Welcome to Day 4 – over half-way done with the course now and already we’ve gone over enough techniques and tactics to run an online advertising campaign and to begin optimizing your sales journeys. Now we’re going to add email marketing to the mix and expand on our online marketing techniques to include some ideas for how to go about creating campaigns to engage an existing list, as well as some ways to build a new list from scratch.
There are a lot of email marketing stats that get repeated back and forth across the internet and one that has really gotten a lot of attention over the last few years is from the Direct Marketing Association. It’s a stat about the ROI of email marketing and it that states the potential ROI of email marketing is $40 for every $1 spent. That’s an impressive number, when you think about it.
Imagine spending $40 or $50 per month on your email marketing and getting $1,600 to $2,000 in returns. Incredible, right?
It’s very inspirational, and it also gets me thinking about where the $40 ROI comes from.
Certainly we can imagine that some of that return comes from sales or offers presented in the email itself. We can also imagine that some sales will come from other venues – for example, a webinar that you promote in your email newsletter that generates signups for your new web app.
In order to get those kinds of results, where people are coming to your website to make a purchase or check out an event – it takes some optimization on our part. Emails don’t sell by themselves, but as a part of a larger funnel that drives action and facilitates conversions. And that is what we’re going to be talking about today.
Okay, now we’re going to talk a bit about the technical aspects of email marketing along with the content and how you structure your email messages to increase delivery and engagement. You likely already realize that email providers use a series of algorithms to weed out potential spam versus the mail you want to receive.
There are a lot of different factors that can play into whether or not your emails end up in someone’s inbox or in their spam box, and we’re going to cover the top four.
Your IP reputation is going to be the biggest hurdle that you’ll face with getting your emails delivered. Basically, there are lots of email servers on the internet and they all talk to one another. If the reputation of the IP address you send your emails from is bad, a lot of email servers will trash your message before it even hits a spam folder.
If you’re sending emails from your own server, then I highly, highly recommend that you monitor the reputation of IP address so you know whether or not your emails have a chance of getting through. And I’ll have some tools linked for that in the video transcription below so you can set that up. If you’re using an email service provider – think MailChimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, etc. then you should be fine on that front. But if you’re using shared hosting for your website and you’re attempting to send business and marketing emails, be aware that what other people do on that IP address will affect your deliverability. So, for example, if you share an IP address with a spammer, their bad behavior is going to penalize you.
Spam word triggers are the next big hurdle your message will face. We could sit here for an hour or more just talking about the many different spammy keywords and phrases that will get your email nixed, but most of these will fall under one or more broad categories: get rich quick schemes, date hot people in your area, lose weight – especially if it’s tied to some ‘miracle product’, anything to do with credit repair, and anything that seems too ‘salesy’. Which means that sales emails for an ecommerce business need to be particularly careful with regard to how they structure their messaging.
It isn’t just in the subject line. Most email services look at the content of your email along with the subject line to determine if your email is spam or not. So you might be able to get away with a few of these triggering words or phrases if your content is generally solid. However, if you’re just starting out it’s best to avoid them altogether until you’ve built up some engagement reputation with your list.
Past engagement with previous emails is another factor that’s very important to consider. Basically, this is a very sophisticated way of determining where your emails rank on the usefulness scale, from spam at the bottom to important and trusted sender at the top. Gmail for instance, will look at how people interact with emails on an individual level. So if you’ve got a lot of people who mark your email as important, your prominence in the inbox will increase.
If, however, you have a lot of people marking your emails as spam, they will start to go to spam for most senders. In fact, your emails can go to the spam box if they are just similar to emails that have also been sent to spam. So if your messaging structure mimics a message that has been sent to spam a lot, you may end up there as well.
This is all related to the last point of spam, recipient interactions. Every time someone opens your email and clicks through, it’s a vote of confidence that you are a reputable sender.
Every time your emails are trashed, sent to spam or unsubscribed from, it’s a vote in the other direction. This is one of the reasons why it’s good to keep a tightly engaged list rather than just going for numbers – the smaller list will give you a better reputation which in turn will keep you out of the spam folder as you grow your list to other relevant subscribers.
Of course, landing in the inbox is no guarantee that people are going to read your email. A lot of people won’t. That’s not a reflection of how good your business or offer might be. It’s a reflection of just how much email people receive on a daily basis. People receive literally hundreds of emails a day, and there’s just no time to look at every single one.
So what do people do? They categorize. It might be something like having emails they always read right when they’re sent. If this is a business email, it’s probably emails from coworkers, the boss, vendors, clients, that sort of thing. Then there are emails they’ll get back to that day or later in the week. Maybe a training seminar they signed up for, or some interesting tidbit of information. Lastly, there are the emails that they say they’ll get back to ‘sometime’ and those may collect dust for weeks, months, or forever depending on how busy the person is.
