I remember the worried faces…
It was a talk to a group of 50 business owners on the importance of follow-up in marketing. They’d just been told 3 true stories about businesses that had failed to follow up on customer queries. A car salesman who said he’d send information and didn’t. A consultant who took an email and then never used it. A printing shop that gave a quote and then disappeared.
Everyone in the room had the same two reactions. First, they laughed with the recognition of being in those situations and then looked concerned over their own lack of hustle.
There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ that needs to get done in the average business day and it’s easy to see how things can slip down the priority list but communicating with your customers and potential customers should never be allowed to shimmy down the list. It’s a vital activity.
Let’s hear from the statistics fairy:
According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
According to Quicksprout, email subscribers are 3 X more likely to share you content via social media than visitors from any other source.
But I understand the fretful voice that pipes up…
- What should I write?
- When will I find the time?
- How can I avoid annoying my list?
- Would this work in my market?
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Here are my top 9 tips for effective email marketing:
- Have a clear call-to-action
Anytime you communicate to your subscribers there should be a reason for it. The reason could just be to make them smile or to share a simple tip but you need to be clear what that reason is.
Email is a fantastic training tool. You get a chance, over a continued length of time to condition your subscribers. If you want them to interact with your emails then get them used to clicking on links. If you want them to see your expertise as valuable send them valuable insight on a continued basis.
Deciding on the call-to-action first, before you craft any other part of the email is very useful because it is the key to the whole email and the rest of it can be created around it.
- Get the email opened
One of the last things you’ll do when writing an email will be to craft a solid subject line but it’s probably the most important element. Without an enticing subject line the rest of the email won’t get read.
So what makes people open their emails? Take a look in your inbox right now, notice what catches your eye and then ask yourself ‘why?’
Here are some of the common components of enticing subject lines:
- Generally short
- Use personalisation such as your name: ‘Alex, is this for you?’
- Use numbers of stats: ‘11 weird time management hacks’
- Speak directly to a specific benefits you want ‘How to write a book in 30 days’
- Hook their curiosity: ‘I don’t want to go to Paris…’
My personal favourite is curisority. When you’ve written the call-to-action, the body copy and the opening make sure you nail a good headline and make sure you track the open rates of your headlines so you know what works for your crowd.
- Hook ‘em in
Once they open that email you have a few seconds to keep those eyeballs gliding down the page. A great way to do that is to highlight the benefits of what you’re talking about upfront.
Got a half price offer that day- what will that do for me, get for me or give me?
Got a quick tip about looking good for autumn- what will that do for me, get for me or give me?
Another proven tactics is to open with a story. We identify with people in stories, they put us in a more open state of mind and we want to ‘close the loop’ by finding out what happens next.
Take advantage of the human brains desire to ‘close the loop’ by denying the reader the end of the story until later in the email or even the next email. You can also ask questions that you promise to answer later to keep their attention focused.
- Be Human
Whether your business is B2B or B2C doesn’t matter. People buy from people. We want personalities we can connect with. Being too ‘professional’ or ‘corporate’ in your language will just make you less memorable and dull.
Have a goal to delight the reader in each email. Use unpredictable language, conversational phrases, mention pop culture references or make jokes. Remember that email are a training tool and you’re training your customers in how to perceive you and your brand. If you’re consistently interesting and useful to them then you’ll raise your chances of converting them to customers or repeat buyers.
- Look Sharp
Just because you can have loads of elements in an email doesn’t mean you should. A confused brain doesn’t buy or engage. Keep the look clean, minimal, uncluttered. Use a couple of well-placed images perhaps but don’t think that it will boost either engagement or conversion because it probably won’t.
Keep the copy to a minimum as well. Have your clear call-to-action, a compelling opening line or two and a small middle section of either advice or benefits. Your subscribers don’t have the time to slog through your un-unravelable elephantine ponderings. Keep it short.
- Let ‘em leave
You don’t want to hold your subscribers captive. The ultimate goal is to build a list of people who love the content you provide and want more so if someone reads your emails thinking ‘this isn’t useful’ then (politely) show them the door.
Some email marketers like Ben Settle or Andre Chaperon are fans of daily emails that showcase their quirky personalities / writing style and weaving talks from their daily life in between giving valuable advice and they will make repeated calls to unsubscribe if you are not receiving value.
Make the unsubscribe easy and clear. If you are running a marketing campaign in a CRM like Infusionsoft you can create a ‘soft opt-out’ that allows people to out themselves out of individual campaigns rather than completely blocking themselves from further emails.
- Tell ‘em what you’re going to give ‘em
One way of keeping a subscriber opening, engaging and acting on your emails is to bring them onto your list in a way that sets good expectations.
If someone opts in to receive a report or video or webinar or extra content then don’t just give it to them and follow up randomly in a few weeks (by which time they most likely won’t remember you and any desire they had to investigate further will be cold.)
Send them an automated email welcoming them to your ‘community’ or ‘family’ or ‘crew’ (you can stand out in their mind by giving your subscribers a unique label.) Tell them what you will be sending them, the value it will provide and when you’ll send it. Then just make sure you follow up with action!
- Segment your list
An email (even an automated mass communication) is a conversation with an individual. At least that’s a good way to think of it. Imagine you’re typing a message to a person. Give them a name and imagine how they look. This will help you to craft emails that read conversationally and build rapport.
Now you might well have several different types of customer for different products with different needs. That’s fine. Segment your email list via lead source, or the problem they have or the actions they take in your campaigns. This will help to ensure that you can speak to them on a more personal level.
For example, if you are sending them a link to an article about an upcoming workshop on nutrition you can craft it differently depending on whether they opted into your list via a report on weight loss or a webinar on preventing illness.
- Don’t be beige
The key is to enjoy sending emails to your subscribers. Have fun. Share cool things in a cool way. Be creative. Track email opens and link clicks and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Ultimately connecting with customers and adding value to their lives is a privilege and something that should be win/win to both of you. Don’t let your business blend in. Don’t get so lost in the drab familiarities of admin and revenue targets that you forget to make people smile and dream and look at life in a different way.
Set yourself the daily challenge of changing lives and being a beacon of integrity and positivity in an often bleak world. That’s the way to transcend the inbox and the barren brand guidelines and actually be a vital presence.
Can you rise to the challenge?