Six Secrets of Successful Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing. Chances are you hate receiving it – and why? Because at any given moment you don’t want what they’re selling. And the rest of the time, the writing is so loaded with sales speak that you stop reading after the second sentence and drop the email in your spam folder.

But your own email marketing is important to you. You can use it to send people to your Web site, or to let them know about a new product launch (or a recall if you’re very unlucky), or even just stay in touch with them.

A successful email marketing campaign hinges on the idea that, and I can’t say this loud enough, you have to know what you want your customer to hear. You don’t have to know what you want to say, not when you’re in the planning stage of the campaign, but you have to know what you want your reader to take away.

Since most people don’t read more than a few sentences, you need to get the most engaging stuff out at the top. You need to give your customer a…

Reason to Keep Reading
At the start of this blog, I posed a question. I gave you a reason to read some more, even if it was only to disagree with my answer. You’ve seen this attention capturing technique before — just think of any commercial with a voice over: “Does your aching back keep you up at night?” “Are rodents ruining your lawn?” “Can a new set of tires give you better gas mileage?”
They work. They grab our attention, but to keep it, you need to be skilled at…

Telling a Good Story
Aesop and the Grimm brothers are great examples of how to tell a compelling story — they have a beginning, a middle, an end, and usually some kind of lesson. Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretel, the Hare and the Tortoise, Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs — they all have lessons that are the point of the story. The story is just window-dressing for the message.

You can tell a story about two customers, one who used your company’s product, and one who used a cheaper alternative. Over the life of a project, the guy who used the cheaper alternative had to replace and/or repair his inferior product a few times, which ratcheted up the cost of the project and caused it to over-run. His company’s reputation took a costly hit, and his projected profit was slashed due to delays caused by the cheaper alternative.

The customer who put his money in your better quality product may have paid a higher price up-front, but his project came in ahead of schedule, and his customers intend to recommend him to other potential customers. As a bonus, the customer who bought your product for their project will tell people at his Chamber of Commerce about your product, and how it helped him realize a bigger profit than he had expected.

If you have testimonials that can provide actual numerical comparisons, or statistics to show how much money or time users can save that’s even better. A big red splash saying “SAVE 30%” is good, but…meaningless. Is that 30 percent on what you charged last year? Is this a sale? Show your customers the many advantages you offer compared to your competitors.

You shouldn’t lie in your stories, but if your customers sometimes experience extraordinary results, it’s okay if your message includes…

Claims of Extraordinary Results
…so long as you say they they’re not typical if they’re not typical.

In the story above, I claim that use of your product caused:

the project to come in ahead of schedule
positive word of mouth from your customer to other potential customers
larger project profit margins than were forecast

Are those typical results? Probably not, but you can bet that one or two of them are a consistent outcome for most of your customers. In most marketing campaigns, results and testimonials are not based on single-user experiences, but on the combined experience of multiple users, spliced together to tell a good story.

The point of all this is to interest and excite the reader so that they click, call, or email you. And if you don’t tell them to do it, they probably won’t. So you have to include a…

Call to Action
For your no-obligation 30-day free trial….
Call today to save 25%
Refer a friend and save 20% on your next order.
Join our mailing list to receive great deals in the future.

The entire purpose of marketing is to make people want to take that action. Usually you want that action to be a sales transaction, but in the age of digital marketing simply capturing name and contact information is valuable. Being able to deliver marketing materials electronically to your contact list reduces marketing costs substantially, so whatever else your call to action is, it MUST include a way to capture that information.

At any given time, most people will not be in the market for your product, and most won’t even open the email. Those are not the people you’re writing for. You have to…

Know who you’re writing for
You’re writing for the 3 percent who are thinking about making a buying decision now, or soon. You’re writing for the 10 percent who are considering this kind of investment in the future.

If you write for the 70 percent who won’t even open your email, you’ve failed. I know a guy in sales who lives by one simple rule: fish where the fish are. You probably wouldn’t email movie stars to try to get endorsements for your product, but you might be able to get local radio hosts or tv news anchors to do it. you have limited resources – both time and money – so invest it wisely. When it comes to that 70 percent, don’t write them off, but don’t write to try to persuade them.

Email marketing campaigns will always fail, though, if you fail to track your results and tweak as you go. For that reason, don’t think of sending the first email without having…

Tracking metrics
Listrak have a great white paper about tracking metrics for digital marketers. You should read it, but here are the highlights:

Delivery Rate: How many of your emails actually reach their intended recipient, and how many are delivered to a spam folder? How many are bounced by ISPs?

Unsubscribe and Abuse Report Rates: How many opt-in emails do you get tired of, and instead of unsubscribing you simply flag that sender as spam? If enough people do this to your email, it can cause problems like getting your domain black-listed by ISPs. If your subject line looks spammy, most subscribers will delete your email without looking at it. If you’re communicating too often, and not adding value to your subscribers’ business, you’ll find your readership shrinking as your audience unsubscribes. And that’s just bad for your marketing efforts.

Open Rate and Read Rate: Open rate is a misleading name — if you use an email client like Outlook or Entourage and have a preview pane, any email that appears in that pane will be listed as “opened.” Even if you glance at it and then delete it. Read rate is a more meaningful measure, since it tracks emails that were “open” for a more than a few seconds.

Click-thru Rate: It’s what it says it is. Did your reader click on the call to action? If they do this, your message worked.

Goal Conversion Rate: Once your reader clicks the call to action and is directed to your Web site, how many actually buy something, download something, interact with your Website in a way that is meaningful for your company?

Being successful with your email marketing isn’t about luck, it’s about writing compelling copy that persuades people to take action. It’s not magic, and it’s not really all that complicated. By paying attention to what you say and who you’re talking to, you can increase engagement with your audience and convert your email list into a powerful tool for increasing revenues and growing your brand.

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