Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Improve Email Marketing Results – 7 Ideas to Consider

With company blogs and social media gaining more and more acceptance as effective lead generation channels, some have chosen to pull back on email marketing efforts. I think this is a mistake. Email marketing remains one of the most effective and high-ROI mechanisms for generating new leads, and staying connected with existing leads that are in your funnel until they are ready to make the buy decision.But, make no mistake, email marketing is getting tougher. Mass emails that target the masses and appeal to none are not likely to get you far. Email marketing campaign these days have to be intelligent. Here are 7 ideas you may find useful for getting more out of email campaigns:
Think pull instead of push. Stop blasting your entire database with generic emails that push your product or service. Instead, take the time to segment your database into distinct buyer personas. Create messages that appeal to individual personas, AND offer the reader something that is of real value to them. Pull them into your sales funnel by providing them something they find valuable. Free consultations, whitepapers, executive briefs, Powerpoint presentations, newsletter subscriptions, simple tools…. any can make for compelling offers.
Highlight calls to action in your emails. Getting someone to read your email is not your key objective. Your objective when generating/nurturing leads should be to start/maintain a dialog, and a dialog starts when the reader takes some action. Once you have content available (i.e. #1), build the email campaign with a compelling call to action that is highly visible, the first thing their eye is drawn to, without scrolling down. For example, position a leading “Download Executive Brief on XYZ” graphic beside bullet points that list what your readers will learn and how they will benefit from the content. Your call-to-action should link to a specific landing page with content kept behind a simple registration form. On your registration form, only ask for the information you really need to continue the dialog: name, email, company, phone (i.e although it may be better to make this optional). Make it easy and non-threatening.
Treat leads in the funnel different from those still above the funnel. If someone has responded in some way to you through a prior email campaign, phone call, etc, you have a dialog established and you should know something about that person. Strengthen the dialog by treating them like you know something about them. For example, your CRM should be able to tell you what offers you’ve made that were of interest to specific leads. Build a followup content piece that builds on the original, and offer it on a targeted email campaign to the leads that downloaded the original. This is a great strategy for lead nurturing and it shows the lead that you know something about them and their problem, and are offering something of value.
Treat Customers and Leads differently. Similar to #3, you should know far more about customers than you do about leads. Current and past customers can represent one of the highest value segments of your database so don’t neglect them. Construct very targeted emails based on purchase history, etc. Email can be a great touch point, IF you’re consistently offering them something they see as high-value.

Give serious thought to when you send your emails. If you Google “best time to send email campaign”, you’ll get all kinds of information, AND quickly come to the conclusion that there is no right answer. The right answer here is to test various days and times to see what works best, in terms of open rates AND clickthrough rates. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, I’ve seen good success with B2B campaigns that were sent on the weekend, or before the normal start of a business day (e.g. 5am). Test, test, test and then test some more.
Make your company blog an email campaign engine. One of the more powerful mechanisms we use with company blogs is to set up an email notification system that notifies subscribers to your blog when new articles are posted. Visitors can subscribe at the blog, or you may have a practice that says anytime someone downloads a content piece they are subscribed. Now, if you are consistently posting good content on your blog, your subscribers are constantly being touched and offered high-value content. Add calls to action to your blog posts, and you strengthen the dialog even more.
Measure your results. This sounds like common sense, but it is more often than not neglected. Measure and track open rates and clickthrough (CTR) rates. Test different lists, subject lines, offers, and calls to action to understand, quantitatively, what is working and what is not. Almost any decent email platform will provide you with a huge amount of analytics capability. Use it to your advantage.Effective email campaigns are intelligent email campaigns. Take the time to make your email campaigns intelligent and chances are good that you will be rewarded with more and higher quality leads.

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