Everyone hates spam (and I don’t mean chopped pork and ham)! Email marketing has gained a terrible reputation over the years because of how so many marketers have abused this amazing technology. However, there is a right way to use email to stay in touch with your customers.
With the ever-increasing numbers of users on social media and the hot competition for the top spots on Google search, you can’t rely on those to deliver your message. Most social media platforms will only deliver your posts to about 10% of your followers. Sure it may increase if you get good engagement on those posts, but it’s not reliable.
What you can rely on is email. Provided your customers haven’t blacklisted you or you’ve mis-configured your email systems, email is the most reliable way to reach all of your customers.
The trick is to get them to subscribe to your mailing list, it should be one of your primary goals for your marketing activity.
You can manage your email list manually if you only have a few customers, just email them from your desktop. But when your audience grows, emailing them individually becomes unmanageable. You need an email management system. There are several to choose from, but we think the best one by far is ConvertKit [A]. Although MailChimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft, Drip, ActiveCampaign and MailerLite are all good too.
One of the key issues with email marketing in recent years has been the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). It’s a complex set of regulations aimed at protecting the rights of individuals over the data you hold about them.
One reason we like ConvertKit is that it has GDPR compliance built-in, so you need not worry too much about it. However, you can’t just send email to everyone that you find, you must have either a legitimate reason to or their permission.
So, how do you go about getting someone’s permission to send them email marketing? There are several ways when they buy something from you, ask them to opt-in to your email list so they can get updates from you. They’re already a customer, which makes them a hot lead. But what you really want are potential customers, they are the ones you need to grow your business. Unfortunately, potential customers are the hardest to persuade to opt-in to your email marketing list. There are several ways to do it. One of the most effective is to use a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is something you give away in exchange for them signing up to your email marketing list. It must be something useful and attractive to your potential customers or they won’t go for it. You should also make it pertinent to your business, you can use it to show them how great you are in a particular field. Obviously you want to brand your lead magnet so that they are reminded of your business every time they use or view it.
Examples of effective lead magnets include: cheat sheets, useful spreadsheets, e-books, challenges, free webinars, and downloadable guides or reports. You need to decide on what lead magnets are suitable for your business.
Your email marketing should form an integral part of your overall sales funnel. There’s an adage that prospects don’t become customers until they’ve seen your marketing messages at least seven times. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I will say that almost nobody buys from a company the first time they see their marketing.
As I said earlier, one of your primary goals should be to persuade potential customers to join your email list. From there you can survey them to find out their particular needs, and then send them tailored messages to show you can meet those needs. It may take a while, but if they’re in your email system you can keep plugging away until you’ve eliminated all their objections and persuaded them that your business is their best option.
Throughout your sales funnel you will have several landing pages, there will be landing pages for lead magnets (and nobody said you couldn’t have multiple lead magnets). There will also be survey landing pages, where you learn more about your customers.
You should also have landing pages with specific offers for customers who meet particular criteria. All of this should be automated as much as possible, you don’t want to be having to craft emails individually for each customer. That’s where automated sequences and integrations come in.
Automated sequences and integrations
Automation is where the real magic happens. Once you’ve gained a subscriber, you need to categorise them, and you do that via automated sequences. An automated sequence is a series of emails sent to subscribers who’ve performed a particular action such as downloading a lead magnet.
You’ll then send them something like a simple question email, something non-threatening that they can answer instantly with a click. It should be something that allows you to segment them into a particular audience.
So let’s say your business is a beauty salon, you could ask something like “Have you ever had a head massage as part of your hair appointment?”. It’s a simple yes/no answer but gives you an opening to discuss that topic further. If the answer was “no”, direct the sequence down a path where you extoll the virtues of having a head massage. If the answer was “yes”, then you can ask whether they enjoyed it as part of their hair appointment and whether they would like to book one with their next appointment.
The questions you ask and the directions your email sequences take will be unique to your business and give you multiple opportunities to differentiate your business from your competitors.
Subscriber tagging and segmentation
As your subscribers progress through your automated sequences, you can add additional tags to their profile. Utimately puting them into one, or more, of your market segments.
When a subscriber gets added to tags, each one can trigger a new automated sequence. Those sequences then to drive them closer and closer to becoming a customer.
Once a subscriber becomes a customer, it’s possible to tag them again. Then send another automated sequence thanking them for their business, surveying them, reminding them to leave a review. Also, depending on the tags they have already acquired through your sales funnel, you may identify opportunities to upsell or cross-sell additional products and services.
As with everything these days, analytics play a part. Email is no exception. You need to know how many of your subscribers opened your messages. You also want to know how many clicked your links and engaged with your business.
As the WHO says, test test test. Your subject lines are super important, they are what entice people to open the message. The first few lines are important too. On some email clients, they show up before the subscriber opens the message. You can a/b test your subject lines. That’s marketing talk for writing two subject lines and seeing which one performs best on a random sample of your subscribers. Then if your email service is clever it will deliver the rest of the messages with the highest performing subject line.
For example. On a recent website launch to a fairly small email list, we used the following subject line a/b test
As you can see, the “A” test subject line significantly outperformed the “B” subject line for both open-rate and for click-rate. The message inside the email was exactly the same for both. But the “A” subject line is more intriguing and vague.
The overall stats show a similar open rate and click rate
Because the list was small, and the overall stats include the a/b test results, the “B” test reduced the percentages slightly.
As a follow-up a few days later, we re-sent the “A” subject line message to all the unopened message recipients. Improving the statistics even further.
Don’t spam, ever
With email marketing, the biggest worry for marketers is being blacklisted as a spammer. You should never send unsolicited email and must always provide subscribers with a mechanism (which you honour) to unsubscribe.
You should write your marketing emails in the same way you would if you were writing individually to a customer. Don’t make them all fancy with lots of pictures and a ton of branding (unless it’s really needed). You want the emails to appear to the recipient as though you’ve only sent it to them. Merge in their name, include your normal signature and any disclaimers you would normally include.
The more the email appears like you just wrote it, the more likely the recipient will read and act upon it. Even spelling mistakes are allowed unless you’re a copywriter or English teacher. Keep the content real and in your own voice.
SPF, DKIM and DMARC – the technical stuff
Our sister company Virtco® has been running commercial email servers for over 20 years. So they know a thing or two about email and identifying spam. They’ve asked us to include some technical stuff for general awareness so that your email marketing doesn’t get mis-classified as spam or junk.
You’ll notice, if you use Outlook, that messages often end up in your junk folder. Even though it’s something you know isn’t junk. That’s usually because the sender has something configured wrong somewhere and as a result, the email fails some checks. That means the email gets classified as junk.
This is the last thing you want to happen to your email marketing messages. So it’s important that you ensure you correctly set-up and configure SPF, DKIM and DMARC policies for your domain. Allowing you to use not only your normal email server but also your email marketing service provider’s systems.
How we can help
Dizzigo offers a ConvertKit consultancy service, we use ConvertKit extensively and can advise on all aspects of email marketing. From importing any existing email lists. All the way through to integrating with WordPress websites. Finally, building advanced automated sales funnel sequences.