I am going to go out on a limb here. Microsoft Outlook become popular in 1997 — give or take a few years. Customers begun requesting that all communications be sent using an email because it would be quicker to respond verses a call back. Wow! How times have changed? Today, the average worker receives 121 emails per day. And, the amount of spam sent equates to 61.25% of the worlds email. Holly crap! Is that why my emails are not being answered?
A decade ago, email marketing was a quick and simple means of generating leads. The advent of email and the benefits that came a long would reduce direct marketing costs – postage, printing costs, and the type of stock used for mailing. Email would reduce these variable costs. Marketers were not required to utilize an account based marketing (ABM) strategy, nor did they require to have a large marketing budget, email was going to save the day. Marketers had the ability to purchase account lists from reputable companies or purchase a subscription based service. And bam! You sent out a drip campaign.
Today, marketers are finding it harder and harder to generate leads. How does a B2B and B2C marketer draw attention and convert a prospect into a lead with the onslaught of spam in this world? How do they get their message to stand out from the crowd?
Here are some ideas that will separate your email marketing from the spam in the world.
Marketers are glamorous writers. They write so eloquently. However, a great writer creates copy that gets the message out. They don’t ramble on about the product and service. They explain the product and demonstrate the benefit related to the industry they are targeting. Great marketer uses video and insures their audience knows exactly “what they will learn” by watching the video. An average marketer will provide verbiage like: “click here to learn more”. Furthermore, a great marketer will use visual aids to entice the reader. A picture is worth a thousand words – wouldn’t you agree?
Ask as little as possible
How many times have you received an email that sounds like this:
“For immediate consideration, please call 800-222-3333. Ask for operator 1234. You can also setup an appointment by clicking on this link to view my calendar. Once you have scheduled a call, please install this client for our WebEx.” Blah! Blah! Blah!
As a marketer, your goal is to create demand for your product. It is critical that you ask your audience to do as little as possible and structure your offer in a simplistic, easy to understand and follow, and in the language that a 10-year old would understand. Otherwise, you lose the risk of converting a prospect into a lead.
Writing Copy with Purpose
Ensure that your copy demonstrates a possible problem, the solution, and the benefit that your product or service offers. The objective of your campaign is to catch the prospect knowing they have aproblem while they are seeking a solution. Make sure the campaign is easy to respond too and it’s not too lengthy.
While crafting your email campaign, don’t hide your call-to-action (CTA). If a user has to scroll down to the bottom of the page, you decrease the chance of converting them. The average attention span of a person is EIGHT seconds. Within eight seconds, you need the ability to provide the “what”, “why”, and “how”. Read more about it here. If you do not capture your audience within those eight seconds, the delete key sure will. Make sure your message achieves the offer, the benefit, and the call-to-action.
Writing Content — Long or Short
They are numerous articles that provide guidelines on writing the perfect email. Many provide the exact science of crafting an email – should it be 2 to 3 paragraphs or 4 to 5 paragraphs? I’d say, it all depends on the product offering.
If you are selling a product that is pretty forward, like a set of pots and pans, crafting an email that clearly explains the product, benefit, and call-to-action should be doable in a few short paragraphs. However, if you are selling a technology solution that is complex, it typical requires a longer email.
When selling a complex solution, your emails need to be tailored to a specific audience. Here is where account based marketing (ABM) comes into play. Why am I sending this email? What problem will this solution solve? What financial impact will this solution have on my company? Can I measure the success of this solution? If you can answer these questions in a short, concise, and right to the point email, you will have a greater chance of a prospect triggering the call-to-action. Keep in mind, while crafting an email campaign, you need to consider the type of mobile devices your prospect might be viewing the email on.
If you are a direct marketing professional, where print is your medium, you may have to change your strategy. Email marketers will tell you, you have about eight seconds to capture your audience’s attention. Therefore, short and sweet is the universal way for communicating your message.
As an email marketer, ensure that your reader understands “why” you are writing to them, how they can “benefit”, and “what” steps are required to respond. If you follow these simple rules, you will have a greater chance of conversion.
I purchased a contact list online — cheap!
