How to build an email marketing strategy that works
Email is still the most effective method of promoting your brand and reaching a broader audience. Your email list is one of your business’s most valuable assets. This snapshot that compares the ROI of various marketing channels gives you a sense of the value of a responsive list.
Source: Super Office
These stats make sense. The subscribers on your email list have given permission for you to market to them. Moreover, because you have their details, you can develop a relationship with them. People on your list are potential brand advocates and likely repeat customers.
Unfortunately, for many organizations, it’s also one of the most under-utilized.
To get the most from your mailing list, you need to be strategic about how you organize and use it. Read on to learn five proven steps to increase conversions and generate revenue using your email list.
1. Keep your promise
One of the first things you should do before anything else is to build a profile of your ideal customer. Consider their age, gender, socioeconomic background, where they work, the problems they’re facing, and the solutions they’re seeking. Then create your content with them in mind, addressing their concerns. Remember, you’re trying tobuild a community and make a connection.
Source: Open Tracker
You can only market to your audience when you know them inside out. Trying to promote your business without a clear picture of your desired customer is a recipe for failure. Think of your email content as a bridge between you and your customer base.
Once you understand who you are marketing to, you then make a promise to your customer. You can do this when they opt-in to your email list or in the introduction email sequence.
Let’s imagine you’re running a startup offering the best deals on designer clothes. A consumer finds your site through a Google search and subscribes to your mailing list, expecting to receive emails about designer clothes and freebies. Then suddenly, this subscriber gets an email linking to a blog post about your recent vacation in the Bahamas and then another blog post, and another.
They are no longer receiving the content you promised, so what do they do? They hit the “unsubscribe” button.
An extreme example, perhaps, but it makes an important point. You must deliver the content you promised subscribers when they gave you their email address. That bridge is based first and foremost on trust. If you break that trust, the bridge will come crashing down.
2. Provide lots of value before making a sales pitch
I know you’re eager to get out there and promote your products, but making a sales pitch too early will backfire. You need to give your audience something of value before you try to sell to them.
I’m sure you’ve received emails that look something like this:
Subject: New Product Alert!
Hey [your name]! We’re announcing a shiny, brand-new product you’d like! Here’s a link to the landing page! Buy buy buy!
There are a few things wrong with this email. To begin with, it doesn’t describe what the product is or why you’d want to buy it. Imagine receiving this soon after subscribing to a new mailing list. Wouldn’t you be annoyed? You might even unsubscribe there and then.
The secret to email marketing lies in proving that you can provide value. This gives your brand credibility by showing you’relistening to your audience’s concerns and giving them appropriate solutions.
What do we mean by providing value?
Send useful tips and tricks, career strategies, industry news and views, invitations to online courses or webinars, white papers, or even a free e-book. The goal is to make your subscribers get excited whenever an email from you arrives because they know it will contain something useful.
Take the example below from Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo.
Before you ever ask your subscribers to spend their hard-earned money on your product, you must give them something of value. In the examples I shared above, it’s knowledge. Do this, and they’ll give you something of incalculable value in return: trust.
3. Use an opt-in incentive to draw in potential clients
Your email list isn’t going to grow itself. If you want people to sign up, give them a reason to do so and make the sign-up simple and fast.
Blogging is one method of driving email list subscriptions. When you blog, don’t just talk about your brand and products. As with your email newsletters, you need to provide value to your reader. Refer to the previous section for some ideas.
Next, create an opt-in incentive that offers more useful content - such as a free e-book or webinar - in exchange for their email address. Here’s an example from science fiction and fantasy author, Douglas Smith:
Source: Smith Writer
Opt-in incentives, sometimes called lead magnets, fulfill two objectives:
They drive new subscribers to your email list.
They help position you as an expert in your niche.
Remember: people need to trust you as a credible source of information before they will consider buying from you.
4. Create a sales funnel through email sequences
I was a bit hesitant about using the term “sales funnel” in this piece. The term has been used many times without people understanding what it is.
