Think email marketing is old hat? Think again. Studies show that email still outperforms social on conversions and returning customers, so you need to do both, but in the right way!
Here, growth consultant, Jenny Teasdale, gives some tips on how to use email in the right way.
She has years of experience running email communications (and more). When she worked on email for a market leader, it was in 30 countries, in 11 languages to over 2 million consumers, juggling over 20 automated streams plus countless special campaigns and newsletters. She regularly helps GrowthMinds’ clients do their best when it comes to email.
Take a moment to consider how you interact with companies and how they communicate with you. When do you give a company your email address, and when do you just follow them or like them on a social channel?
Most people won’t give their email address unless they really want to hear from that company – it might be to receive a one-time offer or a report or an order confirmation – when we give our email address, we give permission to a company to communicate with us.
Often, liking or following a brand on social, is further up the scale. Maybe we like the content but have no intention to buy a product, or maybe we will, but we’re not ready or don’t have a reason to go to next base and hand over our email address.
Keep this in mind and use email marketing for the right reasons, and you’ll quickly see the growth benefits to your business.
Gina Edwards, GrowthMinds Head of Client Growth
Building your email database is important, but that means more than just an email address. So many companies want to segment their data to target messages more appropriately, but if your email data isn’t syncing up with other systems, like your CRM, website, eCommerce or app, it’s going to be a tougher job than it needs to be.
Getting the technical dots linked up so you can target well, will super-charge your growth faster than blanket emailing everyone who’s ever given you permission.
When I received this email, I was really interested to see what was inside. I’d just finished a personal training program. I was 40 years old.
And then I opened the email to find:
I had never (knowingly) subscribed to this well-known men’s fitness brand… because I am a woman!
Always check and make sure your data is accurate before you launch a campaign, especially if you’re buying it in from a third-party.
Let’s move on to a fantastic example, using data to personalise in a really clever way.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that make you feel like a company really cares. With Netflix, it was the tiny word “back” in the subject line. Rather than a simple “Welcome to Netflix”, “Welcome back to Netflix” shows me they know who I am (a returning customer). It didn’t feel creepy, it felt like they knew exactly who I was in a good way.
This is a great example of a tailored welcome email for returning customers and once you’ve got the data dots linked up, it’s super simple to execute too.
Targeting messages based on what you know about your audience lifecycle is a great way to grow your business. If you understand what makes a person move to the next stage in your product or service offering, you can target messages that are really effective. It’s easier than segmenting by demographics and often feels just as personal.
First, think about your customers or audience in terms of their lifecycle – the stages they go through as they interact with your brand, from the first encounter to the last. Map it out. You might start out with quite broad or generic stages.
For example, if you’re selling a product, you might use a typical sales cycle like suspect > prospect > first time buyer > returning customer > advocate > lapsing customer > lapsed.
Next, zero in on a specific area where you suspect results could really drive conversions. Use data on your unique customer lifecycle to define behaviours, then target communications to those behaviours.
For example, if you know that most customers purchase a certain level of product first, target messages about that product to your prospects to convert them to first time buyers.
Or, if you know that first time buyers typically return to buy again from you after one month, consider whether you can time an offer a little earlier than that, to encourage them to buy more the second time or buy more quickly.
Finally, consider whether email is the right channel to use (or one of the right channels), segment your audience and start testing messages to drive growth.
I see way too many marketing managers in smaller businesses struggling, because they’re scrambling to pull together a newsletter every month for very little return.
If you need to drive growth, take a tip from the best ecommerce companies and ruthlessly prioritise email communications that will deliver results. Have a laser focus on what you want your audience to do. Yes, many ecommerce companies have huge audiences, but the approach should be the same for a business of any size.
Look at your revenues, your customer lifecycle and the steps to conversion and find the gaps where an email might aid a conversion.
Focus on the emails that deliver results. Automate them if you can. And only then, when that’s done, spend some time on a monthly newsletter.
I’m not talking about testing whether a Tuesday morning is better than a Wednesday lunchtime to send your email campaign.
I’m talking about really appropriate, well-timed emails that make it feel natural to do what you’re asking someone to do next. When an email is perfectly timed and useful, it’ll reap the rewards for your business.
Let’s take a look at the good and the bad:
Although the personalisation and the emoji got my attention, this felt a bit odd as an offer. Is life insurance really something I’m going to be considering in the run up to my birthday?
And then I opened it:
For me, this email communication should never have seen the light of day.
Getting someone excited about their birthday, then reminding them that they’re going to die is bad. Shoe-horning in your life insurance product and reminding you it gets more expensive the older you get, then likening that purchase to eating cake? Exactly.
And to top it off, it was a good 6 weeks until my birthday!
Always consider how your message might be received and whether the timing is right
Now let’s look at a good example:
OK, it’s not the most exciting email you’ll ever see. But, this email from Squarespace is a really good email for a few reasons:
If you are running trials or a subscription service of some kind, automating re-engagement and renewal emails is a fantastic way to close sales.
We’ve all experienced this.
You receive an email from a brand you love and click through to their website to read an article or look at a product. Within seconds of you arriving, there’s a pop up in your face asking you to subscribe to their email programs.
This is a classic example of not imagining the customer experience when planning your communications. But with the tech tools at your fingertips today, there’s no excuse. You’ve experienced it, I’m sure, and it affects people’s perception of your brand in a negative way.
Another example is retargeting – when you show ads on other channels, following a visit from your email to your website. It’s a great way to increase conversions but monitor the results. If you can, link up with your other systems, so you’re not retargeting people who did actually purchase already.
In summary, whenever you’re planning a campaign, think through the whole experience, eliminate any friction your audience might face and you’ll soon see the results.
Email marketing isn’t the only trick in town, but it should be an important element of your growth strategy – not forgotten.
These sites have some great advice and inspiration for your email marketing:
Or sign up to get more inspiration and guides on growth hacking from us.
Email marketing is our bread and butter. We’ve got the know-how and tech to make it happen cost effectively, so get in touch. You can even send us an email!