Emails to consumers will go much the same way. Emails from people they want to talk with – friends, some family members – and then other emails that are less important, on down the line. If you want your email marketing to succeed and be profitable, you’ve got to stand out from all the generalized noise that people get in their inboxes every day.
Standing out can be easier when you’ve done the work to build customer personas. You’ll have a better idea of what will motivate these people to stop and take a look at your email. It might be something like providing a free report that addresses a major question that you’ve seen trending on social media with your audience. It might be a demo or sample of some kind. Or it might just be something entertaining that you know your audience will enjoy and find value from.
Regardless, getting that message opened and read requires figuring out what subject lines and summary information will get people to open your emails and what kind of body copy will then get them to click through. Take it one step at a time – the subject line’s job is to pique interest, and is supported by the summary text that shows in the description of the email. The only job the subject line has to perform is to get people interested enough to open the email. Don’t try to sell the click-through in the subject line. Just get them to open the email first, then move on to the next step.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of testing that can be involved with finding the right subject lines and content, and we’ll go over that in the full training as well.
Way back when email was new, it was common to put everything you wanted someone to know into the email. Full text of articles, long form copy – people had time to read it because there just weren’t as many emails. But as email has evolved, it is now a vital piece of the conversion funnel, and we need to get people moving from email to our website or other landing page as much as possible.
As we just touched on, it’s the job of the subject line to get people to open your email. Once they’re in, the job of the content is to get people to take action. So first off, you have to know what action it is you want people to take. Then you can start framing the messaging as to why they should take it. Sometimes, it’s fairly straightforward. Say we use our free report example. You could easily put one or two interesting facts from the report into the email, and structure your call to action as ‘download the rest of the report’.
If you’re tracking those downloads, you now have a segmented portion of your list that you know is most likely facing the problem your report addresses. Depending on the type of problem and the level of urgency surrounding it, you have a lot of options. If you have a paid solution that will benefit them, now may be the time to ramp up your nurturing campaign to that segment of your list. If it’s a simple or inexpensive solution, you may even be able to ask for the sale directly.
There are so many options for compelling content, but it all boils down to this – your subject line sparked their interest. Feed on that interest and guide them to take the next step within the email. Again, don’t try to sell a full solution in an email. Take it step by step. Guide people where you want them to go by giving them just enough information to make the next decision.
If you’re getting good open rates and click-through rates, your next step is going to be converting on the landing page. Again, we take it one step at a time. The subject line gets the open. The email content gets the click. The landing page explains the offer in more detail, answers any lingering questions, and gets people to make the next move. What is the next move? Well, in the case of our report, it’s to download the file. But let’s say this is a paid report that you’ve created. Now the next step is to make a purchase.
Suddenly, we’ve got a lot of potential resistance. People might be unsure of the quality of the report. Is it comprehensive? Did you research multiple sources? What kind of advantage will your email subscriber get if they buy? What are they missing out on if they don’t? The job of the landing page is to answer these questions and reduce the resistance.
There are two goals here – one is making it feel safe to buy, and the other is to tip the value scale. Essentially, either the value of buying must outweigh the status quo of not buying or, the pain of not buying must higher than the ‘safety’ of avoiding the unknown.
There are so many different areas to test on your landing pages – and this is true whether it’s for an email campaign, an ad campaign or a social media campaign – any marketing campaign, really. But if you don’t have a lot of traffic or a lot of money to test, your best options are to go for big changes that are going to make a significant difference.
Taking a step back from the conversion portion of our email campaign, we also need to consider the health of our subscriber list. We want it to grow, and to do that, we need to have good retention. Good retention is important because if we have a longer lead nurturing cycle – let’s say 10 emails – but people consistently drop out by email six, we’re not going to get great conversions. Good retention is also important because it helps you to build repeat customers and it provides you with a way to engage your audience.
There are four main areas to improving or maintaining retention, and they all boil down to delivering and over-delivering on expectations. You set the expectations when you have people sign up for your list. Whatever your offer entailed that got them to sign up, you must provide.
If your list expects to get a great business coaching tip every week, then you have to deliver that coaching tip every week. And it’d better be great. Not just good, but great. If you really want to wow people, then in that weekly email you’ll also include some bonus content – a podcast, a worksheet, some motivational quotes – that also pertains to what they signed up for. What you don’t want to do is email more than once a week. They signed up with the expectation that you’d contact them at certain intervals and it’s essential to stick with that. Too many emails can drive away even your best prospects, so make the emails you send count.
