Email marketing is perhaps the one activity that nearly no marketer can afford to pass up. Not only is it much cheaper than comparable methods like direct mail advertising (no materials costs!), but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it's much more effective too. Every dollar spent on email marketing in 2016 generated an average of $44 in return, up significantly from just a few years prior and still rising today - no other method even comes close to that level of efficacy.
With so much revenue on the line, you owe it to your company and yourself as a marketer to put your best foot forward here. We're not exaggerating it's importance; even if your resources are extremely limited, this is without a doubt the most cost-effective area in which to invest them. You can make the most of every email you send by applying some of our best strategies for lead nurturing in email marketing.
Email Marketing's Greatest Strengths
Email is a great channel for marketing materials because it opens a direct line of communication between you and your lead. That connection first forms out of genuine interest, but like any relationship, it requires upkeep. Most people have a lot going on in their lives and may not have a lot of mental energy left over to be continually thinking about consumer affairs. Over time, your brand will probably fade slightly from their mind as other things take over. This is normal, but it isn't desirable from a marketing standpoint.
Email marketing solves this problem. Every time you send them a message, you bump your brand up and into their minds once again. You also have a chance to bring specific things to their attention, such as new products, promotions and discounts, or a great piece of new content you've just published. There's no easier way to bring wayward leads back into the fold and keep them moving down the road toward a purchase.
At the same time, this type of communication comes with certain expectations. Consumers want to receive promotional emails, but they'll be getting a lot of them and they don't want to spend all day with them. To get leads to read your emails and move on to the next point in your sales funnel, you'll want to cater to these consumer tendencies. That's why lead nurturing tactics for this medium need to be quick, snazzy, and to-the-point.
Crafting Optimal Emails
A lot goes into making the perfect lead nurturing email marketing campaign. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your email marketing output is every bit as impressive as you want it to be.
Watch That Subject Line
Before your leads ever see the body of your email marketing messages, they'll see the subject lines you attach to them. This means that this element carries the burden of having to make a strong first impression. An email marketing subject line needs to draw the recipient's attention right from the start, even with everything else in their inbox competing for that attention. It also needs to communicate something of substance so that that person feels compelled to open it.
Both numbers and phrases that convey a sense of urgency are especially effective at drawing people in - be sure to include one of those two things if you can. People also like to open mail that is addressed directly to them, so taking a minute to code in a personalized greeting is another way to get a quick boost to lead engagement. Don't write too much, though - if it's too long, the entire piece of text might not have room to be fully displayed in the subject header, especially on mobile. Make sure that you could still get the gist of what you're trying to say if you could only read the first few words of it.
Focus on Hard-Hitting Content
Emails (especially ones used for marketing purposes) are intended to be quick exchanges that take a few minutes at most to read. If a lead opens up one of your messages and sees gigantic paragraphs staring back at them, they may be too intimidated to keep reading or engage any further with your brand. In most cases, leads respond best to email with somewhere around 200 words. With so little room to work with, it's best to pick out one or two key points and use the rest of the message to highlight them.
One particularly good strategy is to vary these points depending on who your recipient is (this is called segmentation; more on that below). Make sure that what you're writing is worth reading and will mean something to the recipient who gets it, and don't waste space. Sentences should be short and workmanlike for the most part, unless you're trying to create a particular atmosphere.
Remember: it's an email, not a doctoral dissertation. If you find yourself wondering at any point if it might be too long, it probably is. Trim it if you can. If you're finding that hard to do, you can always keep things minimal in the message itself and provide a link to a longer blog post or web page you've created to fully flesh out the topic. All your email itself needs to do is entice people to grow closer to your brand.
Keep Your Designs Attractive, But Minimal
With relatively few words on the page, you'll need to bulk up your email with some complementary elements. Adding some visual interest sets your message apart from all the other plain text that your leads read every day. Banners, graphics, special typography, unconventional layouts and other things can all give extra character to your messages and reinforce the things you say in the text to leave a stronger overall impression.
As usual, however, restraint is key. Messages that are too visually busy may intimidate leads and also carry a greater risk of poor mobile compatibility or sub-standard loading times. A little colour and a picture or two can go a long way. You can check out some of these examples for inspiration - notice how they engage the viewer and use non-text elements to convey information or a particular mood. This adds to the copy without competing with it and doesn't overwhelm the viewer. Design your emails like this and they'll stick with your leads long after they've closed their browser window.
Sending one generic email to everyone on your list might have seemed like an incredible idea once, but times have changed. In today's marketing world, email segmentation is the way to go. This strategy uses marketing emails that target specific people or groups of people on your list by certain identifying factors such as age, gender, transaction frequency, and many other variables that affect what a person might be open to buying. Changes between groups can be small (different highlighted sales items, for instance) or extensive (an entirely different message and layout altogether) depending on what kind of campaign you are running.
Doing this will require a bit more work than a mass email blast - you'll not only have to draft the extra emails, but also collect and analyze the data you need to narrow down the separate segments in the first place. However, you can feel confident that it'll be worth it in the end. Segmented emails have been shown to drive 9 times more revenue than sending the same email to all the subscribers on your list. What's a little extra effort compared to that kind of payoff?
Email marketing offers a great ROI, but only if it's done right. Did you know that many of your marketing emails may never be reaching your subscribers' inboxes? You are certainly concerned about reaching all your audience, and you should be. To improve your email deliverability, email quality verification can be your best friend. They weed out all the troublesome subscribers on your list, including those whose ISPs have you blacklisted and those who are statistically likely to inflate your spam report rates. These services will eliminate a lot of hard and soft bounces and take a lot of the guesswork out of optimizing your delivery rate. If you work with them on an ongoing basis, you can keep your list clean as it grows and never worry about anything but producing high-quality campaigns
Finally, any email marketer who wants to maximize their lead nurturing potential should consider investing in email marketing automation software. It may seem opposed to most of the other email tactics that require a personal touch, but what it really does amplify the reach of a smaller marketing staff. Since fewer of us have much manpower to spare these days, it makes sense to focus labor hours on high-value tasks like analyzing metrics and reworking old message content. Think of your marketing automation tools like a really good assistant who never messes up.
Email marketing automation also allows you to use more sophisticated segmentation techniques than just breaking up your list into broad categories and hitting send.Any marketer who isn't doing this is missing out on a lot of potential profit; messages with customer life-cycle and activity-based triggers accounted for 30% of all email marketing revenue in 2014. That's because these kinds of segmentation strategies account for timing, correctly predicting when a lead will be most receptive to being prompted toward a sale. It would be nearly impossible to even keep track of all the data you'd need to know when an email was needed in these cases if you had to do it by hand, let alone if you had to actually send out each message yourself on top of it. An algorithm with the proper data inputs, however, can get the job done with next to no extra effort on your part. Snatching up low-hanging fruit like this is the easiest way to immediately give your campaign a boost.
Become an Email Marketing Master
Email marketing is one of the most critical things to get right in a marketing campaign; it's one of the more intimate points of contact with leads and has such immense profit potential that it deserves your best effort. If you can perfect your skills in this area, you'll be able to harness the power of this incredible marketing medium to drive high-performing campaigns every time. In our next post, we'll cover ways to nurture your leads with content marketing, another one of those nigh-universal tools of the trade.