One of the leading trends in marketing involves using technology to expand your audience while making communication with customers more personal. Brands primarily focus on solving customer problems, and that’s why their messages have become more conversational and empathetic. Marketing automation is at the heart of this trend. So let’s take a look at techniques that help you establish meaningful communication with your subscribers and improve email marketing results.
Editor's note: Don't worry if you haven't tried all of the following advanced email marketing techniques. As long as you follow these email marketing best practices, you're on a good path to achieving high outcomes from your email program.
1. Email Marketing Automation
If you aim for long-term success, email marketing automation is the right choice. It allows you to plan subscriber communication in detail and run highly targeted, personalized email marketing campaigns throughout the customer lifecycle.
With marketing automation, you can easily align your marketing efforts with sales goals by providing value to subscribers, identifying prospects, and helping them become satisfied customers.
To automate your marketing, you can use conditions, actions, and filters to create workflows (visual representations of your communication patterns). Start with simple campaigns, such as welcome emails, promotional campaigns, and reminders, and then gradually move toward complex ideas, such as acquisition campaigns, content marketing campaigns, and loyalty programs.
You can easily optimize individual campaigns or change the entire subscriber journey — marketing automation grows organically with your business.
2. Progressive profiling
In 2016, it’s finally time to go beyond personalizing with the subscriber’s first name. Think of personalization as a strategy for building long-lasting relationships with the people on your mailing list. To do that, you need to engage and provide value to your audience all along the subscription process. But how do you know what they want?
Try progressive profiling — collecting information about each customer‘s interests by observing their email behavior. Then use the data to personalize messages and keep your audience engaged.
There are two kinds of progressive profiling:
Direct profiling – asking a question in the email and providing buttons with possible answers. When the reader clicks an answer, the information is added to his profile.
Img. 1 Surveys and quizzes are excellent tools for direct profiling.
Img. 2 An email from Banana Republic with CTA buttons that profile subscribers
Indirect profiling – creating categories in the email. When the reader clicks a category, the information is used to record their interest.
Img. 3 An email from Uncommon Goods with separate product categories
To get to know your subscribers, focus on these areas when personalizing email campaigns:
Make sure you know the reasons why people sign up for your list. What sort of information do they need or expect? Only after you discover your audience’s needs and wants will you be able to personalize your message content.
Remember: subscriber expectations change as they move through your process. To provide value, recognize various needs across the email marketing funnel.
Analyze subscriber activity and select the products they consider most interesting. Then send offers tailored to their individual preferences.
Recognizing your audience preferences can have a huge impact on sales. It makes it easier to create complementary offers and run successful cross-sell and up-sell campaigns.
Why is email frequency important? If you send too many emails, you’ll see high unsubscribe rates. If you send too few, you may not produce the desired results. So how can you determine the right frequency? The best way is to ask your subscribers. For example, you can create an email with two CTA buttons and move your audience to separate campaigns based on which one they click.
3. Broadcast Timing
In June-July 2015, GetResponse ran a private beta test of Perfect Timing — a send-time optimization feature. We wanted to find out whether delivery time matters when it comes to getting subscribers to notice and open emails. The results were staggering. When emails were sent during the time slot when the subscriber was most likely to open and click, they generated 23% more opens and 20% more clicks.
Based on historical activity such as subscription time, opens, and clicks, you can predict the best time to send emails so they land at the top of the inbox. When messages are delivered right in front of your recipient's eyes, they result in quicker buying decisions, more conversions, and more sales.
4. Advanced Segmentation
Did you know that only 8% of marketers from the vacation/hotel/leisure industry use advanced segmentation (The State of Email Marketing by Industry, January 2016)? This is quite surprising since there are so many factors that could be used for grouping subscribers with similar preferences.
Segmentation can be based on all types of data, including:
- Demographic (gender, location, job title)
- Derived (predicting subscriber behavior, customer value)
- Behavioral (purchases, opens, clicks, website browsing, etc.)
If you use a professional email marketing system that supports marketing automation and dynamic content, you can use the data you collect to run highly targeted campaigns aimed at various customer personas.
5. Lead Scoring
Scoring is one of the techniques that helps integrate marketing and sales efforts. It allows you to track and rate subscriber actions. With lead scoring, you can:
- Add or subtract points based on user behavior (opens, clicks, downloads)
- Use individual customer scores to build personalized marketing-automation workflows that are score-driven.
- Build reward programs for your most valuable customers.
- Build early warning systems to help you identify declining customer loyalty or engagement.
- Reset customer scores at any time to start over.
6. Responsive Email Design
According to Litmus, 19% of all email are opened using a desktop program, 26% using webmail, and 55% using mobile. This clearly indicates that, if you want to reach your subscribers, your campaigns need to look great on every device. Clearly, you need responsive design.
How does responsive design work? It uses CSS media queries to change fixed-width tables and images designed for desktops into fluid ones that fit smaller screens. This approach makes your emails and landing pages accessible and user-friendly on any device.
Having said that, I find it hard to believe that only 12% of online businesses use responsive design templates (The State of Email Marketing by Industry, January 2016).
7. Aligning Email with Social Media
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, one of the key marketing objectives is to expand your audience. For this reason, you should integrate social media with your email marketing to:
- Build your email list (with Twitter cards or the Facebook Call to Action Button).
- Run retargeting ads for people who click your emails.
- Create an exclusive email cycle for users who subscribe via social media.
Remember that every action you take in social media is an opportunity to convert contacts into customers.
Img. 4 An email from Teavana asking to give a shout in social media
8. Integrating Email Marketing with other Tools
There are a lot of great tools that help you run your business. Whether you are an SMB or an enterprise, you’ll find software with the right features to meet your business needs — from behavior tracking to customer relationship management and content management, to e-commerce platforms — you name it. There are two main reasons for software integration:
By integrating various tools with distinctive sets of features, you create a comprehensive platform with a powerful mix of capabilities. Take a look at the GetResponse for Salesforce integration, for example. By integrating your email marketing platform with a CRM solution, you can build queries to identify leads and prospects with just one click, gain access to essential customer and lead statistics in one place. And with bi-directional synchronization, you know your data is always accurate.
All the marketing tools you use contain valuable data about subscribers, prospects, and customers. You can use the data to segment subscribers on your list, profile prospects, and target them with relevant email marketing campaigns.
As Jan Rezab said in The 6 Rules for #DataDriven Social Marketers: “#DataDriven social marketers bring everything together to make a comprehensive picture of how social drives activities in different parts of your organization. That means making sure that your whole organization is aligned on social media data!” These words are true not only for social media marketing but also for marketing in general.
Don’t keep your data in silos – integrate your data and make it available to those in your organization who need it. With access to relevant information, teams can make smarter decisions.
For example, as an email marketer with the right data set, you can go beyond opens or clicks and aggregate information from various sources, (website, landing pages, CRM). By looking at the whole customer experience rather than individual marketing channels, you will be able to see what makes people engage in communication with your brand or identify what has the biggest impact on sales.
These advanced techniques will help your email campaigns shine. But when you do sit down to plan out and design your email program, you shouldn't forget about the general rules of email marketing and what makes people click. The following article will help you ensure you don't make any mistakes that could affect your email deliverability and conversion rates.