Email marketing in the firearms industry continues to be a viable and cost-effective way to reach current customers and build trust with those who’ve yet to buy from you.
With more and more channels taken away from digital firearm marketers (Facebook Ads, YouTube, Google PPC, etc.) email marketing can become one of your brand’s greatest ways to generate revenue—if you understand how to do it right.
In this post, I’ll outline the four principles of an effective email marketing framework to help you make your email marketing more effective.
1. Rise of mobile
81% of smartphone users say email is the most popular activity they use their phone for. (Source: Pew Research) With this statistic in mind, it’s important for marketers in the firearm industry to design and develop emails with a mobile first strategy. Most popular email platforms like MailChimp, iContact, and Constant Contact provide mobile-based templates built-in. Just make sure when testing your campaigns that you check them in a mobile browser to make sure they load fast, the type is large enough to read, and the call-to- actions look correct.
2. The significance of segmentation
When asked to rate the statement: “Most of the marketing emails I receive include no content or offers that are of interest to me.” 63% agree or strongly agree. (Source: DMA)
Data suggests that context is just as important as content. Don’t send offers for hunting products to people who are only interested in concealed carry or vice-versa if you have multiple product lines.
“Segmentation is the first step in personalization.”
Get started with segmentation by using forms that ask users to self-identify. Start by identifying your buyer personas and create lists within your database or marketing automation software around customer groups with the same interests.
For example, a form element that asks a website visitor to signup for your newsletter or downloadable user manual may look like this:
What best describes you?
– Recreational Shooter
This will help you understand more about who your customers are so you can move closer to personalizing your offers.
3. The power of personalization
94% of businesses say personalization is critical to their current and future success. (Source: eConsultantcy).
After segmentation, the first step in personalization is to have a way to sort your database contacts according to their interests within the broader segment. The second is to be able to identify what behaviors (actions) they took on your website to identify other areas of your product offering they might be interested in.
Behavioral marketing (BM) is perhaps one the biggest advancements in email marketing in recent years. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and event driven email technology, digital firearm marketers can become even more targeted and precise. (Source: Email Vendor Selection) BM can offer a distinct competitive advantage to companies wishing to optimize their firearm digital marketing and automation further.
What is behavioral email marketing?
Rather than maintaining simple ‘lists’ of customers, behavioral email marketing software allows you to build up an individual profile for each of your subscribers and sort them accordingly.
Behavioral email campaigns are based on the actions that your customers do (or do not take) when interacting with your business’ website. This allows you to send emails that truly matter to each individual recipient. (Source: Email Vendor Selection)
Using our example above, you may have a customer who has identified them self as a Hunter—but who has also visited your web page that sells choke tubes for turkey hunting at a middle price point. With behavioral marketing, you would send them an offer for a choke tube in the context of turkey hunting at the price point they’re interested versus a generic choke tube offer (or nothing at all). By using context, you’ll provide a more meaningful interaction and meet your customer at the right place and the right time—when they are actively looking for a choke tube.
Statistics show that contextual emails (such as transactional and trigger-based campaigns) have an average open rate of around 50%, while offer-based emails have an average open rate of around 22%.
Behavioral emails are effective because they are triggered based on a prospect’s behavior. As a result, these emails are almost never a surprise. They are an expected reaction to an action taken by a user.
That’s the true power of behavioral emails – they are activated by the user, not the marketer. (Source: HubSpot)
4. The importance of data-driven analysis and optimization
Analytics is the engine that powers the growth of your business. (Source: Hubspot)
Without a good and “understandable” analytics tool, you won’t know how to improve your email marketing efforts. Analytics helps you get away from “the send and pray you get a good click through rate” approach, that most firearm marketers conduct. Tools with A/B testing, dynamic content and the ability to use a customer’s name can help you understand what messages are working and what aren’t and help you become a better digital marketer in the process
When starting an email marketing program, begin with a mobile-first approach, start segmenting as soon as possible, personalize through behaviors and use a robust analytic tool to send event-based emails. By incorporating these four principles and optimizing over time, you can turn your email marketing program into one of your most profitable marketing channels.
By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.