If you’re reading this, you probably have been investing in content marketing for some time. We assume that you also have a website, a blog, a bunch of posts and case studies that are really fun to read and should be shared with everyone across the industries you work with. That’s a great start! You’ve prepared plenty of fuel for your inbound sales channel.
Therefore, your #1 question right now must be, “How do I turn on the ignition?”
Inbound marketing is the result of transformation that decision-making has gone through. We’re no longer influenced by TV ads or newspapers when it comes to choosing a vendor or product. Modern decision-makers know how to use the Internet and do their homework diligently before choosing a brand. Moreover, those decision-makers don’t like to be taken lightly. B2C buyers won’t like an ad that basically says, “Don’t think, just consume” while B2B clients will reject any vendor who sends them a crummy sales offer that offers generic info.
“But wait!” you might say. “Isn’t email marketing used for outbound? Are you sure you got this right?”
This is what makes email marketing so awesome: It goes with everything. Inbound and outbound, B2C and B2B — there is nothing you can’t do with the right campaign, message and settings.
But let’s outline several clear distinctions between outbound email marketing and inbound email marketing.
Of course, modern outbound marketing is designed to be as non-interruptive as possible in order to establish a natural and frictionless conversation. However, inbound marketing interacts with prospects on another level. It doesn’t need them to respond or to write back; it merely encourages them to research, explore and make conclusions. It also means working with prospects who:
a) have already visited your website;
b) subscribed to your newsletter, i.e., interested in your content;
c) expressedtheirconsenttogettingemailsfromyoubysharingtheir contact data;
d) created an account on your website or inside tool.
Now, let’s take a look at the key principles behind inbound email marketing.
Does it work? Well, the stats speak for themselves.
- Unstable deliverability. Many B2B senders get dangerously comfortable with their B2B outreach. By “dangerously” we mean believing that campaigns targeted at opted-in recipients don’t require as much monitoring as outbound campaigns do. It’s important to remember that no campaign is a piece of cake. Pitfalls can catch anybody by surprise.
- Sudden spam issues. Emails that seemingly disappear from inbound outreach, never landing to any inbox, are a common problem. Inbound messages aren’t an exception. So before you launch a campaign, you need to know how to run spam tests.
- Creativity isn’t aligned with the rules. When it comes to sending promotional and informative emails, some brands let their marketing departments go wild with creativity. Images, videos, even mini-games — everybody tries to present their content in the most imaginative way possible. Some senders, however, get carried away and risk ending up under the strict supervision of spam filters.
All those things considered, building an inbound marketing email campaign is not a walk in a park. But it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it. Every approach becomes a lot more understandable once it’s laid out, step by step — and this is exactly what our guide does.
Make the most out of your domain
While outbound email marketing always requires building and warming up a new domain, inbound email marketing looks comparatively easy since it allows using your company domain. After all, your recipients subscribed to your newsletter. They know already — at least, they know you well enough not to be alerted by seeing your email in the inbox.
That’s true: If your company domain has an established reputation and there are no cold recipients on your lists, you can use it for your inbound marketing. But there is always a catch.
There is one tiny mistake that many beginners make — they see no difference between transactional and promotional emails, believing both to be part of inbound email marketing. Of course, they’re not. Numerous experts from the Folderly team suggest separating them.
Why is it so important?
- Transactional emails are triggered by your customer. A user signs up for the first time, gets a response to their comment under one of their blog posts, books a time slot in the calendar, makes a purchase — all these actions result in your subscribers getting notifications that report on their activities and effects. Such messages are never sent in bulk: They’re automated and tuned to the specific actions of a certain user.
- Promotional emails aren’t triggered by users. They follow the pattern established by the sender and are sent in bulk, covering an entire segment of your target audience. For example, all your subscribers get messages about a new post in your blog.
When it comes to getting your priorities straight, it’s transactional emails you want to always land in your customers’ inboxes. When users instantly get transactional emails after performing an action, they know they're dealing with a credible vendor who got everything under control. Transactional emails that arrive too late, land in the wrong folder or don’t arrive at all immediately become red flags, scaring your potential loyal clients away. After all, wouldn’t it bother you if you had to dig around your Spam folder to find an invoice notification while trying to complete a purchase on a website?
Therefore, you must simply make sure that your transactional email lands in the right folder completing a purchase on a website and that means using a domain with a good reputation, which would be your company domain.
“Can’t I just send both my transactional and promotional emails from my primary domain? What’s the harm?”
We don’t recommend putting so much pressure on your domain reputation — it’s hard to build up but easy to destroy. Your subscribers know that they will be getting messages from you every now and then, but it doesn’t mean that they’re going to like your content. They may unsubscribe, flag your emails as spam or delete them ASAP. Two last scenarios will make an impact on your domain health, your IP reputation and the reputation of your email address.
At the same time, any user expects to get a transactional email after interacting with your website. Accordingly, each time a transactional email lands in your clients’ inbox, it adds up to your domain reputation.
So, when you send your transactional and promotional emails from one domain, you may end up with your sender score dropping and your recipients frustrated.
What should you do then? Create a subdomain for your promotional emails.