“You’ve got mail.” Ever since the ’90s and the rise of consumer email, checking our inboxes daily (or if you’re me, every 20 minutes) has increasingly become a ritual in our lives. Yet, with more and more companies vying for space in their customers’ inboxes, it’s more important than ever to formulate a strong email marketing strategy that actively works for your brand without leading to frustrated unsubscribers.
So, how do you save your emails from being tossed unceremoniously in the trash can? Here are a few high-level strategies to adapt in order to ensure your email efforts don’t just sit in the “unread” section.
1. Tailor Your Emails for the Buyer Journey
You wouldn’t talk to a brand new customer who just walked through your doors the same way you would greet one who’s been supporting your company for a decade, right? In the same vein, your emails to these two wildly different groups shouldn’t be identical either.
Every step on the buyer’s journey needs to have an email campaign specifically tailored to that group’s needs. A lead in the ‘Awareness’ stage needs to know what’s in it for them, why they should bother sticking around, and how you’re going to solve their problems.
Meanwhile, someone who has recently purchased should be celebrated (it’s 6-7 times costlier to get a new customer than to get a previous customer to purchase again). They’ll need “thank you” messaging, discounts on future purchases, referrals to sign up for any loyalty programs, and the means to provide precious feedback on their overall experience.
There isn’t a perfect email strategy guaranteed to get 0% unsubscribes and 100% click-thru rate, but by thinking about where your leads may be on the Buyer’s Journey, you can anticipate their needs better and convert newly aware looky-loos into avid advocates who are marketing your brand for you.
2. Audit Your Automated Emails
So, you’ve set up the perfect automated email campaign. Time to lean back in your chair, dramatically dust your hands, and never set your eyes on the copy, lists, or analytics ever again…
Wrong! Though automation has helped you save countless hours in your email strategy, it’s still of vital importance that you audit your procedures at least a few times annually.
From a high level, take a long look at your email procedures. How does an email go from idea to finished product? Do you have SOPs in place for your email operations? Do different email campaigns require different approaches?
This may seem nitpicky, but asking these questions helps cut down on wasted time in the future and works to trim away any inefficiencies or highlight glaring problem areas that can be fixed. At the same time, you’ll want to dive into each section of your campaign strategy. A few areas to scrutinize on a micro level include:
- Data: Are your email addresses up to date? Are you sending your emails to addresses that no longer exist? Bad lists can severely impact your ratings.
- Segmentation: How are your lists? Can they be more specific or are there a few that are redundant?
- Copy: How do different subject lines perform? Do you get better CTR with shorter or longer emails? Does your email’s voice impact performance? Are your paragraphs too wordy?
- Design: Does your audience like straight-to-the-point text emails or do they prefer emails with designed assets? How are your designs optimized for web vs. mobile? Do they load at all?
- Scheduling and Cadence: What days and times do your emails go out to the world? Are you finding those emails at the beginning of the week in the morning perform better than, say, Friday at 4 pm?
Like any effective marketing strategy, email is most impactful when you evaluate its performance and find new ways to elevate and innovate.
3. Win Back Customers and Reward Loyalty
Like any good romantic drama, sometimes your email strategy requires that climactic sprint to the airport in order to win back customers who may have become disinterested with your efforts and who are on the fence to unsubscribing. They’re unengaged and they need special attention to stick around.
Remember earlier when we were discussing how it’s 6-7 times harder to bring in a new customer than to retain a current one? It’s not a great practice to simply wave goodbye to these folks without putting in some effort in convincing them to stick around.
You might want to consider giving them a unique offer. After all, we subscribe to email lists with the expectation of receiving exclusive deals or access that we wouldn’t find on websites or social media.
When was the last time your loyal customers were emailed a deal that brought them right back to the conversion stage? Set aside emails in your content calendar that directly rewards loyalty in order to keep morale high (and bring about conversions). Think about opening up sales a day or two early for your email lists or providing unique promo codes. Set deadlines to create a sense of urgency and FOMO.
You may also want to personalize your emails a little more depending on their previous actions. Did they previously purchase a pair of dress pants? Perhaps send some recommendations on a few shirts that would look great with them.
Send birthday emails, celebrate email anniversaries, or just stop and say that you appreciate their continued support. All of these are ways to generate fond feelings toward your brand and are more likely to keep your audience sticking around for more.
Finally, periodically ask them to update their email preferences! It could be that they’re feeling a little overwhelmed by your cadence and need you to back off a little more. This also helps with keeping the quality of your data in tip-top shape.
Cultivating your email list with engaged subscribers is one of the more important steps to take in any effective inbound marketing strategy. Remember that your role is to assist them on their Buyer’s Journey by providing useful information, answers to their questions, incentives to buy, and recommendations afterward. You’re well on your way to bringing a whole new set of people from being aware of becoming advocates.