I can’t tell you how many emails I receive daily with offers from businesses trying to sell a “bulk email marketing list”. Some of their offers are very compelling and attractive, but don’t fall into that trap. As a startup or small business, your goal is creating an interest in your product. However, many startup’s are looking for a quick fix. So in turn, they turn to a short cut solution. They purchase a bulk email marketing list and then throw a “hail-mary” with the hope of finding a lead. Or, enough people complain and the company gets “black-listed” as a spammer – to check to see if your domain has been black listed.
As a startup or a small business, it is critical to learn how to build an email list. For more information on list building check out this blog from KissMetrics. Once you have created your subscriber base, you can setup an email drip campaign and your prospects. To learn how to create a drip campaign, check out this blog.
Don’t get fooled by the chatter you read on the internet and the offers you receive in your inbox. Don’t let words like — opted-in, verified, scrubbed, updated as of today, or Live feed trigger the impulse to buy. Companies trying to sell you these “lists” will pray on startup’s and small businesses. Just like the companies you read about online offering to get you “followers” on Twitter. Be smart, create content that interests your users and provide a call-to-action (CTA) that users can easily “opt-in” to receive newsletters.
Spamming that costs you $16,000
One thing that these businesses don’t tell you is the consequences of spamming to a purchased list. Legally, you can spam any business or person as long as you follow a few simple rules. The below content is from the CAN-SPAM Act: A compliance Guide for Business
- Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
- Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
- Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
- Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.
But, is this the proper way of creating a subscriber base based upon ethical principles? No. If you want to learn how to create a subscriber list, read this blog from Kissmetrics.
Are you eager to begin your first email marketing campaign? As noted on FTC.gov website, “Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000”. The key word is EACH email. If you send out 100 emails ($16,000 x 100 emails) equals $160,000 penalty. Are you ready for that fine?
Know your Audience
Whether you are marketing to a B2B or a B2C, you need to know your audience. If you are selling a product to a B2B, who’s job function involves network infrastructure, make sure your solution addresses a specific issue that networks typically have — like network traffic problems. Don’t try to sell application development tools to this individual. If you are selling a CRM application, don’t waste your time on an IT person. Focus your efforts on the SVP of Sales, sell the benefit of a CRM. Additionally, be mindful of the people you are prospecting. They are busy, multi-tasking, and often bothered by salespeople.
Make sure you scrub your data. Check employee titles and responsibilities. There are legitimate companies that do this type of service for you. As a marketer, you can purchase a subscription to Discoverorg, RainKing, or InsideView that offers market intelligence. The data provided by these intelligence firms provide granular data with the capability to drill down to title, job role, responsibility, department, job promotions, business pain points, and business objectives. I highly recommend looking into one of these businesses or other market intelligence firms.
As you are evaluating the success or failure of your email marketing campaign, you might want to use A/B testing. Split the audience into two segments and test the copy or any other version. Measure the results of the email campaign. If the results show a clear winner, then you know which audience to prospect on. By measuring the A/B testing, you have the option to adjust, tweak, modify or optimize to determine the impact each change has made.
What is the proper length to writing a subject line? I think that depends on who’s research you read. According to hubspot, the proper length is 50 characters of less, while other research firms say between 41-50 or no more than 33 characters — depending what type of device the user is using. How does the number of characters translate to the number of words? There is a mutual consensus that nine to fourteen words are ideal.
While crafting your subject line, keep into consideration that the tipping point has evolved around email being opened on a laptop/desktop computer verses a mobile device. Today, 55% of email is opened on a mobile device. More data revealed that owners of Apple’s iPhone devices opened their email 33%, followed by Google Gmail 15.8%, and Apple iPad 11.6%. Therefore, when writing your email subject line, keep in mind the devices the users are using. If the subject line is too long and can’t be displayed correctly, your email campaign has a 71.2% chance of being deleted, according to The Bluehornet Report.
Why was the email deleted?
The subject line did what a great subject line is supposed to do. It triggered an action – but the email was deleted. Chances are you created an email that asked a simple Yes/No question. The problem with creating a yes/no type of email is catching the prospect “knowing” they have a problem and seeking a resolution.
If all your questions require a simple yes/no response like these:
- Are you looking for a reliable car?
