand does one thing very well: it increases sales.