Joshua Lee is a strategic coach, author of (Life)4 and co-founder of Stand Out Authority.
We're all getting more email than we'd like, and many view their inbox as a "bore and chore." A recent study shows that, by 2018, emails will increase each day from an average of 121 per person to 140 or more. But despite the onslaught of emails in our inbox, email marketing isn't going away and remains one of the most powerful sales channels to grow any business -- we just need to improve how we do it.
I recently collaborated with Dan Faggella, owner of CLVboost, an email marketing consultancy based in Cambridge, Massachusetts to devise some invaluable steps to help you ramp up customer engagement and increase your conversion rates. Here are some of our takeaways to help you improve your email marketing:
1. Develop a Strategy
Strategy should be based on your desired outcome. What is it you are trying to accomplish through these emails? Is it to encourage subscribers to call about a specific service you're offering? Is it to redirect subscribers to a website where they can buy a physical product? Whatever outcome you're going for, it's also important to uncover the needs of your potential customers so that you can develop a strategy that aims to satisfy these.
- First, have your marketing department or a researcher sift through your data. Look at your customers with the highest customer lifetime value. Determine their lead source, their demographic information, the specific products they bought and buying motives. These clues guide the rest of the process.
- With these insights, call your best customers (about a dozen) to unearth their two or three main objectives and objections. You're looking for objectives that relate to what your product/service can do for them. You're looking for the objections that stop them from buying your solution.
- Rank these in priority order.
- Then, weave your customers' No. 1 objective and No. 1 objection into your opt-in web page, your thank-you web page and your thank-you email.
For example, my best clients are business owners and entrepreneurs looking to improve the world in as big of a way as they can. The desire for significance and leaving a legacy is a high motivating factor for them. This is their No. 1 objective. One objection they have is trust and whether my system will work for them. For Dan, his best clients desire profit growth using data and technology communication systems. Their objections typically involve their inability to take the time and effort to learn or set up complex marketing software, or to write high-converting email copy. By helping clients master their technology quickly and by coaching them on proper copywriting, Dan aims to confront these objections.
2. Segment Subscribers to Target Their Unique Needs
Brainstorm 6-12 list segments. These segments will have a main common desire and a main common problem that you'll address in your email series. "This benefits your company because your emails will be 'dead-on-point' relevant to the big desire and big problem your customers in that group want solutions for," says my StandOut Authority co-founder Clint Evans.
Based on our experience working in the B2B space, Dan and I might segment our subscribers by size of business, industry, budget, number of employees, growth trend or executive goals. Goals are almost always the best default. Uncover the top 2-4 goals your best customers have, and use those as list segments.
Goals tie to your customers' intent and allow you to communicate with them at a deeper level. Your emails are communications they consider to be from a "welcome guest," not an "unwelcome pest." Keep your tone upbeat, and be careful about focusing too much on problems. You want your subscribers to have a positive association to you and your business.
3. Create a Call-to-Action
Some feel their business is very "hands-on" and can't benefit from sending emails. However, email marketing can benefit almost every business when it's designed to bridge the gap between the marketing department and the sales team. There's even a conference devoted to this collaboration called Sales Hacker. Yesware and Toutapp are two technologies that can help.
Look at companies like Wayfair and L.L. Bean, which communicate many different but related offers to get people to buy off their websites. Their sales teams are there to answer questions and nudge wary buyers to complete their purchase.
For service businesses, one effective concept to get people to book more phone appointments with your sales team is "variety in call to action." Here are three main varieties. Mix and match these to get maximum phone appointments:
- Call me (or reply to this email). This direct "old-school" way is no longer very effective.
- Have them choose a schedule slot from your online calendar. (Calendly and TimeTrade are excellent tools you can use for this.)
- Diagnostic form. Say our client is doing well financially but hasn't gotten the speaking gigs or radio interviews they're looking for. Near the phone number field, we tell them the call will guide them through steps to getting more speaking gigs.
Email segmentation and automation is a technical and seemingly arduous task, but the rewards in profits and goodwill can be beyond measure. Bottom line, if a growing and thriving business is important to you, then developing your strategy and investing the time to do these three steps is worth it.