4 Top Email Marketing Strategies to Skyrocket Leads!
Email list subscribers (ie: potential customers) think about your brand as a whole, and they’re not just thinking about how cool your emails look. In fact, even if it's only subconsciously, with every email you send (automated or not) they’re considering your products and how you communicate with them, as well as your style, tone, and mood.
If you want your email automation to be superior, you've got to think about and plan out the entire experience.
So let’s be real, getting someone to hand over their email address is not easy, it doesn’t matter if you’re a corporation or a small business. People are savvy researchers these days, and I too have had my fair share of “firstname.lastname@example.org” email addresses show up on my list, just to get the free content that I’m giving away.
The pure excitement of clicking “Publish” on your newest blog post still doesn’t take away that sinking feeling of seeing someone opt-in to download your freebie only to unsubscribe instantly.
All that work you put in to creating something educational and beautiful.
It sucks, but it happens.
Here’s the honest truth, you can never prevent that from happening all together, but what you can do is give people a reason to want to soak up everything you have to offer. Your overall email marketing strategy, including the bulk email marketing software that you use to send from are a critical piece of getting it right.
Email Newsletters…Not Vogue!
In the past, and still today, many companies send an email newsletter every week (or every month) because they assume people on their list wanted to know about everything that is going on at their company. Newsflash…that isn’t true!
Think about the last time a company you did business with 2 years ago sent you an email. If you’re even still subscribed to that email list, were you interested enough to open it and read everything in there? Probably not.
But what if that same company sent you an email about one specific topic that was relative to the exact product you purchased? For example “your item was recalled, click here to see what we’re doing about it.” You would be much more likely to keep reading or click through to see what they have to say.
Strategies for Growing Your Email Marketing ROI
The strategies for growing an email list are fairly black and white, but if you want to step up your game, there are some tactics that absolutely work and there are some that don’t.
My biggest mistake when I created my first free opt-in was that it was too complex. It's because I had a background in digital marketing and came from an agency job where day in and day out I spoke to people (and customers) who already understood the language.
Talking about a tactic like “Schema Markup” or “Consideration Stage Lead Magnet” didn't resonate with my blog audience because they weren't marketers.
But that was back in 2011, and I’ve honed in on the art of teaching email marketing ever since, and found a way to teach these tactics that are the absolute cornerstone of list-building. One simple but effective tactic has grown my list and the lists of my clients by leaps and bounds. In fact, I now gain about 600 new organic subscribers each week.
Six-Hundred each week.
I'm not kidding. If you're just starting out with list-building, 600 new subscribers a week sounds like a dream come true, right?
Before I jump in though, lets get clear, these are foundational strategies, not tips and tricks.
Tips and tricks are temporary, while strategies last for the long haul. Email marketing automation can be a huge, powerful, big deal with a lot of complex moving parts.
Luckily, getting started is fairly straightforward if you follow the right advice.
In fact, the only thing you actually need to do to get started is click this one button. (But before you do, please finish reading).
Attraction Marketing: The Foundation of Email Marketing Automation
The best digital marketing practice is to create long-term strategies that have been shown to be effective over and over again. This begins with attracting the right audience.
Here are 4 ways to implement genuine “attraction marketing” in other words…to make people crave your content, look forward to when you publish something new, and thus make them want to be on your list, part of your audience, and follow you on every social channel that you’re on.
1. Use an Interactive Quiz as your Email Opt-In (aka: Lead Magnet)
This one small thing has been wildly successful in terms of attracting new members to my audience, and it's the absolute cornerstone of good segmentation so that you can group your subscribers into the proper email nurturing sequence. At first glance it doesn’t seem to be an “opt-in” but as you guide your audience through a series of questions, it’s a fantastic way to group them into meaningful categories that you can actually nurture.
Not to mention, it’s a super fun way to engage. Don’t let the cost scare you, it’s well worth it. Just divide the annual cost by the amount of true, engaged people on your email list and you’ll see there is no comparison!
