If you want email to be an effective part of your marketing strategy, it’s not enough just to create messages that people read. To use email marketing successfully, you need to create campaigns that your audience will act on, turning readers into customers.
An effective email strategy can and should become a key component in your overall online marketing strategy. Here are three reasons why:
Resources spent on email strategies are more valuable than the same resources spent on web strategies alone.
Consider these facts:
- Almost every person has email - do you know anyone who doesn't?
- People visit fewer websites than they get email messages - I don't know what your inbox is like, but mine is always full (and, yes, I realize that can be problematic when it comes to getting your message seen and read; writing great subject lines can help).
- Email messages are TO DO items - email messages often request a response, either in the form of a reply, click or other call to action.
- Email has a familiar user interface - if you visit 10 different websites, you usually have to deal with 10 different layouts; not so with email.
- Email is a personal medium - it's personal, but not too personal.
- Email brings immediate returns - email is a short-term, direct response medium; most people open an email within 24 hours.
- Email is measurable - just about everything can be tracked - from how many people received the message to how many opened it or clicked links within it; most email marketing platforms, including our own Soundoff, contain robust analytics and reporting features.
A website built around an email strategy is more valuable than a website built around itself.
Think of your website as place to gather email addresses and as a library to archive email communications. Therefore, it's prudent to incorporate email subscription web forms that allow you to pull information into your CRM/email database.
Email oriented thinking will yield better strategic thinking overall.
Here's a formula I put together that illustrates this point:
Power of Personal Communication (PPC) X Power of Scale (PS) = Incredible Results
Email is a form of personal communication that can scale into the thousands (even millions). A well-crafted message that contains a strong call to action combined with a compelling subject line can be your ticket to generate leads and sales.
How to Become an Email Savvy Business
1. Start collecting email addresses on your website, Facebook Page and more. Name and email is all you need to get started. You can ask for more information later.
2. Start publishing an online newsletter (and send promotional messages on occasion).
There are several reasons why an email newsletter is a useful marketing tool.
- Some of us do direct mail already. Take that communication online via email. It's certainly less expensive.
- It's an organized, predictable communication form. Typically, newsletters are sent on the same day and time each month.
- Email is personal, but not too personal. You can personalize a newsletter with a contact's name, company name and other information.
- Email is good for educating new customers and prospects.
- Email creates a sense of loyalty and connection. Email is another touchpoint that keeps your business top of mind with your customer and builds a foundation for an ongoing relationship.
I know what you're thinking: "Point made, but what types of content do I include in an email newsletter?" (Great question; glad you asked) Here are a few ideas to prime the pump:
- Feature articles
- Relevant company news, issues and events
- Case studies
- "How-to” articles
- Reader Polls/Contests
- Special offers
- Resource recommendations
3. Use online polls, surveys, contests, special offers and even petitions for email acquisition. These can be especially effective in terms of growing your list database.
4. Have email as part of your overall marketing strategy. Email may be a marketing "tactic," but should be considered as part of your overall marketing strategy.
Now that you understand the reason to have an email marketing strategy, you'll need to get your audience to click to increase conversions.
It’s nice when people open your emails, but what does it take to get them clicking?
Five ways to create an email that will boost conversion rates and your business's bottom line.
1. Use subject line best practices to increase email conversion rates.
Well-converting emails start with a standout subject line. The best subject lines are relevant and short, without any marks of spam. Your subject line should also promise what your email delivers.
An attention-grabbing line may get someone to open your email; but they will lose trust in your business if an email’s subject and contents aren’t consistent.
2. Make your copy scannable to increase email conversion rates.
The second key to high-converting emails is simple: write copy that can quickly be scanned by the eyes of a reader. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your audience isn’t going to read every word you write. Realistically, you have only a few seconds to make it clear to a reader why they should become your newest customer.
How do you make scannable copy? Try breaking up your content using bold headers, creating bullet lists, and making sentences concise. Images are also quickly scannable, but if you use too many you risk overwhelming your viewer.
3. Keep your call to action simple.
Email is one of the top-ranking platforms in terms of ROI, and one way capitalize on this is to include a call to action in your emails. Your calls to action should be straightforward and easy: straightforward in what you are offering and easy for recipients to click through. If they click through, then your email conversion rates will go up.
If your calls to action aren’t working, perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Don’t keep sending emails that aren’t returning results. Track which emails experience successful click-through rates and which don’t using email marketing tools.
4. Create a sense of urgency.
Another way to grow your conversion rates is to create a sense of urgency around what you are offering. What would motivate a reader to act on your call to action now?
Perhaps this sense of urgency is created with a special giveaway: “a free bonus gift for the first 50 responders.” Or maybe it’s a time-sensitive offer, expiring at midnight. No matter which approach you take, if you can offer immediate benefit to a potential customer, then your conversion rates will benefit too.
