Developing a cooperative method between your sales and marketing team can increase your revenue by up to 20%, whereas those without proper alignment can see a decrease of up to 4%.
Consumers frequently buy products and services from an email campaign and an auto-responder series is a good method of making sure that you are sending the messages to your mailing list.
However, an auto-responder series which is too pushy is likely to deter customers from making a purchase and lead to an increase in spam reports, unsubscribers and a poorer brand image.
Therefore aligning your autoresponder series with that of your sales process is essential if you wish to maximise your revenue from the campaign.
Step One – Define the Stages in the Sales Process
The first step is to make a list of all the stages you have in your sales process, right from when you meet the potential client to when you close the sale and even after sales treatment.
You should identify exactly what is said at each stage in order to complete the sale of your product or service. The hope being that you can then mirror this in the auto-responder series.
Step Two – Create a brief outline of what actions the lead needs to take in order to move onto the next stage of the sales process
In the real world, you should know the signs of when a consumer is ready to talk to you more about the next stage in the sales process. If you do it too early or too late, you could lose the customer and they could either not buy the product or go to a competitor.
The behaviours you are looking for are those who are clicking through to see more content, completing a form or another action.
Step Three – Link the actions in step two with the content you create
Consumers like to read content they find valuable and informative. The content you provide also needs to be relevant to the action you wish them to complete.
Stories are pretty effective when it comes to email marketing. Think of interesting customer stories where your product or service has supported their life or given them joy.
Another idea is to give advice on a related matter. For instance, if you are a decorator – you could create content that would describe the best colour schemes for certain rooms, as long as the content has value and interest to the reader and directs them to a relevant action that will set in motion the next stage.
An additional consideration is to make sure that the content is ‘evergreen’ – in other words, despite the day, month or year it is sent – it will be relevant and accurate. This means you are not constantly changing the message just because circumstances are slightly different.
Once you have done this – create the content.
Step Four – Consider the frequency
Email marketing and real life sales are different when it comes down to the time frame you have. Email marketing can take weeks or months to be successful – whereas often in the physical world, you have a single shot.
Having your emails sent out too frequently will lessen the willingness of the customers to stay subscribed to your service and eventually buy a product from you. A good idea would be once every two weeks – you certainly don’t want to send out a message more than once a week.
Step Five – Determine who to send your emails too
You need to make sure that you are regularly maintaining your mailing list – to ensure that you are sending out the emails to the right people.
An email to the wrong person not only lessens your statistics in terms of open rate, click throughs and conversions – but it could increase your unsubscriber rate and spam reports.
Therefore, ensure that the action the lead has taken on your website is sufficient for them to be placed on your auto-responder series.
Step Six – Implement auto-responder series
Once you have made all your decisions – start implementing the process. Place your content in branded email format and start the series with those who you think are ready to read the material. Ensuring that the people who are ready for the message are the only ones that will receive it will improve your open rate and conversions.
Use the above six step solution to define your sales process and create an auto-responder series that will sell your products / services.
Aligning your sales process and email marketing is a good, clean method of increasing revenue.
An auto-responder series can save you time in creating material and manually sending the information. Yet marketers should be keen to keep the series related to their sales process and the content relevant and valuable to their audience for the foreseeable future.
Do you use an auto-responder series in your business?
Let us know how it performs in the comments below!
Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
13% of all leads in 2013 were generated through Email marketing, making it the third most effective sales channel.
Yet by combining the two you can drive consumers to sign up to your emailing list that will generate leads.
So what methods can you utilize that will entice your target audience to join the others that already receive your regular emails?
Connect The Two With A Simple Sign Up Form
No matter what size your business is, having a simple email sign-up form that is integrated with your social media channel, will make it easy for those consumers who have already invested interest in your business to sign up.
On your Twitter profile, having a small URL that links directly to a simple sign up form is all that you can really manage due to the limited space. Perhaps something as simple as:
“Receive weekly tips from mywebsite.com”.
