The one marketing tool that has stood the test of time in the fickle digital world is email marketing. Since the time we got our first Hotmail email addresses, businesses recognized the potential that this extremely personal marketing platform held in store for them and have been trying to make the most of it ever since.
Trouble is, the barrier to entry for sending out an email campaign is so low, that literally, anyone can send one out. This means that every inbox on the planet is slowly choking under the glut of voluntarily solicited and unsolicited emails from everyone who has a stick of gum to sell.
The only way you can truly stand out from the deluge is by creating emails that are genuinely exceptional in the value they bring to the user. May I suggest a starting line, right here?
The Opt-In Email
Most companies assume that when a customer signs up a lead form or gives out here email address to you for some reason, she becomes fair game for being bombarded with promotional material any time of the night or day. Trouble is, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 disagrees.
Marketing emails must be sent to a user with their consent only. Bombarding users with unsolicited emails can get your domain name blacklisted by email service providers like Gmail and Yahoo, making the deliverability of even important emails impossible. Online travel site Cleartrip uses a light touch with their opt-in a.k.a. confirmation emails:
By giving users a peek at what opting into Cleartrip’s newsletters can get them, they subtly incentivize the process of sign-ups.
The Referral Invitation Email
Customer referrals are a cheap and easy source of new leads for your business. By incentivizing existing users to bring in new ones, you expand your sales team manifold at costs that are a fraction of what it would have otherwise cost you to win new customers.
Jason Basinoff of AirBnB describes how the company turned around its nearly dead referral program into a roaring success – bookings grew 300% per day! Their email below makes the entire referral process a very personal one:
By using a picture of the friend who referred this user to Airbnb, the company establishes immediate credibility. They then sweeten the pot further with a discount thrown in to make sure the user is even more likely to convert.
The “No Hard-Sell” Email
The holiday season is a time when every retailer and brand is screaming at the top of their lungs to buy, buy, buy. The red, white and green splashed across every holiday email makes each one nearly indistinguishable from the rest. Not very smart now, you’d think.
That’s where it helps to set your brand apart from the herd. Instead of pushing discounts and last-minute sales, Kate Spade takes the smart way out of designing an email that is so distinctly different in color, message, and tone that it’s difficult to miss:
There’s one brand that can teach others a thing or two in how to keep it classy, without missing out on the substance.
The “Cause That Matters” Email
Not all customers are turned on by that big flashy sale sign hanging in your window. There’s a sizeable and growing chunk of consumers that will readily whip out those greenbacks to buy products that share similar values as them. Email campaigns are perfect to communicate information about worthy causes to your subscribers and help them get involved in undertakings that are larger than themselves.
The email above from children’s clothing retailer Children’s Place is an interesting example of picking a cause that is close to the hearts of millions of parents. Autism affects 1 in 68 children born in the United States, making it a leading disease that new parents are on the watch for in their kids. By asking users to sign up to Children’s Place in order to donate, the brand successfully achieves two goals with one tool – getting new leads for itself and raising funds for a cause that resonates with their target audience.
The Teaser Email
Before I tell you about the many benefits of teasers, let us understand some differences between teaser email campaigns and standalone teaser emails.
A typical teaser campaign consists of four kinds of emails, the tease, the intro, the buildup, and the conclusion. Most companies use a teaser campaign when introducing a new product, service or website. It is definitely hard work to create an email teaser campaign but you also have greater scope for creativity. You can easily build a story and bring it to a justifiable, pleasant end within the space of three or four emails.
However, when you have to create a single email teaser, the difficulty increases manifold. It becomes difficult to catch your readers’ attention with just a snazzy headline and body copy and then lure them to click on the “Read More” or “Buy” button! What’s more, you also stand the risk of coming across as snobby, abstract or lazy.
These are a few terrific teaser emails I have in my inbox right now:
- 78% of employees aren’t satisfied with their compensation plan! – Adecco Staffing
- Why is now the right time to let go? – Techtarget
- Why That Giveaway Is A Terrible Marketing Idea – The Daily Egg
But the vast majority of the remaining emails are missed golden opportunities for creating great teaser campaigns. Get this. In the following email, Free-ebooks.net start with their regular “Editor’s Picks” even though their upcoming webinar event should have taken precedence:
What’s more, I never received the “big news” that they wrote about in the email!