To use this quiz effectively, I ask questions such as “what phase of business are you currently in” and let them select answers such as:
“I’m just thinking about starting my online business” or “I’m currently blogging but not seeing much success.”
These are very different in terms of how you would help guide this person through to an eventual offer, even though both are interested in the same general niche of blogging to make money.
If you’re thinking about using a quiz, I would recommend checking out the Interact Quiz Builder. You can use their quiz templates to easily get up and running in a matter of minutes, or you can change the questions to anything you like.
The best part is that they integrate with any email marketing automation that you already use, and their metrics provide a really good overview (even better than Google Analytics) at grouping your audience.
I use tags in my email automation to funnel people into different categories, but even if I didn’t, I could go and download my list (already grouped) directly from Interact. If you are thinking about checking it out, click here for a free trial.
2. Grow your Organic Followers using the “Polite” Popup
Stay with me for a moment, I hate popups too. I’m always met with a lot of resistance when talking about popups because I know they are annoying and disruptive. But I challenge you to think about this in a new way.
As someone is reading through your site, a little while later, a sleek and slow window appears on the side and it’s just a follow request. You’re not hitting them smack in the center of the face asking for their email address. I use a this WordPress plugin and it’s a great way to increase your followers organically on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or even YouTube.
If you want to use great email automation and list segmentation, you’ll need to have greater data. Both of these tools listed above help you segment the answers to the questions so you can really nurture your list. You won’t be able to use the powerful email marketing automation features unless your list is grouped into different segments.
When planning and setting a goal for your email campaign, ask yourself these 6 important questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Consider demographics, make sure what you’re saying is relevant to those receiving the email.
Clicks and Opens are not an appropriate primary goal. Marketers measure clicks and opens, but they are indicators and metrics of success, they should not be the primary goal of the email. Your primary goal should be “Register for our Webinar” or “Download our Toolkit.”
We’re not talking only about the time of day or the day of the week; consider where the recipients of this email is on their journey to purchase. Some people have just started researching ideas, such as “best time of year to buy a grill” while others have already decided to buy and are researching features & benefits of a gas grill compared to features & benefits a charcoal grill. Sending the right information to the right person at the wrong time is not going to translate to conversions. Thinking through exactly what you’re selling and when your buyer needs it is critical.
Where is your audience going to read your email? At their desktop in the office, on their phone during their lunch hour, or on an ipad while watching TV at night?
Why are you sending this message? Use this as a reality check, why does this campaign benefit the recipient?
How do you know if you’ve met your goals? Web traffic, twitter mentions, and a look at other channels can help you see how your campaign impacts behavior. Don’t forget to read between the lines; open and click-thru-rates may be terrible, but people may be logging into their account or calling customer service in response to your email.
3. Use Paid Ads to give away your Free Content
This sounds crazy. Am I right? Most of the time people create ads when they are selling their product or service, but I actually pay for ads to serve up my free stuff! To be fully transparent, I invest several hundred dollars a month using paid ads, but the ads are promoting my free lead magnets.
It’s a way that works well to invest in your followers in the very beginning, to make sure your audience is made up of people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Then you serve your audience so well so that when the time comes to sell to them, they have already qualified themselves as the perfect candidate to purchase.
If you’re familiar with the sales and nurturing process, you already know that most people aren’t immediately ready to buy anything, especially in this day and age of internet research.
Most of the time, people need to do their research and get warmed up before they are ready to buy anything, so running ads to your paid content is not going to be very successful. I've done it. Unless it's a gorgeous apparel item with a deeply discounted price, it simply does not work.
Would you click on something from a stranger and purchase without context or more information? Probably not! Instead, the best strategy is to place an ad that leads to free content with the goal of getting them on to your email list.