This only takes up 38 out of your 160 limit and therefore you have plenty of space left for other content.
You can also invite people to sign up through regular tweets.
With Google+ you’ll have to take the same approach as it currently doesn’t support another method.
With Facebook, you can use a tab at the top of your fan page that will automatically send users to a simple sign up form. You will need to have an image and a good call to action in the tab to entice people.
There are many different apps that can connect your page to the sign up form. To install one of these apps to your Facebook fan page, visit the top right app banner and click on the drop-down menu.
Click on the ‘+’ sign and select ‘Find More Apps’.
You can then search for an app that will allow you to integrate your email sign up form with your Facebook page. Remember to follow the step-by-step instructions for a flawless integration.
- Connect your social media profiles with your email list sign up form.
One of the things that social media is very adept at doing is generating traffic. Connecting your emails to social media in two ways can generate traffic to visit your latest release.
Consumers who see how valuable your emails can be to their everyday life will encourage them to sign up to regularly receive the emails. You can share your emails in the following methods:
- By sharing a web copy of your newsletter over social media channels.
- By including social share buttons on your emails.
You’ll need to create interesting lines to capture attention of the audience. A good method is to quote part of the email that users will find interesting.
- Include social media links on your email.
- Identify key quotes from your email to share on social media.
- Share the web copy of your email through social media channels.
Providing an incentive to signing up to your email list can be particularly powerful.
The incentive could be something simple as offering a discount on their first order, or a free gift card for signing up.
You don’t even need to have a financial reward at the end of the campaign. Other companies offer a free ebook or report to be delivered after the visitor has provided their details.
Therefore if you have any premium content you can connect the three up – offer snippets of the content in a social media update, that will send them to a signup form promising them a full copy once they have signed up. Then deliver the book once you’ve received their details.
- Offer an incentive over social media to generate traffic to your sign up forms.
Social media can generate significant amounts of traffic to your website; utilize this by directing viewers to your email sign up form.
Then you can present your products and services to your customers through an effective sales channel.
What methods do you use to drive social media followers to your email lists?
Let us know in the comments below.Image courtesy of smarnad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Not every marketing email that you send out is appropriate for everyone on your subscription list. A message about a service that has already been bought is useless to one person while another consumer might enjoy that particular marketing message.
Sending the wrong message to certain consumers may damage your future online sales when people who feel there is no value in your messages unsubscribe. Therefore, it is important that you maintain an effective group of lists, segregating subscribers into the correct list depending on their history with your company.
1. Current clients
Your current clients are really important contacts to keep happy and nothing works better than word of mouth or referral marketing. They might also be interested in buying more products from you, especially if they had a positive experience with their previous purchase.
Therefore you can use your email marketing campaigns with current clients to spread the news of your products or services to people who have yet to hear about you and gain extra purchases.
You need to concentrate on sending messages that are going to be of use to the current client. Some of these messages may be rather simple service change notifications or other terms which will affect how they use your product / service. Alternatively you may wish to email them about complimentary services or products or something that will enhance their experience of your product.
Another email you could consider sending is a request to share information about your brand to their peers. Offering a deal, like a $10 voucher or a free month’s subscription, is a good way to encourage this behaviour.
2. Potential clients
Potential clients are an important list to curate into current clients. This list should have more specific targeting as you will likely, or should, have some data of their behaviour on your site. For instance they may have downloaded a free e-book or entered a competition to win a product. This information is useful as you know what products they are interested in.
Using this information you can create highly targeted emails based on their behaviour.
If you have several offers or e-books that can accessed once an email has been collected – you can segregate the list further into those who are interested into different products.
3. Website subscribers
There will be a list of people who have perhaps subscribed online but have yet to download an offer or any marketing material you have. These are the people that you have to collect more information about. They probably will have the lowest open and click through rate and also the highest rate of unsubscribing.
Yet they could be potential clients in the near future.