- Are you tired of servicing your old vehicle?
- Are you in the market for car?
The likelihood of the prospect answering yes to these questions are slim. You are placing the reader in a position to decide if they have a problem or not. They might have a problem that they are unaware of it. A better approach would be:
Eliminate the frustration of your car breaking down. Never worry about paying high costs for service repairs. We are Total Car Solution with 1,000 cars to choose from.
If the reader perceives they have a problem, the copy addresses the issue at hand, they are more likely to respond to your offer and trigger a call-to-action response.
How to respond to a fulfillment request
Now that you got the attention of the prospect, they opted-in to your newsletter or registration form, how do you deliver the requested information? Do you send it via an automated reply response? Do you send it using an automated reply? Best practices show that sending an email with an embedded link is the best approach. By sending it with a link, you can ask the prospect to confirm their email address. It allows for an email trail and allows for the ability of the email to be forwarded to another recipient. Furthermore, by utilizing marketing services like Marketo, you can track the recipient actions — did they open the email, forward it, or delete it? If the prospect never opened the email, there are automated tools that provide the ability to remind the user of a desired action.
Did you create a unique landing page?
So far I have provided insight on acquiring a contact list, spamming, subject lines, knowing your audience, etc….The final step in email marketing is creating a landing page for your email campaign. Many inexperienced marketers create drip campaign with a CTA that leads the prospect to their company’s home page. That strategy will result in ZERO conversions and a complete waste of time and money. Only 22% of business today say they are satisfied with their conversion rate. What do you do to increase your conversion rate? You make sure your marketing strategy combines both email marketing and a landing page to increase email marketing effectiveness. And here is why!
The benefit of having a landing page is to draw attention to your product or service. It reduces the clutter you typically would see on a home page. A home page has too many distractions — pictures, links, tabs and likely contain content that might not be relevant to your email campaign. A prospect that clicks on your CTA, is seeking the information contained in the email. The email and the landing page should be visually similar — font, content, images, anything else becomes distracting.
By following a few simple rules, you have a greater chance of converting this prospect into a solid lean and possibly a paying customer.
- Match the message of the email campaign — use the same verbiage. Reiterate the same offer. Be repetitive. If the email marketing campaign mentions a free hour of consulting, reiterate the offer on the landing page. If you offered a promotion, buy one get one free, reiterate!
- Visual content – by utilizing the same appearance in the email and the landing pages — color, fonts, theme, images, and design, you enforce and draw attention to the promotion
- Keep it simple — Don’t try to complicate the landing page. Use one image for background and one image for the product. Don’t try to build a webpage. Simplicity is the best approach.
- Emphasize the value — throughout the copy, you have stressed the importance of the product or service. The prospect triggered an action — CTA, now it is time to continue this momentum on the landing page. You need to reinforce the value and the benefits of your offer — consider adding a few testimonial statements.
- Create a call-to-action — its very tempting to create several CTA’s on the landing pages, but do not. Keep your prospect focused on one task.
- Contact Form — keep the contact form as short as possible. According to Michael Aagaard from Unbounce, “the shorter the form, the greater the conversion rate.” If the form is long and lengthy, the likelihood of the prospect bailing becomes higher. If you can automate the population of the prospects information from a social media account like LinkedIn or Facebook, your conversion rate will increase.
And finally, A/B testing. Marketers need to test their email marketing success. A/B testing provides statistical data, not opinions, on whether the copy is successful. Read more from the Harvard Business Review on A/B testing here
Whether you are a marketer creating email campaigns for B2B or B2C, you can increase its success by following a few simple guidelines, thus minimizing marketing failure, and increasing conversion rates. It all starts with preparation, making sure the message is clear and right to the point, don’t look for short cuts in purchasing a contact list, understand who your target market (audience) is, create content that does not illicit a yes/no response — sell the offer, create subject lines that gets attention, understand the CAN-SPAM act and the do’s and don’ts, don’t ask the prospect to do too many things — you’ll lose them, and create a unique landing page for each email marketing campaign that does not confuse the prospect, and finally, make sure you do A/B testing.
By following these guidelines, you will see your conversion rates skyrocket. Good luck selling!