Successful inbound marketing campaigns contain many constituent elements. Email is one such element that cannot be ignored. It is still one of the most important facets of a good inbound marketing strategy.

Unfortunately, it sometimes is. I’ve lost count of the number of inbound marketing strategies I’ve seen which include beautiful, well-considered landing pages, viral-tastic social campaigns and a consistent approach to blogging.

But, which completely forget the ‘e’ word.

All of that inbound marketing goodness I’ve just described will only do half the job intended if email marketing is an inconsistent or absent element.

But, you might ask, how on earth can something like email (which is traditionally outbound) offer benefits for inbound marketing?

I hope to answer that question (and no doubt a few others you probably have) in this blog post!

What role does email play in inbound marketing?

Let’s consider the two types of email marketing to gain some clarity here:

  • Outbound email marketing. This is, for instance, when you send automated emails to leads who have expressed an interest in your products or services.
  • Inbound email marketing. When someone willingly provides you with their email address (perhaps via a product landing page or newsletter sign-up), and you email them afterwards. That’s inbound.

Pretty straightforward when you put it like that, eh? Basically, if someone comes to you and gives you their email address (that’s email marketing nirvana, right there), you’re getting involved in inbound email marketing.

The distinction above is vital to understand. It makes email’s role in inbound abundantly clear, thus allowing you to tap into its full potential.

The best thing about email as a method of inbound marketing? You can reach your audience even when they’re not on your website!

Three benefits of email marketing for inbound

So, you still need a bit more convincing about the role email marketing will play in your inbound strategy?

No problem – here are three benefits it will offer that you simply can’t ignore.

1. Encourages people to take action

Email marketing with an unmissable call-to-action (CTA) + a great landing page = success.

It’s about the most straightforward marketing recipe you’ll find.

So, let’s say you have a big launch approaching for a new service you’ve devised. By sending out emails to people who have willingly given you their address, you’ll be coming good on your promise to keep in touch with them and give them an excuse to pay you back by taking action.

Similarly, if you’ve got an event on the horizon (a trade show appearance, for instance), emailing people who have already engaged with you in some way will probably result in far more confirmed attendees than via outbound email marketing.

2. Increases engagement

We hear the word ‘engagement’ an awful lot in marketing. Hell, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve bashed it out on this keyboard, but that’s for very good reason.

Engagement refers to an interaction between customer and brand which is meaningful. It could be ‘liking’ a Facebook post, signing up to a blog feed or requesting a PDF brochure.

Email is the perfect vehicle for this, because it has one destination (the recipient’s inbox), gives you loads of space to be creative with the content, allows both imagery and text (and video), and gives the prospect a chance to respond privately.

Inbound marketing strategy relies an awful lot on the audience. They have to become engaged with and trusting of the brand in order to take action, and if email is missing from your inbound strategy, you’ll have a hard time making a meaningful impact on your bottom line.

3. It’s a vital reminder you still exist

Yep, that’s right – no one really cares about your business. In fact, customers, in particular, are pretty fickle about any connection they might have with it.

This is fine. When we buy something, we might do so having immediately fallen in love with a brand, and while that love might still exist somewhere, it’s hardly at the forefront of our minds, day-to-day. This is why inbound email marketing is so useful.

Posting blog posts is an important element of inbound, as is keeping a strategic flow of social media content going, but neither will provide as powerful a reminder that you exist as email.

Think about all of the customers or subscribers who have engaged with you previously. If they haven’t done so for six months or more, do you think they’re even aware you still exist?

Few businesses have the brand power of Apple, and unless you supply tools people use every single day, you’ll need to send out periodic reminders that you’re still around and able to provide added value. Email is the best way to do this.

How to include email within your inbound strategy

Right, so, clearly, I’ve convinced you that you need to invest some serious time in email marketing. And, with that inevitability in mind, I’d like to use what’s left of this blog post to explain how you can include it within your inbound strategy.

The best news? It’s a 2-step process!

1. Encourage people to share their email addresses

Inbound email marketing can’t really take place until you start obtaining email addresses in an ethical manner.

To do that, you need to convince prospects to share their addresses with you. And that’s not easy – but it is possible with some persistence.

Start by adding a sign-up form to the bottom of your blog posts and as a pop-up on your website (just make sure it isn’t too obtrusive – that’ll annoy people).

That’s the basics covered. Next, you’ll need to think of a killer lead magnet to draw people into a landing page and grab their email address from there. We’ll cover that in a future blog post.

2. Start segmenting your audience as it grows

Assuming your email capture methods begin to work and provide you with a fast-growing database of subscribers, you’ll need to start getting smart about how you categorise them.

Segmenting email lists is one of the critical elements of inbound success. You can do it by geographical location, gender, age or get a little smarter and divide your audience by buying habits and their behaviour on your website.

The more segmented your audience, the more targeted your email marketing campaigns will be, and that should result in higher levels of engagement and click-throughs.

Wrapping up

So, the answer is clear: inbound marketing is nothing without email.

I hope this blog post has helped today. It felt like it needed writing.