Each person on this list is different so you should mix up what products or services you send them information on. Getting them to buy directly is probably only going to result in low conversion numbers. Instead you should try to find out what in particular interested them in your business.
You can do this by directing them to your other marketing material (e-books, trials, etc) and see what they sign up for. This way you can gain further knowledge about your new potentials and use targeted marketing to convert them to a full paying customer.
Remember to maintain your lists
Your subscribers are highly unlikely to remain on the same list forever. You should constantly monitor who is on what list and swap them to the appropriate list when it is right. Otherwise you may find that you are losing potential consumers because you’re emailing them the marketing content you have designed for website subscribers – which has no more value to them.
A proper maintained and segregated group of lists is the best way to increase web traffic and generate leads.
Image: Horia Varlan
Email marketing is one of the most effective methods that your business can utilise in online marketing. However, should you email some of your contacts too often; you can end up losing vital leads. Research has shown that 54% of subscribers quote that they receive emails too frequently.
On the other hand, too infrequent email can lessen your web traffic and lower your profits. Research has shown that 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.
Therefore finding the optimal email frequency is a very important task for your small business.
So how often should your small business email subscribers?
In reality there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Some subscribers would welcome emails coming into their inbox on a daily basis. Others will not appreciate it and would prefer that you email them perhaps twice a week or once a month.
One of the core principles to determine the frequency to send out emails is the value of your correspondence. Emails that have a high value to the subscribers are likely to retain the subscribers even at a higher frequency. However those that have a poor value to the audience are more likely to lose subscribers.
Another consideration is to note at what stage of the sales process the reader is at. Those who have not bought any products or services are less likely to tolerate a regular email; however those who have purchased and enjoyed your product or service are likely to respond positively to your communications.
Discovering the optimal level
Every business therefore has a different frequency that is optimal for sending out emails. Discovering that frequency isn’t an easy process, however it is possible to do so.
You could perhaps start off sending out your email marketing at an interval of perhaps once a month. This is a very non-intrusive level which is a good start, especially if you have a lot of new subscribers. However it is likely that the return on the email marketing campaign will be low. You should monitor the level in which people are opening and clicking through to your website from the email. You should also monitor the rate in which people are unsubscribing from the communication.
You might want to try this method for between three to six months to gain a decent average for the CTR (click through rate) and unsubscribe rate. Otherwise you might be faced with comparing data when one might have over or under performed.
After this period you could attempt to increase the frequency to a campaign that runs every two weeks. Again it is best to monitor the CTR and unsubscribe. If you notice that the CTR drops and the unsubscribe increases, over three or four campaigns, you should reduce the frequency back to once a month. However should you be noticing that the CTR and subscribe rate is increasing you might want to calculate the value over a longer period.
If more sales are made over a period of two or three months, then the higher level is obviously a good suit for your business. You might also want to increase the level to once a week – again watching the unsubscribe rate to ensure it doesn’t increase beyond an acceptable rate.
You could of course decrease the number of emails you send out a month, if the unsubscribe rate increases and you find it is less profitable.
One way to ensure that you do not suffer from too large an unsubscribe rate from your highly valuable emails, is to ensure that when individuals do sign up you make it clear how often you will be emailing them. This is perhaps more valuable further down the line and it can help you retain new subscribers.
So retain a healthy list of engaged readers on your email campaigns and discover the best frequency for your target market.
Image: Pascual López
It’s easy to separate the men from the boys, so to speak, in the world of email marketing. Many small business owners mistakenly think they are exempt from certain email marketing policies. However, the rules for email marketing are the same whether you’re a mom-and-pop corner store or a Fortune 500 company.
In order for your email program to be successful, to avoid coming across as a novice and – most importantly – to be compliant with CAN-SPAM regulations, you’ve got to employ email best practices. Unfortunately, small businesses are guilty of violating many of these email standard operating procedures. As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Are you guilty of any of the common violations listed below? If so, now’s the time to come clean (and clean up your act). Your subscribers will thank you for it.
