Email marketing, when done correctly, can be a highly effective way to make sales now and nurture prospects and existing customers for future business transactions. The first step of a successful email marketing campaign is to compile a good list. By doing a good job of targeting and creating personas, you are ensuring you will only be contacting the most relevant prospects and not wasting money, time and effort on uninterested parties. In this article, we’ll explore a variety of ways your company can maximize email ROI.
We live in the Digital Age, and technology drives the business world. According to a 2015 survey by MarketingSherpa, email is the preferred source of business communication for 72% of consumers. With that in mind, it’s a no-brainer to utilize email to contact prospects. As a bonus, email marketing is very affordable. Lists are cheap, and because it’s a digital channel, it doesn’t have the costs associated with it that other channels do. There’s no advertising fee, printing costs or postage.
Email is also a form of instant communication. Messages are deployed and delivered to recipients’ inboxes within seconds. There’s not a more efficient way to communicate with a large audience. Because of all these factors, businesses that deploy marketing emails are reaping the benefits. Experian data shows that every $1 spent on email marketing generates an average return of $44.25.
Email Success Factors
Regardless of how you compiled your list — purchased it, collected internal data or a combination of the two — the majority of the contacts on it will know little to nothing about your company. Existing customers will be the only ones to immediately recognize you when they receive your email. In order to maximize email ROI, you’ve got to create messages that are appealing and provide value to the recipient. In addition, you must develop a solid strategy up front so that you get the most bang for your buck. To help you out, we’ve compiled some Email Success Factors.
1. Goals & KPIs
In many of our articles, we’ve stressed the importance of setting goals, establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) and putting methods in place to collect KPI data. Here is another example. You can’t manage your email marketing if you can’t measure its effectiveness. Before putting the wheels in motion for your email campaign, ask yourself some questions. How many email opens will you be satisfied with? How many direct responses are you expecting? What are your expectations for recipients’ digital behaviors?
To learn more about goal setting and KPIs, click here.
2. List Scrubbing
Even if you purchased a list from a reputable source or put it together yourself, it’s important to go through the list and verify that all of the contacts are valid. Scrubbing will identify and delete invalid email addresses, combine contacts with duplicate addresses and remove contacts who have unsubscribed or voluntarily opted out through a “do not solicit” service. You don’t want to market to these people because the chances are high they will mark your email as spam. This is especially critical if you plan to deploy emails from your own platform and URL because there are spam regulations that could get you blacklisted. This means that all emails sent from your server would be marked as spam and bounce back. There are a variety of list-scrubbing sources you can find online, or you could work with a marketing company like us at Adventure Marketing Solutions. Scrubbing is one of the many list services we offer.
3. A/B Test
In order to maximize email ROI, you must find a way to get people to open your emails and respond to them. One tactic to construct the best possible email is to A/B test. When you A/B test, you deploy to small, random portions of your list to try out different email elements and see which versions get the best response. There are a variety of different variables that can be tested: subject lines, offers, plain text vs. HTML, etc. Just remember, only change one variable at a time so there is no doubt about what resonated most with recipients. The key data to analyze include opens, clickthroughs and opt-out rates. The goal is to zero in on the best combination of elements before launching a mass deployment. According to Campaign Monitor, A/B testing improves conversion by 49%.
4. Subject Lines
The subject line is more important than a lot of marketers realize. People don’t open every single email that comes into their inbox. If they don’t recognize the sender, chances are the subject line will be the difference between them opening the email or deleting it. With subject lines, it’s important to “speak” to the recipient and create an emotional connection. By appealing to their value propositions, you add relevance to your email and make them want to read it. For example, if you know one of your targets’ value propositions is freeing up more time, don’t use a sales-pitchy subject line like, “Best Plasma Cutter Ever.” Go with something that will strike a chord with them like, “Working Overtime This Weekend?”
Something to keep in mind is that many of the big email platforms like Outlook and Gmail utilize complex algorithms to identify spam. If the algorithms throw up a red flag, your email will either get filtered into the recipient’s junk folder or marked as spam. In fact, the algorithms are so good that even regular email correspondence sometimes gets flagged. One way to ensure your emails don’t get flagged is to use the right language. HubSpot has compiled a lengthy list of email spam words that should be avoided as much as possible. These are words that are prevalent in spam emails. Obviously, you may find it very difficult, if not impossible, to leave out all of these words. The key is to keep their usage to a minimum. This applies to all email content, not just subject lines.
