Email marketing: simple, right? Just send out a mass message about your company to your contact list and wait for the responses to come flooding in! Not quite.
As opportunities—and barriers—in email marketing evolve, marketers must ramp up efforts to deliver measurable results. Fortunately, there are actions you can take that may mean the difference between your emails heading straight to your recipients’ spam folders and converting leads into customers.
Over the years, we’ve helped clients build robust, scalable email programs—from lead nurture streams to customer loyalty campaigns. Here are a few important email questions we’ve heard over the years—and answers based on the most up-to-date best practices.
What’s the best way to keep my email list well-maintained?
The easy way out in building up your email list is to purchase one. Sure, it looks great that your list went from zero to 2,000 in an instant, but since the people on this list did not opt in, they will likely be less engaged with your content or mark you as spam. You’ll benefit much more from a list of people who have had some sort of past interaction with your business. Try to build the list organically by promoting it on your website, blog and social media posts, and keep it maintained by sending emails regularly at consistent times of day and making it easy for people to unsubscribe. Remember, creating and promoting valuable gated content (ebooks and interactive tools, for example) is a great way to incentivize prospective subscribers/leads.
What is lead nurturing?
Four out of five marketers say their email open rates don’t exceed 20 percent, and 79 percent of marketing leads never convert into sales. Why could this be happening? Think of your leads as a house plant: they need regular attention and care to stay healthy and fully blossom. Without care and attention, they wilt and wither away.
Lead nurturing means building relationships with buyers at every stage in the customer journey by taking their needs into consideration and providing them with the appropriate answers and solutions. Remember to think of your customers in physical and emotional terms, not just dollar signs, to truly get an understanding of their experience. By doing so you build trust and continue conversations with leads that haven’t converted yet, and maintain relationships you have already established with current customers.
We start our nurture stream programs by developing “bait” at each level of the funnel—a high-value, gated piece of content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. This allows us to assign a funnel stage to each lead, and nurture them accordingly via email. Email content is designed to educate, inform and push prospects down the funnel as the email stream progresses.
How does email automation help nurture my leads?
Think about the last time you unsubscribed from an email list. What led you to do so? If you said “the emails I received weren’t relevant to my interests,” you’re in good company, as this is one of the most common reasons recipients unsubscribe from emails or mark them as spam. Email automation combats this by providing you with the ability to efficiently send the most relevant messaging to everyone on your list.
Start by segmenting your audience. You can do so based on where recipients fall in your funnel or other factors such as demographics, behaviors and buying frequency. By segmenting your list, you can increase the revenue generated by up to 50 percent.
From there, leverage workflows to create automated emails targeted to readers based on their actions and how far they are in your funnel. For instance, you may want to start with a welcome email that launches automatically when a person subscribes to your list, or a follow-up email for someone who downloads an eBook or signs up for a webinar. Automated branching—changing the course of the email campaign based on how readers interact with your content, for a more customized user experience—can take email automation up a notch.
How do I keep my emails out of the spam folder?
Oh, the dreaded spam/junk folder – great for filtering out unwanted sales promotions you receive; not so great when you are trying to reach potential clients. There are several reasons emails can end up here, even if they follow CAN-SPAM regulations. One way to avoid this is by asking recipients to add you to their contact list (known as whitelisting) when they subscribe to your emails. You can also monitor your list to find out which recipients are not engaging with your content and remove them from your list.
If you are noticing a drop in engagement from a large portion of your list, it may be time to re-think your email format, starting with the subject line. A subject line is essentially the first impression of your email, so it should clearly communicate the topic of the email in a way that encourages readers to open. Avoid using trigger words like “buy now” or “click here for” (Hubspot provides a handy list of trigger words for all types of emails), and stay away from all-caps or excessive exclamation marks.
The design of the email itself should be simple. Don’t pack in too many images and keep image file sizes small. In regards to copy, less is more. Get your message across in as few words as possible while keeping a personal tone that connects with your audience. You may be tempted to throw in a lot of keywords throughout the email, but this actually fuels a poor experience for your readers; remember, you are trying to connect with people, not search engine robots!
Email can be an effective marketing and lead-generating device when you are committed and put in the time and effort. With a little muscle up front and some regular maintenance, you’ll get better results out of your emails.
Check out the infographic (below) for four data-driven email strategies. Happy emailing!