1. Sending without segmenting
Just because your list isn’t in the six-figure range, that doesn’t mean you can bypass segmenting your audience. After all, you want your subscribers to open your email messages, don’t you?
Approach your email marketing strategy as if you were writing a personal letter to your prospects and customers. Granted, you don’t have to send a different email to every single subscriber on your list, but you do want to segment your list according to interests and other variables.
If you simply send blast-batch emails to your entire list, your subscribers will become disengaged (and eventually unsubscribe). Conversely, if you send them relevant content they will be more likely to open your emails, click through to your site, and convert.
You do need to consider the size of your lists when conducting A/B tests. Again, it’s not the total size that’s important but the percentage of your list that you test. If your list is considerably small, you may need to test to the entire list. Not sure? Check out this split test calculator.
2. Buying email lists
Small businesses are often targeted by companies offering to sell consumer lists. While this may be common practice in direct mail, in email marketing it’s a huge no-no.
Do not be tempted into buying an email list as a way to build your subscriber base. The only way to grow your email list is to do so organically. Think quality, not quantity.
Make it easy for people to sign up for your email list on your website. Use print collateral, social media, point of sale, incentives and other tactics to encourage signup. Include a forward-to-a-friend link in all emails.
Never buy an email list. Period.
This leads us to a third common email marketing blunder….
3. Emailing without permission
Do not assume that you’ve got permission to send a promotional email to someone. The only email addresses on your list should be those of people who have opted in to receive your company’s emails. Better yet, use a double opt-in process for your email signups.
Emailing without permission can result in another type of list – the dreaded blacklist. If your company ends up on a blacklist, your emails can be blocked from ISPs. It’s a death knell for email marketers.
Yes, you can send transactional emails to people who have interacted with your business but may not actually be on your email list. The distinction is transactional vs. promotional email. If you try the proverbial wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing approach of disguising a promotional email as a transactional one, DON’T. Transactional emails should have no more than 20 percent promotional content.
If you don’t want the email police breathing down your neck, make sure you follow best practices. It’s the first step to maintaining – and growing – a healthy email list.
At this time of year, when you hear someone talking about a list, thoughts immediately go to a holiday shopping list. Among email marketers, however, the word “list” brings to mind a subscriber list. And, just as shoppers cross off items from their holiday lists, email marketers should do the same with certain older subscribers on their lists.
You obviously don’t want to delete all old subscribers, as some of these might actually be your most loyal customers. One way to find out if these older subscribers are still interested in receiving emails is to conduct a test.
Segment your list, check it twice
Segment your list into two groups, older and newer subscribers. Compare the bounce rates and unsubscribes (as well as opens and clicks) of the two groups. Subscribers on the old list who appear active (comparable to actives on the new list) are keepers. Those with high bounce and unsub rates or low activity are possible candidates for deletion.
But don’t be over-eager in your desire to cleanse your list. Before removing such subscribers, try a re-engagement campaign to see if you can salvage some of them. If not, go ahead and remove them.
Why should you remove these older subscribers? It’s industry best practice, and for plenty of reasons:
- Inactives – Subscribers with no activity in the past six months or so are poor prospects and more likely to file complaints (which could lead to being blacklisted by an ISP). The length of time deemed as inactive can vary depending on how frequently you send emails. Inactives are dead wood; they are costing you money to email them, and producing no ROI.
- Spam traps – Some ISPs use old email addresses as spam traps designed to identify companies using old lists – and designate them as spammers. Don’t fall for the trap!
Tips for list maintenance:
- Follow the bouncing email address - Hard bounces are email addresses that are permanently undeliverable (bloFolcked or invalid email addresses) and should be deleted from your list. You can keep soft bounces (such as a full mailbox) on your list, but keep an eye on them.
- Check for typos – An email address @gmial.com probably should be @gmail.com. Correct such errors instead of removing the subscriber altogether.
- Just de-dupe it – Remove any duplicate email addresses.
