We dive into email marketing best practice, shining the spotlight on five key actions that’ll keep your customers clicking and drastically increase your email conversions.
You’ve heard the saying the money is in the list, right?
It’s one of those annoying marketing clichés that gets thrown around at every opportunity. But, as annoying as it may be, there’s more than a little truth to this particular cliché.
Despite huge growth in areas such as social media marketing and mobile commerce, email marketing still sits securely atop its online marketing throne as the king of ROI.
Nothing comes close to the ROI potential of email marketing. In fact, in an Econsultancy survey marketing managers rated email marketing as their number one channel in terms of ROI
That same survey explains how companies saw a 28% increase in sales from their email marketing campaigns between 2013 and 2014. You can safely ignore the current trend of proclaiming email is dead.
But that doesn’t mean implementing a successful email campaign is easy. Far from it in fact, however, there are a few golden rules that will help get your campaign off to the best possible start.
Segmentation and personalisation
Generic campaigns don’t convert.
We’ve all received an email that was so obviously a bulk email with little to no personalisation. Rather than capturing our attention and causing us to take note of the product on offer, these emails annoy us with their lazy efforts and end up in our trash bins.
Take this prime example of a generic email that only succeeded in earning itself a one way ticket to my junk folder.
Not at all inspiring or persuasive.
Email marketing isn’t about quantity anymore, it’s about creating a 1:1 experience for your prospects. No one wants to feel as though they’re just a part of the crowd. They want to feel valued not only as a customer but as a person.
It sounds like an incredibly difficult goal to aim for, especially if you’ve got a huge list. However, with a little planning and strategy, you’ll be better able to personalise your message to individual segments of your list.
Add name fields to sign up forms
In the above email, I lost interest as soon as I saw the opening, “hello”. Straight away I know this person doesn’t know who I am and doesn’t know what I want which means they likely won’t be able to help me. Personalising your emails with a name is a simple step proven to increase open rates. Here’s a breakdown of a few stats from a study Mailchimp did on the topic.
Asking for a name is the most basic step in personalising your emails. It’s also one of the most effective for getting your message read.
Segment based on behaviour and demographics
Your list will be diverse. Believing that everyone has the same interests and purchasing behaviours will only lead to low conversions and, more likely, a decreasing list size.
Take the fashion industry as an example. Their email lists are often segmented by age and gender which enables proper targeting of their promotions.
Sending an email to middle aged men to notify them of a sale on women’s shoes isn’t going to see a high return. You may make one or two sales, but you’ll also annoy a large percentage of that segment by offering them items they’re not interested in.
But what’s a little annoyance you might say, well, according to CMBinfo, non relevant content is one of the top causes of email unsubscribes.
Leveraging behavioural and demographic data is a necessity for sending the right message to the right prospects at the right time.
These are just two of the many data sets you can use to properly segment your audience and personalise your messaging. For you to provide a truly 1-1 experience for your prospects you should also take the time to look into:
- Browsing/purchasing behaviour
If a prospect purchase or browsing behaviour focuses on a specific category, focus their emails on similar products
- Browsing device
We’ve covered the topic of mobile optimisation before. Remember that mobile users interact with data differently to desktop users, optimise your campaigns accordingly to device usage.
Your segmentation choices will differ depending on the kind business you operate. However, be sure that you’re only segmenting by behaviours or demographics that will have a positive impact on your conversions.
After making changes to your copy, running a few A/B tests and segmenting your lists in a meaningful way you see a healthy lift in conversions.
It’s time to put your feet up and congratulate yourself on a job well done. All you’ve got to do now is wait for the money to roll in, right?
You can’t make a change and expect the effects to persist throughout the year. Conversion optimisation is an ongoing process that needs constant monitoring and adjustment.
Customer purchasing behaviour is seasonal and will fluctuate at different times of the year. This is especially true for brands who produce seasonal specific products such as sunglasses. That lift in conversions you’ve seen isn’t going to stay at that level year round.
You may have zeroed in on the copy that sells over the winter months, but will it really have the same effect when the sun is shining and everyone is heading to the beach? Or has that spike you’ve seen got nothing to do with your copy, but is in fact due to us entering the run up to the Christmas period.
When your variant beats your control it doesn’t mean you’ve won the war. You’ve only won one battle. Monitor customer behaviour year round and never stop testing so you’re always on top of your prospect’s purchasing habits and ahead of the curve.
Sometimes one email isn’t enough
The success of email marketing is largely due to the relationship you have with your prospects.
Unlike social media or PPC, the prospects on your list are already invested in your brand and have an interest in what you’re selling. However, as with a personal friendship, a customer relationship needs to be consistently nurtured.
Nurturing doesn’t mean constantly bombarding your prospect’s inbox with messages, there’s a fine line between keeping in touch with and spamming you prospects, a line many marketers unwittingly overstep. If you cast your eyes back up to the table from CMBinfo you’ll notice that sending too many emails is the only cause of unsubscribes higher than content with no relevancy.
The key to keeping in touch without annoying your prospects comes down to relevancy. By utilising triggered lifecycle campaigns you can ensure that your prospects are automatically sent emails that are relevant to their current position in your funnel.
When implemented properly, these lifecycle campaigns should help establish you as a trustworthy brand whilst also ticking the boxes of keeping in touch with useful content that isn’t annoying or spammy. On top of this, lifecycle campaigns also offer repeat opportunities for making sales.
Let’s take a look at how this works with one of the most popular lifecycle campaigns, the welcome series. Brands tend to use these to explain a little about the brand and offer useful information to new prospects. However, they can be so much more than just extra information.
Below is an example of the welcome series Pat Flynn of smartpassiveincome.com uses to help him bring in six figures plus every month.
Instead of jumping straight in with the product, Pat takes the time to build a relationship and trust with the prospect. Treating the sale as something of an add-on is a much longer process, but one which is also far more effective.
Lifecycle events can take many forms, but the most successful are those which are triggered by a specific action. Below we’ve listed three more examples of highly effective triggered lifecycle campaigns.
- Purchase confirmation
Rather than sending a simple confirmation email experiment with cross selling supplementary products in the confirmation. If the product is quite complex or an information product, you could follow up with a series explaining how to get the most use from it.
- Shopping cart abandonment email
Shopping cart abandonment is a huge problem for ecommerce. But following up abandoned shopping carts with a targeted email is proven to drastically increase revenue by securing money that could otherwise have been left on the table.
- Post purchase feedback
Customers love getting involved with the brands they frequent. Give customers an opportunity to contribute to the betterment of your brand by sending a post purchase feedback survey. They’ll be happy you value their opinion and you get some free research data to help refine your processes.
These are just a few of the examples for triggered lifecycle events. Examine your business to see if there are any particular actions prospects take that you could expand on with useful information through an email series.
Your prospects will thank you for sending useful information that’s based on their behaviour.
Email marketing is still the king of ROI. However, just because the stats say it’s the best doesn’t make optimising your campaigns easy.
There’s a lot of work that goes into producing an email series that persuades and builds trust without coming across as overly spammy. Take a good look at your business and identify key opportunities for targeted emails that offer value to your prospects.