What is a sales funnel?
The sales funnel is a simple but powerful process that takes people from the first time they hear about your brand to the point of purchase.
You can use an email sequence to guide subscribers to custom landing pages where you either sell to them directly or provide something of value before making your sales pitch. You can create these with a landing page builder or sales funnel creator.
Your email sequence that accompanies an online promotion might look something like this:
In the first email, you provide a free gift they can download or access. This gets their attention.
The second email mentions something you’ve learned that could help your audience, arousing their interest.
The third email describes a real-life application of your service or product, making the reader desire the same results.
The last email announces some time-sensitive issue that increases the likelihood of a person taking action.
While these emails are designed to sell a product or service, don’t forget point #2 above: provide value to your audience- whether or not they make a purchase. Your email content should provide useful information and actionable advice at every stage.
Let’s imagine you’re marketing mobile app development services for small businesses. Here’s how you might compose the “desire” email in your sequence:
Use a compelling headline that makes them want to find out more, e.g., “Find out how this online clothing retailer turned a profit using just three simple strategies.”
Personalize the email by using the recipient’s name.
Describe the strategies and results.
Give simple, actionable tips.
Let the reader know that if they want similar results, your services can help them achieve that goal.
Notice how I didn’t try to sell right away. Instead, I showed the results, gave the reader practical advice, and offered a way to emulate the case study’s success. They may or may not buy, but you’re offering something useful either way. This technique reminds readers that you understand their concerns and can help solve the problems they’re facing.
A customer’s sales funnel journey begins when they give you their email address. Once your email verification service confirms the address is genuine, your email service provider will tag the subscriber based on how they arrived on your list.
You can use email marketing platforms and customer relationship management systems to automate this process, saving you time and ensuring you never miss an email in the sequence.
5. Offer an inexpensive product to open the door to more purchases
Many marketers try to sell big-ticket items at the start of the process. Doing this is usually a mistake. At this point, you’re still a stranger to your would-be customer, so this strategy risks turning them off and leading them to unsubscribe.
Instead, offer a less expensive product, or something relevant to the product you want to sell. So, instead of directly selling something for $75, offer a product that’s free if you pay for the $3 shipping cost. This is known as a tripwire offer.
The logic here is that it’s easier to convert leads into customers via cheaper products. And once you’ve made that initial sale, it’s easier to upsell to someone who has just made a purchase.
Think about it. The last time you went out on a big shopping spree, you probably didn’t plan to spend much money. But then you purchased one thing, and then another, and another. It’s the same as making a purchase online. When someone has used their credit card to buy something, they are more likely to purchase more items.
These “foot-in-the-door” offers and subsequent upsells can be folded into email sequences. By tracking user actions, you can set up email sequences where you continue to offer products until the point where the consumer is tired of buying. Then you revert to offering value.
Improving conversion rates through email list marketing
There is no doubt that email marketing is enormous and still growing. It is easy to implement, highly effective, and represents better ROI than any other marketing channel.
Source: Creative Studio Web
Therefore, if you do not have an email marketing strategy for your business, start building one today. Remember the five-step strategy I’ve outlined for you:
Know your audience. Understand their demographics, their needs, and their pain points.
Provide plenty of value, in the form of useful content and actionable tips, before you even think about making a sales pitch.
Use an opt-in incentive or lead magnet to drive subscribers to your mailing list.
Understand the sales funnel process and embed this into your email sequences.
Offer an inexpensive product or free trial, to begin with, then upsell later.
Your email list is one of the most valuable tools you have to grow your business. Use it wisely and strategically. With it, you can build the most valuable business assets of all: your credibility and your audience’s trust.
Using the strategy I’ve covered in this article, you can grow your audience and promote the right products to the right people at the right time. Wishing you the best of luck with your email marketing!
About the Author
Owen Baker is a content marketer for Voila Norbert, an online verification tool for emails. He has spent most of the last decade working online for a range of marketing companies. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him in the kitchen mastering new dishes.