- Be on the alert for alias emails – Remove “role-based” email addresses such as team@, webmaster@, sales@, help@, support@, admin@, etc.
- Opt for opt-ins only - Banish email addresses of people who did not opt in to receive your email communications.
- Be careful out there – Be smart when building your list; do so organically.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s all about deliverability. The last thing you want is for your company’s emails to be blocked by an ISP. That’s why domain reputation is so important. And why sometimes you’ve got to cut your losses and move on.
So when you think about your email list, think quality, not quantity. Scrub your list until it’s squeaky clean. Follow the best practices outlined above, and you’ll be considered an email marketer who’s nice, not naughty.
Statistics are the bread and butter of email marketing. That’s the beauty of the email channel – you can obtain real-time results quickly and easily. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common statistics and how they can help you hone your email marketing strategy.
All opens are not created equal. What you want to focus on is unique opens, considered the industry benchmark. Unique opens, as opposed to total opens, counts only one open for each email address. The median unique open rate in the U.S. last year was 16.5 percent.
While you might be interested in industry averages, more important are the unique open rates for your particular industry – and, more specifically, for your own company. Do certain days of the week or times of day have higher open rates? Does length or type of subject line impact your open rate. Test… then retest.
It’s not only important to know how many people opened your email, it’s also key to know what devices they used to open them. If your audience is heavily mobile, you’ll want to make sure your emails are optimized for mobile devices.
Opens are one thing, but it’s the click-through rate (CTR) that most email marketers obsess over. The CTR is calculated by dividing the number of click-throughs by the number of email messages delivered. The resulting percentage is your click-through rate. In 2012, the median CTR in the U.S. was 2.2 percent.
Click-to-open rate (CTOR)
The CTOR – also referred to as the “effective rate” – measures the relevancy and context of an email. To get the CTOR, divide the number of unique clicks by the number of unique opens. If you want a percentage, multiply that figure by 100. The CTOR shows you how many openers clicked on the email itself.
The reason this metric is also called the “effective rate” is because it reveals the effectiveness of your email content.
Subscriber statistics can tell you a lot about your list. A subscriber stat you can’t overlook is unsubscribes. A high unsub rate can mean several things, including:
- You’re sending too many emails
- Your email content is not relevant
If your unsub rate is less than 2 percent, you’re within industry norms. If it’s higher than that, take a look at your frequency and content. And if you notice a spike in unsubscribes following deployment of an email, take a close look at that email to see what might have caused the mass exit.
Other important subscriber statistics include activity (or lack thereof). Sure, you want to see how many actives you have on your list. But equally important – if not more so – are the inactives.
It’s best practice to remove inactives from your list, as leaving them on your list can impact deliverability. You may want to start with subscribers who have never opened or clicked an email. Many email marketers segment inactives by length of inactivity, such as 24 months, 12 months, six months.
If you’re reluctant to simple delete your inactives, you can create a re-engagement campaign to determine which subscribers truly want to remain on your list. In any case, if you ignore this statistic, you do so at your own peril.
You don’t have to be an analytics whiz to interpret email statistics. You do, however, need to be consistent in your regular review of statistics. Deploy, analyze, apply. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Each email you send is a learning experience. Find out what worked, what didn’t, and apply to upcoming campaigns. Add a dash of diligence and a pinch of patience. It’s the recipe for email marketing success.
Image: Lindsey Turner
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While there’s no magic crystal ball to predict exactly what’s in store for email marketing in 2014, we can make some educated guesses based on current trends.
Email marketers are great at marketing products and services (either their own or a client’s), but not so great when it comes to marketing their own email newsletters. Think of your e-newsletter as a product or a value-added freebie. Then market it accordingly.
It’s rather amusing that, in today’s current marketing landscape, email marketing is often referred to as “old-fashioned” when compared with other channels, such as social media marketing or SMS. (Does that mean direct mail is a dinosaur?)
Call it what you want, email still kicks social media’s proverbial butt in overall marketing success. Following are five reasons why.