This technique is much more affordable than running ads that point directly to a purchase. The cost to acquire a new subscriber on your email list is a fraction of the cost of an ad that points directly to a sales page. It’s better to invest in serving up content (without the hint of a pitch) until you know the audience is engaged.
This is how you show trust and ultimately position yourself as the expert in what you’re talking about. Then when you have an offer, your audience is inclined to listen to what you have to say because they’ve had time to benefit from the free content that you’ve given to them.
At the end of the day, I will always spend money to acquire new people to my list over trying to run an ad to sell a product. I’m confident in my ability to serve my audience so well, that when the time comes to sell something, they are excited to become a bigger part of my community through the purchase of additional products, courses and services.
I’m just going to give it to your straight…
If learning about online business and email marketing automation feels like it’s draining you faster than your iPhone battery, then you’re not doing it right.
ConvertKit was designed to support your business so you can get on with doing the things you actually want to do.
Imagine…automated selling consistently without you having to spend hours and hours doing it!
Of course this isn’t just anything you’re selling…this is your dream job! What you’ve been dreaming about since you were stuck in that corporate cubicle trading all your time for a paycheck.
4. Exclusivity (Translation: Special Perks for your Email Subscribers)
It’s important to treat your community like insiders or VIPs. The people on your email list should be the first to know about anything new in your business. Not only that, they should be getting content that you don’t publish anywhere else.
Whether that is exclusive sales or other freebies, they will really feel like they are special if you don’t offer the same on your Facebook Ads or Twitter account.
Treat your email subscribers like gold, show them you truly value them, thank them, and let them know how much they mean to you. Too often, I’ve seen bloggers promote a sale all over their private Facebook group, on their email list, and then tweet about it and even run an ad. This doesn’t make subscribers feel like they are an insider at all.
Instead, offer your email subscribers something different, an additional discount code or access before you announce the sale publicly.
Keeping customers engaged with your business is crucial if you want them to remain loyal to your brand; it is also a critical step in helping you convert those leads into fully qualified customers. Having an automation system that literally makes money while you sleep needs to be well thought out.
Start by answering those 5 aforementioned questions. When you create marketing campaigns that intelligently follow up with the right people at the right time based on their actions and behaviors, it will be a true game changer for your business.
Providing great content is just not optional anymore; in fact, digital communications is just as important to your business as customer service. If you want to create and keep loyal customers, giving them great information and solving their problems is the key to your continued growth with email marketing automation.
Whether you're just getting started, or you're a veteran marketer looking to enhance your lead generation strategies, these 4 email marketing strategies are sure to yield big results for you in the year ahead!
For a preview of my favorite email marketing tools in action, watch this video!
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When you send the same message to everyone…nobody listens.
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When a business or blogger has collected emails, whether by doing so with their opt-in, manually at a brick and mortar, or over a period of time as people have signed up for a service or product, a list that numbers in the hundreds, the thousands, or even the tens of thousands can sometimes seem overwhelming.
It’s not uncommon for bloggers and small business owners to have a large list but still be unsure just how to use email marketing and automation to generate revenue for their business. This was the exact case when I was recruited to assist a client who had a list of over 40,000 people, but an email open rate that was lower than 20%. (Quick backstory: I worked for a digital agency, and in corporate marketing for 14 years before I started my blog). Anyway, at the time, the owners of the company I worked for didn't quite understand how to convert those “people on their list” into a loyal audience who would open and read their emails, let alone turn them into paying customers.
When you have just one list of email subscribers, and they are not grouped into different categories, the key to unlocking revenue with email automation is to first solve the challenge of moving them into meaningful groups. Your very first step is to design a Segmentation Campaign; this is how you begin to group your list based on actionable behaviors that they take. What is an actionable behavior? In digital marketing, it's something you can measure…such as a click.
