Marketing tools have grown varied and sophisticated with every passing year. But the one facet of marketing that has stood the test of time is email marketing.
The reasons for email’s continued popularity as a marketing platform are not tough to decipher. A McKinsey study shows that email remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.
So if email has much higher mojo than social media when it comes to conversions—and high value conversions at that—how do you ensure your emails work the sales magic you want them to? What are the specific things that go into creating an email that converts? Let’s take a look…
Your subject line is like the bait at the end of your fishing line. A juicy fresh worm attracts big marlin, while shriveled up bait can only hope against hope to get any bite. Research shows 33 percent of users decide whether to open an email or not based on the subject line alone.
Consider these two subject lines:
Which one do you think has a higher chance of being opened? The second one, of course. The first one says absolutely nothing about what the contents of the email are, while the second one has a clear "hook" and catches the eye.
Keep your subject line short—65 characters or less. Make sure it is informative and cuts through the clutter. It also helps if you personalize your subject line with specifics like the user’s name or their city of residence. An effective subject line is relevant to your users, intriguing them enough to actually open the email.
Additionally, steer away from "Free," "Discount," "Call Now," and other such words in your subject line to avoid being categorized as spam by email service providers.
According to the Monetate study referred to above, 82 percent of shoppers will buy more from a brand if their email communication was more personalized.
Personalization begins with the subject line and goes on to the content of your email. Use data from social media, on site activity and past purchase behavior to tailor content to the preferences of your customers. Specialized email marketing services like GetResponse allow you to effectively manage your various data sources and tailor make communication for different customer segments.
eBay does some serious personalization based on browsing behavior:
When cold calling in B2B scenarios, gather information about the recipient from sources like LinkedIn, Twitter, recent articles they may have published, etc. and use these data points as conversation starters.
Every email—whether B2B or B2C—ought to lead to an effective landing page.
The landing page must have content relevant to the email sent out. Its design, layout, colors, logo and messaging must be consistent with the email. Most importantly, one must allow the user to complete the purchase or take the desired action on the landing page.
Don’t make the mistake of creating a single landing page and rolling out a campaign with it. Create two or three variations of the ideal landing page for your email and test out which one performs best using a small sample of your total subscriber base. Tools such as VWO’s analyzer allow you to quickly probe the effectiveness of your landing page. Test all your variations and go with the email and landing page combination that converts best.
Unlike a phone call made to a prospective customer, email does not lend itself to two-way communication on a real-time basis. When faced with a query, customers can only hope to receive a response in 24 hours at the earliest. In fact, most marketing emails are sent from ‘do-not-reply’ type email domains, which do not allow the reader hit "reply" to reach out to you.
To tackle any questions customers may have or to assist them during or after a purchase, offer your contact details upfront in the email. This includes your toll free number, your customer care email ID, a live chat option, if available, and your postal address, just in case. The CAN-SPAM Act requires American email marketers to include even their postal address on email newsletters as a means of preventing spammy communications.
No one likes to receive emails from strange people they don't recognize. The chances of users opening an email from an unknown entity are a fraction of regular email open rates for opted-in senders.
Use the six degrees of separation rule to figure out a connection between the user and your brand. Harp on this connection to build a sense of trust and kinship with the reader.
Lines like the ones below serve to build a bridge between the customer and your brand:
Instead of talking about giant multinational conglomerates you have offered your services to, tell them about the “people like them” who use your services and how they benefit from them.
Legitimacy can also be established with testimonials included inside your email newsletter or social media recommendations from your fans and followers for your brand and its products.
The final step in completing a conversation loop is to ask the readers to check out what you can offer them next. Popular ways of closing B2B mailers include:
B2C emails can end with asking users to perform certain actions that are important but not urgent, such as:
A great email has a number of technical requirements including being mobile friendly, browser agnostic, using the right colors, attractive images and so on. However, no amount of technical brilliance makes a difference to your conversions if your email content strategy is not well thought through. Make sure you use and refine these critical components of emails in line with yours.
What sort of sales emails have you had success with? Share your experiences in the comment section!
Tracy Vides is a content marketer and social media consultant. She works with small businesses and startups to increase their visibility. Although new to the digital marketing scene, Tracy has started off well by building a good online reputation for herself, with posts featured on She Owns It, Business 2 Community and elsewhere. She is @TracyVides.
photo credit: Horia Varlan