There are so many opportunities that could turn into full-fledged teaser email campaigns, which you could use to build momentum for an event or create a stir about a new product feature amongst your readers.
Let’s say you are hosting or sponsoring a big conference. To ensure you get maximum participation, create many short clips featuring past events, the place where the event is taking place, or even some prodding from the speakers.
Alternatively, you can send out invites to people and encourage them to ask the single-most frustrating question they have about a particular topic. Throw in some kind of a deal as an incentive to answer. Invite them to have a brief one-to-one with the speaker who will answer their “one” question.
To milk the opportunity for maximum content promotion, use high-level tools to carry out the videoconference or meeting. For instance, ClickMeeting allows you to rebrand your meeting room with your brand colors and logo. This reinforces your brand’s impact. Record these short interviews and send them out to everyone in your email database. You can even upload these videos on social media channels like Vimeo and Metacafe for cross-platform promotion.
I can already see your subject line – 2-min Video: Jane Doe asks a burning question to Di Lemme.
The Abandoned Cart Recovery Email
I hear you groan. You already know about this one. But do you do it? How well do you do it? Setting up a full-functional, robust ecommerce site is the easy part.
What’s tough is making users stick around long enough to add items to their carts and complete their checkout process. Unfortunately, the fleeting attention span that our generation is cursed with means that nearly 70% of all shopping carts on ecommerce sites are abandoned.
However, a cart that is left unbought is not the end of the world. A persistent ecommerce business would reach out to users who’ve left their purchases incomplete and prod them into completing the purchase. As it turns out, email is the cheapest, easiest and most effective means of bringing about this transformation. While email marketing for ecommerce is no mean task, Nordstrom is a retailer that continues to redefine it:
Invitations to revisit abandoned carts are a type of triggered emails. A fixed period after someone ditches a cart, you can send her an email with a customized message depending on her previous purchases and preferences.
Our recent research found that open rates for triggered messages are 2.2x higher and click-through rates are 3.6x higher when compared to regular emails. Talk about “powerhouse” performance!
The Product Review Email
Product reviews are a leading source of information that online shoppers use to make their final decision about most purchases. Product and company reviews, also help in improving search rankings for businesses by offering search engines proof that the business offers products and services that are valued by their users. It, therefore, makes sense for companies to reach out to their customers to get product/business reviews from them.
In the email below, Marks & Spencer request a review for a recent purchase by reminding the user of the exact item purchased and offering a helpful link that takes them straight to the reviews section on the website, thus making the entire process frictionless for the user.
The Reminder Email
We have all heard the numbers over and over again. It is easier to get an existing buyer to buy from you than acquire a completely new customer. Repeat buyers are more profitable in the short run and ensure that your marketing expenses are kept at a minimum in the long run. So why do so many businesses hesitate to bring back those repeat buyers?
Language learning app Duolingo cannot be blamed for ignoring their repeat users. They send out simple, yet friendly reminder emails to users who have missed one of their daily/weekly language sessions:
With a simple scale that shows how close they are to their target, Duolingo motivates users to get moving on their goals.
Email marketing has the power to build and sustain a solid pipeline of customers past, present and future for your business on a consistent basis. All it takes is some serious thought put into the various ways you can take advantage of this simple but extremely effective tool, and you’re all set for a promising business journey!
What kind of powerhouse emails are working for you at the moment? Can you use the emails we discussed here for your business? Do you tweak them for the holiday season or other peak times? Please let share in the comments!
About the Author: Rohan Ayyar is a creative content strategist, digital analyst, and CRO specialist at E2M, digital marketing firm par excellence. He doubles up as the resident UX authority at Moveo Apps, a premium app dev agency. Rohan is also an avid writer, with articles featured on The Next Web, Fast Company, and Adweek. Find Rohan on Twitter @searchrook