The Email Newsletter: Why So Many Bloggers and Small Business Owners Still Get it Wrong
Perhaps you’ve sent a campaign or two, or maybe you send a weekly or monthly newsletter to the subscribers of your blog or the customers in your business, and you have watched your “open rate” go down with each email you send. If your open rate is less than 60%, you’re in the right place to gain some insight. There is definitely a secret to getting people to open and read your email, and over the years I’ve watched as even the organizations and businesses that I want to hear from struggle to get it right.
The Segmentation Campaign
First and foremost, when you have a very large list, the first task is to clean it up and get it separated into meaningful categories. If this sounds tedious, all the more reason that you need to move it to the top of your to-do list. Why? Email marketing simply does not work when you send the same email to a large group of people.
Think about it this way, too many choices confuse people. Too many choices cause a person to close their browser and not even make a choice. You simply cannot connect with your audience in a meaningful way by sending the same email campaign to everyone; that will never generate revenue for your business.
In order to make a meaningful connection, you've got to deliver super-targeted information that over-delivers on value. Every, single, time! It's so important to clearly illustrate how your business, product, or service is going to solve a problem for your intended audience. But first…your audience needs to actually have a problem that you can solve! If the problem doesn't exist, guess what? They don't care if you can solve it. It comes down to choice: If you provide too many choices, it's just easier for the recipient to not make a choice and do nothing.
Email Marketing: Where Do I Begin?
Each email campaign that you send needs to have one of these 4 primary purposes:
This is a fancy industry term that means the purpose of the email is to introduce new connections to your brand; this is the time to bond with a brand new subscriber when they are the most excited to hear your message. People are the most excited the moment they enter their email address and sign up. Think about it. They are offering up their email address in exchange for something that they deem valuable (your Lead Magnet). A lot of businesses miss this unique opportunity to teach this new subscriber why you are amazing. Sometimes called the “welcome” email, know that it is the single time that a new subscriber is most likely to read what you have to say because they are expecting it.
The engagement campaign is the most widely used type of email marketing campaign, but it’s also where the most companies fail. The idea of the engagement campaign, and this is true whether it is done via email or on social media, is for a business to talk about what moves your potential customer. This could be very different for the different audiences within your broad audience. Remember, you’re not just “selling your product” you’ve got to make a meaningful connection with your customer and do it in a way that educates them about why your product or service will solve their problem and change their life for the better…and you’ve got to do that better than your competitor. You simply will not be able to engage with someone if you’re not speaking about something important to them.
Every email campaign and every post must have a purpose. What could be worse than posting something that isn't directly related to how your product or service benefits the consumer? Posting about, emailing them, or blogging about yourself!
Although it’s a time to begin to encourage your audience to buy what you have to offer by describing how it is relevant to them, the important thing to remember is that in order to be relevant, you’ve got to really dig deep into their beliefs, attitudes and desires. You’ve got to zero in on exactly what is important to them.
Consider this example: I once did some work for a professional who provided a service. He was certain that I was his “target audience”. (We are a family with two working parents, 2 kids and 2 pets). His rationale was that since both parents in the household worked, we therefore must have insurance to pay for medical services, so that makes us more likely to schedule an appointment regularly for a preventative visit. Another part of that rationale was that women heads of households make the family buying decisions, so his target market was women between the ages of 25 and 55. The reality is, that audience is way too broad. If you intend to make money with email marketing and your audience consists of a broad target market (such as “women between the ages of 25 and 55”) then it’s time to rethink your approach. There was no way that he was going to be able to make a meaningful connection with the “me’s” of the world, especially when he was using email to send me a newsletter to tell me about the latest award his practice won.
Can you see how important it is to get crystal clear about your audience? Gender and age group is far too broad to make a truly meaningful connection. Instead, look for a different way to engage. What does your target audience eat for breakfast and why? Do they wake up at 5:00am and go for a jog in their neighborhood before they feed their cat and clean the litterbox? Where do they work, shop, vacation, and what kind of car do they drive?
