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Email remains one of the most effective channels to communicate and market to your ideal clients, a fact borne out of recent research as part of the 2018 Email Marketing Industry Census.
But knowing that email is effective and creating a successful, effective email campaign are two very different things.
In research released by HubSpot, you can see the various reasons given by subscribers for removing themselves from email lists.
The interesting stats in this research, for me, are the 49% who unsubscribe as they "did not sign up to hear the company beg" and the 66% who unsubscribed due to the information they received not being in line with their interests.
If you think about the emails you receive (or have received in the past before unsubscribing!), how many companies do you look forward to hearing from? How many emails do you feel provide you with value, be it via entertainment or genuine useful info?
For many service-based companies, their email marketing strategy consists of a newsletter, detailing the latest and greatest news about that company specifically or hopeful direct sales emails with a new offer every week.
Neither style of email works very well.
Your news, although vitally important to you, is rarely of significance when it comes to you current or potential clients. The exception to this is when you gain a market-leading client (you land your whale) that others in the industry will look up to and follow, or when something happens that is newsworthy.
Appointing a new manager or staff member rarely is ground-breaking news…
Following the issue with your “news”, the problem with the sales emails comes down to the fact that, after a while, it appears that you are begging for the reader’s custom. It also teaches your subscribers that there is no need to take you up on your offer today... as there is always another deal just around the corner.
Product-based businesses fall into this same trap, with ecommerce stores being some of the worst offenders, only ever sending out sales promos (apart from badly composed automated customer service emails, such as confirmation of purchase).
The irony of the situation is that, with a little planning and preparation, emails can account for 25% or more additional revenue (for ecommerce businesses – service-based businesses are often substantially more) with very little additional cost.
Meaning, by implementing a well-thought-out, planned and executed email marketing plan your business could be significantly more profitable, almost overnight.
To use email effectively, we need to think of the whole email sequence as one large, ongoing sales conversation.
A great little analogy to keep in mind whilst planning this sales conversation is that each subscription to your email database is like a new mini bank account. Every time you send out a sales email, it is the equivalent of going to an ATM and trying to withdraw money from these small accounts.
Just like a real bank account, the ATM will only give you what you have requested as a withdrawal if your account is in good order and you have made enough deposits to cover the amount you wish to withdraw.
In order to make deposits in your accounts you need to provide the subscribers with value and build a perceived relationship with them, so they feel like they know you, like you and trust you.
There are three main elements to the "perfect" emails that you should be using to make up your sequence, which will allow you to add the maximum amount of value and build the relationship you need as efficiently as possible.
These are the three I's:
The first email, instil, is intended to help form the relationship. It instils in the reader a sense of trust and belonging to being a subscriber of yours.
If we think about what that means, these emails should show your proof of being a company they would want to associate themselves with. It should include social proof, such as testimonials, reviews and case studies, and industry awards, guarantees or company values that validate and align your beliefs and values with the subscriber.
Providing your subscribers with good advice or entertainment can also help to instil the values you need them to have. Research your ideal clients, understand who they are and identify issues and problems they face.
Uncover what topics of content they regularly like to consume by walking in their shoes - join social media groups, read other blogs and watch videos that they like to watch.
Your aim is to provide solutions/entertainment in a way that they already love to consume, whilst also validating your credentials.
Your influence emails are for making the sale. Remembering the analogy of the bank account, you need to make sure you have built up enough credit before sending out your influence emails. How much credit will very much depend on the industry you operate in and what you sell.
As a very general rule of thumb, we like to send between five and seven instil or value emails before asking the reader to make a purchase.
To create an effective sales email, there are a few golden rules to follow. But, before we do that, we need to examine the overall structure of the email campaign.
What has the subscriber signed up for? Is this going to be a one-off offer email or a sequence of launch-style emails offering the sale for a limited period via multiple emails?
If it’s a one-off promotion, get straight to the point, there is no need to be overly clever. Your reader will appreciate it more if you overtly make your offer and make it clear what the email is about, whilst also being respectful of their time and allowing them to very quickly decide if the offer is for them or not.
A sequence can be a little more sophisticated. You need to tell your subscriber what’s happening, how long the offer will run for, what they need to do to take advantage of the offer and why they should take advantage now.
Include further social proof around the calls-to-action in your sales emails. Link to webpages specifically created to tell the reader why they should buy from you, including any guarantee, proven customer service experience, etc.
The last type of email is designed to take the qualified buyers on your database and encourage them to buy more, i.e. increase the amount of custom they give you.
This can be done by using a post-purchase email sequence, which offers complementary products or services to a purchaser who has just bought.
One of the best ways to use an ‘increase’ email is to use it to deliberately segment your database.
All of the major autoresponder email marketing platforms offer segmentation options. You can segment based on the interaction of that person with the company (e.g. what they have purchased or what monetary value their purchase was) or based on the interaction of that person with your marketing (e.g. people who visited a particular page on your site or clicked a specific link in your emails).
The biggest benefit of segmenting your database lies in the ability to specifically tailor the message that each segment receives. You can make special offers based on what the people in the segment have previously purchased or provide specific "how –to" information that you know they will love, as it’s exactly what they need at that point in time.
You can also treat your best customers with VIP offers, exclusive access, etc.
Pulling it all together:
A crucial ingredient in making sure that you are using email marketing effectively is to plan. You need to create a content plan for your emails, just as you should be for your blog!
Your plan should detail out:
When creating your plan, remember to think about the bank accounts! Have you made enough deposits to ask for that withdrawal yet? Or do you need to add extra value first, providing advice or detailing solutions to problems you know your subscribers have?
Once you put your subscribers first and earn the right to sell, you will be able to create a successful email marketing campaign!