Last week at GetResponse we had the pleasure of hosting a webinar with Amy Africa, an expert in web usability, e-commerce optimization and email marketing, among other things.
For almost an hour she talked about the essentials of email marketing some of which – a little surprisingly – are too often looked over. Here are some of the things she said (and the recording of the webinar).
Want to dig into the topic a bit further? Here are email marketing best practices to you should pay attention to.
Send more triggers than newsletters
The basic distinction Amy makes in her presentation is between thrust emails (or what we would simply call newsletters), sent based on your own marketing plan and according to your timing to a large group of people, and trigger emails (autoresponders, drip campaigns, transactional emails) that are sent in smaller batches, and based on an action a subscriber performs or a piece of information you have about them.
What Amy suggests in the webinar is that a successful email program should contain 20% newsletters and 80% trigger emails. Another thing that will decide whether you get positive results is if you’re mailing enough. By that she doesn’t mean the actual number of emails you’re sending out (and whether you’re actually mailing enough as in sending an enormous amount of emails), but the fact whether, from the user’s perspective, it’s enough to get their attention. This will vary for various businesses and various audiences.
The majority of your success comes from how much you mail and what happens outside of the envelope.
Automated emails are much more effective from a user’s perspective – because they’re based on something your subscriber did or something you know about them. There are some things that improve the response, such as personalization (but beware of overdoing on the personalization side, as this will definitely not improve your results). Watch the recording to hear about other ways.
Send emails in series
Triggers work best as a series – the biggest mistake, Amy suggests, a lot of businesses are making is “one and done”: sending just one email and then forgetting all about it. A very good idea is to set up an initial, onboarding series to introduce your brand and walk your subscribers through the benefits of whatever it is that you’re offering.
And then when that’s done, move them to roundups to continue the conversation. Until…
Right, until when? Amy suggests something that’s sometimes called “buy or die”. It involves emailing people until they take action – either buy, or unsubscribe.
Develop a sales funnel
… or what Amy calls “a ladder” (the concepts are essentially the same, although the directions are opposite). Think carefully about what messages people get from you at what step of the ladder – and whether you’re sending them what they should be actually getting. A simple example would be not to send people who already bought something from you, emails dedicated to prospects – they’ve already been there, done that.
The ladder is also a place where you should keep moving your subscribers up – from first enquires all the way up until they become multiple buyers.
If you’re looking for an example of an email marketing funnel, with examples of what communication you should have at each stage, we have one for you – you can download it here.
Reactivate your subscribers
Reactivation campaigns help you engage those customers or subscribers that haven’t performed an action for a prolonged period of time, but are still on your list. So technically, they are still somewhere in the funnel – or on the ladder. If they’re still there, chances are you’ll actually be able to engage them again, if you do it right.
And to do it right, you have to do what Amy calls finding out “where the rat is caught in the snake” – or to use less graphic terms, where they’re getting stuck in your funnel, and why.
Amy advises, yet again, using a series of reactivation emails not just a single email – to help them move forward in your cycle. If they’re stuck, you need to have an understanding of possible reasons why and then prepare emails that will actually help them take an action – preferably one you desire.
One type of reactivating your subscribers who actually are no longer your subscribers is the so called graveyard targeting. Okay, this sounds a bit grim – but it essentially boils down to retargeting people who are no longer on your list with Facebook/Google ads to get them back on your list.
According to Amy, you can get 60% of those people back – and out of those 60%, 70% will actually stay if you engage them with a dedicated, mini onboarding campaign, developed specially for them (do not send them the same emails that made them unsubscribe!). Worth trying, right?
Get your subscribers to take the right action…
This will mean a lot of things, such as sending the right content at the right stage of the funnel, using the right call to actions and minimizing distractions (do all your emails need social sharing icons?), accounting for how your subscribers are reading your emails (on mobile, by any chance?) and adjusting the design and function of the emails. The list goes on and on (again, the recording gives out much more).
… or, in other words, do what works for your subscribers – it will work for you
When you think about it, all of the above – as well as all the other pieces of advice Amy’s giving in her presentation – are aimed at one thing: making your email programs better. Better as in more suited to your subscribers’ needs, which in the end will mean – more effective for your business.
I could probably write at least a couple of blog posts based on what Amy said (including the various tips on mobile emails) – but I guess it’s best if you just watch for yourselves (and take notes!)