If you really know who your customer is you can tailor an email campaign that engages with them on an incredibly personal level. Even though the recipient of your email may not know you personally, they can read into everything you write about, and the tone of that written word strikes a subconscious chord. If you can use words to talk to the recipient of your email as if you’re talking to your very best friend about how your product or service will make life better for them, then their interpretation will no doubt be positive.
In turn, their view of your brand will be positive. My pet peeve to this day is reading an email that says something like “I’m so proud to be awarded the honor of the top “insert whatever profession you want” under the age of 40 in my hometown.” Really? I mean, kudos to you Mr. Award Recipient. Go ahead and post it on your social media feed, but don't expect that emailing that information to me is going to move me to buy something or schedule an appointment.
What I’m trying to say here is that you can control the interpretation of the person receiving your email and truly engage with them by providing a meaningful connection about how your product or service benefits them…not by touting your own horn.
The ascension campaign comes after a successful engagement campaign, and only once you’ve started to measure the behaviors of your email recipients. Asking a client to upgrade their experience is where the big money happens, but they first need to trust your brand and have had an experience with you that over-delivers. Once you’ve made one sale, you know what your customer is interested in, so now you know exactly what your customer is likely to want or need to do next. If a customer just used your app to make a donation to their favorite cause, the next step is to say “Thanks for donating, would you like to start a fundraising campaign of your own?” Think about how the big companies use this strategy: Facebook has a strategically placed button on business pages that says “Create a Business Page” and that is not by accident.
The ascension campaign directly correlates to the most important part of email marketing…the segmentation. Dividing up your customer or potential customer list into meaningful categories and then capitalizing on what you now know about them is the key to a successful ascension campaign.
I can’t stress how important it is for every business who wants to succeed with digital marketing to learn what your audience likes and dislikes by measuring their behaviors so you can follow-up with anticipatory practicality about what they will want to do next. If you send someone an email and they do not click on the link, for the love of all things do not simply send them the same type of email again.
If they did not click, it means they were not interested! You can dig deeper into why they may not have been interested and create a different campaign to re-engage, but that comes later. First you’ve got to ensure you have your campaign set up in a way that can accurately measure and make sense of the data that is being measured. You’ve got to know what you’re looking for. How do you know what you’re looking for in terms of measurement and data?
Lets look back to the Small Email List example where we talked about raw honey and essential oils. Suppose you have an email list with 4,000 people on it and you don’t have them “segmented”. The first goal is to separate the list into meaningful categories. You have reason to believe that more people are interested in essential oils than in raw honey, so you decide to focus on essential oils as your first campaign.
In this example, you decide to run a campaign in the summer since it's a good time to teach people how to use essential oils to make their own sunscreen, so that will be the focus of your first campaign. Since the goal of this email campaign is not to sell a product but instead to begin to segment your list, your “landing page” could be as simple as a blog post that instructs people about how to make their essential oils sunscreen. On the sidebar of the blog, you may choose to have a picture of a jar of honey which will serve as a call-to-action leading to purchase the honey. Don’t forget to attach a UTM Parameter to the link in the email so that you can effectively measure who from your email list clicked on the honey. At this point it doesn’t matter whether they purchased anything, what you are measuring and attempting to differentiate is who is interested in honey and who is not. From this email campaign, you can measure the following behaviors:
Who on your list is interested in the blog about making your own sunscreen (behavior: clicked the link within the email and landed on the blog page)?
Who on your list is potentially interested in both sunscreen and honey (behavior: clicked the CTA for honey on the sidebar)?
Who is not interested in sunscreen at all (those who did not click)?
As you can see, you have now segmented your one list into 3 different lists after sending this email campaign. You can almost instantaneously group them based on what they showed interest in. Now you know that you could potentially talk to list number 2 about the honey. Not only that, you could send an email a few hours or a day later educating them about the differences between raw honey and processed honey, or perhaps write a blog about how to store honey. They’ve already shown you they are interested in honey, so tuck away that information and think critically about how you will use it to market to them in the future.