Today’s buyer is far less likely to be influenced by a sales pitch than a buyer from a decade ago. They are more knowledgeable about the products and services in their industry thanks in large part to the internet, so they neither need nor want you to tell them why they should buy from you. They do their research to decide for themselves. With this in mind, don’t over-promote with your emails. Instead, make them informative, and include content that makes a personal connection. You don’t want your email to be labeled as a mass “canned” email, which does not resonate with recipients. In addition, remain aware of spam words, and keep them out of your content.
The statistics show that personalized emails get better response. According to Experian, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Today’s email platforms and marketing technology advancements make it easy to personalize content. Variable information can include but is not limited to: name, company, contact information and images. Variable information is closely tied to segmentation, which eliminates one-size-fits-all emails. You can set your program up to deploy different emails to different audiences based on data like their demographics, digital behaviors and purchase history. According to DMA, marketers have identified a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
You must also consider the reader experience, keeping in mind your end goal. What do you want them to do when they open your email? There needs to be an obvious call to action so that there’s a feedback loop recipients can use to let you know that they are and aren’t interested. It could be “Request More Information,” “Contact a Salesperson,” or “Visit Our Homepage.” You also need to verify there is an unsubscribe or opt-out option. This is generated automatically by most email services. If someone does unsubscribe, make sure their request is honored. Continuing to market to someone who unsubscribes could result in getting blacklisted. On the other end of the spectrum is a link to safe sender instructions, which help users change their email settings to prevent your emails from being filtered into the junk folder. Here is a service that enables you to generate personalized safe sender instructions for free.
6. Mobile Friendly
It’s a mobile world, and today’s businesspeople spend a lot of time away from their home base. According to Genwi, 86% of B2B buyers access business-related content on mobile devices. Considerations must be made to account for all of the ways people check their emails: desktop computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones. Different screen sizes mean the emails will display differently depending on the device. It’s important that your email blasts are responsive, meaning they display in an organized and appealing manner regardless of the device used. Unresponsive emails do not make good impressions on recipients.
How do you know if you met your goals? Once your email campaign concludes, the next step is to analyze the reporting data. By looking at the data, you can measure the success of your campaign. In addition, you can build on the strengths and address the weaknesses of the campaign in order to improve your future email marketing efforts. In most cases, the email platform will collect that data for you and make it available on a dashboard.
Types of Marketing Emails
Now that we’ve explored the key considerations to help you maximize email ROI, let’s take a look at the types of marketing emails. In the B2B world, there are two main approaches:
One kind of email is the traditional outbound attract blast. It’s an old-school method of email marketing, but it can still be effective. This type of email is unsolicited and has a goal of generating an immediate response, whether it’s getting the recipient to purchase today or contact a salesperson to request more information. It tells them who you are and why you deserve their attention. This type of email follows a specific pattern. The blast is launched, some people respond (although most don’t), deals are closed with respondents and the process is repeated again at another time. One of the advantages is that it’s a cheap way to attract new prospects.
Email has the potential to be the top channel on which to have a conversation with non-respondents. Rather than deploying monthly sales emails, a more effective approach is to put recipients into an ongoing email nurturing program utilizing a marketing automation platform (MAP). This type of program allows you to deploy a series of informative emails based on the recipient’s digital behavior and the information provided by him or her. The goal is to offer them information they want and give them a reason to want to hear from you.
It’s a content marketing approach where you may occasionally talk about your company, but it’s more important to provide relevant industry information in a format that’s enjoyable to consume. Popular offerings include articles, videos and infographics. In these emails, calls to action should get recipients excited about the information and tell them how to access it. Content should be gated, requiring recipients to answer questions about themselves and their companies in order to access it. The submitted information will help you build a database of consumer information you can use to better focus your marketing. An added benefit is that the MAP makes it easy to analyze the data. You can quickly access reports to identify which type of content is performing best, for example.
Email is a powerful tool that can be a major part of your marketing arsenal. It has been identified as a channel that provides good ROI. With the right strategy, your company can maximize email ROI to make it your top tool to interact with leads and get them to buy.