Email marketing is an extremely effective way to increase ROI, maintain customer loyalty, and boost brand awareness. In fact, email is one of the top performing revenue drivers and is highly cost effective. For every dollar spent on email marketing, brands can expect an average return of $38. Now those are some attractive numbers.

While email can generate quick conversions, it’s a long-term game. To get the most out of an email marketing strategy, brands must be patient, utilizing a mix of tools and techniques while keeping an eye on data to generate insights for optimization.

Here are some key definitions and email marketing best practices for getting the most out of email marketing campaigns.

Pieces of the Puzzle

Automated Series

An automated series is a set of emails delivered to users through automatic, action-based triggers. These actions may include making a purchase, submitting an email address, or abandoning an online shopping cart.

Automated emails benefit both the consumer and the brand. They allow brands to directly connect with their users after performing a specific action that is personal to their journey, increasing the likelihood of engagement (engagement rates such as open rate, click-through rate, etc. rise when users receive personalized messaging in real time).

Simultaneously, marketers need only to invest time in initial setup, letting the automation take over as they collect data and revenue indefinitely, with the occasional update and test.

Campaign

A campaign is a one-time email-send sent to users often regarding seasonal or event-based occurrences. Campaigns are effective for communicating date-specific events or time-sensitive announcements (ex: promoting a new summer product or sale).

It’s important to incorporate these messages into promotional calendars to ensure users are updated with relevant content.

Campaigns are also a great source of direct revenue and immediate data collection.

Email Capture

Email capture is a means of securing email addresses through various sources for meaningful list building (often built into a website’s homepage as a pop-up, requesting users to submit their email addresses). Building and maintaining a healthy list is crucial to growing and sustaining an e-commerce business. The more active your list, the higher the chance of conversion through relevant messaging.

Capturing emails on-site enables brands to educate and nurture potential customers toward conversion, in the (highly likely) event they don’t purchase at first sight.

The Importance of Tools and Techniques

A marketer is only as good as his or her tools. Email technology has come a long way in the last decade. The digital landscape is constantly shifting, with new, increasingly robust platforms and technologies being introduced every day. Predictive analytics allows marketers to pinpoint optimal send times, subject lines, and preview text. Better data reporting and analysis tools have opened doors to more exact targeting and conversion optimization. The better the tech, the more marketers can focus on high-impact ideas, rather than minuscule details.

Perhaps the most important decision any email marketer will make is which email service provider (ESP) to use to deliver and monitor emails. Each platform (MailChimp, Bronto and Klaviyo are among the most popular and effective) has different benefits for different businesses, and research should play a key role in the decision-making process. Other impactful platforms to consider are Litmus for quality assessments of email code and deliverability, MailCharts for competitor analysis, Justuno for list-building, and Klaviyo or Mailchimp for just about everything else.

A marketer is only as good as their data. It’s nearly impossible to improve email marketing efforts without consistent testing and analysis. For a brand to understand its audience, it must continuously monitor its customers’ actions and preferences. Keeping track of open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribes, and other important metrics is critical to establishing benchmarks and identifying trends. Studying these successes and failures gives email marketers the insights needed to double down on what’s working, drop what isn’t, and draw up new strategies.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The best email programs take ample trial and error through testing and analysis. Just because something works today doesn’t mean will work tomorrow. Planning for the long term will provide better results over fleeting wins – email marketers should be wary of getting hooked on one-off campaigns with steep discounts. Segmentation and automation, paired with smart campaign strategy are the keys to long-term success.

Often times, marketers tend to be nearsighted, hungry for immediate ROI or instant targeting accuracy at the expense of long-term planning. Taking a long-term view will help brands avoid getting caught up in the ebb and flow inherent to email marketing. Monthly or quarterly results are more indicative of success or failure, and brands must never forget to adjust for seasonality and macro trends.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.