Which leads effectively to the folks from your initial large list above who did not click, they did not show interest. That is the segment you’ll focus on with a “re-engagement” strategy.
Re-Engage & Win Back
If someone has fallen out of touch or stops opening your emails, the re-engagement strategy is used to create a way to entice them to come back before the relationship grows cold. This is the lowest of low hanging fruit; it’s the time to reinforce your value and re-engage. Many companies do not have a systematic process by which they manage weeding out the people who are genuinely interested from the people who are just “looking” for information.
You never want to email someone who did not click. The result is that you waste a lot of time and effort. There are times when I purchase a product online and then I begin to receive an email a day from that company. Even if I don’t click in the email, I start getting bombarded with more emails. Newsflash, I’m not that interested, why are you still sending me stuff I’m not even reading? Now the company has left a bad taste in my mouth. The worst of the worst is when I click to unsubscribe and they send me a message indicting that it might be a few days before I’m removed from their list. Companies can be fined for not following the law, according to the GDPR, the opt-out or “unsubscribe” link is very important in the grand scheme of things.
Don’t risk your email deliverability (in other words, the spam folder) because once you go down that road, it’s hard to recover. The last thing you want is for people to delete your emails and mark them as spam. Future emails will not make it to their inbox and you effectively decrease your chances of ever making a stream of revenue from email marketing.
Instead, if a prospect on your email list has not actively engaged with you for over 3 months (by actively engage, I’m talking about clicking a link in your email or actually purchasing something) then the best practice is to remove them from your email list. If you sent an email campaign and they did not engage, the re-engagement campaign can be sent any time between about 2 weeks and 3 months to test a “win back” strategy. You know that the people on this segmented list have no interest in sunscreen. Consider what else you might know about them. How did they get on your list in the first place? You might go back to basics and write a blog or provide a lead magnet that entices them to get to know you better.
Once you are crystal clear about what each segment is truly interested in, think about how you will appeal to them. How is your product or service going to absolutely hands down change their life for the better? HubSpot defines Lead Nurturing as the purposeful process of engaging a defined group of prospects by providing them with relevant information at each stage of their buyer journey. The goal is to create tactics that active move people through a sequence of events that is designed to move them from just interested to a paying customer. Attribution information (the data that you’re measuring about their behaviors) in other words, the pages they viewed and the content they downloaded will help tell you what stage of their “journey” they are in. Based on this information, you can design a nurturing strategy that talks to them about what is the most important to them.
Best Email Marketing Software for Bloggers and Small Biz: ConvertKit
For my nurturing sequences, I highly recommend ConvertKit (for Bloggers who are making from zero to $150,000 in annual revenue) and AWeber (for Small Business Owners making between $150,000 and $250,000 in annual revenue). They are both email marketing automation platforms that are easy to use and integrate well with a variety of different website builders.
ConvertKit is particularly easy to use for those who are new to blogging and email marketing. They have great customer support as well as video tutorials and even free email templates for nurturing sequences to help you get started quickly! The difference is that with ConvertKit, things just make sense. Some email marketing systems are clunky and hard to figure out the integrations, but ConvertKit will definitely be your BFF because the internal dashboard functions a lot like HubSpot in that it makes everything obvious…but doesn't have the big price tag like HubSpot!
HubSpot for Business making between $250k and $5Million
If you are a business owner with annual revenue between $250,000 and $5 million, then I highly recommend checking out HubSpot. HubSpot is an all-in-one platform, and is a treasure-trove of valuable tools to streamline your marketing automation and sequencing. It's kind of like InfusionSoft functionality in a much more user-centric dashboard (like ConvertKit) but much more modern and easy-to-use than InfusionSoft. Oh, and it has about 40 more bells and whistles too!
Remember, segmented email campaigns have an open rate that is 14.32% higher than non-segmented campaigns.