As you build up your reputation for always sending great business coaching tips, people on your list will trust you when you have additional things to say. Maybe one of your coaching tips includes an invitation to a webinar to discuss it further. Maybe on that webinar you do a soft sell for your coaching sessions towards the end. If people are already finding value in your free offerings, they are more likely to commit at that next higher level.
If you start pushing your coaching from the onset, though, you may find a lot of resistance. The important thing to keep growth positive is to avoid overselling and continue to provide value.
The last point has to do with responsiveness. One of the biggest things you can do here that most larger businesses cannot is to be hyper responsive. There’s no reason to send people to a Do-Not-Mail email address if your list is small. Instead, you can invite greater engagement and trust if you have a return address they can reply to with questions. You don’t have to have it as your official business address – it can be a separate address that forwards to your main email. The important aspect is to be available and be engaged – the more audiences like you, the more they’ll be willing to buy from you.
There’s one area that we touched on briefly in this email course, and that’s segmentation. I am a big believer in segmentation, even if your list is small. To our earlier example on business coaching. Let’s say you have the tiniest list imaginable. Maybe… let’s say 10 people. So you have 10 people on your list and two of them are really into golf. You are going to be hosting a little get-together to talk about business coaching and afterwards everyone is going to head to the green to play a few rounds.
Do you send an email to your entire list, or do you single out those two people who you know are interested in golf and might want to attend? If it’s a list as small as 10, maybe you send it to everyone – but for the eight people who aren’t interested, this is just one more email that is cluttering their inbox. What happens when the list becomes 1,000 people or even 10,000 people? Suddenly you’re sending emails to thousands of people who don’t want them, and who might decide to unsubscribe on the second or third or even the first time they get such an email.
Remember, these aren’t irrelevant subscribers. They’re interesting in business coaching. They just have no love of golfing. So when you lose these people as subscribers, you are potentially losing out on business down the line.
Segmentation keeps irrelevant emails from causing this kind of issue, and I recommend it for all lists, even small ones. You can see some of the areas where you might want to segment your list, but this will vary based on the individual characteristics of your list. The important thing is to group people into segments that are relevant to what you are offering and what each group of people needs.
So what do you do if you are literally starting from zero, no one on your email list at all? Well it depends. What’s your website traffic like? If you’ve got decent traffic but few sign-ups, we start with the process shown here, which is basically creating offers, testing them, and segmenting people like we discussed before.
If you’ve got no traffic? Then you’ll need to make a decision. SEO will eventually get you some traffic, but those efforts can take six months or more to start to bear fruit. If you want immediate targeted traffic, you’ll need to run a campaign either though search or social media – and again, set up your offer, test some offers and tweak.
Regardless of which way you choose, keep engagement at the forefront as you build your email list and that will keep growth numbers healthy while minimizing on spam complaints and other issues that can cause your email marketing to crash.
In our next training session, we’ll be talking about content marketing – the types of content you need for your website, content curation, content promotion and more. Thanks for watching today’s training, and as always, please contact me if you have any questions.
Fast Track to Online Marketing for SMBs and Solo Professionals Watch the first 10-minute episode here: Fast Track to Online Marketing Day 1 Transcript: Welcome to the online marketing fast-track: a 60-minute training preview covering basic analytics, customer personas, paid advertising, email marketing, content marketing and marketing automation. This training is broken […]Watch Now!
Hi and welcome to Day 2! Today we’re going to talk about customer personas, why they’re so useful in online marketing, and ways to make your customer personas more accurate so you get better results when using them. Oh and a quick heads up about the full course, because I’ve gotten a few […]Watch Now!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This training is quite a bit longer than the others – 20+ minutes long, whew! I had to be sure that you got the whole picture of how the ad campaigns work, hence the length. Transcript: Hello and welcome to day 3 of your online marketing training! Before we dive into talking […]Watch Now!
Transcript: Welcome to Day 4 – over half-way done with the course now and already we’ve gone over enough techniques and tactics to run an online advertising campaign and to begin optimizing your sales journeys. Now we’re going to add email marketing to the mix and expand on our online marketing techniques to include […]Watch Now!
Transcript: Welcome to Day 5 and your content marketing training! Sometimes people have some confusion around what content marketing is exactly, but chances are you’re already doing it in some form or fashion. Basically, if you are creating valuable content for your audience, and you are somehow promoting that content, you are engaged in […]Watch Now!
Transcript: Hello and welcome to the final day of the online marketing crash course. Today’s ten minute lesson is all about marketing automation and ways to streamline the lead nurturing process so you can get more conversions and make more sales. We’ll be talking about the various parts of the marketing and sales process, […]Watch Now!