Part four of our series on “business must-haves” zeroes in on the importance of email marketing.
If you’ve enjoyed the previous three discussions in our “must-have” series, you’re already distinctly aware of how crucial it is for your business to feature brand consistency, a strong social media presence, and valuable content.
Now, we turn an attentive eye to email marketing.
You have customers and they want your products and services. How are you going to get it to them? Email.
What is Email Marketing?
Sure, when many think of “email marketing,” they think of something that is old fashioned and out-of-date. However, that’s not the reality for businesses.
Email marketing remains a hugely important part of any business marketing strategy. Why? Because it transitions the conversation to the personal environment of the inbox.
Email is the #1 performing marketing channel
Email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search and social. Any email sent to either a current or prospective client may be considered email marketing. Email marketing offers the most direct line of communication available to convert sales. It’s estimated that email marketing creates $38 in ROI (return-on-investment) for every $1 spent.
Email has an ability many channels don’t: creating valuable, personal touches – at scale.
– David Newman
Pretty incredible, huh? If you’re smart—and we know you are—you’ll want a nice slice of that ROI pie.
- Email marketing is KEY to automated sales
- It’s 100x easier than you think
- Don’t get confused by all the tools
It’s more than just ‘growing your email list’
Email marketing is not just about growing a large database of email addresses and leads. Thinking like that is only going to lead to disappointment. “There’s money in the list” is a common statement among internet marketers, but the truth is that you need to nurture and look after your database. It’s not about the size of the list, but about your relationship with the people in that list.
Email marketing isn’t dead, emails are THE way to talk to your leads and customers. People look at SEO, social and PPC as the three most powerful ways to find customers. But every one of those platforms is owned by somebody else. Facebook could turn around tomorrow and totally change how businesses promote on Facebook.
You own a database
You own your list of leads and customers. You can talk and communicate with them however you want. With affordable software like MailChimp and Drip, you can automate how often you talk to customers and convert them into sales.
Finally, customers READ emails
If you’re worried about spam, just think about what spam is. Unwarranted and unwanted, non-helpful and invasive emails. Are you planning on sending those types of emails? I hope not.
If I got an email every hour and each time I opened it, I made $1, I would BEG for those emails to come through. If I got an email every month and it was just trying to sell me something, I’d get bored and probably unsubscribe.
Think about how much value you want to send to your list and deliver that.
Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
Email Marketing Best Practices
1. Focus on strong content
Your business needs to focus on offering only valuable information to your clients and prospective clients through email marketing. You’ll be rewarded for good content, trust us.
How to ensure that you’re delivering strong content in your emails? Don’t send out emails on general topics. Instead, dial down and offer specific emails that focus on niche topics within your business’s range of expertise. And don’t be afraid to develop a distinctive “voice” for your brand that will appeal to your targeted audience. This will help you come off as a real human being, and not some obnoxious spam bot.
2. Keep your call-to-action at the top of the message
If you fail to keep your call-to-action near the top of your email, many readers won’t ever see it. It’s been measured that as many as 70% of all email marketing recipients miss the call-to-action altogether if it isn’t included “above the fold.”
3. Watch your email width
Emails that are wider than 650 pixels stretch the screen. One thing you absolutely do not want is your reader frustrated by having to scroll in order to read your full message. Avoid this critical pitfall by ensuring your email is between 500-650 pixels in width.
4. Apply a favorable email frequency
It’s incredibly important to decide upon an optimal email frequency for your email marketing efforts. What helps define email frequency? Segmentation of your existing email database.
Are users on your list very engaged with your content? Somewhat engaged? Not engaged whatsoever? Make this determination, then adjust email send-rates on a per-group basis. You don’t want to waste money shooting off tons of emails to an unengaged segment of your email list, after all.
Also, be sure to test each group to determine the threshold level for emails sent. This allows you to combine a smart advertising strategy alongside a smart content strategy.
5. Connect your emails to your landing pages
Any email you send out as part of your business’s marketing campaign should tie-in closely with the look and feel of your corresponding landing page. Ensure that your landing page reflects the headline and content of your email—and don’t forget to use tracking tools to measure email performance rates, too!
6. Increase email open rates with incentives
Open rates are known to increase by as much as 50% whenever incentives are included directly in the email subject line. Ergo, if you write “Free shipping when you take Action X,” you’re going to find that open rates increase—and your sales conversions may just increase, as well.
Through strong content, appropriately placed call-to-actions, slick design, intelligently applied email frequencies, landing page cohesion, and smart email incentives, you can supercharge your email marketing efforts.
And with supercharged email marketing comes the potential for supercharged sales.
What usually goes wrong?
Not building new leads
It sounds like I’m contradicting myself here, but building fresh leads is key to email marketing. Your approach to building email marketing needs to have an email and lead capture process.