5. Triple-check for errors.
Proof reading for errors is just as important as other best practices of email marketing! If you have a spelling error or a bad link in your email you could end up losing both credibility and a ready customer. Double and triple check to ensure your copy is error-free and uses modest punctuation (keep the exclamation points and emoticons at a minimum).
Successful email marketing is about both staying top-of-mind with your customers and turning leads into sales. To create emails that drive business it’s not enough to send your email list a sales-pitch – your business has to have a conversion strategy in place that incorporates these five elements.
Bonus Content: How to Create an Email Autoresponder in 8 Steps
An email autoresponder sequence is a series of emails that are sent to subscribers automatically, and they are an excellent way to increase email conversion rates. For example, a subscriber might receive a welcome email on the day of subscription and then four or five more emails over the next 30 days. Once the autoresponder sequence is in place, you will only need to track and fine-tune it, freeing up your time for other things.
A well-crafted sequence can assist the sales process and help build customer loyalty, but a poorly developed sequence can damage trust. Follow these eight steps to create an email autoresponder sequence that meets your needs.
Decide on goals to increase email conversion rates.
What do you want your autoresponder sequence to accomplish? Do you want to promote your products or services, or perhaps those of an affiliate? Would you like to educate your customers in some way? Are you trying to establish yourself as an expert in a particular field, or are you seeking feedback about your products?
While you may have more than one goal in mind, it is essential that you find a common thread to link your content together in a way that makes sense.
Determine frequency and campaign length
Based on your goals, decide how frequently you want to send emails and how long you want the campaign to be. When making these choices, think about your avatar, or ideal customer.
How much existing knowledge does that person have? Is she a voracious reader and researcher, or are occasional bite-sized pieces better? Is your avatar constantly bombarded with emails, or is this person more selective in choosing subscriptions?
Also, consider the content you currently have. Is yours a newer blog with only a few pieces of content that match your goals? Do you have several evergreen articles that you could recycle?
It’s best to start small, and then lengthen the campaign as needed when the oldest subscribers begin to reach the end.
You can always extend the length of your autoresponder sequence as you create new content. It’s best to start small, with ten or fewer emails sent over a period of 30 days, and then lengthen the campaign as needed when the oldest subscribers begin to reach the end. In this way, you will increase your email conversion rates.
When deciding on the frequency, take into account any additional emails that you plan to send. For example, if you have a weekly newsletter, it might be best to scale back the frequency of your autoresponder emails to prevent overloading your prospects and customers.
Space out your emails far enough to give your target audience breathing room but not so much that they forget who you are and why they subscribed.
Once you have your goals, frequency, and campaign length in place, choosing email content should be relatively easy. To educate, build trust, and form stronger relationships, send informational emails that fit the common thread for your autoresponder sequence.
Focus on evergreen articles that provide valuable information for your avatar. Depending on your existing content base, you might need to write a few new articles or rewrite existing articles with a new focus. In doing so, you will provide content that your customer wants and he will remember you when he's ready to purchase, which increased your email marketing conversion rates.
Keep it simple
When developing the layout for each item, remember that people read email on many different devices, from tiny phone screens to huge monitors. Choose a clear, basic layout that makes use of white spaces, bullets, subheads, and other design elements that break up walls of text. Avoid fancy animations or other high-tech additions that might not render well on all screens.
Build the package
Like any email, those in your autoresponder sequence must be packaged in an enticing way. Choose provocative headlines that encourage clicks, and make sure that your subject lines are short and free of any words that email platforms could interpret as spam.
An autoresponder sequence is all about building trust, and changing the “from” line could have unintended and potentially disastrous consequences.
Decide what you will use in the “from” line, and make it consistent throughout your sequence. An autoresponder sequence is all about building trust, and changing the “from” line could have unintended and potentially disastrous consequences.
Everyone loves to get a great deal, and coupon codes or discounts add significant perceived value to your autoresponder sequence. Musicians use this idea all the time, offering free song downloads, presale codes for upcoming shows, and other perks to their subscribers. What can you offer your subscribers that make them feel like a valuable part of an exclusive club?
The goals you set in step one will determine the actions you want your subscribers to take in each email. For example, if your goal is to drive more online sales, then your emails should include a call to action and a big button that says "shop." If your goal is to encourage customer feedback and online reviews, your emails should link to a feedback form or online review portal.
Track and Tweak
Your autoresponder campaign will mostly run itself, but it is important to stay on top of the data. Use your email program dashboard to discover open rates, click rates, and unsubscribe rates.
Drill down to find out which specific emails drew positive or negative responses, and then compare them to each other. Did one have a huge success rate while another triggered lots of unsubscribes, for example?
Tweak your emails according to the results, but be careful not to do too much too quickly. Small changes can have big effects, and it can take some time to track them. As you obtain more and more data, you will develop a keener sense of what works and what doesn’t, and when to make changes.