Its so important to find and capture more leads and emails because it gives you a better idea of what people want. For example, some of our lead magnets just don’t convert traffic into leads. Whereas others capture emails like crazy. We then have proof that people are looking for certain solutions or messaging that connects with them.
A small list that wants exactly what you’re offering is better than a bigger list that isn’t committed.
Fear to start
The most common problem with email marketing is when people have a small list (4 or 5 people) and they don’t want to start marketing to such a small number. For some reason they think it’s embarrassing or a waste of time.
In fact, you NEED to start early and get your message out there as soon as you can. If you don’t, two things are going to happen.
- Your list is going to forget who you are. If you decide to email them when you’ve got 100 people, the original subscribers will have long forgotten about you. When you do email them, you’re never going to get a return from them.
- The reasons to start are never going to be compelling enough and you’ll never start. Is 100 people enough? 1000? If you’re unsure of what to do now, why would you be any better in 96 subscribers time?
Bite the bullet and start talking to your list now. Learn from your mistakes early and grow your database before emailing larger lists. Your list doesn’t know they’re only 4 people. Start talking to them now and get used to the process.
Sending dull emails
Without a doubt, the worst offense you can commit with email marketing is BORING emails. Truly, nothing gets people to unsubscribe, forget or plain hate you than a dull email.
Stay away from standard subject lines and email headers. Say interesting things, be different and make it REALLY clear who you are and who is sending the emails.
If you honestly don’t think your emails are worth a $1 in value– don’t send them. You’d be better off writing an open letter to your list, telling them what you’ve done this week and the blog articles you’ve read, than just sending blog posts via email for the sake of it.
So, how do we succeed with email marketing?
Value stack emails
Givers get. Simple as that. If you give as much interesting and useful content away as you can – you’ll be rewarded in kind. If you want more sales, show people how to make sales.
Value stack emails are a method of layering up or ‘stacking’ the value that your subscribers get. If they sign up to a guide on flower arranging, then make sure the following emails that they get are based around flower arranging.
Send blogs, videos, articles, curated content letters etc. The more varied the better. It’s a safe bet that if someone wants information on [TOPIC A] then sending them more content on [TOPIC A] will do you well.
Eventually, you’ll want to move them into other silos. Ask them what they want to look at next or think about the next logical step. For example, people interested in [TOPIC A] are also interested in [B C AND D]. So reach out to them and see what they want help with next.
These are free, easily accessible pieces of content. No sales made yet, we’re just trying to show how useful and helpful we are.
Sales emails sounds like a tacky 80’s term. But all we’re really asking is “look, you’ve consumed all this free content. If you’re serious about [TOPIC] then you need to check out [PRODUCT].”
We just look at the next sensible step that a customer could take and offer them that step. If they’ve downloaded and read a lot of posts on cleaning your car, offering them some car cleaning products are the next thing.
People get wound up with sales emails, they think that they’re hard to create. If you sent an email with a massive button saying BUY NOW and a price, you’ll still generate some sales. The problem is that you’d need to have a larger list to make it worthwhile. What we want is more sales from a smaller list.
That’s when smarter sales emails come into play. We use the messaging of “if you’re serious about [TOPIC] then you need to check out [PRODUCT].” After a period of time when we’ve been sending value stack emails, we then send a sales email asking they want to take it to the next level.
Next stage emails
Your email list are going to be at multiple stages. Some are new leads, others have subscribed for a while. Some are customers, others have just bought one product.
How do you move people to a more profitable customer status? If they’re all at different stages, surely an email newsletter once a week isn’t going to cover it all?
Well you’re right and the way to remedy all these different stages is automation. MailChimp has great automation and if you’re looking at more complex products, they’re all about offering epic automation (InfusionSoft, ActiveCampaign, Marketo, etc.).
Let’s take a core product customer for example. They’ve just bought [PRODUCT] and you want to grow that relationship. A great way to start is with the cross-sell. For example, if we take someone buying a flat-screen HD TV. Once they’ve bought it, you’ve got a range of options to help them “get the same results”. Items like insurance coverage, wall mounts, HDMI cables etc.
My favorite example of a cross-sell done right was our accountant. After I got them to take a look at our tax returns for the year, they asked us “if this was a real headache for you, why don’t you sign up to our cloud accounting software? It’ll take care of everything on automation”. We signed up immediately because I understood what the benefit was and had a good relationship with my accountant.
Amazon shows this automation off best with their recommended products. They have an automation trigger set up that sends customers an email with products in the same categories. Or, with similar purchasing habits.
Without a doubt our favorite email is a sales email. There’s something really exciting about writing and crafting an email that could generate sales on automation. We have had customers ask us “but what if we don’t have a list?” and that’s fine. We totally get that, but we’ve found that usually they DO have a list, just not all in one place AND it’s never too late to start.